The Whistleblower No. 5 – Peyton Manning in Most Overrated Colts, a NFL.com Hack and Adam Rank

NFLWhistleBlower

It’s been too long since we’ve heard from The Whistleblower, but it’s June, and this is the time of year for inane arguments after nearly five months without football.

This week there was an article posted on NFL.com by mystery hack Sean Neumann about the most overrated and underrated players for the Indianapolis Colts. I only called him a hack. His own Twitter claims “The worst writer in the history of the world.”

In an obvious attempt to generate views, Neumann included Peyton Manning on the most overrated list. He’s entitled to that opinion, but read his putrid reasoning:

“This is not to troll anyone, but the hand wringing over whether he should stay or go was pretty much pointless. That’s why he’s on this list. Not because he kept losing to New England in bad weather. Not because Brady always seemed to have his number. And certainly not because he has happy feet and always seemed to make a really bad throw in the fourth quarter. No, it’s because when you have a chance to draft Andrew Luck and hit the reset button on your franchise instead of letting your veteran ride off into the sunset while you surround him with less-talented spare parts, you do it and never look back.”

We’ll just blow the whistle on the part in bold. Anyone can have an opinion, but don’t make it invalid with pathetic reasoning.

The “always seemed to make a really bad throw in the fourth quarter” is the same case of perception owning reality that continues to be the crutch for the lazy. The link actually goes to the 2010 game between the Colts and Patriots when Manning threw a game-ending interception with the Colts in field goal range in a 31-28 game. Manning was hit as he threw and the ball sailed.

Never mind that on the previous drive with a chance to end the game in the four-minute offense, Tom Brady threw a third-down pass directly to Colts linebacker Tyjuan Hagler, who dropped the interception. Does that ring a bell?

Want the facts?

  • Fourth quarter or overtime, down by 0-8 points in the playoffs: Brady and Manning have each thrown TWO interceptions in this situation.
  • Fourth quarter or overtime, down by 0-16 points in the playoffs: Brady has thrown FIVE interceptions compared to THREE for Manning.
  • Fourth quarter or overtime, down by 0-8 points: In 13 head-to-head meetings, Brady has thrown FOUR interceptions in this situation. Peyton Manning has thrown ONE interception (that 2010 game) and lost ONE fumble (2007).

So where does the perception come from? Of course. One player won three Super Bowls many moons ago. The other took nine years to win one. Same old crap.

If that article’s text wasn’t bad enough, included at the top is a video where NFL Network’s Adam Rank and Dave Dameshek discuss the topic. When it comes to the overrated choice, they both only talk about Manning.

Dameshek gets it started with the playoff losses where “Manning threw a lot of big-time interceptions.” The old comparison to the Atlanta Braves comes up next.

But then pops in Rank with the “he beat Rex Grossman!” argument. Fair enough, but one of the biggest double standards used for today’s NFL quarterbacks is the 2006 Rex Grossman argument. So Manning only beat Grossman, yet it’s completely okay that Drew Brees LOST BY 25 POINTS TO GROSSMAN? You know Brees, the quarterback who beat Manning in Super Bowl XLIV and gets a lot of credit for his playoff performances which have often been great outside of said Grossman loss? Brees has also only made the playoffs five times in 12 NFL seasons.

You could mention the 2006 Colts were the only team to ever beat the top three defenses in the same postseason, but let’s stick with Grossman.

Frankly, I could have skipped all this nonsense and just got right down to the meat, the finale of the video.

Rank: “When you talk about big-time game-crippling interceptions, that’s Peyton Manning’s specialty.”

I’m not on TV, I have no desire to be on TV. I write (or type at 110 WPM) print media that I hope people find useful in their enjoyment of the game. So when I see bullshit like this being spoon-fed to the masses, I can’t help but say something about it. That’s been a huge part of my motivation to go down this career path in the first place. I was tired of talking heads on TV who do no research and stick to flimsy narratives.

The facts need to come out somewhere.

Where does the evidence for what Rank said even come from? Oh yeah, he saw this one play this one game and that’s good enough. This January’s Ravens game was all he needed. Forget the other 13 seasons of data or the fact that even in that game Manning had the go-ahead touchdown pass late and the Broncos were leading in the final minute.

If you look at the stats above, it was Tom Brady who threw two huge interceptions in clutch situations in back-to-back weeks in the 2006 playoffs. There was the fourth-down play in San Diego, which he got lucky on again with the Chargers fumbling the ball. Then there was a game-ending pick to Marlin Jackson in the 2006 AFC Championship.

