Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

28 Jul 2005

Training Camp Postcard: Falcons

No, it is not our intention to link every one of these Peter King postcards, but this one is interesting because somehow Peter King and Len Pasquarelli both wrote about the Falcons on the same day. And yet, they seem to be reporting on two entirely different teams. (The Pasquarelli article is ESPN Insider content.)

King: "I think one of the great things about watching this team practice is the beauty of the ball that Mike Vick throws. Gorgeous pass after gorgeous pass."

Pasquarelli: "These eyes saw a lot of poor throws. Vick was, in a word, brutal at times. And that might not even accurately describe his afternoon. He was too high. He was too low. He was long and he was short. Vick looked anything but ready to ratchet up his completion percentage to the levels that typically accompany a West Coast-style passing design."

King: "Michael Jenkins, last year's first-round pick from Ohio State ... is playing the same side as the perennially disappointing Peerless Price right now, and running behind him so far early in camp."

Pasquarelli: "The Atlanta offensive coaches have all but decided the starting wide receivers will be rookie first-rounder Roddy White and second-year veteran Michael Jenkins."

Posted by: Aaron Schatz on 28 Jul 2005

36 comments, Last at 03 Aug 2005, 4:28am by masocc

Comments

1
by James, London (not verified) :: Thu, 07/28/2005 - 9:36am

How long before there is NO free content on ESPN.com?

2
by VarlosZ (not verified) :: Thu, 07/28/2005 - 9:47am

No disrespect intended to Peter King, but I trust Len's take on the matter somewhat more. I'd expect Vick to have another poor passing year, and Peerless Price to be the most highly paid 3rd WR in the league.

3
by Pat (not verified) :: Thu, 07/28/2005 - 9:57am

That being said, there's no reason King and Pasquerelli's comments on Vick have to be contradictory. Just because Vick's passes looked good doesn't mean that they were thrown accurately. Good form doesn't mean good accuracy. (Given King's penchant for flippant comments about things like this, I wouldn't doubt that this is what he meant.)

4
by Soulless Merchant of Fear (not verified) :: Thu, 07/28/2005 - 10:12am

Jeff George threw the prettiest ball anybody's ever seen. Gorgeous. Sure, a lot of times it was to the guys on the other team, but damn, what lovely interceptions he'd throw.

If his footwork is as rough as Pasquarelli says, it's gonna be a rough, rough year in Atlanta. I wonder if King even watched the footwork.

5
by Glenn (not verified) :: Thu, 07/28/2005 - 10:13am

King's been around the block a few times and should be well aware that when he describes a pass as looking "good", the common interpretation is that it was a nifty spiral and it got to where it was supposed to go when it was supposed to get there. And if that's not what he means, then he's been around the block enough to know that he should qualify his statement. Flippant comments do not a good journalist make.

6
by Pat (not verified) :: Thu, 07/28/2005 - 10:37am

Flippant comments do not a good journalist make.

I never said King was a good journalist. :)

7
by Kevin (not verified) :: Thu, 07/28/2005 - 10:41am

King's comments perpetuate the misconception that Vick is a very good QB . . . as usual in society, people look at form over substance . . . hey Lenny, way to tell it like it is . . .

8
by Will Allen (not verified) :: Thu, 07/28/2005 - 10:59am

I sometimes enjoy Peter King's columns stylistically. Other times he reminds me too much of Larry King in USA Today. Substantively, there is no contest between Pasquarelli and King. Does this make Peter King the Michael Vick of football columnists?

9
by Kibbles (not verified) :: Thu, 07/28/2005 - 11:05am

Why do I have the strong suspicion that after every camp he goes to, King is going to flirt with picking them to win the division. He's like a 5 year old ordering from the menu. "I'll have... hot dogs. NO WAIT, chicken fingers. NO, a hamburger. WAIT, the chicken fingers again. JUST A MINUTE, make that a turkey sandwich. HOLD ON A SECOND..."

