When last we left Worldville ruler, Peter King, he was using his column to openly complain that Adrian Peterson was so good this season that Peter couldn’t vote for Peyton Manning for MVP without looking like the total Pey-Pey fluffer that he is. He also spent 1,500 words eulogizing a bunch of celebrities who died in 2012, because we couldn’t have allowed the year to end without that. Finally, Petey griped about some Parisians’ love of Starbucks biscotti. EAT SOME REAL COOKIES, FROGS!
What about this week? How many ties are there in Peter King’s end of the year awards? UBER TIES? Will someone hire Mike Zimmer a head coaching job so PK can shut up about it? READ ON.
Before we examine the final Ray Day in Baltimore and the Shanahan-RGIII race to blame in Washington (and elsewhere) and what in the world got into Chip Kelly, this observation about Wild-Card Weekend:
Tony Dungy lost whatever’s left of his integrity by following the orders of NBC producers and hyping Joe Webb as an unknowable mystery who could lead the Vikings to victory before the Saturday night slapdown?
That was some lousy football.
Yeah, that too.
It got me to thinking about the expanded playoff format (from 12 to either 14 or 16 teams) in the back of the league’s mind, which is where I hope it stays.
Because that wasn’t already apparent before this weekend.
TV question: How would you play eight playoff games in one weekend? Or would you? One league source told me a couple of weeks ago there’s a chance an eight-game first round would be spread over two weekends, if it ever happens. Or maybe three per day on Saturday and Sunday, with two of the games pushed to Monday night, a la the first weekend of the season on ESPN.
It’s all extremely speculative, of course. It’s also an extremely bad idea.
Another sign that Roger Goodell’s power is on the wane: Peter King doesn’t praise one of his hair-brained schemes as having Lincoln-esque vision.
Some of the second-guessing about Robert Griffin III was actually first-guessing.
Don’t feel if you don’t understand that abortion of a sentence. It’s merely a signal that Peter King is about to brag that he saw this RGIII injury coming. You’re actually better off not getting it.
It’s been a dream season for young quarterbacks, enough of one almost to make you forget about the real dangers of playing this sport.
So true. The theme of head injuries and their long-term consequences might have loomed over the sport for the past few years, but as soon as Russell Wilson and his infinite charms come into view, viewers almost forget the danger of the game, kind of like the league almost remembered to tell us that it always existed.
I remember last spring watching tape on Griffin and Andrew Luck and, just from the tape, thinking the rocket-armed and mobile Griffin was better — but I thought I’d rather have Luck as a quarterback to build around. Simple reason: the injury factor. I worried about the 218-pound Griffin, as exposed as he made himself, getting hurt. And I thought Luck would have a better chance to play a 16-game season than Griffin over time. I recall asking Bill Polian, who studied both men thinking he might draft one in Indy before being fired, who he’d take. “I’d probably pick Luck,” Polian said. “When you boil it all down, you worry a little about running quarterbacks getting hurt. But it’s close. Very close.”
How right you two assholes were. Luck was a much healthier type of shitty than RGIII was this weekend. What’s that? Luck didn’t throw for any touchdowns and turned the ball over more? So he was SHITTIER! But healthier and shittier! And that means something. MAYBE.
I do not — do not — blame Shanahan entirely here.
That would require conviction.
Even if there’s a frosty relationship between noted team orthopedist James Andrews and Shanahan, Andrews is on the staff, at least in part, because he’s the foremost expert on knees in the country. He should have the power to speak up when he sees something obviously wrong with the franchise quarterback. And Griffin is not blameless here either. He’s an adult. If he swears over and over he’s fine, the coach has to listen to that and take that into account. “I wasn’t lying,” said Griffin. “I was able to go out and play, period.”
Players always want to stay in the game. They’re competitors. They’re always gonna lie to coaches. It’s the coach’s ultimate decision whether the player continues playing or not. RGIII is a star, but he’s also still a rookie. He doesn’t have the kind of pull yet to force Shanny’s hand.
But let this be a lesson to this team, and every other one in the league: It’s best to put safeguards in place before something like this threatens the short-term future of the starting quarterback in the heat of a playoff game.
Quintessential PK analysis. Right up there with his advice on gun control. “Something must be done. But what? I DON’T KNOW!”
Seriously, though, big ups to PK for not crying for EvoShield kneepads. That took restraint.
Ray Lewis has his Ripken moment.
Except Ray Lewis wasn’t breaking an important record, isn’t universally beloved and is in fact disdained or downright hated by people who are not Ravens fans. The baseball analogy, while hardly surprising from PK, is way out of place. But it did take place in Baltimore, so totally the same thing.
