Peter King’s thoughts on NFL Week 5, including notes on Chris Foerster, Cam Newton, Tom Brady, Leonard Fournette and more
1. I think these are my quick-hitting thoughts from Week 5:
a. Jameis Winston was inaccurate enough for three quarters Thursday night that, even though Nick Folk will rightly bear a good portion of the blame for the loss to New England, Winston’s misses on several third downs that could have elongated drives were collectively just as big a factor. Third downs converted in the first 43 minutes by the Bucs: zero. There were drops, but Winston has to be better—as does his team.
b. Seems crazy that Tom Brady, in his 18th season and after 275 previous regular-season and postseason games, would have played his first game ever in Tampa against the Bucs on Thursday night.
c. Patriots’ last 10 regular-season games on the road: 10-0. Patriots’ last 10 regular-season games at home: 6-4.
d. Sal Paolantonio with the ride along to work with Eagles coach Doug Pederson Sunday morning. Cool.
e. Great story, too, by ESPN on the guy who stole Vince Lombardi’s hat on the field after the Ice Bowl … and finding the guy, a grandfather in Wisconsin, and getting him to divulge why in the world he would try to steal the hat off Vince Lombardi’s head.
f. Myles Garrett knows how to make a debut. On the first snap of his first NFL game, the first pick in the draft sacked the quarterback—Josh McCown, in this case.
g. Brilliant play design by the Panthers in Detroit, and great orchestration by Cam Newton, to fake the read-option and shovel-pass the ball inside to Christian McCaffrey, his first touchdown of his NFL career.
h. DeShone Kizer leaves the pocket too soon. He’s got to calm down, hang in and give his receivers a slightly longer chance to get free. “He does tend to be a one-read quarterback sometimes,” Ronde Barber correctly analyzed on Fox.
i. Jags back Leonard Fournette, a vet of five NFL games, has scored one touchdown in each.
j. Looks like I was a year too early on the Titans. Or I was dead wrong in singing their praises so loudly.
k. This may be faint praise, but cornerback Jason McCourty has been the best player on the Cleveland defense this year. His first-quarter interception of Josh McCown was the kind of perfectly anticipated play that a smart cornerback makes.
2. I think Cam Newton’s words of apology Thursday night were promising. But none of us except Newton knows the deep-down sincerity of his apology for what he said to a female reporter on Wednesday. (When Charlotte Observer reporter Jourdan Rodrigue asked Newton about pass routes, Newton responded that it was funny to hear a “female” talking about “routes.”) Newton has been widely derided for his smirky 1981-era putdown. That’s all justified. I liked his apology, and it seemed sincere. But I’d make two points here. One: Why’d it take him 30 hours to apologize—and, to a lesser degree, why didn’t he include the reporter in his apology? The fact that he took 30 hours to say he was sorry is concerning. Did it take him longer than a day to realize he was wrong? Or did he know he was wrong and simply took time to do something well thought-out? Two: It makes no sense right now to say, “Great apology. We’re all good.” This is now a wait-and-see thing. Newton said all the right things, and they appeared heart-felt. But it’s his actions now that will speak for him.
3. I think when the Falcons built this beautiful new $1.5 billion downtown stadium, team officials were quick to say they wanted an open-air stadium. Finally, many said; it’s madness that a city in the south, a temperate, lovely American city with a great climate, would have a domed stadium. So the Falcons built a retractable-roof stadium. The roof was open for one game, the opener against Green Bay. And the team announced Thursday it would remain closed for the rest of the football season—it also will be open one soccer game, for the Atlanta MLS franchise to presumably break the single-game MLS attendance record Oct. 22—and then closed for the rest of the season. The reason is because of problems with the mechanization of the roof panels. Getting that roof open has to be priority one for Arthur Blank. Domes stink. Roofs should never be closed, save for relentless precipitation or extreme heat/cold. The Colts abuse it, keeping the roof closed on beautiful Indiana days. Blank has to make sure the problem with the roof is fixed ASAP.