I also loved the little one-liner that linked to the article on the home page of SI. "To the Falcons, backup QB Matt Schaub is almost as valuable as Michael Vick". Ummm... am I missing something here, or is that the single most ridiculous statement he's ever made? That's like saying that Key Detmer is almost as much responsible for the Eagles 4 year run as Donovan McNabb is.

10
by Jim A (not verified) :: Thu, 07/28/2005 - 11:22am

Maybe King and Pasquerelli are in cahoots and shared notes. If they both wrote the same thing, there would be nothing to distinguish them.

I always get a kick of of reporters who watch about five minutes of no-pads training camp drills and make sweeping conclusions about the upcoming season based on it. But my favorite are those who can judge a player's physical fitness just by looking at him. Someone will write that a player has "reported to camp in the best shape of his life, thanks to a 12-times a day off-season workout program, blah, blah, blah" and then the next day someone else will write how that same player looks "slow and out of shape..."

11
by B (not verified) :: Thu, 07/28/2005 - 11:34am

Maybe SI is onto something.
Vick's DPAR last year for passing only was -18.5, and Schaub's DPAR was -18.0, so Shaub provided just as much "value" as Vick did in the passing game, despite only throwing the ball 74 times. Of course Vick provides much more value in the running game.

12
by Basilicus (not verified) :: Thu, 07/28/2005 - 11:39am

I'm inclined to believe Pasquarelli as well, simply because he's always seemed more knowledgeable about the specifics of how players play the game and fit in with their teams. King has always been interesting from a knowing-what's-going-on-in-management perspective, but on player evaluation I don't trust King and I trust Pasquarelli. Actually, it would be an interesting article series to have two good and well known football columnists travelling to the same camps together, and one having to find all the good and promising things about a team and the other having to find all the negative things. They'd have to switch off good cop/bad cop roles every camp to not settle into a tone...I'd pity whoever had to find the good things at Bears camp, though..."Cedric Benson might be signed as soon as the start of the regular season...It seems Urlacher might not have pulled his hamstring that badly, possibly missing as little as the month of September...Grossman might return by midseason, making a late Bears playoff push possible if they manage to win a game or two before then. Grossman is expected to be a valuable fill-in on offensive line, being that his size has ballooned in his time off...."

13
by Duane (not verified) :: Thu, 07/28/2005 - 12:29pm

Pasquarelli may be a better player evaluator, King may be more stylish, for what its worth, but I think the difference is, Pasquarelli reports on the NFL while King promotes the NFL.

14
by S (not verified) :: Thu, 07/28/2005 - 12:41pm

Of course, there's always the possibility that LP and PK saw different practice sessions.

15
by Harris (not verified) :: Thu, 07/28/2005 - 1:31pm

The AP reported that Jenkins is slated to start over Price, so I'm not sure what King is talking about. I'd also lilke to know how he "knows" Schaub will be good based on one play, especially one play with no pressure and no defense. I'm sure that at some point even scrubs such as Rick Mirer and Tod Marinovich made one play in July.

16
by glr (not verified) :: Thu, 07/28/2005 - 1:41pm

re: kibbles

I didn't read the article, but I assume he meant Schaub is valuable because, when Vick runs around like a chicken with its head cut off, he's more likely to get injured than other QB's. So the Falcons need a good back up more than most teams, including the Eagles. Still, I agree the statement is ridiculous, just not as ridiculous as the one you compare it to.

As for Pasquarelli, he may know football (though I wonder), but I hate reading his articles. He writes like a high school student (he overdoes his prose and throws in big words pointlessly--words that have no place in football articles). This is a small thing I suppose, but it bothers me.

17
by Goldbach (not verified) :: Thu, 07/28/2005 - 1:59pm

Pasquarelli saw the July 25 practice. Peter King saw the July 27 practice.

18
by Kibbles (not verified) :: Thu, 07/28/2005 - 2:07pm

Re #16: Regardless of the play style, the statement is ludicrous.

