Now It Gets Real

Returning to the scene of the not-so-prime.

Pete Carroll will coach the Super Bowl in a stadium in the same Jersey parking lot as the one where he got his first head-coaching shot. In fact, this month is the 20-year anniversary of Pete Carroll getting his first NFL head-coaching job.

(Simon Bruty/Getty Images)
Pete Carroll, 1994. (Simon Bruty/Getty Images)

This month is also the 19-year anniversary of Carroll getting fired from his first NFL head-coaching job.

That’s right. Carroll Chudzinskied the Jets’ job.

Carroll succeeded Bruce Coslet as Jets coach on Jan. 7, 1994, and had the team at 6-5 in November, with the 7-4 and slumping Dolphins coming to town for a late-November game. A win, and New York would tie Miami for the lead of the AFC East. And the Jets were up 24-6 late in the third quarter of the game. That was a strange mix of a Jets team. (That is not the first time, nor the last, for that.) Boomer Esiason and Art Monk teamed that day for five aerial connections for 108 yards. Esiason to Monk! Bet you didn’t know they ever played on the same team.

But this is the game that will hurt even the thickest-skinned of Jets followers until the day they die. Marino threw a couple of touchdown passes to Mark Ingram (the dad) to get Miami close, and, in the final two minutes, Marino drove Miami 84 yards to the winning touchdown. But not just any winning touchdown. With the clock running and the ball at the Jets’ 8 with 32 seconds left, Marino hustled to the line. The man who called the plays into Marino’s helmet that season was backup Bernie Kosar, and he immediately got the idea to use something Miami had practiced but not used in a game: the fake spike play. So Kosar suggested it, and Marino loved it.

“Clock! Clock!” Marino yelled at the line, and he gave Ingram a stare, the kind of stare Ingram recognized as, Be ready, because I’m coming to you, and sure enough, the Jets relaxed, and Marino threw a line drive to Ingram for the game-winning eight-yard touchdown.

“He was brilliant. He was the Chip Kelly of his time.” —Boomer Esiason on Pete Carroll’s tenure as Jets coach

Sunday night, Carroll recognized the importance of that moment. “It could have been entirely different had we just hung on and won that game,” Carroll said. “When you look back on it, that’s what you would point to, because we lost four games after that as well.” That’s right: The Jets finished on a five-game losing streak. In the last week of the season, Carroll called Esiason into his office and told him, “Boomer, we’re gonna make some major changes around here, and you’re gonna love them.”

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But after the last loss, owner Leon Hess, sure his 6-10 team had more talent, fired Carroll and hired Rich Kotite, who’d just been fired as Eagles head coach. That really worked out. The Jets went 4-28 under Kotite.

“To this day I have no idea why Mr. Hess fired Pete after one season,” Esiason said. “He was brilliant. He was the Chip Kelly of his time. I wish he’d have stayed our coach.”

Two things about that Miami game. Ingram caught four touchdown passes from Marino in the second half. Ingram’s now in jail until 2019 on money-laundering and fraud charges. And there was the matter of Esiason’s trip home to Long Island after the game.

“I’m in traffic at the Lincoln Tunnel [the route from East Rutherford to Long Island, via Manhattan] and next to me there was an accident, and I’m thinking, Should I get out of the car and help? So I do, and the woman in this car is slumped over the wheel, with a cigarette in her hand. I rap on the window. ‘Lady! You okay!’ She opens her eyes. She says, ‘Boomer? BOOMER? Man, you guys suck! How’d you lose that game!’ ”

* * *

This is a very significant storyline this week.

I just don’t know exactly how to quantify it.

Peyton Manning has never faced any of the eight Seattle defensive backs in the regular season or playoffs. He has faced the Seahawks twice in the preseason, but not when it’s counted since Oct. 4, 2009, a span of 68 games, including postseason. And, obviously, they have never faced him in a real game either.

Comparing the Seattle secondary in that 2009 game—when Manning riddled the Seahawks for 353 yards in a 34-17 Indy win—and now:

Seattle, Oct. 4, 2009 Seattle, this week
Kelly Jennings, Ken Lucas Starting corners Richard Sherman, Byron Maxwell
Deon Grant, Jordan Babineaux Starting safeties Earl Thomas, Kam Chancellor
Travis Fisher, Josh Wilson Backup corners Jeremy Lane, Walter Thurmond, DeShawn Shead
Lawyer Milloy, C.J. Wallace Backup safeties Chris Maragos

Now the question: Who gets the edge—Manning or the Seattle secondary—because of the lack of exposure these two sides have had to each other?