4. I think, barring some miracle of doctored footage, the Dolphins are going to fire offensive line coach Chris Foerster. In a video that surfaced late Sunday, a man believed to be Foerster is shown talking into a camera while he snorts a white powdery substance through a rolled-up $20 bill and talks suggestively to a woman who he apparently believes will see the video. That’s going to be pretty hard to defend. (Update: Foerster resigned on Monday morning.)
5. I think this is one of the great high school football highlights of all time (no spoilers here):
6. I think the most perfect headline of the week was this from Deadspin: “NFL Assures Fans There’s No Tolerance For Racial Slurs At Redskins Games.” It was the perfect response to the NFL saying it would look into Washington wideout Terrelle Pryor’s claims that he had a racial slur directed at him at Kansas City last Monday. There will be “no tolerance” for such language in NFL stadiums, an NFL spokesman said. Except, of course, for the name of team that employs Pryor. Washington’s team name, according to Dictionary.com, is “a contemptuous term used to refer to a North American Indian.” Dictionary.com says “redskin” is “disparaging and offensive.” But that’s okay with the NFL.
7. I think I have never seen the Browns look worse, and that’s saying something.
8. I think the best team in football is Kansas City, and there’s a pretty good gap for number two. My candidates: Philadelphia, Carolina, Washington, Denver.
9. I think the Giants have a few questions to answer, and soon. Such as, Will Victor Cruz get re-signed and start Sunday night at Denver? To have four receivers go down in one game, at least two of them for the season, is hard enough. To do it while going 0-5 when the football world thought they’d make the playoffs is harrowing. It’s going to be interesting if the Giants finish with a very high draft pick (and what stands in their way now?) whether they’d consider taking a quarterback that high, with Eli Manning finishing his 14th season and no one knowing yet whether Davis Webb is a logical successor.
10. I think these are my non-football thoughts of the week:
a. Story of the Week: by Caitlin Flanagan of The Atlantic, an examination of the death of Penn State student Tim Piazza at a campus fraternity. Harrowing, beyond disturbing, superbly reported, and very well written.
b. You read that and wonder how young human beings can have such callous disregard for Tim Piazza’s life. And why Penn State looks the other way while hazing and stupid amounts of drinking happen at fraternities. It’s disgusting.
c. According to Piazza’s father, no officials from Penn State went to Tim Piazza’s funeral. Galling.
d. Flanagan reported that a grand jury investigating the Piazza death concluded: “The Penn State Greek community nurtured an environment so permissive of excessive drinking and hazing that it emboldened its members to repeatedly act with reckless disregard to human life.”
e. Las Vegas Story of the Week: by Wesley Lowery, a fellow Ohio Bobcat, on a friendship between two strangers forged when a mass murderer struck a week ago.
f. What Lowery does so well here, among many things, is recreate a scene in the middle of the murderous chaos that was doubtless like so many other scenes there—and made it live so that those who weren’t there could feel the utter despair of the evening. With lines such as this: “Michelle, Michelle!” Robertson screamed as he and the other man took turns performing CPR on Vo, who was no longer responsive. “Wake up!”
g. Is it okay to talk about gun control now? Or are we still in the “thoughts and prayers” period?
h. Is it okay to ask if the rights of the 59 slain people matter, compared to the rights of the gun industry, or compared to the rights of a sane-seeming maniac who stockpiled 46 weapons with multiple add-ons that make guns fire like automatic weapons?
i. Jose Altuve: the perfect baseball player. Carlos Correa: close to that.
j. Houston and Cleveland are so good that it’ll be a shame when one of them doesn’t get to the World Series. Both have answers through the lineup. Both have great bullpens (Cleveland a little better, but Chris Devenski is a good imitation of Andrew Miller) and tough outs through the lineup. The other day Brian McCann batted ninth for Houston against Boston; he’d have been the fourth- or fifth-place hitter for the Sox.
k. Eric Hosmer needs to be on the Red Sox’s free-agency wish list.
