Peter King on D&H, 12/4
|12.04.09 at 8:42 pm ET|
Sports Illustrated’s Peter King made his weekly appearance on the Dale & Holley show Friday afternoon. To hear the interview, click on the Dale & Holley audio on demand page. Following are the highlights.
Will the Saints go undefeated?
They have a much, much better chance than the Colts do. I’d still say it’s, at best, 50-50, but given the way the league is now, playing in Atlanta in a game that Atlanta has to have, playing the Cowboys, something is going to happen and I don’t know what that is. Having said that, that is one of the 10 best performances I have seen on a football field by an NFL team. They play like that every week and you can hand them the Lombardi Trophy right now.
Two things: When you have a team that doesn’t rush the passer — and the Patriots pass rush is horrendous, the worst of the Belichick era, it is terrible. You have that and you have neophyte corners. Jonathan Wilhite, you know, is just not a big-time player right now. You have those two things combined against a guy who I now think you have to put in the same category as [Peyton] Manning and [Tom] Brady, not in terms in looking at history. If none of them ever plays another game, then Brees is not in Manning and Brady’s category, but as far as how they are playing right now, Drew Brees is an absolute phenomenal football player with incredible downfield accuracy, which makes him one of the best in football.
You wrote that right now the Richard Seymour trade looks like a dumb move. Elaborate on that.
I understand, and every Patriot fan understands, that Richard Seymour was not a 100 percent effort guy on every snap. That much is known about him and I’m sure that part of that was in the Patriots’ brain when they made this trade. At the time I said I thought it was a great trade. I think it is a lot less great now. If Derrick Burgess can’t get off the edge, Adalius Thomas hasn’t been the answer being unleashed at the passer and Derrick Burgess and Tully Banta-Cain are simply not high-quality NFL pass rushers at this point in their careers. I am not saying that Richard Seymour is a great pass rusher either, but he sure would have helped Monday night in a big game on national TV.
Is the drop-off in Jerod Mayo’s performance because he has not been the same since he hurt his knee early in the year?
I would say so. You are right. He has not been the impact player that he was a year ago. You have to think that some, or most, has to do with the fact that he is probably not 100 percent healthy. I do think that, he has a reputation and a well-deserved one, for being a real worker bee, for knowing everything about the opposition and being the hub of this defense long term and he will be. But I am sure that what happened to him against Buffalo, he hasn’t been in perfect health since then.
What did you think about Belichick’s decisions to pull Brady with five minutes left in the game?
I didn’t like it. I think there is 5 minutes and 40 econds left to go. Even with playing a Saints team that Brady can take them from the 27-yard line, 73 yards in two, 2-1/2 minutes? It is not out the realm of possibility. It is probably a one-in-five chance, I think, that you convert an onside kick, one-in-six maybe. So, is that out of the realm of possibility? I don’t think so. So, if those two things happen it is conceivable to score 14 points in four minutes or so and be there at the two-minute warning or so in the game, kicking off. It is not the worst decision a coach has ever made, but I just raised the point that Bill Belichick was the guy two years ago who had them on for 60 minutes every game. Again, I don’t think you need to relive what happened two years ago in the fourth quarter of some blowout games but, the fact is, he played those same players up 38 points in the fourth quarter of games two years ago.
I went back and looked at the Washington game. I believe the score was 38-0 with two minutes left in the third quarter and Brady was in and they played absolutely normal, throwing the ball downfield. On the play-by-play, I don’t remember the game, but on the play-by-play I believe there was one play described as a deep pass down the side of the left side to Randy Moss to make it 45-0.
Brady came back in the game that year against Miami after Matt Cassell threw a pick-six to Jason Taylor …
I will never argue with it when there is 25 minutes left in a game. The only thing I am saying is that they were ahead of the Washington Redskins 38-0, throwing the ball downfield with 12 minutes to go in the game. That was then. All I am saying is that is how Bill Belichick coached Monday night surprised me. It is an indictment of his coaching ability? No? To me it is an inconsistency that is curious and especially, even though you are getting your rear end handed to you. I just bring up the game that the Indianapolis Colts played against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Is it a once-in-a-lifetime game? Yeah? Is it probable or even likely that the Patriots are coming back against the Saints? Absolutely not. I am just saying that in 2003 the Colts scored 21 points in four minutes against the fifth=ranked defense in football. I don’t think it is out of the realm of possibility that Brady could have rallied them. But I don’t think it is likely either.
Can a football team in the NFL in this day in age compete for a championship if they run for more yards per game than they pass?