At first blush I’d say Manning, because, well, as Richard Sherman said a few days ago, “You can’t get in Peyton Manning’s head. If you get in his head, you’ll get lost.” Manning, and his new coordinator-in-crime, Adam Gase, are very good are figuring out things to show a defense that they’ve never seen before. Last week against New England, Virgil Green, a tight end who’d never carried the ball in 47 previous NFL games, lined up as a lone back in the backfield in a three-wide, two-tight-end set—and Manning handed it to him. Gain of six. The second touchdown pass of the game, a three-yard flip to Demaryius Thomas, was invented Friday night during a post-practice flurry of emails and voice memos (I wrote about it last Monday). The point about these plays: New England coach Bill Belichick has faced Manning 15 times since 2001, and he’d never seen either of those two plays before. Imagine if you’re Seattle defensive coordinator Dan Quinn and his secondary. You can study every snap Manning has taken this season. You can look at Denver’s 1,297 plays in 18 games, and you can analyze Manning’s 738 pass attempts. But do you know you’ll be seeing what you’ve seen regularly this year? Andre Caldwell was thrown 19 balls in a late-season three-game stretch; Jacob Tamme got 13 Manning targets in an earlier three-game run. Manning, when he needs to, involves the rest of the roster, not just his big four.

But Seattle has an edge here in that Manning hasn’t been able to replicate the Seahawks’ talent, size and physicality in practice. Other than Sherman staying at left corner—that’s an absolute given—we won’t know for sure until the game starts how Seattle plans to defend the wideouts. You can be sure tight end Julius Thomas will get the intimidating brunt of 6-3, 232-pound strong safety Kam Chancellor’s attention. The closing speed of free safety Earl Thomas is misleading.

We’ve seen Manning use different players at different times, and without regard to making sure everyone in the offense is treated fairly. That’s why it wouldn’t surprise me to see a guy like Caldwell, Tamme or Montee Ball take a prime role in the Super Bowl. Manning is not going to force the ball to Demaryius Thomas if he’s blanketed by Sherman up the right side.

For once, the beaten-up story angle of the week (just watch)—Peyton Manning against the best secondary in football—could turn out to be the overwhelming story of the Super Bowl.

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213 comments
jordanN
jordanN

It's getting really tiresome to hear all the complaining about where the Super Bowl is being played. On top of it being a thoroughly beaten dead horse, it's a game that is supposed to be played in the elements, so it's refreshing to finally see a SB played in the elements. I don't care if it means Manning might throw for less than 400 yards, that's how it's supposed to be, the elements play a factor. If I want pristine conditions I'll play Madden.

luvfoozball
luvfoozball

I agree with the comment about Russell Wilson being overrated. I dislike Pete Carroll and the Seahawks, but still I can see that Wilson does not have anywhere near the weapons that other QBs have, but he still keeps winning. He might be going through a rough patch recently... but that's expected from a second year QB. 


RobertSmith
RobertSmith

Richard Sherman already got what he wanted ... publicity to support his Beats "thug" commercial.  Now he can go back to playing football rather than manipulating the publicity machinery.  

KidHorn
KidHorn

The Sherman story should have died about 5 minutes after they beat the Niners. It's a non story made into a story by the media. Of course, Peter King doesn't realize this and beats the story to death. Typical for him. Just like Chuck Pagano last year.

Come up with something original. Peter King. Don't echo what everyone else is writing. Shame on you for passing yourself off as a credible journalist.

Jon8
Jon8

"This guy’s a better version of Fran Tarkenton.” 


Brandt also loved Blaine Gabbert!


Manziel will be the next big flop to hit the NFL. To say a guy who has never taken a snap from center in the NFL is "a better version" of a 3X Super Bowl QB and an NFL Hall of Famer, is irresponsible in the extreme!

JasonRivas
JasonRivas

Hello Peter.


Love the column, but I don't understand this Little Wayne person and why there was a need to get his input. Seems rather pointless, as he's nothing but a marginal entertainer. I use the word entertainer loosely.

ShifterKart
ShifterKart

I liked what he said. I thought it was fine. The gay liberal media is just trying to make a big deal out of nothing and further wussing down the US...

gary7
gary7

Esiason to Monk! Bet you didn't know they ever played on the same team....we did but it sure sounds like you did not, but then again you tried your hardest to keep him OUT of the HOF.

SemperFiDTM
SemperFiDTM

OH CRAP! I just got to the part where he said hes done complaining about the SB in cold weather (which absolutely counts, #58!)   PLEEEEASE PK, Ill give YOU $100 if you just gripe 2 more times about it!

