Letdowns, New Leases and Late-Night Football

Ten Things I Think I Think

1. I think this is what I liked about Week 5:

a. Alshon Jeffrey, with his franchise-record-setting day for the Bears: 218 receiving yards on 10 catches (one touchdown) while the Saints spent their time shutting down Brandon Marshall.

b. T.Y. Hilton, on his way to being a big star, with his 73-yard catch and run behind Richard Sherman for a touchdown.

c. Zach Ertz is growing on me. Good, energetic tight end in the Chip Kelly offense.

d. Mason Crosby, coming back to competency.

e. Great FOX camera work on the Eagles’ mugging of Giant special-teams gunner Charles James. Shows everything that’s important about the tenacious mode of play for the players on the outside of the punt teams.

f. My two favorite underrated offensive skill players coming up very big: James Jones with an 83-yard touchdown catch for Green Bay, and Pierre Thomas with two touchdowns for the Saints.

g. Thomas Morstead with a 55-yard punt out of bounds at the Chicago 2-yard line.

h. Peyton Manning’s first scoring drive: three plays, 80 yards, 50 seconds. Scoring on a shovel pass to a 267-pount tight end.

i. Dallas’s time of possession in the first quarter: 13 minutes.

j. Great blocking downfield by Wes Welker.

2. I think this is what I didn’t like about Week 5:

a. The NFC East—all below .500.

b. Tennessee without Jake Locker: zero first-quarter points, 10 first-quarter yards.

c. Luke Joeckel, four days after the Eugene Monroe trade, goes out with an ankle injury. Pity the Jags.

d. The Eagles in the red zone.

e. Andre Smith: You’re letting a free-agent rookie from Bowling Green, Chris Jones, beat you on the inside to sack Andy Dalton?

f. Linebacker James Anderson wearing No. 50, Mike Singletary’s number, for the Bears. Just noticed it Sunday, and I don’t like it. It was given to Anderson in April.

g. Does anyone on the Giants not fumble?

h. Blaine Gabbert.

i. I mean, that’s all you need to say.

j. Tom Coughlin with a bad day. He chose to bypass handing Philadelphia a 4th-and-4 from the Giants’ 47, ensuring an Eagles punt, in favor of pushing the Eagles back to a 3rd-and-20 … and then watching Mike Vick run for 31 yards to convert the third down. In the second half he burned two timeouts to challenge an official’s call—and was wrong.

k. Giovani Bernard, the promising Cincinnati running back, who fumbled in the fourth quarter against the Patriots.

l. Three drops for Carolina in the first 20 minutes.

3. I think when I grow up, I want to understand that Calvin Johnson commercial.

4. I think one of the reasons The MMQB excites me so much is because of stories like the one veteran special-teams coach Mike Westhoff wrote for us Friday. It’s a great take on what the diminution of importance of special teams is doing to the game. I strongly urge you to read it. His best point: that the next great special-teams coach won’t be able to climb the ladder on his coaching staff and get an opportunity like John Harbaugh did. Could that rob the game of a great head coach in the making? If the game doesn’t feature enough impact plays to give a chance for special-teams coaches to stand out, how will they move up to the top jobs? Two other Super Bowl winners who got their start coaching special teams: Mike Ditka and Bill Cowher.

5. I think the best on-field idea of Westhoff’s—moving the kickoff line back from the 35- to 25-yard line, lining up the 10 kickoff-coverage players no further back than the 20-, and lining up eight of the 11 men on the kickoff-return unit between 10 and 20 yards from the kickoff line, all in an effort to diminish the high-speed, crashing hits on kick returns—should certainly be considered by the Competition Committee. And I believe it will be, from a league source. But this source said any adjustment to the kicking game would have to come with the proviso that it would not increase injuries or concussions, both of which have gone down with fewer kicks being returned in the last two-plus seasons. Remember: Moving the kickoff from the 30 to the 35 in 2011 was not done to improve the game. It was done to cut down on injuries. So if the number of kickoffs is going to go back up, Westhoff or whoever advances this cause will have to have some proof or logic that it won’t get more players hurt.