Think of the Baltimore Ravens.
/envisions all the worst things in the world chanting BULL-SHIT at the refs for making the right calls
Think of the name of the team.
/thinks of a story written by some dude whose main connection to Baltimore is that he’s buried there
The Ravens are much more a part of the sporting lexicon than the Houston Texans, Tennessee Titans, Memphis Grizzlies, and the Carolina Hurricanes.
No, they aren’t. They’re just another pro sports franchise, like all the teams you mentioned there. Are they a more consistently competitive franchise? Sure. But they aren’t any more important and certainly not in a better media market than any of those teams.
And you know all those.
HEY! That’s Peter King giving you credit. He believes his readers know who the Titans and the Texans are. Now if only MMQB readers could be trusted to know who Blair Walsh is.
But when Ray Lewis was drafted by Baltimore, the teams wasn’t the Ravens. It wasn’t anything yet.
I believe that’s another way of saying the Browns.
“We wanted to make the day memorable for him,” said wideout Anquan Boldin afterward. “It was an emotional day, not just for Ray, but for everyone in the stadium, and we all wanted to send him off right.”
Boldin helped, winning a grabfest with Colts cornerback Darius Butler in the end zone to secure an 18-yard touchdown pass from Joe Flacco.
Oh yes, Boldin HELPED. He just lent a hand on what was otherwise a dominating performance of Ray Lewis dropping an interception and not being able to defend the pass.
That’s the kind of determination that’s rubbed off on Lewis’ teammates. Now they’ll see if they can give him one final going-away gift—at least—against the top-seed Broncos Saturday.
Because Anquan Boldin never had determination before he arrived in Baltimore. He only survived all those head shots he took with the Cardinals with quasi-determination.
Chip Kelly stays
For those who believe Kelly has blown his last shot to coach in the NFL, that’s ridiculous. Sure, he’s going to have to convince an owner and GM, someday, he finally wants the gig and is all-in. But he’s 49, he’s the most intelligent offensive innovator in the college game, and smart people like Tony Dungy (who has a son in the Oregon program) swear by him.
For those who think Chip Kelly might have fucked himself with NFL teams down the line, clearly you’re not smart people like THE DUNGE, who has a vested interest in saying nice things about Oregon and basically saying whatever NBC producers want him to say on the air.
Doug Marrone takes over the Bills.
I barely know Marrone, but I like the move. Bill Parcells trusts him; Sean Payton valued him.
Sean Payton also thinks Peter King is a terrible, biased journalist, so you can in fact trust his opinion.
New England offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels will tell suitors — if there are any — after the Patriots’ season he’s staying in New England. McDaniels and his wife just had their fourth child in December, and he’s happy with the Patriots, and he absolutely doesn’t want to move his family for the third straight year (Denver to St. Louis to the Boston ‘burbs), even if it meant he’d have a chance to coach his hometown Browns. He loves his lot in life now, coaching Tom Brady and coaching under Bill Belichick; why leave? I also think McDaniels understands the most important thing about the situation he’s in: After being run out of Denver, he may get only one more chance at being a head coach, and so he wants to be sure the next time (if there is a next time) he steps into a place he knows he has a good chance to win …
Good call. If a team is fucktarded enough to let Josh McDaniels destroy their future, he wants to make sure it’s a promising future that he’s torpedoing. There’s little joy in burying the Browns any further than they already are.
My Take on Pioli …
Yes, it was inevitable that the Chiefs fired Scott Pioli, whose top three decisions in a four-year Chiefs run (hiring Todd Haley, trading for Matt Cassel, hiring Romeo Crennel) all turned out to be wrong. He trusted Cassel a long time, and by the time he knew he needed to get a quarterback, it was too late. He passed on some good prospects, as did many teams (Andy Dalton, Colin Kaepernick, Russell Wilson); maybe he didn’t think outside the box enough at the game’s most important position.
And Pioli was too private for his own good in what has become an increasingly public job. When Haley last year implied that Pioli wiretapped his phones, an outrageous and baseless allegation, Pioli let a team statement stand for his response instead of coming out swinging. But the vitriol chasing him out the door was over the top. He’s a good man who didn’t win enough. The personal attacks I just don’t get.
I know Pioli well, and many of you will say, “He’s just sticking up for Pioli because he likes him.”
Because it’s true.
Well, I have known Pioli for a long time, and yes, I do like him.
SO THERE, HATERS.