SemperFiDTM
SemperFiDTM

Only 1 team from NY has ever won the Super Bowl. The '69 Jets. (yep they were still in NY then, and i mean the REAL NY (read:not Buffalo))

SemperFiDTM
SemperFiDTM

I see Petey mentioned again for the 57th time he doesnt like the SB bein played in NY/NJ! PLEASE petey, cry and moan just three more times this week before sunday about how you dont like it, that way I can win the $1000 pool im in! (yes, I bet 60 times, youve gone on 57 times I know about....if anyone has a definitive list of all his boo-hoos about this years SB in cold weather, Ill give you $100 for it - if it gets me to 60!)

PhillyPenn
PhillyPenn

Did you ever notice that when people are talking about Richard Sherman that many of them mention how intelligent he is and that he went to Stanford?  Why don't people do the same thing about Andrew Luck or just about any other Stanford grad who is in the NFL?  Just askin'.

Dani
Dani

The wind and the snow will be some factors against Manning. So if it's snowing, that will mean troubles ahead for Manning. Under a dome, i can easily predict a Broncos victory, but next sunday with that bad weather, anything is possible. 

kingwhat
kingwhat

The Harris Poll has new research numbers stating that Pro Football is over three times more popular than Major League Baseball. An unimpeachable source whispered in my ear that Bob Ryan of the Boston Globe is demanding an apology from the Harris pollsters.  And, it better be a good one.

CobyPreimesberger
CobyPreimesberger

yeah your latest forecast talking about forecast yesterday was 60 % of precip, today it's down to 20 % but 10 mph winds which could be a factor

RayHuggyBearYoung
RayHuggyBearYoung

I am not an East coast person but I find it to be such a joke that the local teams and this Superbowl all call themselves New York yet play every single snap in New Jersey.

KKortman
KKortman

@luvfoozball it all boils down to wins and losses and there isn't anybody in the league over the past two seasons or in their first two years in football, like him, that can match his record.  the defense and running game are great but without those amazing passes, 40 yards down field, thrown with pinpoint accuracy to Kearse, Tate, Baldwin, we would't have those wins.  I don't care if he only throws four completions a game, if they are all 40 yard bombs for touchdowns and it gets us to 28 points while we keep the other team to less than 20 points (which happened a lot this year) then I will take that.  


The intangible though is that this kid just finds a way to win.  Ask people who played him in pop warner, high school, college and the pros.  He just finds a way to win.  He's like Jordan at the buzzer.  If the ball is in his hands with a chance to win at the end of the game he gets the win.  In his rare losses he has taken his team down the field and scored and the defense (yes, that vaunted defense) ended up giving up points to the other team during their two minute drill, happened in San Fran and Indy and I believe Arizona this year and in Atlanta in the playoffs last year.  (research that and tell me I'm wrong).  


The bet I'm most interested in this weekend is my prop bet that the Seahawks win by more than 22, it's pays +10000.  We'll see.  

Ilovemesomeme
Ilovemesomeme

@luvfoozball Eh, lack of WR options?  Sure.  He also has a better defense than every other QB in the league, and a better running game than at least 28-29 of them.  He doesn't "keep winning," the Seahawks "keep winning." 


As I noted previously, they won their divisional game with Wilson completing 8 passes for 100 yards.  They won at least two regular season game earlier this year despite worse performances than that. 

KKortman
KKortman

@RobertSmith the fact that he's a better football player than you and I is a given, the fact that he's a better marketer of himself than you and I are of ourselves is now also a given.  If I were him I would partner with uggs to make me a pair of boots called "thuggs"  by richard sherman.  Tom Brady would be the first to buy a pair.  


And all through his promotional machinations he's actually been playing football, quite well I might add.  

KKortman
KKortman

@LolaSorento that's his 550k a year girlfriend, wait till you see his 5 million a year girlfriend next year.  

KKortman
KKortman

@gary7 yeah and what nil analyst doesn't watch the entire pro bowl either, it takes an hour if you dvr it and skip through the commercials.  Isn't that kinda his job?  I watched the game, mostly because I had  team Sanders and the under but still.  Unimaginable to me that you don't watch the game just out of respect for the game and because you are a writer.  

Ilovemesomeme
Ilovemesomeme

@PhillyPenn I honestly think there is a racial undertone there.  It's almost like we should all be completely surprised that an African American graduated from there. 


I'm not.

Rumrunner11
Rumrunner11

@PhillyPennWell for starters nobody shoved him in the face at the press conference.  That probably would have got him going again, just like the Niners game.......

