When last we left racing gut undulation, Peter King, he was decrying our nation’s crippling affliction of cell phone overuse. Like gun control, someone should DO SOMETHING and it should be done without Peter having to contribute a useful idea. PK also lauded Akeem Ayers, who Peter describes as an anonymous linebacker while identifying him by name. Petey also said it’s awesome that Greg Schiano doesn’t care what anyone thinks, because he’s gonna lose every week HIS WAY!
But what about this week? Did you know two quarterbacks can have similar stats at a very early juncture of a game? Who is Tim Jennings? Is he hosting the Oscars? What is the best hotel for making sweet love to Boomer Esiason? The answer may surprise you. READ ON.
The NFL at the quarter pole: strange days indeed.
Is there any outcome from the first quarter of the season that PK wouldn’t have described as WEIRD? Even in the extremely unlikely event that everything transcribed as he said it would, he’d just say, “Everything happened just like I said it would! Can you believe my foresight? Isn’t that WEIRD?”
The refs are back, and guess what? They’re not perfect.
Take THAT, straw man who predicted that the real refs would get every single call correct. That’ll be the last time Peter King invents your argument.
Best defensive player: Houston defensive end J.J. Watt.
Notified of this incredibly prestigious honor, being named the best defensive player of the first month of the season, Watt said after his two-sack game against Tennessee Sunday: “I appreciate that, but it’s only one quarter of the season. We’ve got lots to do.”
“That award is so meaningless, it doesn’t even exist. Now please leave me alone.”
Best team: Houston. San Francisco looked like it Sunday in the 34-0 rout of the discombobulated Jets. Atlanta looked like it in the 27-3 beatdown of the Chargers in San Diego in Week 3. And the Patriots looked like it rolling up 45 points in the last 25 minutes at Buffalo Sunday. But the Texans were September’s Team, winning by 20, 20, 6 and 24 points.
A crafty way for Peter to hide his indecision. “Yes, Houston is the best team, I think. Unless we’re talking the last half of one game against a poor defense, in which case, it’s the Patriots all the way.”
I don’t want overestimate the pluck of the quarterback, but who survives the two hits on consecutive plays that Matt Schaub took last week in Denver, a $15,750 whack by Von Miller and a $50,000 (plus suspension) helmet-to-helmet ear-eater by Joe Mays? (Schaub, by the way, told me the death of his earlobe has been greatly exaggerated. “My ear’s fine,” he said dismissively Sunday. “That thing got blown way out of proportion.”)
True, he could be jamming car keys in there like Alfred Morris’ mom.
Best coach: Mike McCarthy, Green Bay. The coach of the year shouldn’t always be the winningest coach, or the coach who brings a team from poor to contender. McCarthy gained my everlasting respect when, in the face of the rage on his sideline and in his locker room, he managed the post-debacle situation in Seattle with aplomb, sending his extra-point team back on the field when the players were venomous in the postgame locker room, then making no excuses in his remarks to the press.
So true. The title of best coach shouldn’t always go to the best coach. That would be silly. Even reductive. Instead, it should go to the coach who is best suited to appear in those USA Football commercials for displaying a moment of class and sportsmanship between extended rants telling players to step on the other guy’s voice box.
Last Wednesday, he told his players they weren’t going to be making any excuses about the officials.
Except his players had been making excuses and openly complaining about the botched call for more than a full day by that point.
Unpleasant shock: The fall of the Saints.
Petey is making an effort to look dignified here. No chance he isn’t reveling in the Saints winless start.
It took them 22 days to surpass their 2011 loss total (13-3 last year, 0-4 this morning), and there’s no secret why. The defensive coordinator brought in to replace Gregg Williams, Steve Spagnuolo, doesn’t have enough players to play his coverage-centric unit; Spagnuolo likes to get pressure with four, which worked with the front-four-rich Giants but not with the Saints.
Also he can’t order his guys to hurt the other team’s best players.
Someday, someone will write a book about the impact of the NFL sanctions on this Saints season (Are you taking notes, Jeff Duncan?)
