Eli Manning Won’t Catch Brett Favre for quarterback consecutive starts record; NFL Week 11 notes
1. I think the 297 straight starts at quarterback for Brett Favre will be a tougher record to break than Jerry Rice’s 1,549 career receptions. I note that after Eli Manning moved into second place Sunday with his 209th straight start at quarterback for the Giants.
If Manning were to pass Favre, he’d do it in Week 3 of 2023. Manning would be 42 years, 9 months old. Favre’s 297 games are the equivalent of 18 full seasons and nine games into the 19th.
Not to be disrespectful of Rice’s mark, and that, too, may never be passed. But I think it’s realistic to think a couple of great receivers will come along (or are here now) who one day could threaten Rice’s mark. If Antonio Brown (708 catches, age 29) stays healthy and continues his pace from the past five years—both big ifs—he’ll be around 1,500 catches at age 36. I’m not saying it’ll happen. I just think it’s more possible than a quarterback starting every game for 19 years.
2. I think these are my quick thoughts on Week 11:
a. It’s official: Chip Kelly gave up on LeSean McCoy about nine years too soon.
b. That Khalil Mack sack of Tom Brady in Mexico City was an amazing thing. Did you see it? Mack swatted aside Rob Gronkowski, then slipped by a power-block from right tackle Cameron Fleming and got one huge hand on Brady, dragging him down. Speed, quickness, power … all on the same play.
c. That two-point conversion call by Sean Payton, the fake handoff/pitch and then the toss to Alvin Kamara, was tremendous. Caught Washington flat-footed.
d. Anyone ever see a 100-yard interception return that wasn’t a touchdown before Dre Kirkpatrick did it Sunday in Denver? Bueller? Bueller?
e. Alex Smith is giving all the Mahomes-in-2018 fans a lot of ammo the last two weeks.
f. You sounded good to me, Greg Olsen.
g. Marvin Jones, with the best double move of the weekend. Totally messed with Bears corner Marcus Cooper’s head on what turned out to be an easy touchdown throw from Matthew Stafford.
h. Beautifully designed rub route by Washington on the 16-yard TD throw from Kirk Cousins to Chris Thompson.
i. Cam Heyward is the most underrated great player in football. Hard for any Steeler to be underrated, but he’s the best all-around defensive lineman they’ve had since Aaron Smith—and Smith was underrated too.
j. Jay Cutler was right at the end of last season about retiring.
k. Nice, accurate TD throw from Blaine Gabbert, his touchdown toss to Larry Fitzgerald in the first half at Houston.
l. Poor, inaccurate interception from Joe Flacco, underthrowing Danny Woodhead near the Green Bay goal line, a fairly easy pick for Ha Ha Clinton-Dix.
m. Matt Moore’s like the Energizer bunny.
n. Myles Garrett’s going to be a great player. We bash Cleveland’s front office for everything else. Let’s give ’em credit for bypassing other options and taking a player who looks like he can play in Von Miller’s league.
o. Still: Hue Jackson is 1-25 as Browns head coach.
p. Is it just me, or did Philadelphia center Jason Kelce, when he introduced himself on the NBC telecast Sunday night, look very much like Jesus?
3. I think Brett Hundley’s play is making moot Aaron Rodgers’ potential return in Week 15. Hundley has played five games since Aaron Rodgers got hurt, including the last 52 minutes of that game, at Minnesota. He’s 1-4. His performance Sunday against Baltimore, in a game the 5-5 Packers had to have to be strong playoff contenders down the stretch in a power conference, was poor. Hundley is just not an instinctive player. He took a fourth-down sack to start the third quarter that was just not smart. I’ve said this before, but this could be a good learning experience for Mike McCarthy. His backup quarterback, on a team when a backup has been needed fairly often, is a very important player, and the backup should be getting some playing time in the fourth quarter of games that have been decided—and maybe in the first three quarters of some other games. Hundley just does not look ready to succeed against pressure.
4. I think I need to note that Larry Fitzgerald moved into fifth place on the all-time receiving yards list, passing Tony Gonzalez on Sunday. With 15,157 yards, Fitzgerald needs 778 yards to move up three more spots, to number two, behind only Jerry Rice in NFL history. He also signed a contract for the 2018 season last week. So there a good chance that, barring injury, Fitzgerald finishes his career behind only Rice. And this came to mind recently: Fitzgerald is a lover of football history, and he respects those who came before him quite a bit. The competition for the all-century team at wide receiver will be fierce, but I think he’d be a strong competitor for one of the four spots, particularly if he finishes second all-time, with a good playoff résumé.
