When last we left tarnated beast, Peter King, he was giving back-handed compliments to Cam Newton for winning a big game against the Saints, during which PK was gleefully slamming him. But what about this week? Well, it sucks in all the usual ways, but the timing of Greg Schiano’s firing made it much easier. READ ON.
Not much happened on the last day of the regular season Sunday.
OH HO HO, THAT’S THE LAST TIME I TRIFLE WITH THE MASTER OF SARCASM.
A totally Brownsian firing.
Can you imagine what it must have been like to be lifelong Browns fan and 2013 Browns coach Rob Chudzinski Sunday night around 9, getting blindsided by the rumors of your firing after the last game of the season in Pittsburgh, wondering on the two-hour bus ride home if they could possibly be true, and then listening to club president Joe Banner destroy your dream, dismissing you after just 352 days of a four-year contract?
I imagine it was about as painful as reading that sentence.
I told the news to one of the stalwart Browns, linebacker D’Qwell Jackson, at 9:55 Sunday night. “We fired Chud? Are you kidding me?” he said, stunned. Wish I was.
“I wish I weren’t burdened by so much wisdom and perspective that I saw it coming even though I actually didn’t.”
The wrong team might have won the sixth seed in the AFC. In the Year of the Blown Call, it’s fitting that as two officials from the Bill Leavy crew stared at a blatant violation on a 41-yard field-goal that would have won the game for Kansas City, neither threw a flag. The kick went wide right. Ryan Succop should have had a second chance from five yards closer, but he didn’t, and San Diego won in overtime. If Succop had converted, there’d have been a five-way tie for the sixth playoff seed in the AFC at 8-8, and the Steelers would have won the tiebreaker.
So much respect for the refs a few weeks ago when PK was getting to hang out with a crew. Now it’s Year of the Blown Call.
Anyway, no 8-8 team that got to illegally break a punter’s face on a TD return should place the blame for missing the playoffs on one call going against them in a game they weren’t even playing.
And Pittsburghers wake up this morning, read this, spit out their coffee and wonder, “Is this karmic payback for The Immaculate Reception?”
Given that it’s Bill Leavy, Super Bowl XL is the cheap shot you go with there.
The Eagles won a couple of other crowns. LeSean McCoy won the first rushing title by an Eagle in 64 years, and it wasn’t close: McCoy 1,607, Matt Forte 1,339. Nick Foles beat out Peyton Manning for passer rating, 119.2-115.1; these things happen when your touchdown-to-interception differential is 27-to-2.
But, but, Peyton is having the best season ever by a quarterback!
Houston won the first pick in the draft by losing its 12th straight. GM Rick Smith was on hand to see the best game of Teddy Bridgewater’s college life Saturday night in Orlando. Owner Bob McNair will be in the house Wednesday to see Jadeveon Clowney play Wisconsin. The Texans might even find time to hire Bill O’Brien this week to spearhead the revival of the franchise.
Yes, let’s give jobs to Bill O’Brien and Josh McDaniels. It’s not like Belchick flunkies don’t have a very decorated record of fucking up every single place they’ve gone in the NFL.
What in tarnation are the Browns doing?
GREAT HORNYTOADS! PK is Yosemite Sam today for some reason.
A little more than a year ago, when Jimmy Haslam bought the Browns from Randy Lerner, the most sensible thing he said concerned the coaching merry-go-round the team had been on. Haslam was a minority owner of the Steelers when he bought the Browns, and stability, obviously, was the Pittsburgh way of doing business.
OBVIOUSLY PITTSBURGHISH The Steelers have also been a very stable 8-8 the last two seasons.
More Haslam, from October 2012: “One thing I learned from watching the Steelers is the importance of consistency in coaching, and how much it sets you back when you’re always making a change. When you change coaches, it can be a three- or four-year deal to get back.”
For what it’s worth, three playoff teams this year have first-year coaches. And cool drunk uncle Bruce Arians almost made it with the Cards.