(Probably, because he’s a reporter)
but as one NFL source said about the absence of Sean Payton: “Sean was as good as I’ve seen at putting his foot on the throat of the team when they needed it. This team has no one to put a foot on the throat.” I’ve said this all along, but with the Super Bowl in New Orleans this year, Roger Goodell will be spending a lot of time in his suite. If I were him, I’d hire a food-tester for the week.
Look no further than your lap, Goodell. Peter will gladly serve in that capacity. Especially if The Rog should decide to snack upon, say, a smidgeon of nutmeg or citrus-y beer. Salad?! No, Roger, that’s poison for sure. The only way to avoid certain death is an eight latte a day diet.
There’s a lot of lousy defense being played — and lousy special teams too. Check out the teams surrendering more than four touchdowns a game, and check out their records: The Saints (32.5 points allowed per game) are 0-4. Detroit (28.5) is 1-3, as is Tennessee (37.8), Kansas City (34.0) and Oakland (31.2). Washington (30.8), Buffalo and its megabucks defensive line (32.8) are 2-2.
Why, it’s almost like a functioning defense is vital to being successful. And that playing defense in the NFL is more difficult than it’s been in the past for a host of self-evident factors.
Upshots of the end of the ref crisis:
The league can now do something about calls like the one that almost cost the Packers Sunday. A league source told me Sunday night the official who trails the kick returner out of the end zone until he gets to about the 40-yard line is the head linesman. Which means head linesman Phil McKinnely, a 10-year vet, is the one who blew the call and didn’t see the Darren Sproles fumble. Officials who botch calls like that one are routinely graded down, and the NFL beginning in 2013 will have the right to bench underachieving officials and replace them with some of the 21 development officials on the taxi squad of sorts the NFL will form next offseason. “We’ll be able to have some full-time officials, and we’ll be able to build a bench to improve our officiating,” said Patriots owner Robert Kraft. “We believe this will make officiating better in the long term.”
Yes, the league can now do something about calls like the one in Green Bay. If by now, you mean next year.
Scott Green had nothing, personally, to gain from staying out of work. Because he has been an official since 1991 and officials are fully vested in the pension system after 20 years, Green didn’t make a dime from the three weeks of work lost. He actually lost seven weeks of paychecks — four preseason and three regular season — so that the pension system could stay afloat for five more years. The final deals means 41 of the league’s 121 officials will max out in the NFL pension, assuming all stay employed that long, because of Green’s persistence, and get the maximum pension of $70,000 per year in retirement at age 65.
Don’t get me wrong — the league got something it wanted very badly, the ability of the league office to have several full-time officials and the right to form a taxi squad of young developmental officials. That’s going to help the game.
“Lest you think this was a loss for Goodell, stop. Stop right there. You are wrong. The Rog was not defeated. Do those look like the pythons of a man who was licked? Are those the machine-like push-up sets of a man who would lose to a bunch of stupid weenie referees? Never. Goodell got exactly what he wanted. WHAT THE LEAGUE NEEDED. THE HISTORY BOOKS WILL TELL WHO REALLY WON THIS BATTLE!”
1. Houston (4-0). “The great thing about our team now,” Matt Schaub told me Sunday, post-rout of Titans, “is we can win a game any way. If we’re struggling, the defense picks us up. It hasn’t always been that way, with both units being capable of winning every week.” Week 5 should be interesting: Texans at desperado, stinking-it-up Jets next Monday.
Should be an absolutely fascinating 40-point blowout of the Jets. Yup, the Texans can win like that, too.
5. Arizona (4-0). I hate to drop the Cards down here. It’s probably not fair. I just don’t think they could beat the Niners or Ravens on a neutral field right now.
Sorry, Buzzsaw. Get a win over a good team in Wichita and we’ll talk.
7. Green Bay (2-2). I have to think Roger Goodell was holding his breath down the stretch, just praying the Packers didn’t get jobbed for the second time in seven days by an official’s call late in the fourth quarter. Crisis averted — for now.