I like a lot of people I cover. I can see when a man’s getting kicked too much, and this is one of those times. Final point for those who believe Pioli left the cupboard bare: Think there’s a reason the hottest ex-head coach on the market, Andy Reid, didn’t consider any other jobs after he was offered the Kansas City deal?
“SEEEEEEEE!? Andy Reid chose Kansas City over Arizona! What doubt remains that Pioli got the Chiefs within striking distance of Dynastyville!”
MVP: Adrian Peterson, RB, Minnesota
Oh no! His hand was forced! A new category must be made!
Offensive player: Adrian Peterson, RB, Minnesota
Defensive player: J.J. Watt, DE, Houston
Comeback player (tie): Peyton Manning, QB, Denver; Adrian Peterson, RB, Minnesota
Hahahaha! Fuck you, PK. If Purple Jesus wins MVP, he has to win comeback player of the year, too. No squeezing Pey-Pey into the consolation prize.
Offensive rookie: Russell Wilson, QB, Seattle
Defensive rookie: Bobby Wagner, LB, Seattle
Coach (tie): Bruce Arians, Chuck Pagano, Indianapolis.
Only two ties! It’s Peter King’s most opinionated column yet!
The Deep End
Each week, thanks to play-by-play game dissection by ProFootballFocus.com, I’ll look at one important matchup or individual performance metric from one of the weekend’s games. This week: How did the Packers, gashed for 409 Adrian Peterson rushing yards in two regular season games this season, hold him to 99 yards on 22 rushes Saturday night? PFF czar Neil Hornsby explains:
All you need to write is JOE WEBB. Hornsby included 320 bonus words because to be succinct is not to be in MMQB.
1. Denver (13-3). Somewhere, a football Zeus (and I don’t mean the late Orlando Brown) figured, Wouldn’t it be great to have Ray Lewis, in what might be the last game of his life, be Peyton Manning’s first foe in his Denver playoff career, and, if Manning wins that one, Tom Brady the second foe?
Peter has to check in with the mythical gods because he already said the God he worships wanted Andrew Luck and Peyton Manning to meet in the playoffs. Turns out God doesn’t always get what he wants. Because He’s dead, which is the only explanation for why PK is allowed to have the life he has.
2. New England (12-4). Four weeks ago tonight, 35 minutes into the Houston-New England game, New England led 28-0, and Tom Brady had four touchdown passes. Wade Phillips is on his fourth roll of Tums this morning just thinking about it.
That’s five under his average for a weekday. WADE’S FEELIN’ GOOD!
4. Green Bay (12-5). In Joe Webb they trust.
What the fuck is that supposed to mean?
5. Seattle (12-5). Russell Wilson’s from Richmond. Big city to the north: Washington. Big city to the south (southwest, actually): Atlanta. Wilson won at Washington in a knockdown, drag-out affair Sunday. Wilson plays at Atlanta Sunday.
And now we have our explanation for why NBC was milking this angle so much on Sunday night. PK TALKING POINTS! There might be Redskins fans in Richmond, but Richmond people generally don’t identify with D.C. Because it’s at least two hours away. And Atlanta is even more ridiculous. Then again, it’s not the Northeast region of the country, so Petey feels comfortable just lumping it all together.
6. Atlanta (13-3). Only six more days of questions like, “Why can’t you guys win a playoff game?”
Unless they, y’know, lose to Seattle, in which case it’s 52 more weeks of playoff winter. Seriously, though, it takes A LOT to make me feel bad for an NFL team other than the one I root for. The way the media has trolled the Falcons at every opportunity about the playoffs this season has actually made me feel pity for them. Achievement unlocked, media.
15. St. Louis (7-8-1). Blake Williams, son of Gregg and the 2012 Rams defensive playcaller, didn’t have his one-year contract renewed as linebackers coach and de facto defensive playcaller. It wasn’t a firing, but it might as well have been. Blake Williams wasn’t well-liked by the staff. Peers thought he was a bit of a know-it-all.
Who would have thought some shithead coach’s son would act like the sun rises out of his ass? WEIRD!
Special Teams Player of the Week
Adam Vinatieri, K, Indianapolis. Two Indianapolis playoff games in history at Baltimore, and Vinatieri has scored all 24 points in them. His 40th birthday was a week ago, and he continued to produce for the Colts. The 17-year vet kicked 47-, 52- and 26-yard field goals — the second at the halftime gun to keep Indianapolis in the game — six years after one of the best days of his career in the same stadium. (He missed a 40-yarder in the fourth quarter, which turned out to be not significant in a 24-9 loss.)
