Peter King's Ten Things I Think I Think: On NFL coaching candidates, Week 12 reactions, TV ratings

By Peter King
November 27, 2017
Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

1. I think Stanford’s David Shaw had better be in the top two, or one, for any NFL team looking for a head coach in 2018. But remember what he told me two years ago about having a better job than any NFL coach, and whoever wants him is going to have to convince his wife that it’s a better place than Palo Alto. Good luck. My sense is that Shaw will one day coach in the NFL, just not in the next couple of years. My early list of calls I’d make if I had a coach to hire, after I called Shaw:

• New England offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels
• Kansas City special teams coordinator Dave Toub
• Philadelphia defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz
• Detroit defensive coordinator Teryl Austin
• New England defensive coordinator Matt Patricia.

2. I think I also would fact-find about Carolina defensive coordinator Steve Wilks, University of Washington coach Chris Petersen (who likely wants to stay on the West Coast), Minnesota offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur and Houston defensive coordinator Mike Vrabel. I’d phone Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz; I don’t think he’d leave, but I’d make him tell me that. Finally, I don’t know Jacksonville defensive coordinator Todd Wash or Kansas City offensive coordinator Matt Nagy (just 39) but hear good things about them. And as for those who say the pool of available coaches is grim, I would remind you of three names:

• Chuck Noll was an unknown and a distant second to Joe Paterno when the Steelers hired him in 1969. Four Super Bowl wins followed. 

• “An inspired choice or a real mistake?” the Philadelphia Inquirer wondered after the hire of Andy Reid in 1999—and he proceeded to win 74 more games than anyone else in club history.

• Robert Kraft told me earlier this year he was warned by former Browns owner Art Modell to stay far away from Bill Belichick—and all Belichick has done is win 235 games in New England.

Moral of the story: There are scores of good coaches out there. They need good quarterbacks and good organizations to succeed.

Last point to make: Jon Gruden might be interested in going back to the Raiders. I hear he loves Derek Carr and would like to see once in his career what he could do with a franchise quarterback. But I think it’s not likely Jack Del Rio gets fired.

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3. I think this story about Greg Schiano having a deal to coach Tennessee, then having the deal walked back Sunday evening because of the outcry over what mighthave happened at Penn State connected to the Jerry Sandusky case, over what was never proven and was denied by the relevant parties under oath, over what Tennessee never investigated thoroughly, is a disgrace to thinking people. It also emboldens the screamers on social media, a nod to those who think if you scream loud enough in this current iteration of America you can overcome reason, and a totally unfair slap at a good man in Schiano. The pathetic result of this caper is that the social-media lynch mob won, and no matter how well Schiano does as an assistant at Ohio State, it may never be good enough for him to get a head-coaching job. The water has been poisoned by the crazies. In America today, that matters.

4. I think these are my quick thoughts on Week 12:

a. What a great game Green Bay-Pittsburgh was.

b. Man, Brett Hundley proved me wrong, at least this week. What a tremendous late-fourth-quarter drive, including 72 yards passing, moving the Packers for six first downs and the tying touchdowns—and converting a fourth down with under three minutes left to make the tying score possible.

c. Huge sack by T.J. Watt, nailing Hundley with a minute to go and enabling the Steelers to get the ball back with just enough time.

d. Russell Wilson: To have the Seahawks at 7-4, as beat up as the team is, is a tribute to a very good defense to be sure. But mostly it’s a tribute to you.

e. Thanks, Drew Bledsoe, for the terrific tribute written for The MMQB to the late Terry Glenn.

f. Good stats by Andrew Catalon on CBS: Zane Gonzalez of the Browns has missed five field goals this year, all wide left. Hope you’re renting, Zane.

g. Christian Jones, the Chicago middle linebacker no one knows, sure makes a lot of plays for an unknown guy.

h. When Keenan Allen next negotiates a contract with the Chargers, all he has to do is bring a tape of his last eight quarters in two must-wins for the Chargers, against Buffalo and Dallas, in a five-day span: 23 catches in 27 targets, 331 yards, three touchdowns.