Oh yeah, I bet the last time Goodell would have wanted is utter humiliation for a group of people who just handed him his ass at the negotiating table.
9. Philadelphia (3-1). Mike Vick: Nine turnovers in the first three games, all shaky; no turnovers Sunday night. See how smooth the game can go when you’re not careless?
That’s the ticket. It’s not that Michael Vick was just making mistakes in his first three games of the season. It’s that he didn’t care. Not like Peyton Manning, who cares so much when he throws three INTs in the first quarter against the Falcons. You might say that happened because Peyton cares TOO MUCH.
14. Chicago (2-1). With the good secondary Jay Cutler’s going to be facing tonight in Dallas, it’d be a good idea if the Bears running game gave him a break. Chicago’s averaging 3.5 yards per rush.
Facing good corners? Better hope that running game that hasn’t been doing shit so far this year can bail you out.
15. Denver (2-2). Saw Peyton Manning’s postgame press conference. Looked like he was already thinking of the trip to New England. Manning-Brady XIII, late Sunday afternoon in Foxboro. I just hope it’s not their last meeting. According to the 2013 schedule rubric, the Broncos face only one AFC East team next year, and that’s the team that finishes in the same spot as the Broncos. So, if Denver and New England don’t meet in the playoffs this year … let’s just say the Broncos are probably going to have to win the AFC West for Manning-Brady to have meeting No. 14 next year.
Wow, it’s like Peter is openly rooting for the Broncos to win the division or something. But that can’t be. He only picked Denver to make it to the Super Bowl and reminded us after the Broncos started 1-2 that even though Peyton has been worse in every single other statistical category since coming back, his yards per attempt is up, SO SHUT IT, HATERS! Now he’s going to couch his bias for Peyton as a desire to see another installment of a quarterback rivalry that everyone has been tired of for at least five years.
Offensive Players of the Week
Ryan Tannehill, QB, Miami. After the crushing 24-21 overtime loss to the Cards, Tannehill was obsessing about his overtime interception that led to the winning points for Arizona. Good for him. He should be miffed.
“Who wants to support something that puts on a performance of embarrassment? If I was a fan of the Carolina Panthers, I would be holding my head down in shame of the product that was out there today.”
– Cam Newton, after his Panthers lost to the Giants 36-7 Thursday night.
Get a hold of yourself, fella. A bomb didn’t fall on Charlotte.
What’s that? Is Cam upset about his performance? WELL QUIT YOUR SNIVELING, YOU BIG GLOREEEEE BOY BABY! Tannehill pissed? That’s just a man who wants to learn from his mistakes. Keep at it, Ryan. One day you’ll be able to put IKEA side tables together properly.
Defensive players of the week
Cameron Wake, defensive end, Miami. The Dolphins had eight sacks of quarterback Kevin Kolb, and Wake had a career-high 4.5 of them. Tough transition — NOT — for Wake going from outside linebacker to defensive end this season under the Dolphins’ new coaching staff.
Holy shit, did PK just drop a NOT!? “Guess what? Houston’s the best team in football. SIKE! It’s a 15-way tie.”
Coach of the Week
Vic Fangio, defensive coordinator, San Francisco. This is what a smart coach does: On Friday, before the team’s final practice of the week in Youngstown, Ohio, Fangio recalled that Tim Tebow used to throw jump passes on fake runs near the line of scrimmage at Florida. Tebow hadn’t done it in the pros, but Fangio figured his defense should be prepared for it anyway.
“I didn’t tell the defense before practice,” he told me Sunday. “I wanted to see how they’d react.” So he told Colin Kaepernick, the scout team quarterback, to run toward the line, stop, and throw a pass while jumping near the line. The Niner defense broke it up. “Impressive,” Fangio thought. As was the Niners’ performance against the Jets Sunday. San Francisco held the Jets to 145 yards and zero points — and forced a fumble on the only Tebow jump pass of the game. Fangio has this defense playing aggressive and smart.