Not significant, except it would have pulled the Colts within one score in the second half of a playoff game. Other than that, totally meaningless miss.
Coach of the Week
Dom Capers, defensive coordinator, Green Bay. As column contributor Neil Hornsby points out just north of this section in “The Deep End,” Green Bay found a way to bottle up the great Adrian Peterson. Funny, describing Peterson as bottled up, when he rushes 22 times for 99 yards, a 4.5-yard average. But watching the game, you never got the feeling Peterson could get anything going.
Except for the opening drive of the game before the Packers realized they didn’t have to respect Webb’s arm at all. Lofty gameplan.
Goat of the Week
Andy Dalton, QB, Cincinnati. Pretty simple. All you need to do after the Bengals’ 19-13 loss is look at Dalton’s third-down passing numbers: 1 of 8 passing for seven yards, no touchdowns, no interceptions and one drop.
Dalton’s been a good player in getting the Bengals to the playoffs in his first two seasons.
Dalton was good this year? Must have missed that during all the wins down the stretch where the defense carried his sorry ginger ass.
Quote of the Week I
“I love y’all to death! I love y’all to death!”
— Baltimore linebacker Ray Lewis, wired for sound by NFL Films, hugging his teammates after his last game in Baltimore, a 24-9 win over the Colts.
No jury has ever convicted someone for death by love. YET.
Mr. Starwood Preferred Member Travel Note of the Week
Bumper sticker spotted on a car seen on I-95 near Stamford, Conn., about 40 miles south of Newtown, Conn., on Friday: “VICTORIA SOTO IS MY HERO.”
Soto, a teacher at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, was murdered in the mass shooting last month trying to shield her students from mad gunman Adam Lanza.
I assume PK has a bumper sticker that reads, “ROGER GOODELL WOULD HAVE STOPPED THOSE BULLETS WITH A CROSS LOOK.”
Factoid of the Week That May Interest Only Me I
In 1986, Harry Gamble was team president of the Philadelphia Eagles, who hired Buddy Ryan as their coach that year.
This week, the New York Jets will strongly consider hiring Tom Gamble, son of Harry, as general manager, to assist head coach Rex Ryan, son of Buddy.
The Gamble and Ryan families once owned a thoroughbred horse together.
That thoroughbred’s name? MURDERHORSE
Factoid of the Week That May Interest Only Me II
The backup quarterback for the Vikings Saturday night was McLeod John Baltazar Bethel-Thompson, who played 12 games in three seasons as a part-time player for the Sacramento (Calif.) State Hornets.
Why is no one faulting Leslie Frazier, I ask? I WANTED MY EMM JAY BEE BEE-TEE time!
Tweet of the Week III
“Why are players apologizing to fans for a 48-game season? Except for NFL, all pro seasons are too long. This is a gift to NHL fans”
— @GerryCallahan, the Boston talk show host, after the resolution of the NHL labor dispute.
Couldn’t agree more.
Can’t believe some asshole in Boston is bitching about having to watch more of a sport that isn’t baseball.
Tweet of the Week IV
“Ah, 5 hour energy for a 230 am snack. It’s like that sometimes @NFL_AM. #Livinthedream”
— @wyche89, one of the hosts of NFL Network’s morning show, which runs from 6-10 a.m. each weekday — meaning 3-7 a.m. in Los Angeles, where the studio is.
How about Steve Wyche. The man, with his crew, worked Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day.
Above all things that aren’t nutmeg and spooning with Favre, PK loves travel itineraries and noticing folks who work harder than he does, which is everybody.
Ten Things I Think I Think
d. The Pack ran the ball better than I thought they would. Doesn’t look like a big Achilles to me.
Just a regular sized Achilles for some regular-ass running backs.
l. What a drive by Andrew Luck on his second playoff possession …
m. … Until that strip by Paul Kruger.
Damn you, Kruger! Luck almost had another field goal drive! It would have been a great addition for the sad ending of the Colts’ Hollywood movie.
n. Great stat by Jim Nantz: Ray Lewis’ first career sack, in 1996, came against Jim Harbaugh.
Another reason to root fiercely against a Harbaugh Bowl happening. There’s an hour of pregame fluffing right there.
q. What a tackle by Andrew Luck on that interception return.
That was definitely coming. Of course, Peter might be inclined to criticize certain, I don’t know, BLACK quarterbacks for putting their body on the line like that. But Bill Polian probably told PK that white QBs are just built tougher.
