Tuesday, September 2, 2014

4 comments MMQB Review: Roger Goodell's Mitigating Factors in Regard to Domestic Violence Edition

Peter King discussed the injury to Sam Bradford last week in MMQB, though he didn't ask the big question that I had, which was "How come the Rams didn't do better in bringing in a backup/competition for a quarterback they weren't even sure was the future of the franchise and is always injured?" Peter told us that history says the Seahawks won't repeat and complained about the price of a carry-on bag with Frontier Airlines as he vowed to keep himself to three lattes at Starbucks per week, which apparently don't cost him any money. This week Peter talks about domestic violence and how Roger Goodell's new policy (after Ray Rice got two games of course) will impact future NFL players in the same position as Rice, how Roger Goodell doesn't understand why everyone was mad at him, has more Chip Kelly coach-speak to share as if it were wisdom, and gets to the bottom on why Michael Sam was cut. Apparently "it was a football decision" is not enough of an explanation for Peter.

I was planning to address the Roger Goodell about-face on domestic violence later in the column, but the Ray McDonald arrest at 3 a.m. Sunday in San Jose, and the 49ers defensive tackle being charged with felony domestic violence, changed all that.

There is no time to talk later about Roger Goodell's about-face on domestic violence because an NFL player got arrested for domestic violence and this must be discussed immediately. After all, I'm guessing 25% of loyal MMQB readers just quit reading after the first two pages once the quotes, tweets and thoughts from Peter start showing up. If Peter buries the about-face from Goodell too far back then fewer people will read it.

So this bit of inside-MMQB for those waiting for my piece on Green Bay GM Ted Thompson: We’re going to run it Wednesday here at The MMQB, when we can give it proper treatment the day before the season. 

Because Peter wouldn't want any actual NFL information to take the place of any really interesting "Quotes of the Week," "Tweets of the Week" or the entire page dedicated to Peter's own thoughts. Obviously, MMQB is mostly about Peter King and not about relevant information on the NFL from an NFL insider. The information on Ted Thompson can wait, but Peter's interview with himself about Alex Smith's contract extension, another half page of Peter's thoughts about NFL cuts, and whether Logan Mankins is mad at Bill Belichick CAN NOT wait. That is all very time-sensitive information.

San Jose police responded to a complaint early Sunday morning involving San Francisco defensive tackle Ray McDonald and a woman that NBC Bay Area reported is pregnant. She had bruises on her neck and arms, the Sacramento Bee reported, and McDonald was jailed on suspicion of felony domestic violence charges.

“Felony domestic violence is a serious charge in any jurisdiction,” said Kim Gandy, president and CEO of the National Network to End Domestic Violence, in a phone interview Sunday afternoon, hearing the news for the first time.

Gandy was one of six national authorities on domestic violence who helped Goodell shape his decisive new policy, first in a lengthy phone call in mid-August and then in a meeting at the league offices in Manhattan on Aug. 21.

I like how Roger Goodell needs to call on six authorities on domestic violence in order to shape a new policy. Goodell needs no authorities when it comes to shaping policies on NFL players testing positive for drugs, getting a DUI or nearly any other offense that will result in an NFL player being suspended. Yet, domestic violence vexes the shit out of Roger Goodell that he needs six other people to tell him how to shape his policy. Goodell does have an agreed-upon drug policy to use when it comes to suspending players who violate the policy, but he didn't need help suspending Ben Roethlisberger or Pacman Jones for the season when they ran afoul of the law. It's just funny to me that he can't seem to appropriately punish NFL players who are accused/convicted of domestic violence without a little help. I guess there is no nuance in these other situations that result in an NFL player being suspended by Goodell.

The MMQB has talked to three of the outside experts called on by Goodell, and all were encouraged by the tougher policy on domestic violence laid out by Goodell: a six-game ban for a first offense (though with some wiggle room for “mitigating factors”), 

Roger says that there are mitigating factors. In fact, one of the mitigating factors in the Ray Rice case was "Did the bitch deserve it?" The answer to Goodell in this situation was "no, but kind of" while another mitigating factor was "Is the bitch cool with it now?" and the answer was "yes," so Goodell only gave Rice a two game suspension. Keep your girl in check, don't let her narc too hard, and you are cool with Goodell. There are other mitigating factors being considered by Goodell like,

-Was there a weapon involved? If so, the mitigating factor is "Did she deserve to be hit by the weapon based on her behavior?" Also, was the use of the weapon to discipline the woman for her behavior or just out of hatred for no reason? There is NEVER an excuse for hitting a woman without a good reason. Ever. Roger Goodell feels strongly about this. But if the woman wasn't acting right and causing a scene to embarrass the player in front of his boys, weapons without a blade or any other sharp edge (such as a broom, a baseball bat no longer than 30 inches, the handle end of a rake, and a belt) are appropriate to use and can be considered as fine with a mitigating circumstance involved. No weapons with a sharp end should ever be used, unless there is a mitigating factor, such as the woman just won't stop getting on the player's nerves. If the player has to ask more than twice for the woman to get off his nerves, then one strike (and one strike only, Roger Goodell feels strongly about this) with a sharp object is allowed, but there HAS to be a mitigating circumstance of the woman getting on the players nerves after being asked twice to stop.

-If the player's only act of domestic violence was hitting his significant/insignificant other, how big was the bruise's diameter? The penalties for bruise diameter goes like this...0 games for a bruise or bruises less than an inch in diameter, 2 games for a bruise or bruises between 1-3 inches in diameter, 6 games for a bruise or bruises bigger than 3 inches in diameter, and a year ban for a bruise or bruises larger than 5 inches in diameter...though if there is a mitigating factor, such as the bitch being cool with it or she was acting a fool and didn't know her place, then Goodell will lower the penalty down 1 inch for every mitigating factor.

-Did the player marry or continue a relationship with the person accusing him of domestic violence? If so, that player has kept his girl in check and should be rewarded for doing so. This is a mitigating circumstance.

-Is the girl a known trifler? Does she has a history of being a trifling-ass who always gets jealous and tries to cause problems where there are no problems, so the only solution is to put her back in her right place? Goodell will mitigate the suspension based on the woman being a known trifling-ass, but as long as the player can provide three witnesses attesting to the trifling nature of the woman.

and a year-to-lifetime ban for a repeat offender.

Unless there is a mitigating factor of course.

“The [domestic violence] policy is going to be tested quickly,” said Gandy, a veteran of the fight to end domestic abuse. “I think it is probably a good thing for a policy to be tested quickly, to see if the policy works the way it was meant to work. I am very sorry to hear this news, but it is a reminder how frequent and common domestic violence in this country is, unfortunately. I believe the commissioner will say, ‘This is our policy and we are going to stand behind it and implement it fairly.’

I'm not against a written policy, but I think it is hilarious that Roger Goodell can't trust himself to handle domestic violence punishments for NFL players without having a policy to tell him what to do. I sort of thought he was clueless after he punished Ray Rice for two games, but I know he's clueless now.

But the news about McDonald, a valuable starter on the San Francisco defensive front seven already coping with the nine-game suspension to its best pass-rusher, Aldon Smith, and knowing the team could be without rehabbing star linebacker NaVorro Bowman until midseason, could not come at a worse time. Being in trouble with the law is one thing. But coach Jim Harbaugh has been open with his players about seeing red over domestic violence.

This is as opposed to Bill Belichick, who doesn't care who his players hit, as long as they are being aggressive and show up on time for practice everyday. Belichick's policy about domestic violence is even less stringent than Goodell's "Is the bitch cool with it?" policy in the Ray Rice situation. Thank God Jim Harbaugh is tough on domestic violence. I wish other NFL coaches would follow suit.

If McDonald did indeed lay his hands on a woman in the tenor of these times, he has just made the biggest mistake of his career—and at just about the worst time possible.

Right, Peter. There is a time and place to hit a woman. When everyone is focused on the NFL not getting tough on players who hit women is not that time. Perhaps try to hit a woman during Super Bowl week or in another year or two. Just not now. It's simply bad domestic violence strategy.

Five days after the Rice decision, CNN led its morning newscast with a panel ripping the league over the light sentence. Five days. In his letter to owners last week, Goodell recognized the outcry, and the league’s role in society that he underestimated.

Goodell wrote: “The public response reinforced my belief that the NFL is held to a higher standard, and properly so.

But if your belief is that the NFL is held to a higher standard, how come you didn't uphold that belief when suspending Rice two games?

This would be an appropriate question to Goodell that he would probably not answer.

Much of the criticism stemmed from a fundamental recognition that the NFL is a leader, that we do stand for important values, and that we can project those values in ways that have a positive impact beyond professional football. We embrace this role and the responsibility that comes with it.”

Now. The NFL embraces it now. It took a public outcry and six experts on domestic violence to convince Goodell of the exact role and responsibility the NFL had, but this role has been embraced. Just don't criticize the officials. Roger Goodell knows how to embrace his role without any outside assistance in making sure the officials aren't criticized.

“When we talked,” said Gandy, “he said, basically, that he wanted to educate himself. He was genuine in wanting to understand the causes and wanting to know the best role for the league. At one point, we were talking about law enforcement, and he said to me, ‘Why isn’t everyone angry at the judge and the prosecutor in the Rice case? We actually did something, rather than nothing.’

Roger Goodell doesn't get it, just in case it wasn't clear. Yes Roger, you are being victimized by a mean society that holds a multi-billion dollar organization who thrive on fan interest and money to a higher standard than faceless and nameless prosecutors that have their salaries paid by citizen tax money. Who would expect the NFL, an organization that pretty much thinks it has the ability to do whatever the hell it wants to do, to be held to a higher standard than the court system that is a slave to the laws of the nation? Poor Roger Goodell.

One of the late additions to the letter Goodell sent to owners was trying to leave the league some flexibility on a hard-and-fast six-game ban for first offenses. Aggravating factors—assaulting a pregnant woman, for instance—could make the sanction harsher. But there also is no guarantee that the ban could be as long as six games.

But what if the player doesn't know the woman is pregnant? How can an NFL player be suspended longer for assaulting a pregnant woman if he didn't know that woman was pregnant? It's like Roger Goodell expects NFL players to do a total background check and physical on these women before they get down to the business of assaulting that woman. It's so inconvenient.

Read the letter: “Effective immediately, violations of the Personal Conduct Policy regarding assault, battery, domestic violence or sexual assault that involve physical force will be subject to a suspension without pay of six games for a first offense, with consideration given to mitigating factors, as well as a longer suspension when circumstances warrant. Among the circumstances that would merit a more severe penalty would be a prior incident before joining the NFL, or violence involving a weapon, choking, repeated striking, or when the act is committed against a pregnant woman or in the presence of a child.”

Notice how the letter about the new policy doesn't explain the mitigating factors, because they would seem pretty insensitive. That should be a hint, no? The NFL probably has no idea what a mitigating factor would be, but Roger Goodell does know he will sound like an asshole if he even tried to list one in an official NFL letter.

One size doesn’t fit all, and one size rarely fits all,” said Gandy. “We recognize there are greatly different levels of violence.”

Plus, Roger Goodell prefers it when a player can keep his girl in check and makes a commitment to marrying or continuing to date the woman that player assaulted. After all, how bad could it be if the woman stays with the person who assaulted her?