5. I think the announcement in Mexico on Sunday that the league will play a regular-season game there in each of the next four seasons, at least, means the league is likely to play a minimum of five of its 256 regular-season games outside the United States through 2020. That’s a lot of home games for teams to be giving up. Take those 20 games. Three will be Jacksonville “home” games. (I always have thought the Jags are candidates to play more than one home game overseas, but we shall see about that.) Let’s assume the Raiders, Chargers and Rams are four or five of those games, because they have stadiums being built. So 12 or 13 teams—if you assume one per team—are going to have give up a home game each over the next four years. That’s going to be an internal battle across the league in the next couple of years.
6. I think we finish our eight-part series on Football in America this week, with a trip to Pittsburgh to see the Steelers, and to see a cool high school playoff game at Heinz Field. Kalyn Kahler was there and gives you a preview of her story, centering on a highly unlikely upset victory for an upstart high school, Quaker Valley. Writes Kahler: “Coach Jerry Veshio came out of retirement to lead this Quaker team when the previous head coach abruptly resigned in August, just a few weeks before the season. In the program's 62-year history, the Quakers had never reached the WPIAL [Pittsburgh district] championship game, the end-all-be-all game for Pittsburgh kids. In their first appearance at the championship game, played at Heinz Field on a rainy and cold Saturday morning, the Quakers faced Aliquippa, a nationally known football powerhouse, with alums such as Mike Ditka, Ty Law and Darrelle Revis. The Quakers had never beat the Quips, and never really came close. Quaker Valley's lone loss this season came against Aliquippa. But on this day, Veshio's underdogs pulled off an unlikely win, beating Aliquippa 2-0. That's not a typo. Neither offense could score, and Quaker Valley's second-quarter safety was the defining play of the game, helped by Aliquippa's 20 penalties for 190 yards. As the final seconds ticked down on the 2-0 win, Veshio's players dumped a Gatorade bucket of water on him. This, Veshio knew, was definitely better than retirement.” Check The MMQB on Wednesday for Kahler’s fully story, with video from John DePetro.
7. I think I can’t believe Jim Harbaugh would leave Michigan right now. But with the Wolverines being as disappointing as they’ve been this year, I’d probably at least make the phone call Jan. 2 if I were the Giants.
8. I think—and no one will buy this as an impartial opinion because I work for NBC as well as The MMQB and Sports Illustrated—I loved the SkyCam in Titans-Steelers on Thursday night. Here’s why: I love to see what a quarterback sees when he takes the snap, and this was the perfect way to put yourself in the quarterback’s shoes. The running backs’ shoes too, as they took handoffs and looked for holes. When you needed to see a different look, you saw it on replay. If you didn’t like it, that’s fine. It’s just a football game. Why does every one have to be shown the same?
9. I think this is what it comes down to for Jameis Winston: He was drafted with two strikes, like it or not. Whatever happened with the Uber driver in Arizona last year (BuzzFeed reports that a female Uber drive claims Winston grabbed her crotch during a late-night ride; he denies it, passing it off on people he was with that night), Winston cannot afford to be implicated in any sexual misconduct incidents. No matter what happens in this case, he’s rekindled the “aha!” sentiment among those who believe Winston was guilty of sexual assault while at Florida State. He deserves to be judged innocent until the driver’s claims are investigated. But this is a worrisome case for the Bucs. Winston cannot give any reason for this organization to doubt its decision to trust him to be a long-term quarterback and face-of-the-franchise player.
10. I think these are my additional thoughts of the week:
a. Story of the Week: by Ben Cohen in the Wall Street Journal: “An Unlikely Chess Match Tests Limits of Self-Improvement.” This is one of the best stories I’ve read. Totally fascinating. It’s about a 24-year-old San Francisco entrepreneur and gifted learner, Max Deutsch, who set out to accomplish 11 tasks that people just can’t do. He solved the Rubik’s Cube in 17 seconds, for instance. But the biggest task, defeating World Chess Champion Magnus Carlsen, after training for one month, was the most exhilarating. Carlsen, a showman, agreed to the challenge. You need to read about it.
b. I will share one thing from Cohen’s marvelous story: “There were bets available. Wynn Las Vegas oddsmaker Johnny Avello said the probability of an upset was 100,000 to 1. No betting house would ever offer those odds. The line that betting house Pinnacle posted, at the Journal’s request, was the most lopsided one that internal regulators would allow. A $100 wager on Max paid $50,000. A $100 wager on Magnus paid 10 cents.”
c. Did I whet your appetite? And the story’s not behind a pay wall either if you go through Facebook.
