Ten Things I Think I Think
1. I think these are my quick-hit thoughts of wild-card weekend:
a. Don't shut up, Rex. Win or lose, you're fun for the game.
b. You know which Ryan quote received far too little attention: "The Jets will be making a White House visit during the Obama Administration.'' Love that one.
c. The story never ran in SI, but I remember going to Florham Park, N.J., when the Jets were 3-0 to do reporting for a Jets story. And I think this side of Ryan gets far too little attention. He likes players to say what they want, as long as they keep the team in mind. "Rex spent 45 seconds with the players when he took over, talking about the media policy. He basically said, 'Say whatever you want as long as it doesn't hurt the team. And when you do an interview, make sure you mention two teammates and one coach every time you talk.' ''
d. A smart man told me: "Watch out for Ron Rivera in Buffalo.'' Not buying it, but the man is smart, so I wanted to throw it out there.
e. A smart man in Buffalo told me: "They love Leslie Frazier.'' Bills interviewed him for five hours Thursday, and as I said on NBC Saturday night, he's the leader in the clubhouse for that job, but so many golfers are still out on the course -- like Jets offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer.
f. Everybody in Cleveland: Calm down about Josh Cribbs cleaning out his locker and saying he doesn't want to return. If Cleveland truly did make a take-it-or-leave-it offer to Cribbs the other day -- and no one does such a thing on Jan. 7 -- take my word: It's not a take-it-or-leave-it offer.
g. Predictions of the Week: Newsday ace football writer Bob Glauber in Friday's paper and SI writer Ben Reiter on SI.com last Thursday: Jets 24, Bengals 14. Way to go, guys.
h. The Patriots need a running back. A big-time running back. How much longer can Belichick put up with a running back like Laurence Maroney, who fumbles on the goal line, rarely runs with abandon and can't keep blitzers off Brady (see Lewis, Ray, first quarter, wild-card game)?
i. Jermichael Finley's really good.
j. Think of how many really good tight ends there are in football right now, speaking of Finley: Dallas Clark, Antonio Gates, Vernon Davis, Brent Celek, Jason Witten, Visanthe Shiancoe, John Carlson, Tony Gonzalez (still), Owen Daniels, Heath Miller, Chris Cooley, Jeremy Shockey (when he's healthy, which is occasionally),
2. I think this is the stat the San Diego Chargers should be worried about with the Jets coming to town Sunday: The Chargers allowed 4.5 yards per opposing rush. No secret what'll be coming at them in the divisional playoff game.
3. I think you did the right thing, Mike Holmgren. No coach of a bright-eyed team on a season-ending four-game winning streak -- particularly in Cleveland, where there hasn't been a four-game winning streak since the nineties -- deserves to be fired. Holmgren saved owner Randy Lerner from eating another $12 million or so in head- and assistant-coaching contracts (to go along with the estimated $19 million he still owes fired GM Phil Savage, coach Romeo Crennel and offensive coordinator Ron Chudzinki).
4. I think I'm pretty skeptical that this shotgun wedding between Pete Carroll and this John Doe GM can work long-term.
5. I think I'd be stunned if the Eagles got rid of McNabb, because Andy Reid's not the kind to throw away (or trade for a couple of good draft picks) his starting quarterback. But I think it's time for the Eagles to seriously think about it. Over the last eight quarters in Dallas, McNabb was a D-plus quarterback, and of course, it's not the first time he hasn't come up big in the big spot. One touchdown pass in eight quarters in the two biggest games of the year. A completion percentage of .534. He came out of the gate terribly Saturday night, bouncing his first throw three yards in front of Jeremy Maclin, then missing his second throw, also to Maclin, badly. Three and out.
We saw some bad quarterback play over the weekend out of a couple of other vets -- Carson Palmer and Tom Brady -- but the difference is that Palmer has no one behind him and Brady's a three-time Super Bowl winner coming off an injury and was beat up the whole year. The Eagles have a strong prospect behind McNabb, Kevin Kolb, and I can't think of any physical excuses for McNabb. If the Eagles believe Kolb is a player, and I'm told they certainly do, Reid owes it to the franchise to think long and hard about allowing Kolb to compete for the job or take the job next year in his fourth season, at age 26. It's not like the Eagles need draft fortification, but McNabb could bring, let's say, something in the range of two second-round picks from Brad Childress if Brett Favre retires. Maybe it'd do Kolb good to get out of the Philadelphia cauldron.