Kansas City GM John Dorsey did the right thing Sunday evening, putting the finishing touches on a four-year contract extension for Alex Smith that will pay him, on average, $15.1 million over the next five years.

Yes, "the right thing" is what Dorsey did. Poor Alex Smith was barely getting paid for his performance over the past few years.

The way I figure it, Smith is now the 11th-highest-paid quarterback in the NFL in terms of average salary in the existing contract.

That sounds about right. (snickers to himself)

So let’s answer the questions many of you have this morning about the deal and about the player.

Peter is about to pose questions to himself that "many of us" have and then answer these questions. Please remember, in an in-depth discussion about Ted Thompson was left out of MMQB so Peter could answer questions he posed to himself about Alex Smith. 

Q: Why did the Chiefs pay Smith now instead of waiting for him to get to the market after this season?

But do you want to enter a year-to-year deal with the leader of your team, telling him: We don’t really trust you, and we’re going to pay Dwayne Bowe and other key guys to our future but not you? Not a good business plan, and not a good business plan to risk Smith having a very good year and potentially hitting restricted free agency next March at age 30.

While I understand the implication of paying other players around Smith, is it really such a risk that Smith have a very good year and getting the chance to be a restricted free agent? If he has a really good year then he prices himself out of the Chiefs market, which isn't very good, but if Smith plays well then perhaps he would deserve the money he'll be offered for his performance. Maybe I'm focused too much on this being Alex Smith.

Q: Smith isn’t worth $15 million a year. Never has been. Why cave to him and give him that money?

A: Look at the market. Flacco got paid $5 million per year more than 13 months ago. Matt Ryan got paid $5.7-million per year more over a year ago too. Rivers signed his deal four years ago and his deal still slightly exceeds Smith’s.

But Alex Smith is not Matt Ryan and he is not Philip Rivers. But hey, it's the Chiefs money, so what should I care?

Folks, it’s okay to change your minds about a player. Alex Smith of 2014 isn’t Alex Smith of 2007. He’s a pretty good player. Not the best quarterback in football. Not in the top five, or the top 10 probably...He’s going to complete 64 percent or so of his throws, he’s going to limit mistakes, and he’s going to give Kansas City a good chance to win most Sundays.

Yeah, we'll see. I'm just glad the piece on Ted Thompson got bumped so Peter could ask himself questions he would answer about Alex Smith.

Most notable about cutdown weekend, when 704 men lost their jobs and/or were assigned to various practice squads: There were no shocks. A couple of surprises, but can you honestly say it was a stunner to see Michael Sam cut? Champ Bailey? Nate Burleson? No. Nothing really strange happened, but here’s what caught my eye:

Hey look, more of Peter King's personal thoughts in MMQB. It seems his readers can't get enough of what Peter thinks he thinks, or in this case, what Peter knows he thinks.

1. Found it interesting that the average age of the Denver Broncos’ final 53 is 25.8. I would have guessed 28.8.

I thought it was 27.9.

3. Let history show it was a player with the exact dimension of the 6-0, 193-pound Champ Bailey—6-0, 193-pound free-agent Brian Dixon of Northwest Missouri State—who essentially took Bailey’s job with the Saints. Dixon does have one edge: He’s healthier (Bailey had some plantar fasciitis in training camp), and he’s 12 years younger.


4. Green Bay never keeps three quarterbacks, but Scott Tolzien and Matt Flynn played well in the preseason and forced GM Ted Thompson’s hand. With Aaron Rodgers missing seven games last year, and with Thompson knowing Tolzien or Flynn likely would have been claimed elsewhere by a team needing a solid number two (or three), the Packers did the right thing and kept Rodgers, Tolzien and Flynn active.

Do you like how "the right thing" translates in MMQB to an NFL team doing what Peter King thinks that team should have done?

5. Fallout from the 2012 draft begins. Check out this ugly 32-pick span between No. 22 and 53:

53: Cincinnati—Devon Still was cut Saturday by the Bengals. Another wasted pick.

It's kind of cruel to call Devon Still a wasted pick when his daughter is fighting pediatric cancer.

Nothing like kicking a guy while he is down. Peter did apologize on Twitter...

First off, I find it hard to believe Peter was unaware of Still's situation with his daughter. I knew about it and I don't follow the Bengals that closely and even visited their training camp.

I realize Peter is too busy writing about Michael Sam, Johnny Manziel, coffee, how frustrating bad coffee can be and what he thinks about the Red Sox this season, but I find it hard to believe Peter didn't know about the situation with Devon Still's daughter. I think this goes to show how Peter is sometimes too concerned with things outside of the NFL, which is the sport he is paid to cover for a web site that covers the sport of football exclusively.

Second, this isn't out of character for Peter. He called Sean Taylor a bust not once, not twice, but three times in MMQB and his mailbags. The reason Taylor was a bust is because he was shot and killed, so he didn't exactly have a chance to live up to his draft status. So even if Peter knew about the situation around Still's daughter, based on how he referred to Sean Taylor repeatedly, I'm not sure he really is sorry for calling Still a "wasted pick."

9. Two of the great wheelers/dealers worked out a trade Saturday: Indy GM Ryan Grigson sending street free-agent cornerback Marcus Burley to Seattle GM John Schneider for a 2015 sixth-round pick.

Ryan Grigson is a wheeler/dealer, but I'm pretty sure there is still a question about the "great" part of the equation.

13. I have never seen a more misleading 5-0 preseason than the one the New York Giants just had. Eli Manning completed 49 percent of his throws, Odell Beckham (hamstring) wasn’t healthy all summer, and the passing game looked just as sickly as Beckham. Yikes. Giants have to win a scoring contest with Detroit a week from tonight. I don’t like their chances.

You and Mike Lupica don't like the Giants chances. Also, every preseason record is misleading because the starters play very little and coaches hold out important players if those players have any semblance of an injury. The entire preseason is misleading in many ways, why should a team's record be any different?

16. That’s the hot breath of Zach Mettenberger (47 of 68 in the preseason) you feel on your neck, Jake Locker.

Welp, look for the Josina Anderson report in a few hours about how none of his Titan teammates have taken a shower with Zach Mettenberger yet.

18. None of the Rams’ last five draft picks is on their 53-man roster, including Sam. That’s either a sign of a much better roster in St. Louis, or the sign of some bad drafting late.

Or it's not the sign of bad drafting and four of these picks were 7th round picks who are generally not guaranteed a roster spot anyway. It could be bad drafting, though from what Peter King has told his readers in the past, it is theoretically impossible for a Les Snead/Jeff Fisher-led team to draft poorly.

Patriots fans are used to the cold reality of NFL life. They’ve seen Bill Belichick trade Drew Bledsoe and Richard Seymour and cut Lawyer Milloy and let go Ty Law and Adam Vinatieri and Brandon Spikes in free agency, and so who would be surprised if next in line was the consistent Pro Bowl guard, Logan Mankins, who once played on a torn ACL for the good of the team?

I enjoy how media members like Peter King take the "Bill Belichick will cut anyone" narrative and run with it, like Belichick is colder than most NFL head coaches. It's not entirely true. Drew Bledsoe was traded after the Patriots had won a Super Bowl with Tom Brady as the starting quarterback and the Patriots did a great job replacing Vinatieri with Stephen Gostkowski. Belichick isn't the only cold person in the NFL who doesn't mind letting players go in free agency. My favorite team has released Jake Delhomme, Steve Smith, allowed Julius Peppers and Muhsin Muhammad go in free agency, and traded Kris Jenkins. They were all very popular players. I guess since it isn't the same GM/head coach who presided over all of these then the "he's so cold" narrative doesn't start, but the fact separate GM's/head coaches released these players does show Belichick isn't the only head coach willing to lose good players if he doesn't think they can produce. The narrative that Belichick is cold while other head coaches in the NFL aren't seems tired to me. The media wants to paint Belichick in one way and they will be damned if anything stops them. I know Belichick doesn't need anyone to protect him, but it's sort of unfair to him. He's just making decisions that he thinks are best for the Patriots, just like other GM's/head coaches would do for their team.

Interesting gambit by Belichick. He’s gambling the Patriots can make do on the offensive line and use the resources from the trade, offensive tight end Tim Wright and a fourth-round pick next year, to continue what the Patriots have been for 13 years—a near-playoff lock and consistent double-digit winner. To do that, Belichick has to be impervious to the grenades tossed when he gets rid of such top players.

Again, every head coach has to be impervious to grenades when it comes to making tough decisions. Belichick isn't cold or mean, he's just focused on his team's needs and how to meet those needs.

“Oh, Bill?’’ Mankins said. “I still have tons of respect for Bill. He’s an awesome coach. I loved playing for him. He was the best coach for me to have—he got a lot out of me.’’

Apparently the only one who doesn't understand the NFL is a business is Peter King. Tough decisions are made every year. Bill Belichick isn't an unfeeling robot, no matter how he is presented, he's willing to make hard decisions to meet the needs of his team. He's not the only head coach who will do this either.

It's an interesting move by Belichick and the Patriots, but it's all a business. Players stick around until they are no longer useful.

“Why would his teammates feel uncomfortable taking a shower with Michael Sam? Does he use Axe Garlic and Rotten Egg Body Wash?”
—Comedy Central’s Jon Stewart on his “Daily Show,” after ESPN’s Josina Anderson reported a St. Louis teammate “seems to think Michael Sam is waiting to kind of take a shower as not to make his teammates feel uncomfortable” in the locker room.

Ah yes, I look forward to the Ombudsman addressing this report another month from now when his next column is posted to ESPN.com.

Chip Kelly Wisdom of the Week

Thank God this is back. One week away was one week too long. I need more Chip Kelly coach-speak that Peter King thinks is brilliance.

Kelly, the Eagles’ coach, on handling the cutdown:

“When every guy that’s here is part of the 90-man roster, their lifelong dream is to be an NFL football player and to be the one that tells them that it’s not going to happen here is difficult. It’s something that is inevitable. You have to go from 90 to 75 and 75 to 53. It’s part of the job but it’s not a fun part of the job.

Pretty brilliant so far. The guys on the 90-man roster of an NFL team do in fact want to be on an NFL team. Glad that's cleared up. Also, a team has to get to 53 players by August 30, so unless 37 players are murdered or hidden on the roster somewhere then someone is going to have to tell these 37 players they will not make that specific NFL team.

But it’s always a difficult time when someone’s goal is to play in this league.

Again, the big news here is that these football players trying out to make the Philadelphia Eagles roster do in fact want to be NFL players.

We told those guys on day one: I hope that goal one for us is that you make this football team, but then goal two is that you get an opportunity to make another football team with the exposure that you get here. Hopefully we prepare you for that.

I'm really struggling to find the wisdom in these quotes. It seems, yet again, like general coach-speak to me.

“[Free agent defensive end] Alejandro Villanueva, I’d buy stock in him as a human being.

But you can, Chip, you can!

He’s going to be successful. I talked to him about the reasons we were cutting him loose. He said, ‘Coach, successful people have to make difficult decisions. You don’t have to explain anything to me.'”

If anyone finds anything in these quotes that qualifies as wisdom, please give me a heads up. I can't seem to find anything that doesn't seem like coach-speak or just general comments from a head coach about how hard cuts to get to the 53-man limit can be.

