MMQB Mail (cont.)
TOUCHÉ. From Tip, of Springfield, Mass.: "Maybe the reason Julius Peppers wants out of Carolina isn't because he wants to play in a 3-4. Perhaps he wants to play on a team where the QB doesn't give up the ball six times in a playoff game.''
It would not surprise me if Peppers has grown weary of the Panthers falling just short. But Carolina will be one of the 10 or 12 teams with the best chance of reaching the Super Bowl next year. So be careful what you wish for.
YOU'RE WELCOME, AND RYAN'S A GOOD CHOICE. From Ray Menard, of London, Ontario: "First off, thank you -- and your obviously understanding family -- for your diligence and effort during the NFL season. Now the question. In light of Rex Ryan signing as head coach as the Jets, what's the thought process behind hiring one who has excelled as a coordinator as a head coach? An elite defensive coordinator wouldn't be able to serve that role as a head coach, thus their efficacy drops in that aspect of the job. Plus head coaching is about motivation and broad-spectrum thinking, whereas coordinators can be more obsessive in their focus on one side of the ball. Sure, we've seen successful coordinators become quality head coaches, but we've seen a fair number flame out. What skill sets are transferable and what makes an owner or GM think a coordinator would have what it takes?
The two coaches who are in the Super Bowl, Ken Whisenhunt and Mike Tomlin, both came to their teams as coordinators, as have some of the great head coaches of all time -- Tom Landry, Vince Lombardi, Belichick, etc. Tampa Bay won a Super Bowl six years ago with a split coaching staff -- Monte Kiffin handled the defense and Jon Gruden the offense, and the entire coaching staff never had full staff meetings; they were collective entities on either side of the ball.
You're right -- coordinators need to be able to stand in front of the team and inspire their men, but you can do that loudly (Bill Cowher) or softly. I was at the three Patriots practices at the Super Bowl in 2002 and the same three for the Colts in 2007, and I never heard Belichick or Dungy raise their voice. I think what owners and GMs are looking for are coaches who excel at one side of the ball, are great communicators, have a good plan and vision, and will be able to work well in a system (Jets, Rams, Lions, Bucs, for example) with a strong GM type.
KURT WARNER FOR HOF I -- BOB THINKS I ONLY HAVE EYES FOR BRADY. From Bob Daniels, of Fairfield: "Why do I get the feeling that five great seasons were all it would have taken for Tom Brady to make the Hall in your eyes? Don't tell me it was the Super Bowl victories. Brady, we now know, was blessed by a great team and great coach. Warner has taken two washed-up teams to three Super Bowls. No one has done that. But we're ready, Peter. We know your anti-Warner campaign will last at least as long as Art Monk's."
Ouch. Brady, at 27, won his third Super Bowl in four starting seasons at the start of his career, something that's never been done before or since. I'd say that gives him about as big a head start on Canton as you could have. I'd be surprised if he wasn't a Hall of Famer and if I didn't support someone with that résumé someday, but let's let his career play out.
KURT WARNER FOR HOF II -- YOU AND I HAVE A DIFFERENT VIEW OF "LONGEVITY.'' From Bob Beeler, of Austin, Texas: "You're an idiot. Five amazing seasons spread over 10 years. That is longevity. If the last two years hadn't happened, he doesn't belong in the Hall of Fame. But the last two years DID happen and they happened in years nine and 10 of his career. Any quarterback that takes two teams to the Super Bowl and plays as critical a role in his team's success (as compared to say Trent Dilfer with the Ravens) as Warner has, deserves to be in the HOF. You were wrong about Art Monk for years before coming around, and you're wrong about Warner now. On both the Rams and Cardinals, you could argue that Warner was surrounded by a lot of talent. True, true. My response? So what? Did the Rams or Cardinals get to the promised land before Warner (or after he left St. Louis) with similar talent at those positions? No.''
Ouch, ouch. My point on longevity is a simple one: It's going to take one of the great careers of all time to induct a player who played three full seasons and a total of five outstanding ones. And if the Cards win the Super Bowl, it'll be a major factor in my decision, obviously, and a huge plus for Warner's candidacy.
KURT WARNER FOR HOF III -- WE'LL SEE. From Eric Adelson, of Toronto: "Thanks for being the voice of reason on the Kurt Warner HOF issue. If his team wins the Super Bowl in two weeks, then that obviously has to be re-considered, but otherwise your arguments are on the money. I hope you don't have laryngitis on the day the HOF electors debate his fate.''
His career's not over. Let's see what the next couple of years bring with Warner, and then let his career percolate for five years before we sit in judgment of him. That's the good thing about the Hall process. We DON'T have to make the judgment now, while he's still playing at a very high level.
KURT WARNER FOR HALL OF FAME IV--STACKING UP TO STEVE YOUNG. From Biff Fischer, of Albany: "Steve Young played 16 games in three seasons, 15 games in two others, 11-11-12 in three others. His career playoff record? 8-6, and that is inheriting a championship-level team. But no one doubted him making the Hall of Fame. Kurt Warner is 8-2 in playoffs, taking two previously downtrodden teams to the Super Bowl. Warner has two regular season MVPs, is 3-0 in NFC title games, and has two highest passing yardage games in Super Bowl history. He led a winning drive in last two minutes of a Super Bowl, a tying drive in another, and then there was the game-winning drive against the Eagles on Sunday. Dawson-Tarkenton-Brady-Elway are the only other four QBs to win their first three conference title games -- three are in Canton, and Brady obviously will be, too. And [Warner] isn't done yet either; Arizona should be very good in the immediate future. To me, there is no doubt Kurt Warner is a Hall of Famer, right now.''
An excellent argument. The biggest difference in the two men is that Young had eight seasons in which he was the primary starter. Warner has had five. And in making a good argument for Warner, I think you forget a few things about what made Young's career immortal. He and Sammy Baugh are the only quarterbacks to lead the league in passing six times; no one else did it more than four times. Young's career passer rating is the best of all-time, and even if you don't love the passer rating system (and I don't), it is the stat the league uses to measure greatness in quarterbacks. And he was, arguably, the most versatile quarterback in NFL history; no other modern quarterback Hall of Famer is even close to Young's 25 rushing yards per game. But you did a good job in making Warner's case, Biff.
DRIVE, IDIOT. DON'T TALK. From John Murdzek, of San Diego: "You should read an article by Tara Parker-Pope on the New York Times Web site entitled 'A Problem of the Brain, Not the Hands: Group Urges Phone Ban for Drivers' before your next road trip to Pittsburgh or anywhere else. According to this article, "Drivers talking on a cell phone [hand-held or hands-free] are four times as likely to have an accident as drivers who are not. That's the same level of risk posed by a driver who is legally drunk.' You seem like a reasonable person, so is getting work done on your drives more important than somebody else's life?''
Wow. Very interesting. Thanks for the advice. I will read the story.
AND FINALLY, THIS VERY INTERESTING POINT THAT, BELIEVE ME, CAME INTO PLAY THE OTHER NIGHT. From John O'Donnell, of Londonderry, N.H.: "I can't believe that someone who can start their colonoscopy prep on an airplane would get stage fright at a urinal.''
That's the same point Jerome Bettis made to me. We both had the same issue there.