Inspired move to test them on a shitty play that any pro defense would be prepared for.
Quote of the Week I
“The honeymoon has lasted shorter than a Kardashian honeymoon.”
— FOX play-by-play man Joe Buck, late in Saints-Packers, after the real-ref officiating crew called New Orleans return man Darren Sproles down by contact when he clearly fumbled, causing the boos to rain down on an officiating crew the Lambeau Field crowd greeted warmly before the game.
WHOA HO HO, A YEAR OLD POP CULTURE REFERENCE THAT WAS BEAT INTO THE GROUND A WEEK AFTER IT HAPPENED! CAN HE SAY THAT ON TEEVEE!?
Quote of the Week III
“Sanchez is still the answer.”
— Jets coach Rex Ryan, after the 34-0 home loss to the 49ers.
What’s the question? Who’s getting yanked in the next couple of weeks as Jets quarterback?
Either that or who gave my high school daughter a Mexican child who overthrows everyone?
Factoid of the Week That May Interest Only Me I
When the negotiating team for NFL officials and league negotiators finished their work last week in the Times Square offices of the law firm Proskauer Rose in Manhattan, the weary group passed another group of men and women in business attire, headed into the law firm for what appeared to be high-level meetings of some kind.
“Who are they?” one of the members of the NFL Referees Association asked an attorney.
“The NHL guys,” the attorney said. “They’re next up.”
It’s funny because all sports are fucked.
Mr. Starwood Preferred Member Travel Note of the Week I
My five favorite NFL hotels:
1. Cambria Suites, Green Bay. Good hard bed, good TVs, excellent location — eight-minute walk from Lambeau.
What isn’t an eight-minute walk from Lambeau? Green Bay is, like, five streets.
2. Omni Severin, Indianapolis. Quiet, short walk to Lucas Oil Field, Starbucks in the lobby, close to downtown restaurants. Indy Westin’s golden too.
A Starbucks right there. Take notes, Jacksonville.
3. J.W. Marriott or Harrah’s, New Orleans. Tossup. Both a brisk walk to the Superdome. Both have great rooms and are quiet, despite being in the din of the New Orleans craziness.
Both are quiet, except when they aren’t.
4. Four Seasons, Seattle. Not to go all tres-chic on you or anything, but I’ve managed to sneak in here on a couple of low-rate weekends. Views of Puget Sound and a 15-minute walk past 13 coffee shops on the way to the football stadium.
Sorry, proles. Peter would like to tell you that he hasn’t experienced the heavenly delights of the Four Seasons, but Al Michaels told him it’s the only way to go and you’re either a Four Seasons man or the fucking riff-raff and which is it, King?
5. Cincinnatian, Cincinnati. Got to know this place writing about Boomer Esiason ages ago, interviewing him in his room the night before a game. “It’s so quiet here,” he said. “I love it.” That makes two of us.
Unfair to put it this low. If Boomer Esiason had fucked Peter King hard in a neutral location – say, Wichita – he’d have this hotel higher.
Mr. Starwood Preferred Member Travel Note of the Week II
I’m not a Hamptons guy. It’s beautiful out there on the eastern edge of Long Island, but before Saturday — when I went out to slog through a road race — I’d only been there a couple of times in my life. So I’m behind in the glitterati standings.
Anyway, the place is utterly beautiful, as you’d figure.
“And why wouldn’t you? Of course, you’ve dreamed of excursions to the Hamptons. Being able to cast everything aside on a whim. Having no money problems. No family problems. Not saving up for that surgery you know you can’t before. Such a pleasant fiction. But let’s not go on about your depressing life, shall we, reader?”
But friends tell me it’s supposed to be a nightmare of traffic and party animals from the Fourth of July to Labor Day. How can it be worse than 43 minutes to crawl through six miles around Bridgehampton, which is what it took on Saturday in the early afternoon? It’s Sept. 29, an overcast day, occasionally spitting a misty rain, humid and 62 degrees. No beach traffic. Imagine if it had been a nice day, and imagine if it had been a month earlier. I just wonder: How do the locals take it?