Mr. Starwood Preferred Member Travel Note of the Week

Hunkered down last week and did some writing for 1.5 days in one of the prettiest places I’d never seen: the coast of Maine 90 minutes north of Portland, on the Pemaquid Peninsula. Thanks to the Bradley Inn there for a swell time, and to the Atlantic Ocean for being so beautiful,


For those who don’t know what Sam means about Sam, NFL parlance in a 4-3 defense for the linebackers is Mike for the middle linebacker, Will for the weakside outside linebacker, and Sam for the strongside outside linebacker.

Yeah, we got it Peter. Glad you explained it though.

Should I be thankful that Peter didn't tell his readers "to go Google" to see what this means?

A “mike flag” is the identifying network band around the microphone when a correspondent is interviewing a player. And I don’t think I have ever seen an ESPN crew not use ESPN identification when talking to someone on camera.

It would only be better if it were called a Sam or Will flag.

Ten Things I Think I Think

1. I think Michael Sam being waived by the Rams came down to four factors:

I think it is funny that Michael Sam wants to be treated like any other 7th round draft pick and the media will simply not allow this to happen. Peter has to break down the four factors that caused Sam to be cut. Perhaps there is one reason the Rams cut Sam. They have other talent on the 53-man roster they would like to keep and Sam can't fit into what the Rams want to do at the defensive end position.

He was outplayed in camp and in preseason games—though not in a rout—by a more versatile player, undrafted free-agent Ethan Westbrooks, who the Rams think can play at defensive end or defensive tackle. Sam was strictly a defensive end.

All four incumbent defensive ends who made the team—Robert Quinn, Chris Long, William Hayes and Eugene Sims—plus Westbrooks, who showed better pass-rush ability in training camp and games, are signed at least through the end of the 2015 season.

Sam was on just one special team, kick coverage. He wasn’t valuable in the kicking game.

So allow me to get this straight...many of the same factors that caused Michael Sam to fall to the 7th round (he's not versatile, scouts question whether he could provide consistent production, he has no experience outside of playing defensive end and he doesn't play special teams) are the reason he didn't make the Rams' roster? Is that what Peter is telling us? What a shock!

2. I think NFL teams are seeing ghosts on Michael Sam, who, as of midnight Sunday, was still on the street looking for a practice squad to join. If a team plays a 3-4, as many do, he’s not a fit. But Sam is a 257-pound defensive end in a 4-3 system who has a chance to create a little havoc and a chance—a chance, I say, not a sure thing—to be a growth stock for teams. But I talked to three team architects over the weekend. They’re concerned about the circus coming to town with the first openly gay player trying to make an NFL roster. What circus, exactly?

The circus that involves a sportswriter like yourself talking about a 7th round pick at length, listing four reasons that 7th round pick didn't make the 53-man roster, and undoubtedly every move that team makes in regard to the player being analyzed seven different ways. I guess it's with no sense of irony that Peter asks "What circus, exactly?" as he provides more coverage of Sam being released than any 7th round pick has ever received before.

A little ESPN story about shower habits? That’s been the big controversy of the last four months with Sam. He’s had two press conferences, peaceful and uneventful ones, and met the press briefly after each of the St. Louis preseason games, as any player would be subject to doing. And that has created exactly zero problems for the Rams.

It has created zero problems for the Rams, but it has kept the Rams in the media spotlight regarding whether they will keep a guy who was going to probably not even be active on Sundays if he even made the team. Peter has talked about Sam at least every other week in MMQB. There's no controversy, but for Peter to act like it's not a big deal is disingenuous. Peter is one of many sportswriters who are like, "Guys, this is a big deal, but it's totally not a big deal. We are going to cover this Michael Sam story from every possible angle, then wonder why NFL teams worry a 7th round pick is getting too much attention."

4. I think the 49ers set a dangerous precedent for their team in a few ways Sunday, bringing back guard Alex Boone from his summer-long camp holdout, as Adam Schefter reported. One, they chose to not collect his fines for going AWOL from camp despite having two years left on his contract. Two, they told him they wouldn’t put the franchise tag on him when his contract expires after the 2015 season. Three, according to Pro Football Talk, the club raised his pay over the next two seasons from $3.7 million to $6 million total. With the first team offense looking offensive in Weeks 2 and 3 of the preseason, GM Trent Baalke obviously swallowed hard and did some objectionable things (for him) in bowing to Boone.

Oh, so the 49ers didn't "do the right thing" and pay Alex Boone? They "did some objectionable things" by paying him. Again, it's funny how "the right thing" and "the objectionable thing" are how Peter is referring to decisions NFL teams make that he either agrees with or doesn't agree with.

So if Alex Smith had held out of Chiefs camp would it have then been "objectionable" for John Dorsey to give him a new contract? Peter has already said it made sense to give Smith a new contract because other important members of the Chiefs team got one, so if Smith held out for the money that Peter rightfully seems to think Smith should get, would the decision to pay Smith be "objectionable"? It's pretty clear the 49ers need offensive line help, so bringing Alex Boone back makes sense.

5. I think Tom Coughlin, who turned 68 Sunday, had this reaction when I told him in camp he was one win from passing Paul Brown and two from passing Joe Gibbs on the all-time NFL victories list: “Wow. Really?” Then he said that was nice. And that was all. But I do know this: Coughlin loves pro football history, and whatever happens this season with the Giants, he has no interest in retiring anytime soon. Which begs the question about what happens to Coughlin if the Giants have a really bad year. From watching them this summer, it’s possible. I think you have to wait to see the circumstances first. But club president and CEO John Mara does not take kindly to mediocrity. He was very prickly after last year’s 7-9 season, and there’s no question he liked the fact that Coughlin wanted to shake up his coaching staff. But if the offense is awful and Eli Manning struggles, I don’t know if Mara will say he wants back Coughlin and GM Jerry Reese,

That's great, but does this mean Peter doesn't think the Giants will win two games this upcoming season? I understand Tom Coughlin doesn't want to stop coaching, but if the Giants have a really bad year does Peter think Coughlin won't pass Gibbs and Brown? If this isn't what he believes, then why tie in how many games Coughlin has to win to have a chance to pass Joe Gibbs and Paul Brown with Coughlin possibly be fired after the 2014 season if the Giants play poorly again?

6. I think the league is not going to press a tampering case against Jerry Jones for his remarks in the great ESPN profile of him about Adrian Peterson. “Tipsy and waiving his arms,’’ Jones, according to the story, got handed a cell phone with Peterson on it after a George Strait concert at the Cowboys’ stadium, and seemed to be speaking with Peterson about making him a Cowboy someday. Talking to a couple of people with knowledge of the league’s view of the story, I didn’t sense much interest in the league pursuing anything against Jones when he was seriously into the Johnnie Walker Blue Label near midnight.

Oh, so it isn't tampering if the person doing the tampering is drunk? I understand. So I guess this means NFL GM's can get drunk (with witnesses attesting to this GM's drunken state) and then start dialing players under contract with other teams stating the interest that GM has in the player? Sounds great.

Reading the passage, I wonder how much of the conversation with Peterson he remembers. Now, that isn’t to say he should be talking to any employee of another team about anything other than having a nice day. And I’m sure he’ll get a reminder of that from someone in the league office. But it doesn’t sound like the league’s interested in whacking Jones for it.

So is this a mitigating circumstance for tampering? Maybe the NFL's reluctance in whacking Jones for this could have something to do with the head of NFL officiating getting off a party bus with Stephen Jones, but that was no big deal either I guess. That's my conspiracy theory of the day. Dean Blandino downplayed his being on the bus, but it would be awkward if Stephen or Jerry Jones could clarify what happened on the bus or embarrassed the NFL publicly in any way.

Tampering while being drunk still sounds like tampering to me. The excuse that an NFL owner was just blackout drunk doesn't seem like a very good excuse either.

9. I think Texas A&M coach Kevin Sumlin won’t need to send out his résumé when he goes in search of an NFL head-coaching job. Teams will be drooling to get him. Maybe not quite Chip Kelly-style drooling, but it could be close if his team keeps playing the way it did in routing South Carolina the other night, putting up 52 against the ninth-ranked team in the country, on the road, with a new quarterback.

If I'm an NFL team, I'm impressed by Kevin Sumlin, but I'm also wondering when he will put a defense worth a shit out on the field. I'm guessing if Jason Garrett gets fired, then Jerry Jones is going to call Kevin Sumlin. It seems like a Jerry Jones-type move.

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

d. The Red Sox traded Kelly Johnson to Baltimore on Saturday in a deal that will have absolutely no effect on either team. But the upshot’s interesting. Johnson’s now been on every team in the AL East over the last two 23 months.

This is just a depressing note for AL East teams.

e. Story of the Week (and many other weeks): Don Van Natta Jr.’s insightful profile of Dallas owner Jerry Jones. “I get madder every day about missin’ him,” Jones told Van Natta, “him” being Johnny Manziel in the NFL Draft. “I was the only guy [in the organization] who wanted him.”

Sometimes I wish the Cowboys would just listen to every single personnel move Jerry Jones wants made, just to see what would happen. I want Jones to have no other advice when deciding to make a move and having control to make any trade, draft pick or free agent signing he wanted to.

g. Coffeenerdness: There is no better drip coffee in the universe, at least for me, than the Italian Roast at Starbucks. That’s an exclamation point driven home to me every morning with a jarring cup.

In your face Marriott! Your free drip coffee isn't as good as coffee that Peter pays for. Also, "every morning with a jarring cup"? Let's settle down a bit. It's coffee.

i. Happy Labor Day, everyone. I’m going to celebrate this great day by working.

Way to play the victim who has to work on Labor Day. I work as well. I'll remember Peter worked Labor Day when he takes a month vacation in July.

The Adieu Haiku

Three days till kickoff.
NFL’s 95th year
will be offensive.

But not as offensive as a haiku ending a football column. 

Monday, September 1, 2014

0 comments It's Never Too Early to Panic About the Preseason

Mike Lupica likes being critical (Bengoodfella looks in the mirror sadly because this probably describes him too) and he's very good at telling everyone what they should or should not be doing. He has opinions on President Obama golfing too much, what George Steinbrenner would do, and how "You're the Worst" should actually be a television show about Alex Rodriguez. Mike is very concerned about the New York Giants after their preseason performances on offense and so he decides to write a column where he asks questions that can't be answered until the games start. Still, these are VERY IMPORTANT QUESTIONS based on preseason games. Mostly, Lupica seems concerned the Jets have their shit together more than the Giants do. This type of tyranny will not stand.

At least about this there can be no question: If the Giants are allowed to play other teams’ second-team and even third-team defenses with their second-team offense this season, then they might be favorites to win another Super Bowl.

Hilarious. Eli Manning sucks because it's the preseason and he hasn't won the Super Bowl yet.

Are you kidding? Give the ball to Ryan Nassib, Eli Manning’s backup, in the second half in August and look out.

And as everybody knows, how a backup quarterback plays in the preseason against other backups will immediately translate to that backup quarterback playing well in the regular season against the starters.

This time it was the Jets and this time Nassib threw three touchdown passes and the Giants won again, making it 4-0 in the preseason,

Everyone panic! The Giants are 4-0 in the preseason but haven't looked good while being 4-0. This portends trouble in the future because the Giants aren't winning in the sexy way that Mike Lupica requires the Giants to win. Derek Jeter would not accept a 4-0 record if those wins weren't earned in the right way, so why should the Giants say they are 4-0 when it's only their backups winning preseason games? A panic needs to happen, grab your pitchforks, Mike Lupica is storming the streets of New York.

which means this is the most meaningless and fascinating and frightening unbeaten preseason — to Giants fans — in all of team history.