i. The reception, run and stretch for the first down in the fourth quarter by Minnesota’s Stefon Diggs, making the first down by an inch, was a truly great awareness play by Diggs. Kudos to him.

j. Detroit’s Akeem Spence dropping Jerick McKinnon late in the first half for a loss was the kind of textbook run-stuff every defensive-line coach should show his players.

k. Kai Forbath makes me nervous. Very nervous. And if he makes me nervous, imagine what he does to that pepperpot Mike Zimmer.

l. Why, with the game on the line, on fourth-and-eight when the Lions needed a conversion, did Matthew Stafford throw to a blanketed receiver—covered by the Vikes’ best corner, Xavier Rhodes—with almost zero chance for completion?

m. Yikes: Dak Prescott’s passer rating this year with Zeke Elliott in the lineup: 97.9. Prescott without Elliott: 57.0.

n. Looks like Eli Apple is turning into a lost top pick for the Giants, per Paul Schwartz of the New York Post.

o. Prince Amukamara could take the video of his pass-breakup of the Carson Wentz-to-Torrey Smith throw in Philadelphia and show it to young corners everywhere. Perfect timing, mechanics of a pass breakup.

p. Gotta catch that ball, Austin Seferian-Jenkins. That drop of a first-quarter touchdown pass cost the Jets four points.

5. I think I do not mean to be cruel, but this is the truth: Brock Osweiler has gotten two offensive coordinators (George Godsey, Mike McCoy) fired from two teams (Houston, Denver) in consecutive seasons. Also:

• Osweiler has played so poorly in Houston that he had to be traded to Cleveland along with a second-round pick so the Browns would take him. He played so poorly in training camp in Cleveland that the Browns, desperate for a placeholder quarterback, fired him anyway. He played so poorly in Denver in relief of Trevor Siemian that he was demoted the other day from number one to number three quarterback.

• Osweiler is employed in the NFL today. Colin Kaepernick is not. It helps explain why so many people are rooting hard for Kaepernick’s longshot collusion case against the NFL.

6. I think it’s time to sound the TV ratings alarm—if you haven’t already heard it clanging from coast to coast. It looks even worse when considering that the NFL, perhaps rightfully, blamed last year’s ratings decline on the attention magnet that the 2016 presidential election was. But Thanksgiving week is two weeks clear of the election season. So let’s compare some of the numbers to each of the past two years to see where we are (thanks to Sports Media Watch for the ratings info):

• ESPN, Monday night, Atlanta at Seattle: 6.4 rating, a decline of 28.1 percent from Buffalo-New England in 2015 … a decline of 7.2 percent from Houston-Oakland last year.

• FOX, Thanksgiving Day, Minnesota at Detroit: 11.4 rating, a drop of 7.3 percent from Philadelphia-Detroit in 2015 … a drop of 12.3 percent from Minnesota-Detroit last year.

• CBS, Thanksgiving Day, Los Angeles Chargers at Dallas: 12.4 rating, a decrease of 19.0 percent from Dallas-Carolina in 2015 … a decrease of 20.5 percent from Dallas-Washington last year.

• NBC, Thanksgiving night, New York Giants at Washington: 9.7 rating, a drop of 33.6 percent from Chicago-Green Bay in 2015 … a drop of 10.2 percent from Indianapolis-Pittsburgh last year.

A bit of clarification: CBS did the early-window game from Detroit last year; FOX did the early game from Detroit this year. So the numbers on FOX and CBS are window versus window, not network versus network. But in window versus window, the numbers of ’17 versus ’16 were down 7.2, 12.3, 20.5 and 10.2 percent on Monday and Thursday of Thanksgiving week. Not good.

7. I think I don’t want to rain on the Matthew Stafford parade, and I get that he is struggling with a sore ankle, but man, that was an underwhelming performance Thursday in a game the Lions had to have.

8. I think the Eagles have a very interesting road trip coming up: at Seattle on Sunday night, against the beat-up but still dangerous Seahawks; then working out on Eagle season-ticket-holder Mike Trout’s baseball field in Anaheim for the following week; then playing the dangerous Rams (in a preview of my prospective NFC title game) the following Sunday.