6. I think this is what I liked about wild-card weekend:
a. Cedric Benson. His comeback's complete, redemption well-earned, after rushing for 169 yards against the league's top-rated D.
b. The Sanchize. The Jets didn't win in spite of him, and they didn't have to be cautious with him.
c. Terrell Suggs doing what he does best -- making a strip sack to turn the outcome of a big game.
d. I thought that was Domonique Foxworth's best game as a Raven.
e. Jim Leonhard. A physical, smart keeper for Rex Ryan.
f. Kevin Ogletree. Every time the little receiver for Dallas plays he does something good.
g. You had to love Ray Rice's long touchdown run on the first snap of the game, of course. I liked his third-down conversion run on the next drive better. Third and four, and he breaks a tackle at the line of scrimmage, then lunges through two Patriots for the first down. Baltimore got a touchdown instead of a field goal, and it was due to Rice's conversion.
h. I liked Gene Steratore's refusal to overturn the Ravens' failed two-point conversion. We all saw Willis McGahee all but certainly break the plane of the goal line. But for a play to be overturned, it can't be all but certain. You have to see the ball cross the plane of the goal line. And you can't be certain you saw the ball cross that plane, can you?
i. Green Bay's passing game. Aaron Rodgers, Jermichael Finley, Greg Jennings. Peyton Manning, Dallas Clark, Reggie Wayne. Not sure which combo platter I'd rather have right now.
7. I think this is what I didn't like about wild-card weekend:
a. Come on, Dwight Lowery. Cover Laveranues Coles on the simplest out to the cone, and stop peeking in the backfield and letting Coles get two steps on you.
b. Ridiculous challenge by the Bengals, the first-quarter catch near the sidelines, prompting, for some reason, the Bengals' second challenge of the game. And last challenge. Have some common sense up there in the booth, coaches.
c. Nice catch, Braylon Edwards. Toughest call of the Jets offseason will be determining how much this restricted free agent's worth. He's not in Larry Fitzgerald's league, but he'll want to be paid in it.
d. My dumb comments about Jets punter Steve Weatherford on Twitter. I apologized on Twitter, and I'll do so here. I called out Weatherford for not taking the field Saturday -- it was said during the game that he was "ill'' -- even as cameras showed him jogging on the sidelines at one point. What I didn't know is that moments before the game he was found to have a racing heartbeat and irregular heartbeat, and Jet medics forbade him from playing. I was kneejerk and shouldn't have been. I should have refrained from commenting until I knew more about what ailed Weatherford. I owe him one.
e. The Eagles. By halftime of Saturday's game, the composite score in their two meeting six days apart in Arlington was Dallas 51, Philly 7. I mean, that has to cost someone his job.
f. Tom Brady, you have to run when you have that much pasture in front of you.
g. Not sure Joe Flacco can make enough plays to match Manning Saturday night. He's creaky. Looks a lot more injured than the Ravens are letting on.
8. I think the reason the silence is deafening with Bill Cowher right now is simple: What can the guy say? We all know he wants to coach sometime soon, and maybe this year if the job is right. If he doesn't know with certainly which jobs will be open, how can he come out and say he's either coaching or not coaching?
9. I think Jack Del Rio had better get his résumé ready. I'm not certain he'll get fired this week after today's meeting with owner Wayne Weaver in Jacksonville, but I am saying it's Groundhog Day there. Del Rio's 58-57 in seven years, with one playoff win. Finishing 1-5 with a young team that should have been better later in the season than earlier won't help.
10. I think these are my non-NFL thoughts of the week:
a. Gilbert Arenas. I don't know him, and I don't think I want to know a guy who "jokes around'' by pointing a gun "in fun'' and then points imaginary guns at teammates, causing them to all laugh. Dude, you're an idiot. A fool. You have no idea, and apparently your teammates don't either, about the influence of athletes on our society. Would you like part of your legacy to be kids who root for you fooling around with handguns in some part because their hero does it?
b. Well, I'll say this about Nick Saban: He may not have the greatest conscience in the world (you remember his I'm-not-coaching-Alabama vow two weeks before he coached Alabama, two years into a five-year contract with the Dolphins), but he sure can coach.