d. Podcast of the Week: “Pizzagate: A Slice of Fake News,” from the Center for Investigative Reporting and PRX, with assists from Rolling Stone and The Investigative Fund, about the crazy rise of invented news. This podcast, from start to finish, explains the explosion of fake news through one story—the totally out-of-control, phony and outlandish and ultimately dangerous tale from last fall claiming that there was a child sex-trafficking ring run out of pizza parlor in Washington, D.C. In all, the lies about the pizza parlor got 126 million people to see Russian propaganda posts about this made-up story designed to make the Democrats look bad. Tremendous reporting by Amanda Robb and Laura Starecheski.
e. We need to wake up, people. Regardless of your party affiliation or who you hate or you love, fake news is not going away. We can’t stop bots, and we can’t stop the Russians (at least now), but we can have common sense. And we can stop listening to total nut jobs like Alex Jones, who had a part in making this story spread, a story that caused innocent and hard-working people to get death threats.
f. Political Story of the Week: “Regrets? Chris Christie has a few,” by Josh Dawsey of Politico. Really interesting deconstruction of the downfall of a politician.
g. The Celtics are amazing. Brad Stevens is amazing. Lots of great hires/signings by Danny Ainge, and my knowledge of the NBA can fit on a key of this laptop, but Stevens must be really good, given how this team adjusted after the Gordon Hayward injury.
h. Coffeenerdness: People are studying the Starbucks holiday cup, and drawing conclusions about the social meaning of it. Man, get lives, people.
i. Beernerdness: I have your Thanksgiving beer, if you can find it. And it’s pricey, so you might only get a few bottles. It’s a pale ale from the Maine Beer Company (Freeport, Maine) called MO, a standard at this great brewery. It’s not a classic pale ale, though. It’s got a little pine to it, sort of like Pliny the Elder, and very slightly fruity, with a big malt taste. You’ll probably drink two (6.0 ABV) and switch to water or something lighter. Well, you’ll drink two if you’re very lucky.
j. Not too impressed with Sam Darnold on Saturday night in the USC-UCLA game. How do you not have the presence of mind on a scramble with the clock winding down and no timeouts left late in the first half to NOT get out of bounds? The clock ran out with Darnold fighting for meaningless yards. Man, that was dumb.
k. And Darnold’s sailed interception midway through the second quarter, when it legitimately looked, as analyst Kirk Herbstreit said, that Darnold spit the bit on the play. “I want you to look at his feet,” Herbstreit said. “Watch the feet right here, as he’s trying to find his open receiver off to the right. Kind of panicking, happy feet, looking off to the right, didn’t have an open receiver … did not look comfortable there at all.”
l. I’m not saying Darnold should be a third-rounder. His NFL stock isn’t in the dumpster. But Josh Rosen sure looked like a better quarterback Saturday night.
m. Baker Mayfield was stupid to grab his crotch and point to the Kansas sideline Saturday. Kansas was stupid for its captains to not shake Mayfield’s hand before the game. Two stupid things. Mayfield the taunter bothered me. For some reason, Kansas being bush league before the game bothered me more.
n. Lovie Smith, the Illinois coach, is 0-8 in the Big Ten this year, with a ninth loss likely against Northwestern on Saturday. Overall, he’s 2-15 in the Big Ten in his two seasons. Illinois is on a nine-game losing streak, eight by double digits. That’s not good.
Who I Like Tonight
Atlanta 24, Seattle 16. With Richard Sherman (Achilles) and Kam Chancellor (stinger) missing, and left tackle Duane Brown (ankle) likely to be significantly hobbled against instant pass-rush star Adrian Clayborn, the game and probably the playoff hopes of the Seahawks are squarely on the shoulders of Russell Wilson. What else is new? The 5-4 Falcons need the game badly too, and they seem to be adjusting to the different play-calling and personality of offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian after a slow start. I think Julio Jones could have a big night against the likes of Shaquill Griffin, Justin Coleman and Neiko Thorpe. “The one thing I’m really going to miss is lining up against Julio Jones,” Sherman said last week, mulling his future as he faced Achilles surgery. He had the surgery in midweek in Green Bay. “I love playing Julio. I love playing the best. But I honestly think we’ll be okay.” Former Bucs safety Bradley McDougald, who started for Thomas at free safety the past two weeks, will likely sub for Chancellor on Monday night—and maybe for the rest of the year. “We’re thin,” acknowledged the last man standing, free safety Earl Thomas. And who knows what to expect of Thomas? He’s coming off two weeks away with a bad hamstring. This is a game Atlanta should win.
The Adieu Haiku
Keenum, six straight wins.
Teddy, happy to be here.
Winning cures. For now.
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