ICYMI

Highlights from the last week at The MMQB:


One Big Mess

—Andrew Brandt


Flavors of the Month

—Andy Benoit


Call Off the Season: The Super Bowl Is Set

—Don Banks


In a New Holding Pattern

—Jim Trotter


‘Build the Monster’

—Robert Klemko


The Touchback Era is Ruining the Game

—Mike Westhoff

6. I think until I watched Terrelle Pryor play early this morning, I would have said the best spot for Josh Freeman was Oakland. No question. Raiders offensive coordinator Greg Olson coached Freeman in his first three years in the NFL (2009-11), and Freeman had a 10-6 record with a 95.9 rating in 2010, when he looked like a rising star. I think the only better place for Freeman would have been Green Bay. If I were Freeman I’d have gone to work with Mike McCarthy and studied Aaron Rodgers, signed a modest deal with the Packers through the end of the 2014 season, then decided what to do with my future. That way, I’d be mechanically sound, fundamentally better and, at 27 in 2015, much more ready to pilot a team than I am today.

7. I think I can recommend—if you’re in the New York area—the 5,000-square-foot traveling Pro Football Hall of Fame exhibit that will be at the Liberty Science Center in Jersey City, N.J. between now and March 2. Barry Sanders was in New York last week promoting it. The display includes a football once carried in a game by Jim Thorpe, and it’s interactive: Visitors can go through some of the scouting combine experiences. “I know people will love it if they love football,” said Sanders, who is working as an ambassador for the Hall. “It’s one of the best things I’ve been involved with.”

8. I think South Carolina pass rusher Jadaveon Clowney as a very, very high draft choice is really starting to scare me. Clowney (two sacks in South Carolina’s first five games) told coach Steve Spurrier before kickoff Saturday against Kentucky that his ribs were too sore for him to play. That means he’s been hampered now in the first five weeks of the season by a virus, bone spurs in his foot and sore ribs, and Spurrier didn’t sound very happy with him post-game. “He may not be able to play next week, but we’re not going to worry about it, I can assure you of that,’’ Spurrier said. Pro scouts don’t look kindly on a player saving himself for the next level, which is what it appears Clowney is doing. At least that’s the impression NFL people have now.

9. I think of all the stories that will get no play this week because of the outcome of the game involved, this is the one that interests me the most: After three quarters Sunday night, Colin Kaepernick had completed 4 of 13 for 45 yards. And San Francisco led, 24-3. Kaepernick finished 6 of 15, but it’s the accuracy that has to concern offensive coordinator Greg Roman. It’s declined from 62 percent last year to 56 percent now.

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

a. Excellent New York Times story on Minnesota coach Jerry Kill, who has suffered five game-day epileptic seizures in the last three seasons, causing him to not be able to coach. The most recent came Saturday morning, and it prevented him from coaching the game against Michigan. I feel for the guy, and he’s such an admirable role model for people with epilepsy. But I wonder how long he can keep doing the job.

b. And this from the Times, about a 12-year-old girl interviewing major-league baseball players, is very cool. Haley Smilow, for instance, knows Andrew McCutchen has a sock fetish (from an interview with the Pirate), and says of her player interviews: “I don’t ask them statistic-y questions because that’s grown-up stuff and I’m only a kid,” she said. “They’re sick of hearing, ‘Why did you go 0 for 3?’ when they have no idea why they went 0 for 3. I might ask ‘What’s on your iPod?’ or ‘What’s your favorite flavor of ice cream?’ ”

c. Watching an A’s playoff game in Oakland, at least on TV, looks like the closest thing to a college football rivalry game that baseball has to offer.

d. Justin Verlander has allowed zero earned runs in his last three starts, striking out 33.

e. It’s Oct. 7, and the Buccos are alive (more than alive; up 2-1 against the great Cardinals), and the Steelers are on life support.