No, this is the most meaningless, fascinating, and frightening unbeaten preseason in NFL history. Is a 4-0 record really an unbeaten record if Mike Lupica refuses to regard it as so? You know the answer before I even finished the question...of course not. The Giants may be 4-0 in the preseason, but these meaningless preseason games definitely mean something for the upcoming season because Mike Lupica has a column he needs to write and this is the only idea he had for a column.

Because when you add up everything we have seen and everything that has happened since the preseason began in Canton, the two most positive developments on offense are these:

1. Eli Manning isn't injured.

2. It's preseason and teams don't always game plan so an offensive/defensive unit's performance may mean very little?

-One two-minute drill from Eli at the end of the first half on Friday night.
-A rookie receiver out of Division II Newberry College named Corey Washington, who has looked like this year’s Victor Cruz even if he has been mostly playing with Second-Half Nassib and Curtis Painter.

I tell you, Mike Lupica works hard. He works hard to discredit any type of success the Giants had in preseason so that he can sound the alarm bells. The Giants may have found an undrafted free agent receiver who can complement Victor Cruz, but that's not going to be enough for Mike Lupica because Washington looked good with Nassib and Painter throwing him the football. Since Eli Manning sucks, how much will Washington's skills drop off when Eli is throwing him the ball?

But whatever happened against the Jets, and that includes all the good things that happened once Eli got the ball for the last time Friday night, Tom Coughlin’s new offense — the vision of new offensive coordinator Ben McAdoo — will enter the regular season with so many more questions to it than answers it’s not even close.

You mean the Giants team hasn't immediately figured out a new offense with one offseason of work in the new system? If the Giants' offensive players can't grasp a new system immediately then that system will obviously be a failure. It's not like NFL playbooks are complicated or anything.

We keep hearing that because of the new offense, the Giants might get off to a slow start. Gee, there’s good news. How did last season’s slow start work out?

The 2007 Giants started off 0-2 and they won the Super Bowl.

The 2011 Giants were 6-6 and they managed to win the Super Bowl.

But no really, I'm sure the slow start the Giants may hypothetically have can only mean the 2014 season will be a waste. Why even bother to play?

There are still new guys at right guard and left guard and center and a tackle, Will Beatty, coming back from a broken leg.

And the Giants are the only NFL team with question marks after the preseason is over. There must be panic about this, because how can the Giants be expected to compete with all of these other perfect NFL teams who don't have roster questions?

now that Hakeem Nicks is catching balls again and running at full speed, he’s doing all that for the Colts. 

If only the Giants would have known that Nicks would be healthy and could contribute, they could have kept Nicks on the roster. Mike Lupica is great at pointing out which free agents the Giants should have kept after those players have been signed by another team and appear to be healthy. If he were a GM, Mike Lupica would be Executive of the Year if he were allowed to wait until the end of the NFL season and then point out what moves his team should have made.

If Corey Washington does not turn out to be the new Victor Cruz, tell me who the second-most reliable wide receiver is after Cruz.

If Eli Manning dies in a parachuting accident, tell me who the best quarterback on the roster is again?

If the Giants' new stadium spontaneously combusted under the weight of Mike Lupica's ego, then where would the Giants play their home games?

If Tom Coughlin has a heart attack on the sidelines, is Ben McAdoo ready for a head coaching job? WHY HASN'T THIS BEEN ANSWERED IN THE PRESEASON GAMES YET?

Tell me how much you think the Giants are going to get out of tight end.

Who knows? Plenty of teams have succeeded without having a Pro Bowl tight end.

Tell me how sure you are that an almost entirely rebuilt offensive line is going to protect a quarterback who took the kind of beating that Eli took a year ago, especially since so many guys on that offensive line should still be wearing name tags.

And of course because Mike Lupica doesn't know the names of the offensive linemen then this must mean these offensive linemen are terrible at protecting Eli Manning. Mike Lupica is a gold mine of knowledge when it comes to the NFL after all, it's not like he just reacts based on what he's seen from the last game or anything.

And please tell me that you think the Giants of Coughlin and Manning, who haven’t won a single playoff game around those two Super Bowls, who haven’t even made the playoffs lately, are ready to take back the NFC East from Chip Kelly’s Philadelphia Eagles.

The Giants don't have to make the playoffs. They can win this thing called the "Wild Card" which means they just need to have at least the fifth or sixth best record in the NFC to make the playoffs. I understand the concept of the Wild Card isn't relatively new, but Mike Lupica has been busy talking over people on television and lecturing the President of the United States, so he probably hasn't had time to learn about this new "Wild Card" thingie.

Going into the regular season the Jets look a lot more organized on offense, even with a second-year quarterback, than the Giants do. And the Jets are a team built around defense.

And because the Jets are built around defense, there is no way they could be organized on offense. Teams built around defense are unorganized on offense, just like teams built around offense usually only have 9-10 guys playing defense on the field due to not having hired anyone who knows how to coordinate a defense.

It doesn’t mean the Giants can’t figure this out when the games count, far from it.


Mike Lupica has some hot takes about the many questions surrounding the Giants' preseason performance and coats them in doubt about whether the team can be good enough offensively at the beginning of the season to win games, but then is all like, "But you know, it's preseason so who gives a shit...now back to how screwed the Giants are based on their preseason performance."

Nothing like having it both ways, huh? Lupica writes an entire article about how the preseason performance of the Giants means the team is disorganized, the offensive isn't being picked up quickly enough, and there are only two positives to take out of the preseason, but then wants to act like none of these things matter. He's got his bases covered. If the Giants struggle, he can spit out a "I told you the Giants were in trouble" column and if the Giants start out strong he can spit out a "The Giants had issues that I covered in a column, but as I said, it was preseason, and credit goes to the Giants for figuring out and correcting all of the huge problems that I alone pointed out the team had."

We have seen them struggle before in the preseason, but that was when Eli was fully in his comfort zone with Kevin Gilbride’s offense, the only one he has ever known as a professional football player.

Mike Lupica is now acknowledging all of this teeth grinding means nothing. It's typical shitty writing from Lupica that he takes the time to point out how the Giants are screwed if they start off slow (like last year and how did that turn out?!), but then say, "Oh, teams start off slow all the time." Keep riding that middle ground, Mike. Rip the team, but don't rip them hard enough to where your ego gets bruised if you are wrong.

Of course this continues to be the most unusual era in the 90 years of the Giants: Coughlin and Eli winning those two Super Bowls and not winning a single playoff game in any other season they have been together.

Sure, that's odd. I would take the trade-off though.

“No, (I’m) not concerned at this point,” Manning said. “I know we have to keep working and keep getting better. It is not where it needs to be, but I thought there was progress in today’s game. We are going to keep working. It’ll be better and better as things go on and hopefully it will be better next week and better for that opening game. We should be in a better situation. It is not going to be complete at that point. We are going have to continue to make improvements throughout the season.”

They have had four preseason games now. No one is saying the new schemes and the new approach should be “complete” by now.

Mike Lupica earlier in the column:

Tom Coughlin’s new offense — the vision of new offensive coordinator Ben McAdoo — will enter the regular season with so many more questions to it than answers it’s not even close. We keep hearing that because of the new offense, the Giants might get off to a slow start. Gee, there’s good news.

Lupica didn't use the word "complete," but he certainly seems to expect the Giants to have more answers about the offense than they have and finds a slow start to be unacceptable. So it seems like Lupica expects the Giants' offense to be complete without too much more room for improvement.

But you have to believe the first-team Giants’ offense should look better than it does, with one more preseason game, this Thursday night, to play. You would have thought they would have looked good moving the football more than once.

Possibly, but doesn't the fact the second-team offense has looked good mean that some of the Giants players are picking up the new offensive system and can find success in it? I guess not.

You can only imagine what the conversation would be like today if Eli hadn’t taken them down the field that one time Friday night. The Giants defense is going to be better this season, and maybe a lot better than it was last season.

But this doesn't matter because the Giants are a team built around offense. There's no way they can win games with their defense if they are an offensive team. It's impossible for the offense to struggle while the defense excels and the Giants to win games as a result.

It won’t matter if scoring touchdowns is as difficult for this team as scoring runs for the Yankees has been.

And of course Mike ends being negative. Here is Mike Lupica's take on the Giants offense in the preseason.

-It's preseason and the Giants offense hasn't looked good, which means they will start the season off slowly.

-There are so many questions the Giants have that weren't answered in the preseason. This is a bad sign for things to come.

-Who cares? It's preseason.

-The Giants have started slow before with an offense they already know, so their struggles in McAdoo's offense can mean nothing. The Giants' first-team offense doesn't necessarily need to move the ball in the preseason.

-The Giants first-team offense needs to move the ball in the preseason.

-The Giants first-team offense struggling in the preseason means something and if the defense has to carry the team then the Giants won't win games.

-Defense can't win games, except for the Jets who built a team around defense to win games.

Mike Lupica is the best at trying to be the worst. Does anyone like him?

Sunday, August 31, 2014

5 comments Bleacher Report Has the Official List of Riskiest Moves Every NFL Team Made This Offseason

Did you know that every NFL team made a risky move this offseason? You probably didn't know that, but it's true because Bleacher Report says it's true. Even teams that barely made any moves, made a risky move by not making a move. I've not changed my opinion on the dregs of Bleacher Report, but I admit they have done a really good job of hiring top-end talent to write for the site. The problem is the other writers on the site who do the 34 page slideshows where the 34th slide is the link to the next slideshow. These are the same writers who are tasked to write the same type of slideshow eight other Bleacher Report writers have written in the past few weeks. So when I say "Bleacher Report" I'm talking about the dregs and not the entire site as a whole. It used to be more of the entire site as a whole, but the content has improved in many ways.

Anyway, this Bleacher Report author has a list of the riskiest moves NFL teams made, even if they didn't make any moves at all. And yes, the 34th slide is the first slide of the next slideshow, which could not annoy me more.

The NFL offseason is a time for boundless optimism, as every club seemingly morphs into an amalgamation of the '85 Bears and '07 Patriots after free agency and the draft. But the truth of the matter is that each franchise has made at least one risky move that could jeopardize its standing in 2014.

"JEOPARDIZE THEIR STANDING!" Now isn't the time for optimism, now is the time for panic! Every team made a risky move, or didn't make a risky move which in itself was risky, that could cause that team to lose games in 2014. Sure, maybe some of the moves these teams didn't make weren't made for a reason, but that's not the point, the point is "JEOPARDIZE THEIR STANDING," that could happen.

Risky moves come in all different shapes and sizes. Some teams neglected glaring areas of need, and instead fortified positions of strength. Others will go into the season with an injury risk at quarterback and a substandard backup.

I guess the question of, "Was there a better backup available on the free agent market or through the draft?" would be a stupid and overly logical question to ask. It's not like there are a bunch of great backup quarterbacks just hanging out on the free agent market eager to take their spot as the second-best quarterback on an NFL team.