You mean to tell me people still go to the beach throughout September, when it’s still mostly pleasant and not price gauging peak season?
Tweet of the Week I
“Mark Sanchez is the most popular quarterback in Sadomasochism Fantasy Leagues.”
— @StevePoliti, the columnist of the (Newark) Star Ledger, after the 49ers dropped an easy interception in the second half against Sanchez — who was awful Sunday.
Nice that Rex has gotten Nacho involved in the fetish community, I guess.
Tweet of the Week IV
“After catching a few hours of sleep, the #Packers game is still just as painful. #Returntherealrefs”
— @GovWalker, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, last Tuesday.
I see the man who won the battle in 2011 to rid Wisconsin of many of its union rights supported the NFL Referees Association, and from the look of the internet last Tuesday, I’m not the only one who noticed the irony.
In 2011, Walker advanced a bill in Wisconsin to deny unions in the state the ability to bargain collectively for pensions and to peg public employees’ raises to the inflation rate. In 2012, the NFL officials’ union bargained for lucrative pensions and for salaries above and beyond the inflation rate.
Hmmm. I am missing something here. Help me on this one.
Petey’s squishy liberalism makes an appearance. Not sure I can help him much here. Surely no one else has compromised their views on serious world issues because of some dumb shit that happened to their favorite sports team.
Ten Things I Think I Think
1. I think this is what I liked about Week 4:
b. I liked the league’s gesture to the replacement officials, paying them even though they didn’t work Week 4. The cost to the NFL: $344,000. Those guys deserved the $3,500 per ref, $3,000 per other official, for how they were villainized.
Ah, the villainy bonus. That must be what Florio had in mind when he called for Goodell to get a pay raise.
f. The Browns may not win much this year, but they’ve got a keeper rush end in Jabaal Sheard.
Meager consolation, Cleveland Browns have it.
h. This great note from ESPN’s Adam Schefter: He reported this weekend that at the Redskins’ team meeting the night before they played the Rams last weekend, coaches played a video with a collection of the late hits and chippy plays involving St. Louis cornerback Cortland Finnegan. Players were warned to not fall into Finnegan’s trap when he tried those tactics on them.
“So what happens?” Schefter reported. “Finnegan shoves Redskins wide receiver Josh Morgan, Morgan retaliates and the Redskins attempt to tie the score with a 62-yard field goal rather than a more manageable 47-yard try.” Good note.
LOFTY NUGGET. It’s almost as though players find team meetings tedious and don’t always remember what they’re told during them.
Nevertheless, HAHAHAHA LEASTUA MORGAN
k. Heck of a job, Tim Tebow, on the blocks on Aldon Smith and Ahmad Brooks out of the backfield. Fullback stuff. Reminds me of what Jets special teams coach Mike Westhoff said in camp about Tebow: “The guy’s a football player. I don’t care what we ask him to do. He just goes out and tries to do the best at whatever job he’s given.” Degrade and demean Tebow all you want
Don’t need your permission, but okay. Fuck Tebow. He sucks.
but if you take away the mayhem of having Tebow and his publicity machine in your locker room, any team would be crazy to not want him to be on the 53-man roster.
And if you take away NFL Films and the publicity that comes with it, Peter thinks any team unwilling to do Hard Knocks has to be certifiable.
l. The FOX graphic in the first quarter at the Meadowlands, showing Alex Smith and Mark Sanchez having identical passing lines: 5 of 9, 52 yards.
Wowzers, two quarterbacks with the same stat line at a random part of the FIRST quarter? NO WAY! THAT NEVER HAPPENS… more than once a week.
2. I think this is what I didn’t like about Week 4:
c. You still there, Dennis Pitta? And you, Ed Dickson? They played 97 offensive snaps Thursday. Zero catches. Two targets.