Talk Back

Have a question or comment for Peter? Email him at talkback@themmqb.com and it might be included in Tuesday's mailbag.

f. And no, I didn’t expect Boston to get 19 runs and 25 hits off the Rays with Matt Moore and David Price starting.

g. Something tells me the Sox-Rays series is going five games.

h. Looks like a long year for my Devils.

i. Saw Enough Said, the romantic comedy starring Julia Louis-Dreyfus and the late James Gandolfini. Meh. Let’s just say the acting is significantly better than the story. We’re going to miss a lot of good roles Gandolfini would have played.

j. Coffeenerdness: Did Amtrak do something to the weak coffee on the Acela? Tasted a little more like real coffee and not coffee-flavored water Saturday.

k. Beernerdness: I thought Saranac Pumpkin Ale was the best pumpkin beer I’d tasted—and I’ve sampled maybe eight or 10 of them in recent autumns. But Friday in Boston I had the best: UFO Pumpkin, by Harpoon. A good pumpkin beer can’t be overpowering, and it can’t be sweet. UFO Pumpkin, which is unfiltered, is exactly the right touch of both, though the woman who served me asked: “Do you want that with cinnamon and sugar?” God no! She said some patrons like the rim of the glass coated with a cinnamon-sugar mixture, the way some like margaritas with salt. The beer itself is very good the way it is.

l. It’s easy to root for Northwestern.

m. I hope Art Briles is the next Texas coach. I don’t mean to pilfer him from you, Baylor, but he’d be a smart hire for Texas.

Who I Like Tonight

Atlanta 20, New York Jets 15. The Falcons have ruled out Steven Jackson (hamstring) for the third straight game; with the bye next week, that means he’ll be able to give the hammy 34 days to feel right, before Atlanta faces Tampa Bay coming out of the break. The Falcons should be able to beat the turnover-prone Jets without Jackson and with a gimpy Roddy White (who might have 2011 Falcons practice-squad cornerback Darrin Walls covering him in the depleted New York secondary), but the heat is on coach Mike Smith and quarterback Matt Ryan here. A loss to the Jets would be disastrous, obviously.

The Adieu Haiku

Two a.m. football.
Surprisingly, I want more.
And I want it now.

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483 comments
ArnoldNewman
ArnoldNewman

The 10% of native Americans who are bitching about "Redskins" should lose all their benefits.  Then they'll have something real to complain about.

gary41
gary41

We're real tired of reading about the Redskins name change.  You might like to know 3 out of 4 fans favor keeping the same name, so you might want to get off the political thing and get on with the business of football......

BAYOURANCH
BAYOURANCH

Atlanta just fell out of your 15 spot

captainfuzzypants
captainfuzzypants

the problem isn't "a health-care law some of the politicians don’t like,"   It's a law that half of them don't like, and that half of america doesn't like.  if it was just some, implying a few, then they wouldn't be stuck passing their next horribly destructive "budget".  We didn't get to debate it when it was being forced on us, and we don't get to debate it now i guess.  All or nothing: the new "negotiation"

ChiBears85
ChiBears85

You all can let Romo off the hook all you want, but as Herm Edwards famously said: "THE POINT IS TO WIN THE GAME!"  This game is about wins and losses, and if you can't finish, you're going nowhere.

Richard Long
Richard Long

As a Denver fan, I think I would have preferred to face any other QB in the league other than Romo on Sunday.  Not that he plays like that every week, but on Sunday, he was every bit as good as Manning.  Denver's D is not that bad.  When you have a line that protects like the Cowboys did and a QB make the decisions and deliver the ball as Romo did, there isn't much you can do to stop him.  Sure he threw a pick, but so did Manning.  Romo just threw his with 2 minutes to go. 

retro-grouch
retro-grouch

Romo played a great game for 58 minutes.  Here’s the rub.

Situational awareness 101: final possessions in a tied game have an extremely high value.  It doesn’t matter whether the score is 48-48 or 3-3, except in the high scoring game with tired DBs the QB should have a reasonable expectation that patience and mobility will be rewarded by open targets.   The win probability needle is way over to the team with their offense on the field and execution is determinative.

Throwing from a stale pocket with blocking traffic in front of him Romo opted for a tight window with a good cover LB tight on his target rather than taking the vastly wide open checkdown to his RB.   His foot contacted his own lineman as he stepped up and that's why you don't force a tight window from a busy pocket.

It was one bad play by a QB who had dozens of good plays under his belt but situational awareness and keeping clean in the pocket are part of the job description.

DennyCrane
DennyCrane

" to protest a health-care law some of the politicians don’t like"

Stop lying Peter. When the law was voted in not a single Republican voted for it because their constituents didn't want them to. That means millions of conservatives didn't want ACA. A number of Democrat politicians had to be bribed by their OWN PARTY to vote for it because, without the sweetner their millions of constituents didn't want the ACA.

