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Monday, May 11: I Guess Peter King Is No Longer Smitten

Posted by Matt Terl on May 11, 2009 – 10:54 am

I have a strange and hard-to-describe relationship with Peter King’s Monday Morning Quarterback column over at SI.com.

I’ve been reading it forever — I clearly remember following it when I was working a temp job back in that long-gone year 2000, when the column was “only” 2,200 words, rather than the 7,000ish it tends to run these days — but I haven’t been enjoying it nearly as much for the last couple of years. I suppose at this point it’s more of a habit than anything else, that and a way to make sure that I understand the (language warning!!!!!) parodies of King’s writing over at Kissing Suzy Kolber.

But read it I do, like clockwork, every Monday morning except for those two or three weeks that King takes off, and sometimes it still manages to elicit a reaction other than a bored “For the love of God, enough with Brett Favre already.”

Today would be one of those days. The short version is this: in his column today, his first stab at ranking the teams for the 2009 season, King has the Redskins projected at 23rd in the league. I know, I know: who cares, what does he know, it’s only May, waaaaaaaaahhhhhhhh, and all that. Fair enough. But maybe the longer version will explain why I find this particularly disappointing.
Here’s how King starts today’s column:

You’ll find one very predictable thing in common with every top team in my annual Tick Off Half The Football Fans In America Post-Free-Agency, Post-Draft NFL Power Rankings: quarterbacks. The best teams have ’em. The worst teams don’t, at least not that we can see yet. Look at the top dozen teams. Every one has a quarterback you wouldn’t be shocked to see playing deep into the playoffs this year.

Okay, so QBs affect rankings. Got it. Here’s King on Jason Campbell in a Monday Morning Quarterback from last July:

I think I am smitten with Jason Campbell. The guy’s going to be good. Maybe really good. He’s sure of himself, throws a nice, soft spiral downfield — harder when he has to — and is more confident and self-assured than anyone learning an eighth offensive system in his last nine years of football has the right to be.

(True fact. Dating to his senior year in high school, Campbell has had to learn eight offenses — and this is the first time he’s been in some form of the West Coast offense since high school. I defy anyone who watched the Redskins practice on Friday to say they don’t think this guy’s got the tools to be great. Four or five times in a row he threw passes 20 yards or longer in wideout-versus-corner passing drills, and each time he hit the receiver in perfect stride. Now, he’s not throwing those passes with Jason Taylor and Andre Carter planning to steamroll him, because quarterbacks aren’t touched by teammates in July. Will he be All-Ashburn instead of All-Pro? Maybe. But this display was one of the best I’ve seen at a summer practice in a long, long time.)

“Smitten.” “Maybe really good.” “More confident and self-assured….”

I mean, I understand: peoples’ opinions change. And King’s opinion when I spoke to him at Redskins Park just before that column was written was even more qualified:

Now, you always, always hesitate [to judge] when there’s nobody rushing. I mean, one of the best camp practices I saw last year was Rex Grossman and I have become convinced now that Grossman is great when he knows he’s not going to get hit. And he still MIGHT be great. But I saw him two practices last year, he was fantastic, and then he was Rex Grossman when the lights came on. So we’ll see about Jason Campbell.

But, if I’m a Redskins fan watching this practice today, I go home and I’m really excited.

Qualified, yes, but still ultimately positive.

I don’t think there’s much argument that the Redskins have improved their defense over the offseason, and any questions about the offensive line would have to be the same as they were when King was all fired up about Campbell last year.

Which means, essentially, that King has decided that 22 quarterbacks — including Sage Rosenfels, Chad Pennington, Jake Delhomme, Kyle Orton, and the shattered remnants of Matt Hasselbeck — are more likely to lead their teams to victory than Campbell. Mighty big swing in just a year, not to mention one that I am skeptical of.

Ultimately, no, it doesn’t matter. Campbell will do what he’s going to do no matter who writes what about him. Thus far in offseason work, he’s looking very good again, and Coach Zorn has been effusive in his praise, which is a bit more significant than what an internet columnist has to say.

(Fun fact! The headline of the MMQB last year when King praised Campbell? “Standoff in Green Bay: Eventually hell will break loose for Favre, Pack”. Which means that one version or another of this Brett Favre story has been running for at least ten straight months now! As of now, this saga has officially joined death and taxes as one of the certainties of modern life.)

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