I expect Cleveland brass will say, politely, that the team simply wasn’t improving. The Browns looked like a strong defensive team in the first month (Cleveland started 3-2) and disintegrated into one that lost 10 of its last 11. The team that spent $40 million to import Paul Kruger in free agency and drafted Barkevious Mingo high in the first round was supposed to use those two as cornerstones of a ferocious pass rush; but Cleveland had only two more sacks this season than in 2012, and Kruger and Mingo combined for only 9.5.
A first-round pick didn’t dominate in his rookie season? Guess almost every head coach has to go, then.
If Banner and Haslam tell the truth, maybe they’ll say not everyone is cut out to be an NFL head coach, and maybe Chudzinski was one slot above the job he does best: offensive coordinator.
So if PK is suggesting that Chud is a shitty, overmatched coach, what is he faulting Browns ownership for? PICK A SIDE, ASSWIPE.
Today, I hope someone asks Haslam about his statement to me 14 months ago. If I can talk to him, I certainly will.
Of course. Why can’t we make this story improbably more depressing by making it about Peter King?
There is no doubt the Browns will be interested in northeast Ohio native and New England offensive coordinator McDaniels, even after his failed tenure in Denver.
WHY? WHY IS THERE NO DOUBT? HE’S AWFUL AND HAS FAILED SPECTACULARLY EVERYWHERE BUT WHERE HE CURRENTLY IS.
But those who know McDaniels tell me he’ll only take a job he’s convinced can be a winner.
Something even he can’t possibly fuck up.
Right now, the Cleveland job has a moat surrounding it, with alligators swimming in it, so I think Cleveland will be hard-pressed to convince McDaniels it’s a great job for him. Maybe Detroit, if it opens, with a good quarterback who needs to be coached and some very good defensive talent, would be more up McDaniels’ alley.
WHY DOES JOSH MCDANIELS HAVE LEVERAGE!? THAT’S LIKE GIVING TOXIC WASTE ITS CHOICE OF WHAT TO DESPOIL.
But he’s not the kind of guy itching to be a head coach, I’m told. He’s happy coaching Tom Brady and working under Bill Belichick, I’m told.
No shit, I’m told.
Once a Eufalan, always a Eufalan. As Rams GM Les Snead (a native of Eufala, Ala.) sat in a Seahawks luxury box Sunday, watching the early games to see where his team would be picking in the May draft, he saw an unknown wideout, Jerrel Jernigan, lead the Giants to a win over Washington … and hand the Rams Washington’s No. 2 overall pick. Jernigan’s a Eufala kid too, and had six catches for 90 yards and a touchdown, plus a 49-yard touchdown run. “He went to my high school,” said Snead. “He was the quarterback on the team, and I’m watching him, and here he is, helping us get the No. 2 pick.”
Peter King thinks Schiano's going to keep his job. He also spelled "Eufaula" wrong several times.
— GrimeyItsColdOutside (@loljocks_grimey) December 30, 2013
Snead made it clear that, with the second pick, the Rams are open for business.
Yes, but is their war room open for reporters again? PK wants to be there to experience the Jeff Fisher high fives when they fleece another team into giving them multiple firsts.
Remember this about being the top seed. In the last 19 seasons, only once (2009, New Orleans and Indy) have the two top seeds entering the playoffs advanced to the Super Bowl. In the last generation, home-field advantage has become decreasingly important. My two low seeds to watch this year: No. 5 San Francisco and No. 5 Kansas City.
Because the Chiefs looked really great against the Colts a few weeks back.
The gift that keeps on giving.
No, it’s not the Jelly of the Month Club, all you Christmas Vacation devotees.
Second time he’s used that trite reference in the last two months and I’m pretty sad that I can recognize that.
It’s the No. 2 overall pick in the 2012 NFL draft. When the Rams traded down four spots last year, from No. 2 overall to No. 6, it allowed Washington to move up to take Robert Griffin III. In addition to the sixth pick in the ’12 draft, Washington gave St. Louis a second-round pick in 2012 and first-round picks in 2013 and 2014.
Sunday’s final scores mean Washington’s first-round pick is the second overall, and so the results for St. Louis are real, and they’re spectacular.
More appropriate PK Seinfeld reference:
(Okay, I’ll stop with the bad movie/TV references.)
We both know that’s a lie.
But at the end of the day, the original trade down with the Redskins will only be very good for the Rams if Sam Bradford becomes an upper-echelon NFL quarterback.