It's possible that all of the moves detailed here could work out, but that's extremely unlikely. The probability is that at least some of these moves will come back to bite teams in the derrière.

This is analysis. It's unlikely all 32 teams will have their moves or lack of moves work out. No kidding. Again, the NFL isn't a video game. There is a supply and demand issue. The author says the Bills took a risk in trading up for Sammy Watkins, but if they didn't trade up for Watkins then what were their other options? Take a lesser receiver in the draft and not give E.J. Manuel a guy they perceive to be the #1 receiver he needs to succeed?

Let's start the slideshow!

Arizona Cardinals: Letting LB Karlos Dansby Walk in Free Agency 

I agree in principle with this, but the criticism is off-base.

Compounding the matter is the season-long suspension of linebacker Daryl Washington, which further weakened Arizona's linebacking corps. In a season where the Cardinals are built to challenge the Seattle Seahawks and San Francisco 49ers for NFC West supremacy, linebacker now looks like their weakest position on defense.

Perhaps the Cardinals should have made Dansby a better offer in an effort to keep him in the desert.

Dansby was signed by the Browns in March and Washington wasn't suspended for the first four games of the season until April and not suspended for the season until May. So while Washington's suspension does compound the problem, it's not as if the Cardinals knew they wouldn't have Washington on the roster for the 2014 season when they didn't match the Browns offer to Dansby. I'm sure if they could predict the future as the author seems to think they should be able to, then they would have worked harder to keep Dansby or find a Plan B.

Atlanta Falcons: Not Acquiring a Top-Notch Pass-Rusher 

Like who? The author never says who this top-notch pass-rusher the Falcons didn't acquire might be. I would figure if there was a top-notch pass-rusher available the Falcons should have signed then the author could at least give this person's name.

But that never happened, as general manager Thomas Dimitroff opted instead to add beef along both the offensive and defensive line. There's no question that those moves were needed, as the Falcons had to become more physical at the point of attack, but it was still surprising to see the team not sign or draft a potentially elite pass-rusher.

Hey, guess what? A pass-rusher is part of the defensive line in the Falcons base 4-3 defense (that was supposedly beefed up). This also brings up the question of how the Falcons can beef up the interior of the defensive line and the offensive line, while still acquiring a potentially elite pass-rusher in the draft. Were the Falcons supposed to secretly draft two players with one draft pick? They had to make choices and if they had not drafted Jake Matthews then the author would say the Falcons were making a risky move by not protecting Matt Ryan. Every team can't fix every hole with a limited amount of draft picks.

Buffalo Bills: Trade Up for WR Sammy Watkins 

What should the Bills have done?

The Bills should have selected an offensive lineman with the ninth overall pick and kept their picks in 2015.

Oh, that makes sense. But what doesn't make sense is which offensive linemen does the author think the Bills should have drafted at #9? There was no offensive lineman other than Taylor Lewan graded to go in the Top 10 of the draft and (spoiler alert) what did the author say about Taylor Lewan in this very slideshow? He says that drafting Taylor Lewan was the biggest risk the Tennessee Titans made this offseason. So..................this is awkward. The author states the Bills should have selected an offensive lineman, but the only offensive lineman worth taking in the Top 10 the author states as being a big risk.
Carolina Panthers: Not Acquiring a Top-Notch Wide Receiver 

Yes, there was a long list of top-notch wide receivers just waiting to be signed for a reasonable amount of money to fit under the Panthers tight cap.

Gone are receivers Steve Smith, Ted Ginn Jr., Brandon LaFell and Domenik Hixon. That quartet of pass-catchers combined for 156 receptions last season.

Gettleman also signed Jason Avant, Jerricho Cotchery and Tiquan Underwood, none of whom inspire much confidence.

They did combine for 108 receptions and are much cheaper considering both LaFell and Ginn were free agents. 

It would have been smart for Gettleman to add multiple receivers in the draft in an effort to restock the cupboard for quarterback Cam Newton, but that didn't happen.

It also would have been smart to draft an offensive lineman considering three members of the 2013 offensive line retired and it would have been smart to draft a defensive lineman considering the team can't afford to pay Greg Hardy the $80 million he wants after this season. But again, wide receivers are super shiny! Who cares about the other needs the team had?

Dallas Cowboys: Not Having a Reliable Backup Option for QB Tony Romo

Who? Who should the Cowboys have signed to be the reliable backup? This is typical talk radio bullshit. A guy criticizes a team for not making a move, but has no suggestions for what that team should have done. Was there a large group of reliable free agent backup quarterbacks that I wasn't aware of? Fine, the Cowboys should have gotten a good backup for Romo. Who? Just pointing out what the Cowboys did wrong without a suggestion on what they could have done right is typical talk radio bullshit, simply designed to elicit a reaction.

Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo is 34 years old and is coming off a second back surgery, so it should stand to reason that the team has a reliable backup option, right?

Well, team owner and general manager Jerry Jones doesn't seem to agree with that logical train of thought, as it appears likely that former Browns draft bust Brandon Weeden will be the player a heartbeat away from being the starting passer of America's Team.

Kyle Orton could be the backup if he doesn't retire. Perhaps Jerry Jones decided he didn't want to pay backup money for a guy who may end up being a third string quarterback?

Yes, the same Weeden who owns a 5-15 career record as a starter and has tossed more career interceptions (26) than touchdowns (23).

This is as opposed to the large variety of free agent backup quarterbacks who have a winning record as a starter and have significantly more touchdowns than interceptions?

Green Bay Packers: Signing Undrafted TE Colt Lyerla 

If signing an undrafted free agent is the riskiest move an NFL team has made in the offseason then I would say that team hasn't really made any risky moves. Lyerla is an undrafted free agent. There's no risk behind signing him.

Green Bay is currently unsettled at the tight end position. The team's primary starter there for the past five seasons, Jermichael Finley, is currently a free agent and is coming off major neck surgery. The Packers drafted Richard Rodgers in the third round, and Andrew Quarless remains from last season.

It's possible that the Packers will count on Lyerla to produce in the passing attack. And given his past transgressions, he could prove to be a very difficult player to trust.

So wouldn't the Packers risky move have been to not sign a reliable tight end and rely on a draft pick and an undrafted free agent to contribute at the position? Signing Colt Lyerla is almost a no-risk proposition. There's no risk other than he can't be part of the solution at tight end for the Packers.

Houston Texans: Drafting Tom Savage as QB of the Future 

I'm not sure teams draft quarterbacks and officially label them "QB of the future," but whatever. I won't argue semantics. What was the solution presented by the author?

The team could have traded back into the first round to select Teddy Bridgewater, but opted to stand pat and nab the inconsistent Savage in the fourth.

Yeah, that would have been a much better idea. Unfortunately, the Texans didn't do this. But wait, what did the author say the Vikings riskiest decision this offseason was?

Minnesota Vikings: Trading Back into 1st Round to Draft QB Teddy Bridgewater

Oh. So rather than make the risky move of drafting Tom Savage, the Texans should have moved up into the first round to draft Teddy Bridgewater. By the way, THIS IS EXACTLY WHAT THE VIKINGS DID and the author said this was the riskiest move the Vikings team made all offseason. So for the second time the author suggests a team draft a different player in the 2014 NFL Draft than they drafted, but then states the team that drafted that player made a risky move in doing so. So the Texans should have exchanged one risky move for another or the author simply can't remember the contradictory shit he's writing. I'll let you be the judge.

Miami Dolphins: Drafting OT Ja'wuan James in 1st Round 

But his drafting of tackle Ja'Wuan James in the first round represented a major reach. James was considered by many to be a fringe Day 1 prospect, and while he should step in and start at right tackle, it's debatable if he merited selecting in that spot.

Three issues with this paragraph:

1. If James steps in and is the starter at right tackle then isn't that a persuasive argument he merited selection where the Dolphins selected him? He is starting as a rookie, which is what they drafted him to do.

2. This whole "Day 1 prospect" thing means nothing. The way the NFL Draft is split up now, a Day 1 prospect is a 1st round pick. So "Day 1 prospect" now means "1st round prospect."

3. Speaking of being a Day 1 prospect and a major reach. That's not entirely accurate. I used the Google machine to do a quick search to see where James was projected to go and this is what I found.

Walter Football had James as a "steal" at #64. He also said there are a lot of teams that would consider taking James in the second round.

NFL Draft Scout had James as a 1-2 round selection.

CBS Sports had James as a 1-2 round selection.

NFL.com had James as a 2-3 round selection.

Granted, not every scout agrees that Ju'wuan James was a first round selection, but the Dolphins needed a tackle and there are plenty of reputable outlets that had him going in the first round or early second round. That doesn't mean he is a major reach at #19.

Minnesota Vikings: Trading Back into 1st Round to Draft QB Teddy Bridgewater

I'm not sure how a team in desperate need of a quarterback that trades back into the first round to take a quarterback that was projected to go in the first round for much of the draft process (and even was seen as possibly going #1 overall) is taking a major risk.

But if Bridgewater falters and proves the critics right, the team's decision to trade back into the first round to select him (32nd overall) will surely set the franchise back and get general manager Rick Spielman fired.

But if the Vikings didn't draft a quarterback who could start for them this year, then the Vikings could struggle to go .500 and Rick Spielman will be fired anyway. Trading back into the first round to draft a quarterback who was projected to go in the first round isn't that much of a risk.
New Orleans Saints: Trading RB Darren Sproles 

That made it all the more surprising when Saints general manager Mickey Loomis and coach Sean Payton dealt Sproles to NFC rival Philadelphia for a fifth-round pick in this past May's draft.

Yes, the Saints traded up to select speedy receiver Brandin Cooks in the first round, and the team is expected to deploy Cooks in a similar fashion to how Sproles was utilized. But Cooks is unproven, while Sproles has been successful at the NFL level for years.

Sproles is also 30 years old, while Brandin Cook is not 30 years old. I mean, sure, the Saints possibly replaced Sproles production but it was a risk to trade Sproles and open up salary cap room to sign other players that would improve their team. Trading a 30 year old running back who isn't really a running back and opening up salary cap room to improve the team at other positions is JEOPARDIZING THE SAINTS SEASON!

Plus, the Eagles are the favorite to win the NFC East, and could end up facing the Saints in the playoffs. Why in the world would New Orleans want to possibly face Sproles come next January?

Perhaps because the Saints were originally just going to release Sproles, but the Eagles were the only team willing to give up a 5th round pick to acquire him? There are two conferences in the NFL. GM's can't worry about trading a player within the same conference or else even fewer trades would happen than do currently occur.
New York Jets: Not Acquiring a Big-Name Cornerback 

The Jets tried to bring back Darrelle Revis, but he signed with rival New England. They tried to sign Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, but he inked a deal with the crosstown Giants. They cut Antonio Cromartie, who signed with the Cardinals. They watched as Alterraun Verner (Tampa Bay) and Vontae Davis (Indianapolis) left the market.

So the Jets tried to acquire a big-name cornerback (and of course a cornerback HAS to be a big-name or else he isn't an impact cornerback of course), but they couldn't manage to do so. I'm not understanding the risky move. The Jets did try to acquire a big-name cornerback, they just failed. What would be risky is paying a cornerback a ton of money he isn't worth simply to shore up a position the team perceives as a need. As usual, too many people mistaken making a move for the sake of making a move as progress.