Many unions and friends of Obama have opted out of the ACA because they don't like it and finally, Obama, Pelosi, and every member of Congress and their staffs have opted out of it because they don't like ACA.

Please stop being so stupid and continuing the lie that "only politicians" don't want the ACA because that's demonstrably not true. Even the very persons who voted for it don't want it.

IvanAJagerbomb
IvanAJagerbomb

Newsflash Peter -- Tony Dungy is not a respective analyst by the fans.. he is a torture to listen to and focuses too much on not enough black QBs or coaches.... and nonsense like the Redskins name change

2001mark
2001mark

Romo is fair game.  If they win (even if they had to eke) out the W v Denver, it would've been headlines the league over 'Romo finally bags a big one!'

Well, he didn't, so that makes it not on him?  

DaveBolt
DaveBolt

TONY (CLAP CLAP) CHOKER (CLAP CLAP). It's like clock work. Throw him more money, Jerry!

Gregory2
Gregory2

Wow, I just realized that the Sports Illustrated writer does not name the Redskins anymore.  Any comments on the Fighting Irish?  That is much more derogatory than the Redskins.  Blackhawks? Braves?  Why does he not have a problem with the Cowboys?  After all, they stole land from the Redskins, I mean the Indians, I mean the Native Americans, I mean the First Nation peoples.  Buffalo Bills, who are named after Buffalo Bill Cody should be a major concern for this retard, after all, he was an Indian Fighter, and PETA should be incensed since he murdered over 4000 bison!

Seriously, these PC morons should really concentrate on what they think they know, and that is sports, and not what I know they don't know, and that is politics.

johnc596
johnc596

"Same ol' Romo" means great performance until the clutch and then fail.  How does that not fit?  It's a real hoot to watch the Cowboys refuse to run with only one linebacker in the middle.  How can a team with the collection of coaches they have be so strategy-challenged?


LeBP
LeBP

Well Peter--guess Atlanta did not enjoy hosting a team from New Jersey--Time to stop hating the Jets and admit the Team is well coached.

tjw_ia
tjw_ia

Many good comments. Disclosure...not a DCowboys fan.

re: Romo's turnover at the end...it was a hold by that linebacker w/ his left arm. It slowed the TE running his route and sling shotted the LB into position. The pompous one's will believe whatever they want to believe...

friendly--neighborhood--scrawler
friendly--neighborhood--scrawler

After the Cowboy's game i noticed the same typical media trash reporting, "blame the QB"

I looked at the scoreboard saw more than 45 points by a Cowboys offense...  enough said !!!

OK
OK

Who I Like Tonight

Atlanta 20, New York Jets 15. The Falcons have ruled out Steven Jackson (hamstring) for the third straight game; with the bye next week, that means he’ll be able to give the hammy 34 days to feel right, before Atlanta faces Tampa Bay coming out of the break. The Falcons should be able to beat the turnover-prone Jets without Jackson and with a gimpy Roddy White (who might have 2011 Falcons practice-squad cornerback Darrin Walls covering him in the depleted New York secondary), but the heat is on coach Mike Smith and quarterback Matt Ryan here. A loss to the Jets would be disastrous, obviously.

#####

Smith, Folk lead New York Jets past Falcons 30-28Associated Press

ATLANTA -- Nick Folk kicked a 43-yard field goal on the final play of the game and the New York Jets handed struggling Atlanta its third straight loss, beating the Falcons 30-28 on Monday night.

#####

Right again, Peter. Of course, the Falcons' loss to the Jets makes you look like God's Own Idiot, too.

cozmikrebl
cozmikrebl

As a Bengals fan, even I find it baffling as to how you could not place the Browns in your "Fine 15" the last 2 weeks. Sure Hoyer going down hurts (wait did you even mention him at all?)..but still, they have played better than a few other teams you have on there. 

Also, the rain didn't have anything to do with the Bengals beating the Pats yesterday. It rained for like 5 minutes. The Bengals D were in Brady's face all day. And that my friend is how you beat these "elite quarterbacks". Pressure

posmoo
posmoo

You lucky Native Americans, Peter King has given you his loving, paternalistic, probably subconscious, but nonetheless startlingly racist embrace. 