I understand at the time that part of the motivation to make the deal for St. Louis was contingent on them thinking they were set on quarterback, but they could cut Bradford tomorrow and they still swindled the shit out of the Redskins.
My current problem with quarterback-prospecting …
… revolves around Matt Flynn. I look at Oakland, where Flynn was shipped in the offseason, and I see the Raiders floundering at the position after cutting bait with him nearly three months ago. I see the Bills, who did the same after a short trial with Flynn when E.J. Manuel was down. And I say: You’re telling me Matt Flynn couldn’t have helped either team, either playing or by providing depth?
Oh boy, PK has taken up the mantle of the “Matt Flynn didn’t get a fair shake!” crusade. It’s his most pointless tirade yet. Because it’s not like Flynn didn’t get every opportunity to win the Seahawks and Raiders jobs while being paid handsomely.
I say this after watching the Packers for the past month, because Matt Flynn saved their season. Matt Flynn made the return of Aaron Rodgers Sunday in Chicago relevant. Without Flynn, Scott Tolzien would have given it the ol’ Badger try … and failed.
Matt Flynn didn’t save shit. Chicago and Detroit saved it by sucking enough to let the Packers hang around.
There isn’t a team right now in the NFL that wants to hand Matt Flynn the reins to run the team for the next five years.
Because he sucks.
I SINCERELY QUESTION THAT
But the cavalier treatment of him, particularly in a quarterback-needy place like Oakland, troubles me. When I was in training camp with the Raiders, I remember GM Reggie McKenzie telling me Flynn wasn’t the most gifted athlete with the biggest cannon, but he was smart, confident and the right guy to lead the Raiders in a time of transition. Boom. Ten weeks later he’s on the street.
You’re right, McKenzie should have just told you right then and there that his starting quarterback going into the season was dogshit. No way you’d fault him for that.
Finally back in his comfort zone, Green Bay, Flynn orchestrated a tie and two wins in his five games. He was good, not great.
No way you could spin that the other way. “Finally back in his comfort zone, Matt Flynn could only produce two wins and a tie in five starts. He was serviceable. He could have been worse.”
But I would submit that if you watched Flynn in the second half of the Minnesota tie and the two wins (Dallas and Atlanta), you’d see a quarterback who belongs on the roster of a good team, and starting for some teams.
I submit that if you cherry pick a good half of play from a couple games, you can make just about any quarterback look awesome.
Bottom line: If you know what Flynn is as a quarterback—and former Packer exec McKenzie did know what he was—why be impatient with him?
I will concede that I found it questionable for the Raiders to cut him loose in the middle of the season, but you know what? It was ultimately better for Matt Flynn, which is exactly what PK seems to want. If the Raiders held onto Flynn, he’d just be sitting on the bench all season instead of likely earning himself another contract because of his fill-in work in Green Bay.
Why the NFL needs a permanent, annual rivalry game for every team. San Francisco travels 38 miles around the Bay to face the Raiders—the first time since 2002 they’ve played in Oakland. Steve Mariucci and Bill Callahan were the head coaches that day, and Jerry Rice ran routes for the Raiders.
That would completely fuck up the scheduling format. Plus not every team necessarily has a clear rival.
And speaking of rarely played intrastate rivalries … St. Louis at Kansas City. Houston at Dallas. Games like this should happen every season, and those teams without a great natural rival should invent one.
Jaguars-Buccaneers: feel the rancor of this proximity of despair!
Denver (13-3). Love this line from Mark Kiszla of The Denver Post midway through the first half at Oakland: “This score just in: Denver 17, Oakland doesn’t care.”
Cutler for Raiders, pls.
5. New England (12-4). Think of the agonizing four losses the Patriots have had in this four-loss season
Wait, how many games did they lose?
13-6 in a torrential downpour in Cincinnati, 30-27 with that push-the-pile penalty against the Jets, 24-20 on the wrongly picked-up flag in the end zone in Carolina, 24-20 with four shots into the end zone to win in Miami. Amazing how close this team came to the best record in football with the mayhem it dealt with at the skill positions all year.