Pittsburgh Steelers: Not Drafting a Cornerback in the 1st Round 

In the first round of May's draft, the Pittsburgh Steelers drafted a potential difference-maker at the linebacker position in Ryan Shazier.
Shazier could shine in coordinator Dick LeBeau's defense and has the opportunity to bring speed and playmaking ability to a linebacking corps in desperate need of both.

Stupid, stupid move. Since when has any NFL team benefited from upgrading their pass rush? It's not like a great pass rush helps take pressure off the secondary or anything like that. As I've said before in regard to this pick, not drafting a cornerback isn't a risky or dumb move if the Steelers are able to upgrade their pass rush. I don't get why some people think an NFL team is capable of fixing every weakness in one offseason. It's not realistic.

San Francisco 49ers: Engaging in Trade Talks for Coach Jim Harbaugh 

There is a lot more to this than the 49ers simply engaging in trade talks for Jim Harbaugh. It's not like they woke up one day and decided they wanted to get rid of him. The trade talks were a result of disagreements between he and Trent Baalke and the fact Harbaugh wanted a contract extension worthy of a head coach who had won a Super Bowl.

But that apparently hasn't been enough to secure his long-term employment, as Harbaugh's contract will expire after the 2015 season. Plus, the 49ers reportedly engaged in trade talks with the Cleveland Browns for Harbaugh's services.

If the author read the article he would see that Harbaugh isn't entirely happy in San Francisco and the 49ers have denied they were involved with trade talks. I don't believe them, but still, they did deny it and there seems to be a reason other than pure boredom to trade Harbaugh. He wants a lot of money and wants more power, power that Trent Baalke currently has.

This is as ridiculous a story as the NFL has seen in a long time. Harbaugh has proved to be one of the league's finest coaches and has helped return the 49ers to relevance.

Which is why Harbaugh wants to be paid like one of the league's finest coaches, if not the league's finest coach, and the 49ers are hesitant to do so. It's a matter of economics, not a risk the 49ers were just wildly taking.

Seattle Seahawks: Not Yet Addressing RB Marshawn Lynch's Unhappiness 

Seattle's risky move was not overpaying a 28 year old running back? I would think it's the opposite that is a risky move. After all, remember what happened the last time the Seahawks handed a huge contract to a 28 year old running back?

The only way to address Lynch's unhappiness is to pay him. The Seahawks will have to pay Russell Wilson in coming years, so I think the risky move would be to pay Marshawn Lynch and reward him for his great play, thereby tying up cap room in the future.

Lynch was the bell cow of last year's Super Bowl champions and still has a lot left in the tank.

Does he have a lot left in the tank? How is that known for sure? His yards and yards per carry were down last year. He's also a running back getting near the age of 30, which historically is a time when running backs start to decline.

The Seahawks would be wise to resolve this situation as soon as possible and make sure Lynch is brought into the fold for training camp.

The only way to bring him into the fold is to pay him. I disagree the Seahawks would be wise to pay him and it's risky to not sign him to a new contract. Lynch is a great running back, but the risky move would be to give him the contract extension that he wants. I don't devalue running backs as much as others might, but the position certainly doesn't have the market value it used to have.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Signing QB Josh McCown and Naming Him the Starter 

Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Mike Glennon played splendidly as a rookie, tossing 19 touchdowns against nine interceptions and leading a suspect roster to a 4-9 record as the starter.

But new Bucs coach Lovie Smith and general manager Jason Licht made it apparent that Glennon wasn't their choice for 2014, as they inked free-agent quarterback Josh McCown to a two-year, $10 million deal and quickly named him the starter.

After complaining other teams like the Cowboys didn't have a quality backup quarterback, the Buccaneers do have a quality backup quarterback in Glennon, but this doesn't please the author. The Buccaneers also signed McCown and the author is now stating it was risky to name McCown the starter. It's not like Lovie Smith can't change his mind in August after the preseason starts. So it's risky to not have a quality backup quarterback and it's risky to not allow a quality backup be given the chance to be the starter. Everything is risky.

Tennessee Titans: Drafting OT Taylor Lewan in the 1st Round 

Much like the New York Giants' selection of receiver Odell Beckham Jr. in the first round, this isn't an indictment of tackle Taylor Lewan, whom the Titans selected with the 11th overall selection in May's draft: It's that the Titans had more pressing needs to fill.

Oh, ok. I get it. Drafting a quality offensive lineman was a risky move because the Titans had other needs to fill. So wouldn't the risky move be "Drafting an offensive lineman" and not specifically drafting Taylor Lewan? Because saying "Drafting Taylor Lewan in the 1st round" certainly sounds like an indictment of Lewan, which is an interesting opinion considering the author was fine with Lewan being picked two picks earlier by the Bills.

The Titans lost Alterraun Verner in free agency and could have spent their first-round selection on a cornerback to replace him. They could have also tabbed a pass-rusher to fit in new coordinator Ray Horton's 3-4 defense.

Which corner specifically? As usual throughout this slideshow, the author has no suggestions for which specific move these teams should have made to avoid making a risky move. He's able to identify the risk, but stops short of actually providing a specific solution he thinks these teams should have made instead of taking the risk.

Washington Redskins: Hiring Jay Gruden as Head Coach 

It must be said that I'm a fan of new Washington Redskins coach Jay Gruden, and I have previously praised the hire in this space.

I don't understand how hiring Jay Gruden is the riskiest move of the offseason in the author's opinion, while also being a good hire in the author's opinion.

But that doesn't mean that bringing on Gruden didn't represent a risk by general manager Bruce Allen.

Sure, it is a risk, but both articles mentioning Gruden were the author's opinion. How can the author think Gruden was a smart choice and will succeed, while also thinking his hire was the biggest risk of the offseason? That is unless the Redskins didn't really make a risky move in hiring Gruden. These two opinions don't have to be mutually exclusive, but it seems to me if the author likes Gruden, then he doesn't think the move to hire him was the riskiest move of the Redskins offseason.

But we do know that, despite feelings one way or the other concerning his potential success, Gruden was a risky hire.

It was a risky hire, unless you listen to the author's previous opinion were he stated it was "a terrific hire" and Gruden is "capable of getting the best out of Griffin and returning the Redskins to the playoff chase." Doesn't sound that risky to me. 

Thursday, August 28, 2014

11 comments Gregg Easterbrook Is Never Actually Wrong, He Just Doesn't Understand His Own Argument

Gregg Easterbrook helped ESPN introduce ESPN Grade last week in TMQ. It was the disaster that I was anticipating it would be. ESPN Grade only took the academic and football rankings of teams ranked in the Top 25, then ranked these teams against each other in order to see which college programs took academics seriously. I find it to be a useless metric. Gregg also "previewed" the AFC, while not really providing a preview of any kind, and more was reviewing what happened last year. This week Gregg "previews" the NFC, finds out he was wrong about Jacksonville giving money to build a new scoreboard instead of giving the money to the Jacksonville public schools and talks yet again about "creep." It's the topic some idiot readers write into Gregg claiming to notice and then this gives Gregg cause to continue writing about it. Make it stop.

The 2013 NFL season ended with the Seattle Seahawks crushing Denver in the Super Bowl. But will they even reach the playoffs this season?

No, because they have too many undrafted, hard-working players who have become highly-drafted glory boys who only care about themselves and look into the backfield while trying to cover a receiver. It's been decided.

The two prior Super Bowl victors, the Ravens and Giants, failed to reach the postseason the following year. Those two clubs were a combined 17-15 in the seasons following their confetti shower after the final contest. Fifteen of the 48 Super Bowl winners -- nearly a third of those to hoist the Lombardi Trophy -- didn't make the playoffs the next year.

I can't speak for other NFL teams who have won the Super Bowl, but as I explained in MMQB on Tuesday, the Seahawks may be different because they were a dominant team over the entire season who is bringing back the core of their team. Both the Giants and Ravens weren't dominant over the course of the entire season they won the Super Bowl and also lost key players from that Super Bowl-winning team. The Seahawks lost players like Golden Tate, but a healthy Percy Harvin more than makes up for that loss. So I would think the Seahawks have a better chance than recent Super Bowl winners of repeating as champs.

More than that, the 16-game season means a break here or a bounce there can be the difference between a playoff run and January on the couch. MLB teams play 162 regular-season contests, and NBA teams play 82; in that many the impact of luck washes out, and the best teams earn the postseason invites. Just one of the NBA's 68 title teams, the 1998 Chicago Bulls, failed to reach the next postseason. Then baseball and basketball play five- or seven-game postseason series. Luck might determine the victor in any one game; after seven games, the best team almost always wins.

Which explains perfectly why five Wild Card teams have won the World Series since it was instituted in 1995 and five other Wild Card teams made the World Series, but lost. You know, the better team in MLB almost always wins because the season is so long and a seven game series takes removes the variable of luck. Maybe Gregg thinks the better baseball team just isn't the team that won it's division.

Since football's relatively small number of regular-season contests are followed by a postseason knockout round, practically anything can happen.

Baseball also has a one-game knockout Wild Card round. Gregg does have a point about the small number of regular season contests and how that impacts which teams make the playoffs, but baseball does now have the one-game Wild Card game where anything can happen. 

For the Ravens in their Super Bowl year, two long, fluky, last-second gains at San Diego and Denver were the difference between a magnificent season and also-ran status. For the Giants in their Super Bowl year, every bounce of the ball went their way in the NFC title contest at San Francisco, and then again in the Super Bowl versus New England.

Lady Luck smiled on the Seahawks in 2013 and perhaps will again this year -- but don't count on it.

I don't recall the Seahawks having luck like the Ravens had with Rahim Moore allowing the long pass to Jacoby Jones two seasons ago and the fumble by Kyle Williams of the 49ers three seasons ago that benefited the Giants (was that really luck?). I know, facts are malleable things Gregg enjoys bending to his will.

Conventional wisdom holds that first- and second-round draft selections are the essence of football success. Yet the Seahawks won the Super Bowl the past season with the league's second-lowest total of games played by first- and second-round selections;

So this must mean that first round draft choices are useless because the Seahawks didn't have many players who were first or second round picks. That's the only logical conclusion here.

Seattle got fine performances from mid-round and late-round selections, while seven of the top 10 teams for games by high draft picks failed to make the playoffs.

A little-known guy who goes all-out can be a better NFL performer than a highly drafted star, and Seattle had little-known guys going all out in 2013. This was best exemplified by seventh-round draft selection Malcolm Smith's winning the Super Bowl's MVP trophy, while Peyton Manning (No. 1 overall pick in 1998) and Champ Bailey (seventh overall in 1999) had their heads in their hands.

If anyone should have their head in their hands, it is Gregg Easterbrook for intentionally misleading and lying to his audience. He picks two high draft choices from the Broncos when he wants to prove the Broncos have highly-paid glory boys, but he'll also be sure to talk later this season about little known Julius Thomas and undrafted Wes Welker when it's convenient for him to do so. The Seahawks had first round pick Marshawn Lynch running the football and first round pick (and highly-paid glory boy) Percy Harvin return a kickoff for a touchdown in the Super Bowl.

Here are the most games played by first- and second-round choices in the 2013 season:

Cincinnati 263
Kansas City 255
Jersey/B 254
Jersey/A 253
San Francisco 243
Detroit 224
Baltimore 223
Tennessee 222
Minnesota 220
Atlanta 219

Over the last three years, eight of these ten teams have made the playoffs.