Peter King knows what you apparently simply can't comprehended, my fellow citizens of Native American ancestry: But don't worry about these deficiencies he finds in your culture, he's sworn to protect you from what he thinks you just can't grasp or are too disorganized to do anything about.

Peter King is what smug self-righteous paternalistic racism looks like.

He disregards the minority opinion, because in fact the extent to which he cares about it is for use as multicultural prop to proclaim himself the hero. Ask yourself, in the past has Peter King done one thing to bring attention to help Native Americans with the myriad problems affecting the community? Of course not.

Peter King is what smug self-righteous paternalistic racism looks like, and it is disgusting.

JimCody
JimCody

Yet another attempt by Peter King to manufacture phony momentum to get the Redskins name changed. Enough already. You're getting worse than Silver and Florio.

OK
OK

The book, League of Denial: The NFL, Concussions and the Battle for Truth, and accompanying PBS Frontline documentary about the NFL's questionable history of dealing with head injuries and concussions both come out on Tuesday.

Peter King, ever-vigilant NFL Spin Doctor, buries his brief interview with the book's authors on the second page of this MMQB.

Peter King, ever-eager to fill the NFL HQ's Jimmy Roberts-like needs, wants, and offshore desires, BURIES the decision by ESPN's bosses to pull out of their years of work with the authors and PBS.

Peter King is hiding this story, hoping the MMQB reader will simply ignore it and rush to the Fine Fifteen.

The questions are, why is Peter King hiding this story? Who's paying Peter King to hide the story? How much is Peter King getting to hide the story.

OK
OK

The NFL's Chief Spin Doctor picks the White Reverend Tebow over the Non-White Josh Freeman.

Quite telling...and the product of living in two of America's Most Racist Non-Dixie Cities, Cincinnati and Boston.

Fins
Fins

Atlanta fine 15...ha ha. 

bobinpowell
bobinpowell

"Andre Smith: You’re letting a free-agent rookie from Bowling Green, Chris Jones, beat you on the inside to sack Andy Dalton?"

If Jones was good enough to make his team and to be playing in this game, what difference does it make where he went to college?  Geez, that's unsportsmanlike conduct at best--and just plain snarky at worst.

joeshine730
joeshine730

Well Kubiak will be fired in Houston along with his QB. About time. Josh McDaniels is destroying the Patriots.

ImmaFubared
ImmaFubared

Romo self destructed again as I knew he would. I gave him a lot of slack, as Dallas has, but last year towards the end with the playoffs on the line he flubbed it all up. I decided that this year he better produce or else. He screwed up the whole season last night. He is not the leader that will take this team to the playoffs. 

sbhall52
sbhall52

So you had to watch a game "in the early morning" back there on the least coast? My heart bleeds. But think about this: How many games played in the Eastern Time Zone end after midnight Eastern Time? A LOT, that's how many. How many games played in the Mountain and Pacific time zones end after midnight local time? NONE. East Coast bias, much? Usually, Peter, I'm on your side. This time, you're way off base, and way over the top. GET OVER IT.

(Also, Oakland Raiders? Sue the NFL so you can play in Santa Clara, too.)

gary7
gary7

Go back to trying to be a wannabe GM and leave the REDSKINS name alone.  After Rick Riley's article, all you Political Correct Zombie Sheep need to just go away, you are not the smartest kids in the class, your not even aloud in the room.


BabylonDon
BabylonDon

@captainfuzzypants This isn't the space for you to prove you don't understand politics, it's the space for you to prove you don't understand sports.

ginge159
ginge159

@2001mark No, it wouldn't. Romo bags plenty of games like that. It's just as soon as the game is over, the narrative becomes that it wasn't a big game.

Sdwalt
Sdwalt

@OK So he got the score wrong on a football game, Everyone I know picked Atlanta to win. I gotta wonder if God really calls someone a idiot over a football game.

johnc596
johnc596

@posmoo You're moving into Miley Cyrus territory here on the stupid-meter.  She makes money off her stupid - what do you think you're getting from this other than general disdain?

mike202
mike202

@JimCody Enough of the White Guilt.  STop telling people what should offend them.  Show me a poll where 50% of Indians find the name offensive and I will agree with you.  