Yes, doesn’t it just wrench your heart that this perennially good team had just enough losses to still get a playoff bye? Sorry, Cleveland, they know real suffering in BAHSTON.
9. Kansas City (11-5). Chase Daniel earned lots of respects
Much respects. So unexpect.
Millions. Peter King is paid millions of dollars to write in unironic doge meme.
and probably some money, with an A-minus performance at San Diego.
True enough. He’ll be one of seven backups on the Vikings in 2014.
11. Philadelphia (10-6). Saints at Eagles Sunday. What a great game, even if the great outdoors is New Orleans’ kryptonite.
It’s the NFC’s narrative answer to DURRRRRR CAN PEYTON WIN WHEN IT’S COLD?
14. Pittsburgh (8-8). I wish they’d gotten in. I wanted to see Ben Roethlisberger take aim at the Bengals again. Would have been great theater.
Why is that any more interesting than Rivers getting to face them? I’m a Steelers fan and even I don’t see Steelers-Bengals as a particularly compelling rivalry from a national standpoint. Don’t get me wrong, the teams and the fans don’t like each other, but it’s not one of the league’s celebrated rivalries by any stretch. The Bengals aren’t even the team the Steelers dislike most in their own division.
The Awards Section
Offensive Players of the Week
Aaron Rodgers, quarterback, Green Bay. Rodgers has had better days numerically that this one: 25 of 39, 318 yards, two touchdowns, two interceptions, 85.2 rating. But the great ones play great when it’s most important.
Basically the opposite tone of the same Cam Newton section from last week. “Cam was having a terrible day, but then I guess he came through with a big-time winning drive. Good for him, he needs that to wipe away all the uncertainty of whether he’s a bust.”
Coach of the Week
Mike McCarthy, head coach, Green Bay. I lost count of players on IR at 17 (including Randall Cobb, who was designated to return, which he did in a very big way Sunday), and then you have to add in the half-season missed by the most important player on the team, Aaron Rodgers. Still, McCarthy got this team to a highly unlikely division title and a home playoff game. A great coaching job.
Funny that this dumpy fuckwit only becomes an amazing coach once when he has one of the best quarterbacks in the sport. Also, it’s way more a testament to Detroit and Chicago’s derpage that the Packers are division than anything else.
Goats of the Week
Ryan Succop, placekicker, Kansas City. Missed the 41-yard field goal that would have beaten the Chargers in regulation and sent the Steelers to the playoffs. If you’re passing through western Pennsylvania in the near future, Mr. Succop, don’t wear Chiefs stuff.
You can wear head-to-toe Duck Dynasty apparel, however.
Quotes of the Week
“I was shaking and sweating. There were tears in my eyes. It was really weird. Here was this Heisman Trophy winner, giving me a ball that he scored with.”
—Law Waddill, 10, of Raleigh, N.C., the first young fan Cam Newton handed a ball to after scoring a touchdown in an NFL game, from a terrific story in Sunday’s Charlotte Observer.
Great idea: Scott Fowler of the Observer spent a month searching for kids who’d been gifted a football by the Carolina quarterback after he scored a touchdown. That’s been a Newton tradition since he became an NFL player in 2011; he’s done it between 40 and 50 times. Fowler found 16 of them, including a girl with ADHD and hearing aids who was profoundly inspired by the gift. Fowler gathered them for a photo at Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte, and Newton surprised them by showing up and spending 30 minutes with them.
It’s really a great read, and a great tradition started by Newton.
This is PK’s sneaky way of deflecting the criticism he got for being overly harsh to Cam Newton. PK won’t acknowledge that people called him a piece of shit or had legit objections to his coverage. Instead, he’ll toss in a quick anecdote about Cam’s generosity to hopefully disarm critics in the future.
“It’s a conversation between me and the coaches.”
—Quarterback (we think that’s the position he plays still) Josh Freeman of the Vikings, to the St. Paul Pioneer Press, on why he has been buried on the Minnesota quarterback depth chart for most of the three months he’s been employed by the team.