Kenny2Thorough
Kenny2Thorough

@PhillyPennWell... I think in part because it's a part of American culture to consider blacks as intellectually inferior.

HarryTurner
HarryTurner

And, for all of Sherman's intelligence and pedigree from Stanford, you'd think he'd learn to stop all the trash talking he does. It is funny that in a room of 200+ reporters he acted like a perfect angel. What a moron.

SemperFiDTM
SemperFiDTM

@PhillyPenn @SemperFiDTM Judging by your screen name, youre either from Pennsylvania...or Pango Pango. Point is, theres NY 1 and NY 2. NY 1 is the NYC/LI area. NY 2 is everywhere else, and doesnt count. Some of the big

HarryTurner
HarryTurner

Oh, here we go with that white vs. black think. What utter nonsense!

Kenny2Thorough
Kenny2Thorough

@HarryTurner What about hormone synthesis? By that I mean that during a press conference it's not likely that there would a need for that fight or flight scenario. But in a game than the fight or flight response would be more appropriate. 

Checkout this crying baby study: 

http://www.livescience.com/17461-baby-cries-increase-testosterone.html 

Also checkout what happened when Sherman was forced to stop trash talking by his high school coach.

Sometimes, Sherman’s brashness grew distracting, but when Donerson tried stifling him, his performance suffered.

“He moped around like a dog that’s been kicked,” Donerson said.

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/01/26/sports/football/seahawks-richard-sherman-is-much-more-than-just-talk.html


Considering the affects that cognitive responses can have on the endocrine system and it's synthesis of hormones like testosterone then I think that it's possible that Sherman's trash talking could have physiological benefits to his athletic performance.

SemperFiDTM
SemperFiDTM

@nyjets011269 @SemperFiDTM @PhillyPenn DAMN...i was tryin to test Philly's knowledge, not another insane Jets fan like myself...but good catch all the same! (Somehow, I feel like if Stephen Hill reads that hell feel his job security threatened. Even more.)

SemperFiDTM
SemperFiDTM

@PhillyPenn The Jets started playing in the Polo Grounds in '59, then moved to Shea in '64 (Both in Queens, NYC)

SemperFiDTM
SemperFiDTM

@PhillyPenn Besides, Buffalo never won the SB. (Lost 4 in a row, a record. And one more reason not to consider them real NY'ers)

Kenny2Thorough
Kenny2Thorough

@Gawain3@Kenny2Thorough@HarryTurner Do you think Sherman is kind of like Thomas Edison as far as self promotion?

 http://www.qualitylogoproducts.com/blog/thomas-edison-self-promotion/

My first impression of Sherman was that he was kind of annoying and a bit of a jerk. That was the extent of it. But after the NFC finals I did a little research on the internet so since then I've been a fan. 

I'm trying to empathize with your perspective and the part you said about Sherman not respecting the game. But I'm having a tough time doing it. I feel like I don't know enough about you to understand where you're coming from. You said you've been watching the NFL for 40 years so I'm guessing you're at least over 50. But I don't know what part of the country you're from or your family background other than white.

You described the Erin Andrews interview as near violent. In the Sound FX video we get to see what happened right before the Fox telecast began. At around the 1 minute mark we see Sherman smile and huge Andrews and says something that isn't audible. Andrews also smiles but they both go back to more serious expressions by the time the live Fox telecast switched to their camera at the beginning of the interview.

http://www.nfl.com/videos/nfl-films-sound-efx/0ap2000000316744/Sound-FX-Sherman-and-Crabtree-clash


At the end of the video Sherman climbs into the stands and celebrates with the crowd. Sherman's mannerism while celebrating with fans was similar to his interview with Andrews.

BillRobinson
BillRobinson

@Gawain

Everybody's entitled to their opinion, and the Internet sure makes it easy to express it. Personally, I don't see him discrediting himself or anyone else, and he doesn't see it's necessary to use the f-word. It's interesting that you're still hung up on this episode, but hopefully you'll get over it some day. I have a lot of respect for Sherman.