c. Movie Observation I: Up in the Air. Not an all-time great by any means, but a B-plus ... I like movies that make me think about the life I lead, and life in general. I don't live in airports, but I'm in them 50 days a year. George Clooney, in this movie, is in them 300, and is totally disconnected with the thinking, feeling part of the human race. When you're off in your own world for a week or two at a time, traveling, it's easy to build a cocoon around yourself. Imagine being in that cocoon for 45 or 48 weeks a year; it becomes your life. The smart part of the move is the director sending a kid just out of college, Anna Kendrick, into Clooney's life and mentally slapping him around about life. It's all good.
d. Movie Observation II: The Fantastic Mr. Fox. Interesting, and sort of fun. But I don't get the hubbub. Looked at my watch 15 times.
e. Coffeenerdness: Shared a coffee with Drew Brees at P.J.'s Coffee House in the University Section of Uptown New Orleans the other day. Actually, he is lactose intolerant and had a soy latte. I had a triple latte. Interesting that there's a Starbucks across the street and this place holds its own. It does that because the espresso is excellent -- rich, no bitterness. Highly recommended if you're around Tulane or Loyola, or visiting the Mannings down there.
f. Sympathy to the family of Tim Davey, the NFL's little-known but vitally important director of football operations, who died last week at 58. Davey did as much of get-your-hands-dirty work to put games on around the league as anyone. Stadium and field operations, logistics, inclement-weather preparations ... Davey did it all, and he must have done it well, because games in this league go off with the efficiency of a Swiss watch. Shared a few planes with Davey over the years, and I'll just say he knew more secrets about more people in the league than anyone. Good guy.
g. Congrats to Jets director of media relations David Tratner and wife, Jessica, who had son Mark Harrison Tratner late in the second quarter of the Jets' Saturday win. The game was in the delivery room until the doctor entered for the final act, shall we say. But Mark got to see the second half. Precocious little fellow came out yelling, "J-E-T-S! Jets Jets Jets!''
h. I can only imagine what kind of handsprings Mike McGuire is doing today over in Germany. He's a big Kurt Warner fan, and he and his U.S. Army company spend some long weekend nights this time of year staying up for the NFL playoffs. I called last week to check in on the First Sergeant. I have a plan that involves you, the readers, and Mike's 150-man company, which will re-deploy to Afghanistan sometime around the middle of the year -- it'll be his third deployment -- to do the toughest job of them all. The McGuire men, using technology and gut instincts, seek and dismantle Improvised Explosive Devices. We talked about the readers and Twitter followers at SI_PeterKing combining to do something to help Mike's men that I'll be writing about in the next couple of weeks. Anyway, here's McGuire's latest email:
"Nice hearing from you again. I always have all these football questions I want to ask you when we talk but then I figure that you get tired of it all the time so never do. One day we will have a beer (or a few) and then I will get all my questions out.
"Life is going good here, rumors are flying now about our next deployment. Can't give you dates yet due to OPSEC [security] and all but will let you know when we get there and where we are. I am now a First Sergeant (E-8). When we first met I was a Staff Sergeant (E-6). Seems like a long time ago. Since the deployment rumors started flying, its been hard to sleep, constantly thinking and working out things in my mind. Just recently I have been sleeping horribly due to dreams or whatever to call them but I am reliving certain days from previous deployments when our men got hit over and over. [Wife] Pam says I wake up sweating horribly and flopping around, talking in my sleep. Guess I should go get my meds again for sleeping).
"It's every leader's worst nightmare to lose a man, I have had more than that even. My company consists of over 150 soldiers and many MOS's (Military Occupational Specialty). Soldiers seem like they are getting younger and younger. My son Joel is now currently on FOB Falcon, which is where I spent time my last deployment. He sounds really good but he has a newborn son (Levi) and I know he is missing his new wife and son. My wife worries for him a lot. She holds her own pretty good but at times you can tell that having him gone now in Iraq and me gone soon, it is taking a toll.
"On the football side of the house, getting ready for a big weekend of games. Tell you what, with the games on so late here it makes the next day very difficult, but would not miss it. I have a lot of favorite football moments, but all time has to be Tyree and that catch, it was awesome. Never forget it. It was early in the morning, like 0430, and we all screamed and jumped around, woke up the entire complex. I am humbled and overwhelmed that people want to know what I am doing or how it's going. I can tell you this, 'it is going to get real interesting fast.' More to follow. Take care. Mike.''
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