In that game, Manning went 80 yards in 1:17 for the game-winning touchdown. Brady had 0:54 and two timeouts left to answer. He went 34 yards and threw a season-ending pick right to Jackson.

For Manning, he never threw an interception in the playoffs in a clutch late-game situation until the Tracy Porter play in Super Bowl 44.

That was a career first, yet to someone like Rank, that’s “what he always does,” facts be damned. Fueling the fire for Rank would be the 2010 season where Manning had an unusually bad year in the clutch. He threw late interceptions against the Eagles, Patriots and Cowboys (OT).

Counting the Porter play, that’s 4 clutch interceptions in a calendar year. Yet from 2003 thru the 2009 AFC Championship, nearly a full seven seasons, Manning threw TWO clutch interceptions in losses, and both were Hail Mary throws in the final seconds of games (2003 Jacksonville, 2007 San Diego).

If you only focus on the Porter play, you ignore the best seven-year run of clutch QB play in NFL history. In that time, Manning went 29-17 (.630) at game-winning drive opportunities. Even when looking at the 17 losses you mostly find good things for Manning:

  • Four times Manning either tied the game (3) or led a go-ahead score (1) the last time he touched the ball. Defense lost the game at the gun.
  • Three times Manning watched his kicker miss with a 2-3 point deficit (2004 @NE, 2005 PIT, 2007 @SD). In the NE game, Edgerrin James also fumbled at the 1-yard line with 3:43 left.
  • Two times Manning needed a last-minute comeback against Jacksonville after putting the team ahead earlier in the fourth quarter (2003, 2004). Something similar happened against San Diego in the 2007 playoffs. His passes on third down (R.Wayne) and fourth down (D.Clark) were dropped.
  • In the classic 2003 game against New England, the Patriots made that goal-line stand to win 38-34, stuffing Edgerrin James on fourth down. In the AFC Championship rematch, even on his worst day Manning was down 21-14 with 2:01 to go. He went 0/4 with the NFL admitting they failed to call penalties on the Patriots on both third and fourth down. This led to the reinforcement of illegal contact in 2004.
  • That leaves the four worst things Manning did as being: 1. taking a sack to fall out of field-goal range against 2005 Chargers, falling to 13-1 after Michael Turner TD run ended perfect season. 2. Throwing incomplete on 4th-and-2 at the DAL 8 in 2006 with a 21-14 deficit. 3. After the defense blew a 20-10 lead against 2007 Patriots, Manning was sacked and fumbled with 2:25 left, down 24-20. 4. Down 17-14 to 2008 Titans on MNF, Manning threw incomplete on a 4th-and-2 pass. TEN scored a touchdown to go up 24-14; won 31-21.

We’re going to pretend none of this ever happened and focus on two plays?

In working my way through Fringe on Netflix, I can only think that perhaps an alternate universe really does exist. That’s the only logical explanation for why people like Rank say what they do.

If it’s not that, then maybe some people just choose to specialize in stupidity.

The Whistleblower No. 4 – Mike Mayock, the 1979 Pittsburgh Steelers and the Worst Example Ever

Since we haven’t heard from The Whisteblower in a while, here was a little gold from right before the kickoff of Thursday Night Football on NFL Network.

Mike Mayock was talking about Kansas City’s awful turnover differential (-13; it was actually -18), and said this line in regards to it:

“I don’t care if you’re the 79 Steelers, you are not winning football games turning the ball over.”

That’s fine, except Mayock could not have picked a worse example than the 1979 Pittsburgh Steelers.

The 1979 Steelers turned the ball over 52 times (worst in the league), and still went 12-4 in the regular season. They even led the league in scoring as well (416 points). Their turnover differential was -10, so it’s not like the defense balanced things out that much.

In the playoffs, the Steelers continued turning the ball over, with 8 giveaways in the three games. They still won the Super Bowl. Terry Bradshaw was Super Bowl MVP despite still throwing three interceptions in the game.

Everyone gets it. “Turnovers are bad, mmkay?” But Mayock could not have picked a worse example to make his point.

This is probably going to be the highlight of the night watching this awful game between San Diego and Kansas City.

Update 8:57 P.M.: Mayock is in a battle with the Chiefs, who just turned the ball over again, to see who can have the worst night. After the Chiefs fumbled on a third-down screen, Mayock said it wouldn’t have mattered as they would have turned the ball over on downs. No, not even thinking it was fourth down, but thinking it was third down.

Wow. What ever happened to the punt and better field position?

Update 11:01 P.M.: After a pick six by the Chiefs, Mayock went to the well for the third time on the 79 Steelers.