Gawain3
Gawain3

@Kenny2Thorough@HarryTurner Latent anger?  Hmmmm, not exactly sure what that might be, but, yeah, I'm white, and totally fed up with hearing one more argument about how everyone is trying to beat down Sherman because he's black.  We all know he's black.  Get over it.  Move on.  We also understand that he's talented.  And, you know what?  My hat's off to him for getting out of that hell hole called Compton?  (I didn't see him moving his daddy out of there, though.)  And, hell, my hat's off to him for getting that scholarship to Stanford, and getting that 3.9 GPA that he's always boasting about.  What an Ivy League education.  Now, if he'd use that education and stop disrespecting the game as much as he's been doing!  He's brought discredit upon himself, upon Stanford, upon the team he's playing on.  For all of his intelligence, I'm amazed he can't see this.  And, for all of the talk about black and white and what some might stereotype as "intellectually inferior", what a crock by the way, none of us were talking about his lack of intelligence.  We were talking about the nonstop trash talking he does and the constant boasting he does.  Sherman doesn't deserve to be playing on any NFL team until he can learn a little humility and learn how to respect the game.  And, if I hear him talk one more time about:  "But, I do so many things for the community.  I do so many charities."  Who the f---- cares what he does when he completely destroys that image by trying to pick a fight with Crabtree at a charity event.  When does any of Sherman's egomaniacal behavior ever end?!  Is there any end to his lack of intelligence in this regard?!!!!!

Kenny2Thorough
Kenny2Thorough

@MichaelDuerre@HarryTurner The obvious focus is black vs white but I think it's more than just that. 

The last forced sterilization from the legacy of the pro eugenics movement was in 1981.

http://news.google.com/newspapers?id=ZFBWAAAAIBAJ&sjid=jesDAAAAIBAJ&pg=6596,4132204 

Although blacks where obvious targets, compulsory sterilization in America wasn't composed of racially based genocidal policies. It took a different turn in Germany.

I think I have a problem relating to hormone synthesis stimulated by cognitive thoughts. I don't know for sure but that's what I think it is. It's basically social anxiety. But not just in social situations. Even if I'm alone. But to balance that I try to think through emotions even if I don't actually feel them in proportions that I believe are appropriate when compared to someone with a normally functioning endocrine system. I'm not a sociopath. In fact I'm kind of hyper sensitive sometimes. But also other times I fantasize about ending all life on earth. But I know I'll never be powerful enough to do it and after reflecting on it then nor would I want to. But I feel like my hesitation to trust the natural biological processes that effect moods and emotions has sort of forced me to intellectualize how I should feel rather than just going along with natural feelings because I don't trust the appropriateness of the underlining biological processes. 


So I think that's why I often try to ponder the actual biological reasons for human behavior rather than rely on my own emotions.

MichaelDuerre
MichaelDuerre

@HarryTurnerThe fact is that throughout America's history, those who believed in white supremacy and white superiority DID preach the intellectual inferiority of blacks.  Scientists tried to use eugenics and cranial mass theory to prove it--all the way into the early to mid-1900s.  Society used racist imagery and propagated stereotypes that played on the prevailing view that blacks were not as smart as whites.  White society passed Jim Crow laws that segregated school, which prevented generations of African Americans from receiving quality education so that white supremacists could continue to push the "dumb, ignorant negro" stereotype for as long as possible.  This was the reality in much of the United States into the 1960s.  Just because the laws have changed and help equalize society in terms of opportunity doesn't mean that the views of large segments of society have changed in the past 50 years.  Go look on any comment board and read the comments about blacks.  Saying that Kenny's comment was nonsense is nonsense itself.

Kenny2Thorough
Kenny2Thorough

@HarryTurner It's not just a black vs white thing. I'm actually a black African American and I grew up in a high crime neighborhood. I'm a bit eccentric but not eccentric insane. 

But it seems that you have a lot of latent anger regarding black vs white. But I don't know your background so I don't know what to make of it. 

But it's not just about inter ethnic relations but how blacks view themselves. Sherman has larger aspirations to change cultural attitudes towards education.

Gawain3
Gawain3

@Kenny2Thorough @HarryTurner Lol, well, that certainly would be a different approach.  I would love to see Pete Carroll stifling Sherman.  I just don't see that happening.  It would be entertaining, for sure, to see Sherman going around the field boo hooing like a wounded dog, though.

Kenny2Thorough
Kenny2Thorough

@PhillyPenn@Kenny2ThoroughYeah. Like, during a game than the payoffs of trash talk is different than for a press conference. If we assumed that trash talking does affect hormone levels in a why that aides athletic performance for his particular style of play then his incentive to trash talk during a press conference may have different triggers than it would for an actual NFL game.

PhillyPenn
PhillyPenn

@Kenny2Thorough 99% of people have no idea what the endocrine system is and half of them wouldn't be able to pass an Anatomy & Physiology class so I think you're barking up the wrong tree here.  However, I do agree with you about the effects external stimuli and hormone production.

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