l. The Diamondbacks’ uniforms are so hideous that they’re starting to grow on me. Not the hats, though. The hats are legitimately heinous. Speaking of National League uniforms: Can the Rockies do something with theirs? And preferably not in purple?
m. Coffeenerdness: You’ve got to put a little pep in your baristas inside Penn Station in New York, Starbucks. Man, those are some lackadaisical men and women. Twelve to 15 minutes’ waiting time is not good.
n. Beernerdness: A bit of an unusual beernerdness this week … it’s Sober October for me. When you read this section every week, don’t you sometimes wonder, Is Peter King a raging alcoholic? Well, I don’t think so. But I do think moderation is good, and after a summer beering while riding around to training camps and being out with peers and NFL contacts and my team at The MMQB, I thought it would be smart to take a break. First, to see if I can do it (and so far, I haven’t had to beg my wife to please, please, please know I was kidding and I didn’t really mean to refrain for 31 whole days). Second: because it’s healthier. Now, this won’t be forever, and it’s only been eight days, but it’s been a good change-of-pace. Maybe next week I’ll regale you with Seltzernerdness. Come to think of it: Let’s have guest Beernerdnerdness entries for the next three or four Mondays. If you’ve got a beer you love, and you can describe why in 75 words, send to email@example.com.
o. Glad I’m not Jacque Jones today. Or ever.
p. Headlines Are Fun Dept.: Yankees manager Joe Girardi failed to challenge what became a monumental call in Game 2 of the ALDS on Friday. Cleveland’s Lonnie Chisenhall was given first base on a hit-by-pitch with two outs in the sixth inning, enabling the inning to continue, and enabling Cleveland’s Francisco Lindor to hit a grand slam in an eventual 9-8 Tribe win. The New York-area press was (mostly) not kind.
q. NorthJersey.com: “Girardi blunders lead to crushing Yankees loss.”
r. NJ.com: “Girardi’s inexcusable screw-up puts Yankees on life support in ALDS.”
s. New York Post: “Girardi’s legacy will forever be tainted by this debacle.”
t. New York Post back page: “JOE BLOW.”
u. Then there was this from Yankees.com: “Yankee skipper addresses challenging loss.”
v. Credit to Girardi a day later: “I screwed up. It’s hard. It’s hard for me.”
w. RIP, Tom Petty. And thank you very much.
x. Finally, one of our ace editors and a huge influence in the founding and development of this site, Matt Gagne, is leaving The MMQB later this month for a top editor’s job at Men’s Health. When I first was handed the keys to this car in 2013, Matt and I spent hours discussing personnel, strategy, website design and stories we wanted to pursue. He has not once been wrong about a staffing decision we made. Matt has been invaluable in whatever impact we’ve made in this business over the past four-and-half years, and I’ll be forever grateful to him. His editing skills, the ability to make copy sing, is a vastly underrated part of any site’s success, and certainly this one’s. Matt is a growth stock. We’ll miss him, but I’m excited for him and his wife and two young children as he makes this move.
Who I Like Tonight
Minnesota 31, Chicago 13. The Mitchell Trubisky Era begins in Chicago. (I’m a guest every week on the “Waddle and Silvy” radio show in Chicago afternoon drive-time, and in the first five weeks of this season I think they asked me 913 times about when the right time would be to make the switch from Mike Glennon to Trubisky.) The hot breath of Trubisky basically melted Glennon, who would have had a hard enough time winning and proving he was more than a career backup anyway. That will be the story of the pregame tonight. But when the game starts, I like the Vikings big, whether Sam Bradford retakes his starting job or not. That’s because the Vikings have two good quarterbacks right now. The passing line of backup Case Keenum (Pro Football Focus’ sixth-rated quarterback entering the weekend) in the past two games: 65 percent accuracy, 588 yards, three touchdown, no picks, 111.1 rating. Can’t see the Bears stopping either one.
The Adieu Haiku
Stick to sports, you say.
My retort? Tell the White House:
Stick to governing
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