I am incredulous, but the New York Jets are doing it right now. I wrote that this morning, the Jets are the one out of 32 right now, and I would be hard-pressed to find one really good team in recent NFL history that ran for more yards per game than they passed for. I am sure it has happened, but I didn’t have the means to research it this morning. I find the Jets to be a compelling team. Get this: If the Jets beat Tampa Bay, as they are clearly favored to do, they will have gone this way in this season: win three, lose three, win one, lose three, win three. They will have had two three-game winning streaks and two three-game losing streaks in one season. How does that happen? They are just one of the oddest teams. They seem to make a lot of news on days other than game day. They are very good at that this year. Joe Girardi and Kerry Rhodes, they are a pretty amazing team.
How about a team that is streaking the other way, the San Diego Chargers, winners of six in a row? What do you attribute their turnaround to?
I think two things. Number 1, they are finally playing pretty consistently on defense. They have a pretty good pass rush, though not a great pass rush. And I think they have the most dangerous pass game in football without any question. On 40-50-percent of their snaps they can line of three wide receivers and Antonio Gates across the formation that go 6-5, 6-5, 6-4, 6-5. I think we have talked about this before, but I remember making this observation being down in the field before a preseason game in San Diego in August and going up to Norv Turner and saying, “Your team is gigantic.” He said, “Yeah, I know. There have been coaches who have come up to me before the game who don’t play us that often who said, ‘Wat are you fielding, an NFL team or the Lakers?’ ” I think they are very, very hard to play and I think any team that goes up against them, when you are giving up four or five inches on almost every receiver, Phillip Rivers is going to look pretty good throwing up jump balls for them and making it happen.
After the on-field play is done for the year, will concussions be the big story of the NFL season?
I am really impressed with what the NFL has done in a hurry in the last couple of months. I applaud the New York Times, if you want to read some really good journalism, just go online at nytimes.com, I don’t mean to be doing a commercial for them, but they have done a fantastic job of staying on all aspects of this story. This morning I talked to Joseph Maroon, who is the team neurologist for the Pittsburgh Steelers and also one of the guys who the NFL has used to accelerate everything they do in terms of head trauma. I had a long conversation with Kurt Warner on Wednesday and I wrote about it today and one of the things that Kurt told me was that the brave thing wasn’t to play but the brave thing was to sit because you know how your teammates are going to feel. You are going to get all these glances, you are going to get all these people looking at you, and I relayed that story to Maroon and he said that it is interesting, in the last few years you have seen, especially elite players, they are taking this very seriously. Because A) I have got a long career ahead of me and I am not going to risk it by playing with a concussion and maybe not being able to play anymore and B) I think they say that I am not going to risk the quality of my life the last 30 or 40 years of my life to play a football game. I think it is going to be interesting to see, but I think that you are absolutely, totally right. This is going to be a huge story and I just wonder how many players out there are really going to be like, “My head hurts, I have symptoms of a concussion.” That is when we are going to see if this new system in the NFL actually works.
Why do you think Hines Ward said what he said about Ben Roethlisberger?
I talked to Jerome Bettis about this after the Ward interview and he is obviously still close to several players on the Steelers and he spoke to several of them this week. He said that the biggest problem in all of this was simply communication. Those players only knew after they watched Ben practice fully on Wednesday and Thursday and he didn’t practice on Friday, and one Friday in Pittsburgh the backup quarterback gets most of the snaps anyway, but anyway, he practiced most of the week and then players show up without knowing why, without being told anything, that Ben is out with a concussion and Dennis Dixon is playing. There were a lot of guys, and Hines was one of them, who were like, “How can you practice all week and then be out with a concussion?” But, I will just tell you this, I think all of this could have been headed off at the pass if there had just been some sort of team meeting and guys like Hines Ward and James Harrison and James Farrior had been told exactly what happened. The fact is, and I said this to Jerome, once Ben Roethlisberger said this to the doctor: “The last two days I have experienced headaches” — and talking to Joseph Maroon today, it is not Ben’s decision. Once you have experienced any type of head trauma or concussion, in a couple of days before the game if you report any type of after-effects from that, if you say it, they are not going to let you play. Their problem should really not been with Ben Roethlisberger. Believe me, I have had a lot of conversations with Jerome over the last few years, we used to work together, and Jerome has been very honest about Roethlisberger to me and he said that Roethlisberger has not always been the mayor of this locker room. If Jerome Bettis tells me that, hey, I have got no problem with it because once everybody knew about it they had no problem, I believe that that is sort of the birthplace of the problem here. That players on the Steelers did not have the whole story.
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