Basically, if Schaub is almost as valuable as Vick, then losing Schaub for the season would hurt the team almost as much as losing Vick for the season. Do you see Vegas dropping the over/under line on the Falcons by more than maybe half a game if Schaub goes down in the preseason? I didn't think so.

19
by Richie (not verified) :: Thu, 07/28/2005 - 2:19pm

I agree on the Pasquerelli thing. He has good information, but for some reason I don't think I've ever read any of his articles completely. I wind up losing interest and skipping parts.

I always take King's player and team evaluations with a grain of salt.

20
by Reinhard (not verified) :: Thu, 07/28/2005 - 3:43pm

I read that Vick was very unsettled on the first day, with bad accuracy on his throws, but on the second day that there was a very marked improvement, and that he looked crisp. The above seems to confirm that, I just don't know if the dates match up.

21
by Richie (not verified) :: Thu, 07/28/2005 - 4:22pm

Pasquerelli was just on ESPN radio talking about Michael/Mike Vick and saying how he doesn't think Vick will ever be a 65% passer, which is the threshhold that you want for a QB in the West Coast offense.

That number sounded fishy.

There have been 1574 QB's who have had at least 150 pass attempts in a season, since 1960 (plus selected players before 1960). Of those, 42 have ever had a completion percentage of 65% or better in a given season. Looks like that's a brutal standard to expect.

Sammy Baugh had a 70.3% rate in 1945! Kenny Anderson had 70.6% in 1982, and that's the best ever. Before Anderson, only Ken Stabler (66.7%) in 1976, Ken Anderson (64.9%) in 1974 and Otto Graham (64.7%) in 1953 had really even come close.

22
by Vince (not verified) :: Thu, 07/28/2005 - 5:31pm

Remember this about King (and I've said it before, and I'll say it again): Great writer, pretty good reporter, one crappy football analyst.

For Pasquarelli, I'd say very good reporter and analyst, mediocre writer. Everything he writes is just way too long. Also, I don't live in Atlanta, but everyone I talk to down there hates him, and says he never had anything good to say about the Falcons when he wrote for the AJC down there. So take that for whatever it's worth.

#21: I bet you'd find that number more common if you checked the last 15 years or so, but it still seems an awfully high threshhold to expect.

23
by Steven Cummings (not verified) :: Thu, 07/28/2005 - 5:58pm

He really is moving pretty quickly, I see that some more diary stuff is up on his way to the Bears. And my though was this: If he's going to spend most of his entries telling us how much it sucks to travel across the USA at light-speed, why bother with the effort? Or, I guess he really does save the good stuff for the magazine...

24
by Johonny (not verified) :: Thu, 07/28/2005 - 6:22pm

The 60 %ers from last year. 7 QBs hit the 65 % mark last year.
Several on the list made big improvements such as McNabb, but most on the list were already rather good at completing passes. I guess the question is how good are those young WR? TO good? I doubt it.

Peyton Manning 67.6
Byron Leftwich 60.5
David Carr 61.2
Steve McNair 60.0
Billy Volek 61.1
Ben Roethlisberger 66.4
Carson Palmer 60.9
Tom Brady 60.8
Drew Brees 65.5
Trent Green 66.4
Brian Griese 69.3
Brett Favre 64.1
Daunte Culpepper 69.2
Donovan McNabb 64.0
Patrick Ramsey 62.1
Vinny Testaverde 60.0
Kurt Warner 62.8
Marc Bulger 66.2
Tim Rattay 60.9

25
by Richie (not verified) :: Thu, 07/28/2005 - 7:23pm

You missed Pennington at 65.4% in 2004.

I wonder if the rule changes had something to do with 8 QB's at 65+% in 2004.

In 2003 only 3 guys did it (Manning, Favre, Culpepper).

In 2002 there were 6 (Pennington, Gannon, Griese, Manning, Stewart, Warner).

In 2001 it was just Warner and Gannon.

In 2000 it was just Warner.

In 1999 it was just Warner.

In 1998 the top two were Beuerlein and Favre at 63.0%.

In 1996 and 1997 only Young broke the mark.