2. I think this is what I didn’t like about Wild-Card Weekend
b. Mike Zimmer’s inactivity in the coaching derby. Excellent job by Mike Mayock, pointing out the folly of Zimmer, the Cincinnati defensive coordinator, not having an interview scheduled.
I think Zimmer is and has been a qualified head coaching candidate for a few years, but I kind of like that he gets passed over for how angry it makes PK and some of the TV announcers. This is also the second week in a row that PK has droned on about Zimmer not getting a job. He’s probably gonna ask for a cut of his contract if Zims ever gets one.
3. I think when I picture the first meeting since last spring between Roger Goodell and Sean Payton, I picture the next meeting of Harry Reid and John Boehner. Teeth grinding. Difficult smiles.
Oh noes! Goodell is only a senator now? Just a few weeks ago, The Rog was semi-Lincoln-esque. How do he lose his presidential gravitas? This calls for four PK voicemails and a rubdown.
4. I think the coverage of the Rex Ryan wife-in-a-Sanchez-jersey tattoo was beyond over the top. I realize Ryan is a public figure, but following him on vacation and paparazzi-ing him for three days gives me the creeps for our business. And to speculate on how the tattoo will play with his players … I mean, do you really think guys who play for Rex Ryan, and know how offbeat he is, will find it in any way objectionable (or even remotely meaningful) that Ryan has a tattoo of his wife in a Sanchez jersey?
I’m sure Tebow can find a way to be offended by it. But then bare skin generally has that effect on him.
6. I think I’ve got to hand it to Bob Angelo, the NFL Films camera ace and documentarian, who called it two-plus months ago on my podcast, when others “close” to Ray Lewis said he wouldn’t be retiring. “He wants to be a fan. He wants to tailgate. He wants to be a dad,” said Angelo, referring to Lewis’ desire to follow his son’s football exploits on the field at the University of Miami beginning next fall. That’s exactly what he’s going to do, and I’m told by someone close to Lewis he’s known he was going to retire for the last two months.
Nice after-the-fact scoop! LATE NUGGETS ARE STILL GOOD NUGGETS!
10. I think these are my non-football thoughts of the week:
a. Hey, Michael Kay! Congrats to you and bride Jodi on the birth of your little girl. Enjoy Daddom.
You haven’tlived until you’ve experience the joy of getting your children hooked to the same caffeinated shit that you drink.
b. Does Eddie Money think the Geico commercial is going to, like, rejuvenate his career? Not helping yourself, Eduardo. Eddie’s playing Quapaw, Okla., on Friday night, and two tickets to paradise will cost you $40. Total.
He’s just an old has-been collecting a check. Leave him the fuck alone. Sorry we all don’t get paid million to plug EvoShield and talk about how late you discovered “Homeland”.
c. This from Friday’s New York Post: “An adorable white kitty in northern Brazil was caught trying to sneak into a prison transporting saws, drills and cellphone equipment for prisoners, local media reported. ‘It’s difficult to know who is responsible for this, since the cat won’t talk,’ officials at the medium-security prison told O Estado de S. Paulo, the country’s largest newspaper.”
Good one, Serby.
f. Whoever was responsible, thanks for the return of hockey. Now for the only three words in the world that I share in common with David Puddy: “Let’s go Devils!”
To be honest, I didn’t think Peter King’s hockey knowledge was sufficient to even be based on one episode of “Seinfeld”.
g. You guys up in Alaska OK after that earthquake?
“Someone has to DO SOMETHING about tectonic shift!”
i. Coffeenerdness: I don’t imagine this will ever happen, but if I ruled the world, I’d gather all Manhattan baristas and teach them how to pull espresso shots — so that they wouldn’t be so inconsistent, bitter some days, watery the others.
And then World Ruler Peter King would tackle gun violence by forcing everyone to turn in their weapons in exchange for one smile from Russell Wilson. Those who failed to cooperate would be punished severely. MAYBE.
j. Beernerdness: You make a nice IPA, Goose Island. And I don’t say that just because you’ve got the greatest tap in all of brewing.
It’s just a fucking goose’s head. Only Peter would think that’s the greatest thing ever. Until some Colorado brewery makes a Peyton Manning ale and puts Pey-Pey’s dick on the tap handle. Oskar Blues, lookin’ at you.
l. Six weeks until pitchers and catchers, and this question to Red Sox GM Ben Cherington:
Nope. Don’t give a shit.
The Adieu Haiku
Ray Lewis, postgame:
Dancing, hugging, loving. Hoarse.
Ripken stadium lap.
Ray Lewis, eat shit
Billy Ripken said it best
Ray is a fuckface
I want more like this!
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