This is the strangest personnel story of the NFL season. Released by the Bucs in early October, Freeman signs with the Vikings for $2 million for the last 12 games of the season. He plays one game, poorly (37.7 percent completions, 40.6 rating), in a loss to the Giants. He is active for two others but doesn’t play. He is inactive for the other nine, including Sunday’s finale against Detroit. After he played the one game, he did have a concussion, but Freeman has reportedly been ready to play but not used for the last nine weeks.
Nice work if you can get it: One bad football game, 11 on the bench, $2 million.
Again, this is basically what Matt Flynn was up until a few weeks ago. Yet are there cries that Josh Freeman isn’t getting a fair shake?
No, he’s just a team photo missing dramafraud who is helped to get PK’s favorite shitty coach fired.
Factoids of the Week That May Interest Only Me
Here’s what I find most amazing about London Fletcher: Since he turned 30, he has played nine seasons in the NFL—two with Buffalo, seven with Washington. In those nine seasons, his teams played 146 games, 144 in the regular season and two in the playoffs. Fletcher has started all 146 games in his 30s.
That is an amazing fact, considering the beating middle linebackers take from physical tight ends on crossing patterns and from pulling guards and centers who outweigh him by 65 pounds.
We think of Ray Lewis as an ironman, right?
Lewis’ Ravens played 142 games in the regular- and post-season after Lewis turned 30. He started 114 of them. Which makes Fletcher’s mark all the more impressive, at least to me.
He started more games than a player who started about 80 percent of his games. Really puts it into perspective.
So you want to be a football coach, eh?
Brian VanGorder is 54 years old. On Saturday, he accepted the 18th different coaching job in a 32-year coaching career.
Not really the life for me.
That’s too bad. Lord knows the Browns would be dumb enough to hire you.
Mr. Starwood Preferred Travel Note of the Week
Holiday time in New York. Tourist season. I was at Grand Central Station the other day, doing a little shopping in the concourse. The place was mobbed. There’s a huge Apple store there, and as I walked by, there was a crowd at the bottom of the stairs leading to the entrance of the store. Logjam. People couldn’t get by. And I looked up to see a line of tourists waiting to take photos with the Apple logo. Sometimes I don’t get America.
Silly peasants. Don’t they know it’s only dignified to worship a massive corporation when it’s Starbucks? Also, PK lives in NYC. Shouldn’t he know what which obvious areas you should avoid to get away from tourists?
Tweets of the Week
“My wife says I can’t sit on the furniture, I told her I’m in the Hall of Fame I can lay down on it if I want to.”
—@criscarter80, indeed a Hall of Fame player.
Dan Dierdorf: “Hey, I didn’t know that was part of the deal.” [Sits down in traffic]
Ten Things I Think I Think
1. I think this is what I liked about Week 17:
n. Good point from ESPNBoston’s Field Yates: Scott Pioli, my NBC partner this season, had a role in drafting seven Pro Bowlers—four for the Chiefs and three for New England.
That’s right, why should only two Patriots flunkies be stupidly considered for jobs this week? Surely we get Scott Pioli in the mix to ruin another franchise if we carefully present the few things he did right and never mention the Matt Cassel/Todd Haley business.
2. I think this is what I didn’t like about Week 17:
b. Matt Cassel failing to make a Metrodome memory in the last game ever there, missing a wide open Jared Allen (yes, Jared Allen) in the end zone in what would have been a second-quarter touchdown.
Any venue defined by an event involving Matt Cassel probably doesn’t need to be remembered.
f. Jeff Fisher has to get control of his team. Way too chippy.
The Weirdo Chippy Rams now, is it? Just be satisfied PK is even writing an ill word about them, albeit like 7,000 words into his column, a distance only the truly masochistic can reach.
4. I think I would not like to be officiating boss Dean Blandino when he goes into his meeting with senior staff, including Roger Goodell, today at the league office in New York.
“One stern look from Goodell and I bet his bowels evacuate and his eyes bleed!”
Too many mistakes, easily spotted ones, keep happening in the league. How on earth can you be an umpire or side judge staring at the defensive line and see seven players on one side of the center—clearly in violation of a league rule that says six is the most players on the line of scrimmage on either side of the center before a field goal or PAT—and not throw a flag? The league owes the Steelers and the people of Pittsburgh a mea culpa. And I’m beginning to think the offending officials on such obvious plays like that should have to sit a game. It’s just too important a situation for the only consequences during the season to be an offending official not making the playoffs. Coaches bench players if they don’t perform. Blandino should be able to bench officials if they don’t perform.