Seriously, Pitta. Time to nut up, asshole. PK said you were gonna be a breakout star. How dare you embarrass him like that! Get with it. What? Did you team win? Well, you should be asking for the ball more, so PK can shame you for that.
f. Did I hear correctly? Did Dick Stockton say on the Atlanta-Carolina telecast, after an Armenti Edwards pass attempt for the Panthers, that Edwards had been a quarterback in high school? Uhhh, yeah. I suppose he was. There’s a slim chance he might be better known as a quarterback for taking Appalachian State to Ann Arbor and quarterbacking the massive underdogs to a win over the mighty Wolverines. Slim.
Sounds like Peter is breaking into Sarcastaball coverage.
g. Seattle’s offense, which, one week removed from the euphoria of Russell Wilson-to-Golden Tate, was reminded in a three-interception Wilson performance that he’s still a raw rookie.
A raw rookie who leads the league in charisma. Give him a few years and he’s gonna be so charming, you’ll never even realize it when his QB rating is 71.4.
j. I’m sure I don’t have to tell Billy Cundiff, but 25 percent isn’t going to make it in the NFL.
k. Or Canada.
There’s your botched PK listing of the week. Unless there was a Canadian contribution to Week 4 that didn’t sit well with Peter. Do the Bills still count for that?
10. I think these are my non-football thoughts of the week:
a. There is no rotisserie baseball team that died as excruciating a death as mine did over
Nope. Don’t give a shit.
b. Forget my pain. What about fans of the Buccos? Last 51: 14-37.
Pirates fans should be somewhat acclimated to pain at this point.
h. Well, I’m going in reverse trying to be a better half-marathoner. I did 2:19 in New Hampshire two years ago, 2:31.48 (1,092nd out of 1,330 runners) on Saturday on Long Island. Nobody to blame but myself; I was in great shape for a 10K, as it turned out, but when it came time at the 10-mile mark to up the ante and start doing 9:30 miles, my legs said: “You’ll have to settle for 11:40, sucker.”
That’s right. It’s not the case of beer you chug every night. It’s those stubborn hamhocks of yours that just decided not to get in gear.
But it was a fun time — a great, pretty, woodsy course, running by Long Island Sound near the end — and my brother-in-law, Bob Whiteley, deserves all the credit in the world for hanging with me when he could have had a 1:45 race and been on his second coffee by the time I finished. But he stuck with me. Thanks, too, to my running partners Mike (From Montclair) Goldstein, George Frole and Tracy Benaman, and to my trainer Branislav Vukojevic and his girlfriend Julie Hughes for running the race — and for not making too much fun of an old man trying to get a little bit of his youth back.
Christ, look how many people it takes to get this plodding fatass to amble through a race.
j. Coffeenerdness: Never needed a triple latte more than I did Saturday afternoon after the race. The Starbucks in Bridgehampton, N.Y., by the way, is quite possible the prettiest one I’ve seen.
OH SHIT, I JUST DID EXERCISE! I’M AT A CALORIE DEFICIT! PAPA NEEDS FOUR WHOLE MILK TRIPLE NUTELLACCINOS, STAT!
k. Beernerdness: Celebrated the run Saturday evening with one St. Cloud Belgian White, a wheat beer from Rochester, N.Y. I’m a witbier fan, as you’d know if you read this column, but this one wasn’t for me. A little too bitter.
Apparently the celebration didn’t end with his fatty coffee drink. He only drank one of the wheat beer because it wasn’t citrusy enough. So he switched to Allagash and drank a keg.
l. Does Lindsay Lohan ever have a quiet day?
The ones where she’s passed out, sure.
As for the game tonight — I’ve got Dallas 20, Chicago 13 — let’s pause to appreciate the great start of a player you don’t know well, smurfy Bears cornerback Tim Jennings.
You mean the guy who’s been in the league since 2006, won a Super Bowl with the Colts and has been a starter for at least four seasons. Pray tell, baseball fan, who the fuck is that?
The Adieu Haiku
One month into ’12:
The Saints have gone marching out.
The Bayou weepeth.
Rog, hand me that food
Good news! It is poison free!
Unless it isn’t