9. I think congrats are in order for Archie and Olivia Manning’s grandson, Cooper Manning’s son, Peyton Manning’s nephew and Eli Manning’s nephew. A 70-percent passing day for Arch Manning in a big game. Heck of a game, kid. (And yes, the boy goes by “Arch.”)

10. I think these are my non-NFL thoughts of the week:

a. Op-Ed of the week: from Brent Staples of the New York Times, some good lessons on the legacy of national anthems in our country.

b. Internet column of the Week: The great Joe Posnanski, on (mostly) quitting Twitter at the same time as he gets a kidney stone.

c. Have you considered the two might be related, Joe? That not being on Twitter may have caused this malady?

d. Sports/politics story of the week: by Rick Maese, Isabelle Khurshudyan and Andrew Roth of the Washington Post, on the bizarre intersection of a big hockey star and Vladimir Putin.

e. I looked the other day at SeatGeek just to see about the “Springsteen on Broadway” show, which of course intrigues me. Two tickets to a January show: $4,882. No thanks.

f. I read a book on the day after Thanksgiving. A whole book! “The Rooster Bar,” by John Grisham. As usual, Grisham put his hooks in me, and I finished it in six hours. I had a couple of plot problems (I’m sure Mr. Grisham will call me to discuss), but it was easy and fun and the kind of book I love on off-time. It took me to a place and provided great entertainment and made me think.

g. I am nearly finished with another book I have enjoyed quite a bit: “Ballplayer,” by Chipper Jones, with Carroll Rodgers Walton. Good job by Jones talking about life invading his professional space. Funny how that happens.

h. Annual question: Why are college coaching contracts so incredibly one-way in favor of the coaches?

i. I cannot believe anyone in the Ohio State athletic department looked at that team on the field Saturday and said, “I really love those uniforms.” Black and white? In the game against Michigan?

j. Wow. Michigan 1-5 versus Ohio State and Michigan State, its two big rivals, under Jim Harbaugh?

k. That Auburn-Alabama crowd was ridiculously loud. What a home-field advantage for Auburn. Nick Saban struggled to hear Allie LaForce for the halftime on-field interview. At halftime. When no football was being played.

l. Coffeenerdness: Dave’s Coffee of Rhode Island—you’ve got a good thing going. The stronger the better.

m. Beernerdness: My wife and I spent a couple of days away in Westerly, R.I., over Thanksgiving, and we gave thanks not only for the time away but for our time at Gray Sail Brewery on a quiet street not far from the Amtrak station and a very cute downtown Westerly. The little brew pub next to the brewery is in a 90-year-old home with original murals on the wall, painted by an Italian artist of lovely scenes in the old country. And on the main floor of the house, locals and tourists lounge around drinking good beer. My pick: The Gray Sail Flagship cream ale, easy to drink and light. Lovely. We got a tour of the brewery (a former macaroni factory, of all things) and a T-shirt, and were on our way. How great is it that in cute little towns all over America local breweries are popping up and thriving? Gray Sail is six years old, and the folks there Friday evening included two families in the converted den, with a couple of tykes running around. Strongly recommend that on your trip up I-95 along the New England coast, just over the border from Connecticut into Rhode Island, you stop there and have a beer.

n. I’m not sure of this, and maybe it’s because we had to wait so long for it to come, but this season of “Curb Your Enthusiasm” has been fairly meh. Even with the fatwa on Larry. Some of the stuff is more than slightly preposterous. More Susie. More Jeff. More Funkhauser.

o. Happy 64th birthday (Sunday) to one of the best people I’ve covered, Hall of Fame Giants linebacker Harry Carson.

p. Happy 44th birthday (today) to Renaissance man Jon Runyan, the former tackle and Jersey congressman and current NFL exec.


Who I Like Tonight

Baltimore 17, Houston 9. The Ravens have three shutouts this year, and the Texans have allowed 22 touchdown passes and a passer rating of 98.9. If Baltimore, at home, can’t win a game it absolutely has to have (next two games: Detroit, at Pittsburgh) to go to 6-5, the Ravens will soon be playing for 2018.


The Adieu Haiku

Schiano got jobbed.
The moral of the story?
Scream loudest, you win.

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