Tough talk on the refs. Just a few weeks ago, PK was gushing about how he got to hang with Gene Steratore’s crew and what a great job they do with a thankless and difficult task.
5. I think, as I said on NBC Sports Network Friday night, that I can’t fathom the Bears paying Jay Cutler $20 million a year (the going rate for long-term good quarterbacks) on a multiyear deal, and I also can’t fathom them NOT tendering him as a franchise player. If the Bears tender him and another team signs him to an offer the Bears don’t match, they’d receive a first-round pick in return. So he’d either be a $16 million hit (the cost of the franchise tag) on Chicago’s salary cap in 2014, or he’d play elsewhere and the Bears would get a pick in return. But if the Bears don’t give him that $16 million qualifying offer, he could leave the team for anyone else, and the Bears would receive no compensation. It would make no sense for Chicago not to sign him to the one-year tender, even if GM Phil Emery decided the team was better off without his huge salary.
Yes, but if another team doesn’t bite and foolishly give the Bears a first-rounder, Chicago is still stuck with Cutty at a huge cap figure. Plus, you have a relatively new coach and GM who want to put their stamp on a team and start building now, rather than forestall the process for another season.
And then came this, which is my favorite terrible thing ever, especially because of the update. I kind of want to frame it, even though it’ll make me just as sad that I even know enough about PK’s stupid bullshit to find enjoyment in it.
10. I think these are my non-NFL thoughts of the week:
a. Best sight I saw all weekend: Notre Dame safety Austin Collinsworth, on what could be the last play of his college career (in Yankee Stadium, no less), intercepting a Rutgers pass to finish off a bowl victory for the Irish. The son of Cris, Austin’s a great kid who has had some rough patches in his college football career—he missed his junior season after undergoing two surgeries, one on his shoulder and another on his back—and it’s uncertain whether he will return for a fifth season under new defensive coordinator Brian VanGorder. If Collinsworth is done, that’s quite a way to go out. The pick gave him the team interception lead for the season, with three.
Normally, all this shoehorned-in love for the Irish and sons of your coworkers would have brought me down, but you can’t hurt me after that Schiano section. Haha, can’t hurt me this week, Nugget Baron.
c. So ESPN has gotten $260 million in subsidies from the state of Connecticut over the years for its state-of-the-art campus in Bristol, according to the New York Times? Dead serious here: Not only doesn’t that surprise me, but I’m a little surprised it isn’t more. Not justifying it or defending it in any way, honestly. But $260 million over a 12-year period from a state dying for employment and civic boosterism (ESPN employs 4,000 Nutmeggers, or those who have moved to the state to be Nutmeggers) actually seems like a good investment to me.
You know PK secretly wishes he could work for ESPN just so he could call himself a Nutmegger. Though that might also drive him to cannibalize himself, so I approve.
e. Coffeenerdness: I went to a Dunkin’ Donuts with Tom Curran of CSN New England on Friday. His order: “Medium hot coconut, with milk, three Splenda, four ice cubes.” Wh-wh-what? I then grilled Curran on his choice. Re the coconut: “Gives the coffee a tropical feel.” Re the ice cubes: “Stops the coffee from being mind-bendingly hot so I don’t have to wait a half-hour to drink it.” Whatever you say, Tommy.
“PFFFFT, NICE ORDER, COFFEE FAG. WHAT’S WRONG, THEY WON’T GIVE IT TO YOU IN A LITTLE DAZZLED PENIS CUP? YOU WANT ME TO ASK DUNKIN TO PUT OUT A DAZZLED PENIS CUP IN MY COLUMN? I’LL DO IT. AND THEY’LL LISTEN. I GOT THAT KIND OF PULL!”
f. Beernerdness: I’ll be back with this next week.
Yeah, you will. The Schiano dejection is gonna get take a few cases of Allagash to suppress.
The Adieu Haiku
London Fletcher, gone.
He loved the name I gave him.
“The Black Seau.” Thoughts?
Peter King loves it
When black people know their place