Buffalo 217
Indianapolis 216
Pittsburgh 214
Arizona 214
St. Louis 210
Carolina 208
Denver 204
Cleveland 204
Washington 203
Houston 198
Chicago 193
Philadelphia 192
New England 190
San Diego 188
City of Tampa 175
New Orleans 173
Jacksonville 163
Green Bay 160
Oakland 158
Dallas 146
Seattle 141
Miami 124

Over the last three years, 12 of these 22 teams have made the playoffs. the results change a bit when you extrapolate the data past one season.

Now, onto TMQ's NFC preview

It's a review, not a preview. Nothing is being previewed.

Atlanta: Was it really just a year and a half ago that the Falcons, hosting the NFC title contest, came within a couple snaps of the Super Bowl? It seems so much longer, especially to those who endured the team's 2013 tailspin.

Gregg Easterbrook earlier in this column: "NFL teams may not make the playoffs one year and then make the playoffs the next year because of the 16 game schedule This is normal."

Gregg Easterbrook here: "I can't believe it's been one season since the Falcons have made the playoffs! It seems so long ago! Who would have thought the Falcons would miss the playoffs the year after almost making the Super Bowl?"

Since they took their home field for the NFC title game, the Falcons are 4-13. General manager Thomas Dimitroff gambled the club's future on the 2011 kings' ransom trade for Julio Jones, and the gamble failed. Not only did Atlanta fail to reach the Super Bowl, but Jones also has failed to justify the trade.

The Falcons are 27-21 since acquiring Julio Jones. Jones has 174 receptions in 34 games played, with 2,737 yards and 20 touchdowns. Gregg is absolutely lying that Julio Jones hasn't justified the trade. Any team in the NFL would trade for a player who averages 5 catches, 80 yards and 0.58 touchdowns per game. Any team. That is 80 catches for 1280 yards and 9 touchdown catches in a 16 game season. Gregg is annoying as hell when he downplays a first round pick's performance simply because he wants it to fit his narrative.

Now the Falcons are on the downward side of a talent cycle. The defense was among the league's worst in 2013 and offered a raft of has-beens.

Gregg linked the Falcons defense for the 2014 season, but he wouldn't know that because he doesn't read the links he posts. The Top 15 defensive players (in terms of tackles) on the Falcons 2013 team had an average of 4.8 years in the NFL (which puts them at the age of 26-28 years of age) and started three rookies on defense. ESPN has to do better than give Gregg Easterbrook a forum for his lies.

The Falcons' running game is expected to make another try at featuring Steven Jackson. But with the most carries in the league in the past decade -- 2,553 -- it's hard to believe Jackson's body can withstand much more.

Which is probably why they drafted Devonta Freeman to back up Jackson. I can't wait until Freeman has a great year and Gregg talks about how Freeman wasn't picked until the fourth round behind glory boys like Bishop Sankey and Carlos Hyde, yet on August 26 Gregg Easterbrook had no idea Freeman even existed on the Falcons roster. He's such a fraud.

Network politics note: Atlanta finished 4-12 the past season and gets a Monday Night Football appearance in 2014; Washington finished 3-13 and gets two MNF dates; Buffalo had a better record than either and will not appear on Monday Night Football.

It's almost like nationally televised games are based on ratings and not a team's record the previous season.

Arizona: The past season, the Cardinals finished 10-6, then stayed home as 8-7-1 Green Bay and 9-7 San Diego advanced to the postseason -- yet another point in favor of TMQ's contention that the NFL postseason should be a seeded tournament, a la March Madness. Because west-of-the-Rockies NFL teams don't seem to impact the national sports consciousness during the regular season, Arizona's 2013 performance is a blank spot in the minds of all but the team's fan base and the most ardent football enthusiasts.

Just last year Gregg Easterbrook wrote a TMQ about how West Coast football was in style and now he's claiming no one pays attention to the West Coast NFL teams, despite the fact two of the four teams in the AFC and NFC Championship Games played west of the Rockies and the Broncos are just east of the Rockies. Consistency is not Gregg's thing.

The Cactus Wrens played stout defense in 2013 and finished sixth overall. Three of the league's top six defenses of 2013 were west-of-the-Rockies, which leads to TMQ's theory that the West Coast Offense has given way to the West Coast Defense. The West Coast Defense is back to basics -- few gimmick fronts, little blitzing, disciplined linebackers.

Yeah, but the 49ers run that 3-4 defense that Gregg referred to as a "fad" a few years ago. I guess that's a fad defense, but not a gimmicky one?

Carson Palmer revived his fading career with Arizona in 2013 but threw 22 interceptions. 

Julio Jones is one of the best receivers in the NFL and he hasn't justified the picks given up to acquire him, meanwhile Carson Palmer threw two more touchdowns than interceptions, had the 20th best QB rating, and 19th best QBR rating and Gregg thinks he revived his fading career. There's no logical reason for his points of view.

All coaches claim to face killer schedules -- this helps set expectations low -- but Arizona has an actual killer schedule: eight contests versus playoff teams from the past season, including four games versus Seattle and San Francisco, last year's two strongest teams, and a date at Denver.

Yeah, but since some NFL teams have a hard time making it back to the playoffs in back-to-back years this killer schedule may not mean much due to these playoffs teams from 2013 possibly taking a step back during the 2014 season and not making the playoffs.

Unified Field Theory of Creep: Reader Randall Pierce of Fredericksburg, Virginia: "On August 15th, my wife received an email from Pottery Barn urging her 'not to miss out' on 'spooktacular Halloween costumes.'" Get your Halloween shopping done before Labor Day!

I feel like I need to find a shorthand for, "Retail stores try to create urgency in consumers in order to get them to purchase items as early as possible in order to make as much money as possible." As I've said a thousand times, the fact Gregg Easterbrook and Randall from Virginia don't understand how retail works is more of a reflection on them than it is an example of "creep."

Carolina's defense plays a Tampa 2 with press corners, deep safeties and little blitzing. As in the original Tampa 2, Carolina's fast linebackers are the key.

Carolina does play a Tampa 2, but they really don't. Sean McDermott's defense is inspired by Jim Johnson's attacking defense, so there are definite differences. Still, when the front four can get pressure and the corners are horrendous, that team plays a lot of Cover 2 or Cover 3.

He will be protected by left tackle Byron Bell, an undrafted free agent from a University of New Mexico team that went 1-11. A classic late bloomer, Bell is outperforming several highly touted tackles from his draft year, including first-round selections Gabe Carimi and Derek Sherrod.

Is Bell outperforming these guys? Bell has a -2.8 rating at right tackle last year and he is now protecting Cam Newton's blind side (in related news, Newton is going to be murdered this year by a pass rusher). The only ones who are really confident Byron Bell can play left tackle is the Panthers coaching staff and I bet most of their confidence is because there are few other options. Just because he's undrafted and starts doesn't mean Bell is a good football player. His performance last year and against Chandler Jones in the preseason says differently.

Half the plots on the many "Star Trek" serials boiled down to this formula:

1. Crew notices something interesting.
2. Captain leads away team that investigates.
3. The thing is not what it seemed! Captain is in grave peril.
4. Remainder of the episode is a rescue mission.

Then stop watching "Star Trek." It's that easy.

Female personnel have served on United States surface combatant vessels for about 20 years and on submarines for about two years, so the show's depiction of a casually mixed-gender complement is accurate. But the women of the James, on active duty aboard a warship during the apocalypse, wear eye makeup and lipstick. Don't they know loose lips sink ships?

That's a great point, Gregg. All women in the military are ugly and never wear any type of makeup. If "The Last Ship" was realistic it would not have the women wearing any makeup and they would spend most of their time on the ship being sexually harassed. Gregg had to admit the show had a realistic battleship depiction, so he was stretching to try and find something to criticize about the show.

New head coach Lovie Smith cut Pro Bowl tackle Donald Penn without even discussing the situation with him.

No way! This must be the first time a person was fired without a three hour long conversation about why he's being fired.

Going into the past season, a scout might have said Tampa's best players were Darrelle Revis, Josh Freeman, Carl Nicks, Mike Williams and Penn. When Smith arrived, all were unceremoniously shown the door -- four waived, one traded for a late-round draft choice.

A scout might have also said different players were the Buccaneers best players. Josh Freeman was traded before Lovie Smith showed up, but again, I wouldn't want facts to get in the way of the narrative that Gregg is pushing. God knows he doesn't give a shit about facts. Carl Nicks was perpetually injured, Darrelle Revis was expensive (highly-paid glory boy who only cares about himself alert!), Josh Freeman had conflict with Greg Schiano and Mike Williams seemed to have some troubles that led to his being traded. It's not like these players were released or traded for no reason.

City of Tampa enters the new season on its third head coach-general manager combination in six seasons. By unloading high-profile players from the previous regime, Smith and new general manager Jason Licht set the bar low: If the team wins, all is well; if it loses, they can't possibly be expected to win now, considering the mess they inherited!

Or they are trying to clean up the mess they inherited, but that couldn't possibly be the case could it?

The Windy City is known for its sports curses -- the Billy Goat Curse on the Cubs (no pennant since tossing the owner of the Billy Goat Tavern and his pet goat from a game in 1945), the Shoeless Joe Curse on the White Sox (no World Series win for most of a century because Shoeless Joe could not say it ain't so) and the Honey Bears Curse on the Bears (no Super Bowl victory since abolishing their cheerleader squad in 1985 for the crime of "being too sexy"). Soon the Devin Hester Curse might be added.

Great, so if the Bears don't win the Super Bowl this year then Gregg will blame it on a fake curse and only on a fake curse.

This offseason, Jerry Jones agreed to $110 million ($40 guaranteed) for Tyron Smith. Last offseason, Jones agreed to $108 million ($55 million guaranteed) for Tony Romo. Thus, in about 12 months, Jones promised $218 million ($95 million guaranteed) to two players who have combined for a career total of one postseason victory.

When Gregg hands out facts like this, it makes me want to punch something. He's now blaming an offensive lineman for the Cowboys not winning but one playoff game. I almost don't even know what to say. I can't fathom how Gregg combines the career total of playoff wins of an offensive lineman and a quarterback and then thinks he has a point.

Romo is 1-3 in the playoffs; Smith has never made a playoffs appearance. So let's break the bank to make sure we keep these guys together!

Tyron Smith is 23 years old, has been in the NFL for only three years and was named to the Pro Bowl, as well as was named second team All-Pro. It's fun to bash Jerry Jones, but he paid for a left tackle who isn't even close to being in his prime. Playoff victories have nothing to do with it.

The Lions have spent lavishly on their defensive line -- three recent high No. 1 picks -- and don't have much to show for it, having finished 28th in sacks in 2013. Even this modest performance might decline; high No. 1 draft choice defensive tackle Nick Fairley showed up for camp overweight and out of shape and was introduced to the bench. Last season Detroit was sixth on offense and 16th on defense --

Green Bay has used its last three first-round choices on defenders Nick Perry, Datone Jones and Ha-Ha Clinton-Dix. Clinton-Dix has not had a chance to play, but Perry and Jones have -- and combined for just 11 of a possible 51 starts. The past season the Packers were third in offense and 25th in defense. Green Bay was the sole playoff team that allowed at least 30 touchdown passes. It does not matter how flashy Aaron Rodgers is if the defense can't stop a stiff breeze. And think about this: in 2013, in the traditionally bruising NFC North, Chicago, Green Bay and Minnesota all had bottom-quintile defenses.

