MMQB Mail: How Falcons' Ryan was nearly a Raven; Cincy ego trouble?
The Ravens tried to trade up to draft Matt Ryan, but deal didn't happen
Offensive focus on Terrell Owens may not sit well with Chad Ochocinco
Thoughts on Jason Garrett, Bucs' close loss, Browns' playoff chances, more
It's an all-Tweet-mailbag Tuesday ... so many stories, so many reactions. I'll touch on three stories of the day, then answer 10 of your Twitter queries to my @SI_PeterKing account.
1. Ryan vs. Flacco.
Great Thursday game this week, the 6-2 Falcons and the 6-2 Ravens in Atlanta. The way the NFL schedule works -- assuming the format doesn't change in the new collective bargaining agreement -- Flacco and Ryan, should they stay on their same teams for the next decade, would meet in years three (this year), seven and 11. How odd, and sad, would it be if these good, young quarterbacks faced each other only three non-Super Bowl times?
Before the 2008 draft, when I was in Atlanta for the drafting of Ryan, the Rams and Ravens were persistent in trying to move up to pick Ryan. Baltimore couldn't, and then picked Flacco over Chad Henne. That, however, wasn't the real threat to Ryan being a Falcon and not a Raven. This was.
On the morning of the draft, Baltimore's Ozzie Newsome offered St. Louis, picking above Atlanta, picks in the first, second and fourth rounds in 2008 and third round in 2009 for the Rams' top choice. Baltimore would have taken Ryan. Atlanta would have taken defensive tackle Glenn Dorsey, who's been a disappointment. Baltimore would have gotten Ryan, but would then have missed getting Ray Rice in the second round. So believe me, Atlanta's happy Baltimore didn't make the deal, and Baltimore's happy the Rams didn't take the deal. Baltimore has Flacco and Rice. Atlanta has Ryan. Both teams are living happily ever after.
2. Terrell Owens has become The Man in Cincinnati.
Judging by the distracting performance of Chad Ochocinco last night in the 27-21 loss to Pittsburgh, it can't be sitting well with the Ocho that offensive coordinator Bob Bratkowski and Carson Palmer seem to clearly be focusing on Owens as the Bengals' top receiver now. Last five games: Owens 66 targets, 41 catches, seven touchdowns; Ochocinco 42 targets, 20 catches, one touchdown.
That may have led to some childishness and a late penalty by Ochocinco. And it may be the chickens coming home to roost for a 2-6 team whose leaders told everyone who'd listen in training camp (me included) that having two monster egos on the same offense wouldn't be a big problem. Stay tuned, starting Sunday in Indianapolis. There could be more fireworks.
Owens, by the way, is playing very good football, and cementing his Canton candidacy. In one fewer season, he is 50 catches shy of Cris Carter but 1,822 receiving yards and 21 touchdown receptions ahead of Carter ... with still eight games left this season to inflate his stats.
3. Jason Garrett's time is now.
Enough commentary on Wade Phillips getting a long-awaited haircut on Sunday. A quick point about how this impacts the future of the interim coach, Jason Garrett. I think everyone knows how Garrett's star has been tarnished in the past two years. But the next eight weeks, even though he'll have a backup quarterback playing, will be very important to Garrett in 2011 and beyond. If the Cowboys continue to flounder and the players don't buy into his leadership, Garrett might have to take a QB coach job somewhere in 2011. That's right -- he might not be seen as coordinator material anymore, never mind not having the stuff to be head coach. So if the Dallas players have any regard for Garrett and for what happens to him down the road, they'll play very hard over the next few months.
Now onto your Tweet questions:
"Caught you on camera in a booth with the commish. What's tonight's beer of choice?''
Blue Moon. Pretty good too. Fun to see a game in person for only the second time this regular season last night in Cincinnati, and to be able to chat up Mike Tomlin, Chad Ochocinco and a few others before the game.
"Is fining GB S Nick Collins $50,000 much of an example by the league?''
Well, for Collins, $50,000 is one-280th of his 2010 compensation ($14 million total). Collins' hit, the league thought, was very close to the gratuitous type of blow Brandon Meriweather had on Todd Heap. So no, I don't see it as too much of an example.
"Funny how you rip Rivers for being emotional after the 1st game, now he is your MVP...''
He was too emotional toward the end of the loss to Kansas City in the opener. He's been a great quarterback for the vast majority of the season. If you've read me for any of the past 30 years, you should know I can criticize a player and praise him in the same season. Why is that such a stunner?
"Can #Bucs fans feel like the team has earned some respect, despite a tough loss?''
Absolutely. That was the season's most impressive Tampa Bay performance to me. Coming back late against a good 6-2 team on the road, and losing because they couldn't convert a fourth-and-short near the goal line ... for the Bucs, that's real progress.
"What do my browns have to do to make the playoffs?''
Continue to get solid quarterback play, continue to coach imaginatively, and continue to not turn the ball over. And keep Peyton Hillis healthy. If all those things happen, who knows?
"Can the lions cut bait with Stafford and target another franchise QB?''
Of course they could, but they shouldn't. Stafford got paid $50 million, and just because he's been brittle in his first two years is not a good reason to get rid of him. If he'd played poorly the first two years, I'd say they should think about it. But he has had enough good moments that you definitely have to hang with him now.
"Any cases of players who got the injury prone label early but turned out durable?''
Now there's a nice handle ... farmersdontjog. Can you explain? The answer: Phil Simms was hurt four of his first five years in the NFL, then became one of the most durable and tough quarterbacks of his era.