Yieldman
Yieldman

@OK Peter King is "hiding" the story?  Did you read the part where ESPN removed themselves as a partner?

mike202
mike202

@OK I didn't ignore it because it was on page 2 but because it is boring.   If you don't want to get buried alive don't work in the mine.

drudown
drudown

@epicfailureismymiddlename

You mean the President that is SAVING the US taxpayers TRILLIONS over the next hundred years via Obamacare is "unpopular" compared to his GOP predecessor that decided to "give" TRILLIONS to GOP campaign contributors by selling Iraq to the People and Congress under false pretenses? I find your unfounded "insult" humorous insofar that, since President Obama has been in office, his agendas have led to (1) a stronger US dollar; (2) a lower deficit; (3) extricating ourselves from fiscally imprudent GOP occupations abroad; and (4) saving the auto industry.

Perhaps you'd like to humor me with specifics as to how the GOP agenda of (1) deregulating markets; (2) starving the State of revenue; and (3) instituting wars based on false pretenses served the People in better, more fiscally prudent ways? Then you can reconcile the "insult" that the GOP's budgetary tactics place upon democracy. Remember when W was prating on and on about how "freedom" and "democracy" must prevail in the world? I guess the GOP gets to follow the laws that serve their campaign contributors and, well, hold the entire Nation hostage if their Unconstitutional demands to "exact concessions" from  federal law (upheld by the Supreme Court) aren't met in similarly Unconstitutional ways? Spare me your pathetic insults. Be a man and speak to the merits of policy.

Last time I checked, Iraq costs over $ 4 trillion.Taken to its illogical conclusion, your ilk conspicuously omit the fact the the Bush Tax Cuts did NOT lead to a stronger US Economy. "Trickle Down" Economics is a farce. Massive borrowing just leads to (1) a WEAKER US dollar and (2) budgetary scare tactics.

Your "leaders" refuse to even follow the law. 

Richard Long
Richard Long

@ImmaFubared I'm a Denver fan and I found myself wishing that it were any other QB other than Romo over there playing.  For 58 minutes, he made every correct read, moved in the pocket and delivered the ball in perfect spots. Trust me, Denver's defense and the secondary are not that bad.  Between the line giving him time and Romo playing all world, I was worried.

Yieldman
Yieldman

@ImmaFubared Screwed up the whole season by keeping his team in the game for the first 58 minutes of a game in which NOONE had picked Dallas?  Seriously?

Sdwalt
Sdwalt

@ImmaFubared I am not a Dallas fan, but I am pretty sure it was not Romo who screwed that game up.

BobLang
BobLang

@ImmaFubared Have you ever watched a football game? How about calling out the defense that didn't generate a pass rush. At all. Or stop Manning all day. No, you call out someone that was responsible for keeping his team from getting blown out and racking up over 500 yards passing, 5 TDs. 

Self destructive? There isn't another QB in the league that would have had Dallas within 10 points yesterday. Not one. 

josef918
josef918

@Sdwalt @OK Not an idiot, but now it does look kind of foolish to have included a struggling 1-3 team in the fine fifteen.  Not sure why we don't wait on Tuesday morning for that kind of ranking, after all the games shake out?  I think I personally would have had the Browns knock Atlanta off that list even yesterday.

Gregory2
Gregory2

@drudown @epicfailureismymiddlename 

Stronger dollar?  The only reason the dollar isn't weaker because of QE Infinity is because the Euro has been debased by their own QE's.  Only since he has become president has there been a downgrade and talk of replacing the dollar as the reserve currency.

The only reason there is a lower deficit FROM THE PREVIOUS YEAR is because the Republicans stuck to their beliefs and held the president to HIS promise and idea of a sequester.  This deficit is STILL HIGHER than any under GWB.  This president had deficits in the TRILLIONS, more than double than any GWB had.

The Democrats are the ones who have the spending/borrowing problem. 

Please realize you have been brainwashed, get yourself to a deprogramming place before you are lost forever.

Richard Long
Richard Long

@BobLang @ImmaFubared Few QBs outplay Manning and on Sunday, Romo did.  Manning's pick was just as costly to Denver.  It just came earlier in the 4th. 

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