Remember, Gregg calls this a "preview" and he just can't stop only talking about what happened last season.

The summer's chart-topper was Iggy Azalea's "Fancy," but this song is like gulping an icy drink -- nice for a moment, but soon you wish you hadn't.

Great analogy, Gregg. Reading TMQ is like eating a shit sandwich. There's no reason to do it other than to prove you hate yourself.

If "Fancy" were the song of summer 2014, what would that say about the human condition?

It would say that humans like catchy songs.

But today's short-passing tactics and strict enforcement of the chuck rule -- which TMQ continues to think should be called the Charles rule -- 

Gregg gets paid to write this shit. Paid. To write the "chuck rule" should be called "the Charles rule."

Manning has two Super Bowl rings and is 8-3 in the postseason; Tony Romo is 1-3 in the postseason and has becoming really proficient at watching the Super Bowl on television. Guess who has the bigger contract.

Guess who signed their contract five years ago and the amount a good quarterback receives per season in a contract has increased since then?

Gregg is great at comparing apples and oranges, as long as the apple has been sitting out on the counter for two months, while the orange was just picked, and then he will marvel this orange tastes better than the apple so all oranges must taste better than apples.

Last season, Minnesota finished 31st in defense and 23rd in passing offense. Despite a huge investment of draft picks in their secondary, the Vikings allowed a league-worst 37 touchdown passes and were second worst in passing yards surrendered.

The Vikings started a 3rd round pick, 7th round pick, 1st round pick, and 2nd round pick last year. They were backed up by a 5th round pick, 1st round pick, and two undrafted players. I'm not sure I would consider that a huge investment of draft picks.

Now the Vikings might start a rookie quarterback along with a rookie coach, Mike Zimmer, who has never been a head coach at any level, not even in high school. What could go wrong?

If Gregg had been paying attention, he would know the Vikings named Matt Cassel the starter prior to TMQ being posted. I recognize it's not Gregg's job to actually know what he is talking about, rather it is his job to react to what just happened and then criticize the parties involved. Also, Mike Tomlin was not a head coach at any level before he coached the Steelers, John Fox had never been a head coach prior to coaching the Panthers, and Tony Dungy wasn't a head coach before coaching the Buccaneers. So not having been a head coach at any level doesn't mean anything in regard to whether a rookie NFL head coach will have success in that position.

Unified Field Theory of Creep #2: Reader Tony Manganello of Upland, Indiana, writes, "I teach as an adjunct at a small Midwestern liberal arts university and on March 12, 2014, received an exam copy of a textbook called Cases in International Relations: Pathways to Conflict and Cooperation. It's copyrighted 2015."

I hope this guy doesn't teach copyright law, because this isn't "creep." My understanding from researching copyrights is this just means the publisher mis-marked the date of production and this could be a defense against infringement on this copyright. But what a cutesy little mention of "creep." Very fanciful.

From earlier in this TMQ:

Boys PR watch: New Dallas defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli is likely to be praised this season for doing a great job. Why? Last season the Cowboys had the league's worst defense, so the numbers can only improve.

In 2012 the Boy Scouts' defense was egregious and allowed the most yards in NFL annals. In 2013, that defense was excellent and finished fourth against yards. This one-season jump from 32nd to fourth, moving up 28 places, is the second-best defensive improvement ever by rank; 2001 to 2002, the Panthers improved from 32nd to second against yards. That team allowed 81 fewer yards per game in its improved 2002 season; the Saints of 2013 allowed 135 fewer yards per contest than the previous year. In essence, the 2013 Saints gave up three fewer drives per game -- spectacular improvement.

The early 2013 arrival of defensive coordinator Rob Ryan was the most obvious change, because Ryan is such a visible presence on the New Orleans sideline.

While there is reason to compliment Ryan's improvement with the Saints defense, I just thought this was funny. The ranking can only improve so that's true, but it's fine for Gregg to praise a defensive coordinator when he improves the defense from worst to 4th in the NFL, but silly and egregiously dumb when someone else praises for a defensive coordinator increasing his defense's ranking from worst in the league the season before.

And now the party is joined by Jairus Byrd, one of the league's top defenders. He and last year's first-round choice, Kenny Vaccaro, should give the Saints an outstanding pair of safeties.

Outstanding safeties drafted in the first and second round. Very interesting.

Unwanted by San Diego and Miami, Drew Brees continues to spin the scoreboard at New Orleans and at this point is a slam-dunk for Canton.

I've debunked this myth so many times, I'm not going to do it again. Okay, I will. Both San Diego and Miami made contract offers to Brees and he chose to go to New Orleans, where in no coincidence, he was being offered the most guaranteed money. Gregg has pushed this narrative for a while now, but Brees chose the team that offered him the most money. He wasn't unwanted by Miami and San Diego, New Orleans was just willing to offer him more money to show they wanted him more.

Not bad for a guy who's too short to play QB!

He was the first pick of the second round in 2001. He was considered too short, but it didn't hurt his draft stock too dramatically.

Brees squats in the huddle, gazing up at his teammates then leaping to his feet at the break. This extra exertion -- not many quarterbacks would want to get down then get up before every play -- seems a byproduct of Brees's cross-fit-style offseason conditioning program, which emphasizes core strength rather than bicep and quad strength.

Oh yeah, anecdotal evidence proves this as true.

Jax Tax: Last week I excoriated Jacksonville for spending $43 million in taxpayers' money on Jaguars scoreboard upgrades rather than on improving the city's sketchy public schools. Many Jax fans countered that I did not understand local law. For example, JD tweeted: "The $43 million comes from a hotel tax that is specifically obligated for sports facilities and promoting tourism."

That's true, but what difference does it make?

It makes a difference because you stated this money went to the Jaguars instead of going to the public school system, when this money would NEVER have gone to the public school system because it was earmarked for tourism. Quite frankly, if you don't know the difference then you are being willfully stupid or are just actually stupid. Money earmarked for sports facilities and promoting tourism won't ever go to the schools. So the idea this money could have gone to the public schools was wrong. That's the difference. Just say you were wrong.

If local law taxes hotels to support professional sports, it's still public money underwriting NFL profit.

But that wasn't your argument. Your argument was this money should be going to the schools, not to the NFL. You can't change your argument now that you have been proven wrong. It is public money underwriting NFL profit, but that's not the argument you were making. You made the argument it was NFL money underwriting profit at the expense of the public schools, when this was proven to be incorrect.

Gregg doesn't even understand his own argument he was making. Either that or (surprise!) he's lying and misleading his readers as he is prone to do.

Plus, bear in mind that market theory says whatever you tax, you get less of. Taxing hotel use discourages hotel use, which is bad for tourism. If Jacksonville politicians insist on discouraging tourism by taxing hotel beds, the proceeds should serve a public purpose, not private profit for the one percent.

Gregg is wrong because he didn't do sufficient research on this topic, so he changes the subject to make himself look right and talk about a subject he knows more about. I don't see how someone can read TMQ and not see the fraud that is Gregg Easterbrook. He's a phony. When he's wrong about criticism he makes, he changes the subject. He can't just say he was wrong or say, "You know I didn't even read the article I linked or do any research prior to making the criticism."

Football columns are unlikely to be your best source of information on social trends.

Or in the case of TMQ, football columns aren't likely to be the best source of information about football.

St. Louis: Like the Vikings, the Rams are swimming in high draft selections -- nine first- or second-round choices over the past three drafts. And like the Vikings, Les Mouflons don't have much to show for it, having gone 14-17-1 since the mega-trade that sent Robert Griffin III to Washington for a draft bounty.

It hurts the Rams that their starting quarterback has gotten injured and they had to try and win games with their backup quarterback. Yes, that is Les Snead and Jeff Fisher's fault, but the Rams lack of success isn't tied to their ability to draft well. Also, Gregg is including three picks that haven't played a game yet this year, which not only is nonsensical, but a little unfair. As always, Gregg wants to lie and mislead his readers in order to prove his point and push his narrative. He's a liar and misleader. ESPN loves it.

So not counting the three 1st/2nd round picks the Rams had this year, they have drafted the following players in the 1st/2nd round over the previous two years:

Tavon Austin
Alec Ogletree
Michael Brockers
Brian Quick
Janoris Jenkins
Isaiah Pead

Four of these six guys are projected starters for the 2014 season. Poor drafting hasn't led the Rams to a 14-17-1 record over the last two seasons. Their inability to make the right personnel moves at the quarterback position has done that.

Is all that new talent about to bust out? Stats from the past season don't suggest that. The Rams finished 15th on defense and 30th on offense.

How about a 1/3 of these players get a chance to take at least one snap in the NFL before saying they won't "bust out"? Gregg is throwing out numbers from the previous season when five of these nine players either were rookies or had not taken an NFL snap yet as reason these players won't "bust out." It's very misleading. Of course, Gregg's lazy readers will think he makes a good point. That's what he is counting on.

The torn ACL of quarterback Sam Bradford might mean another forgettable season is in store. Bradford has now torn his left knee twice in less than a year; athletes who experience the same knee injury twice might not come back the second time.

Or they might come back! Aliens might not take over the Earth in the next 100 years...or they might.

The hopes of Les Mouflons' faithful ride on the fact that, according to pro-football-reference.com, St. Louis has the youngest roster in the league and the fewest players who will be 30 by season's end.

Doesn't matter because stats from the past season show these young players won't improve from season-to-season. That's a logical train of thought.

Florida and Texas are football hotbed states, little known for basketball. Yet with this year's Spurs-Heat NBA Finals collision there have now been five Texas-versus-Florida NBA finals, while there's been only one Texas-versus-Florida Super Bowl, the 1972 game between the Cowboys and the Dolphins.

I'll just allow the stupidity of this statement to go understated. Is this statement more stupid or more pointless?

San Francisco: TMQ warned of the Crabtree Curse when San Francisco drafted this gentleman. Consecutive San Francisco seasons have ended on failed throws to Michael Crabtree -- three straight incompletions targeted him at the Baltimore goal line in the Super Bowl, then an interception on a pass aimed at him at the Seattle goal line in the NFC title contest.

Except the 49ers made the NFC Championship three years in a row and made the Super Bowl one year over that span. So if being the best or second-best team in the NFC or AFC is a curse, then it is a curse most NFL teams would like to have on their organization.

Playing a conventional, position-oriented defense in 2013, rarely blitzing -- in the Super Bowl, Seattle blitzed six times on 64 Denver snaps, well below the league average of 20 percent blitz -- the Seahawks not only allowed the fewest points in the league, but they also allowed just 131 second half points in 19 games.

But to be clear, not blitzing isn't a strategy every NFL team should adopt. It only would work well for teams who have a great secondary and/or a strong defensive line that can put pressure on the quarterback. This is very important to know.

Next Week: The crystal anniversary (15th year) of America's original all-haiku NFL season predictions.

Do I usually say the next week's TMQ is my least favorite TMQ of the week? If so, I really mean it this week. Also, these are season predictions that Gregg will in no way stand by, while he mocks others for making bad predictions in his yearly "Bad Predictions" TMQ.