In 1995 it was Grbac and Young.

So 25 times in the past 10 years has a QB completed more than 65% of his passes in a season. Manning, Young and Warner are responsible for 10 of those 25 seasons.

I have no point.

26
by Bruce Dickinson (not verified) :: Thu, 07/28/2005 - 7:41pm

I think that Len Pasquerelli was watching Michael Vick and Peter King was watching Ron Mexico.

This website needs more cowbell.

27
by Astro Boy (not verified) :: Thu, 07/28/2005 - 9:43pm

Re: 16

I’m glad someone else brought up Pasquarelli’s writing, which is bad enough by itself and completely inappropriate for football reporting. Maybe such a discussion is off topic, and maybe this description borders on a personal attack, but I think that it’s fair game given that multiple posters consider getting through Pasquarelli’s prose to be a chore at best. Another reason I feel justified bringing this up is that I swear Pasquarelli didn’t use to be this bad; I remember once looking forward to his articles and consistently gleaning useful information from them. Then he seemed to start writing his pieces with one hand tapping the keyboard and the other thumbing through a thesaurus. Half the time he uses fancy words inappropriately, and if you add the glaring malapropisms to some tortured syntax, you have consistently unreadable pieces.

I seriously had to give up on him after some particularly bad summaries of last year’s draft, and I made it through the entire regular season without reading any of his material. Then, following the Indy/Denver wild card game, ESPN.com posted a main page on the game with links to all the individual articles on the game. Unfortunately, I didn’t avert my eyes in time to miss “Pasquarelli’s take,� which, if you indulge me, I’ll put up as exhibit A:

INDIANAPOLIS -- On the assumption Denver's secondary can assimilate the written word, at least better than it deciphered the Indianapolis Colts’ multifaceted passing game Sunday afternoon, this memo, courtesy of the late Jim Croce, to the Broncos last, limp, (invisible) line of defense:
You don't tug on Superman's cape
You don't spit into the wind
You don't pull the mask off the ol' Lone Ranger
And you certainly, John Lynch and Co., don't publicly suggest in the days leading up to a playoff game that the Colts receivers are nothing more than girlie men.

Where do I begin? The intro to the quote isn’t even a sentence. If I recall correctly, I was so morbidly fascinated by this blurb that I went to read the full article, in which Pasquarelli announced that the best word to sum up the game was “filibuster.� Uh, no, it wasn’t. If this had been a game in which the Colts held on to the ball for 40 minutes, maybe that word would have been appropriate, but the Broncos actually had a slight edge in time of possession.

Of course I’m getting badly off topic now, and if anyone’s still reading this, I’ll try to return to the discussion at hand and wrap things up by stating the obvious. We’ve got two of the most highly regarded NFL reporters in the nation going head-to-head on the Falcons’ training camp. One uses four times as much space to describe the menu as he uses to describe Vick’s passing game, which he pronounces “gorgeous.� The other wins the passing game discussion by default by noting flaws in Vick’s throws, but then seems to think that a 65% completion rate is the standard by which success is measured. I give many thanks to posters like Richie and Johonny for saying precisely how ridiculous that 65% target is. I’m also very thankful for this website at a time when the major media outlets see fit to charge for puff pieces like these.

Parting shot: Just say no to Pasquarellisms. Running backs are interchangeable, not fungible. Please stop the insanity. Thank you.

28
by Richie (not verified) :: Thu, 07/28/2005 - 9:51pm

For the record, that 65% number is something I heard him say on an ESPN radio interview (Sportsbash I think), not in the above article (which I can't read because I'm not an insider).

29
by glr (not verified) :: Thu, 07/28/2005 - 10:09pm

Glad some of you agree with me about pasquarelli.

re:kibbles

No need to get defensive. See part of my post where I agree with you about ridiculousness of said comment.

30
by Richie (not verified) :: Thu, 07/28/2005 - 10:14pm

I found it. The Pasquerelli comment was on the Dan Patrick show on 7/28/05. His interview begins 2 hours into the show if you want to find the archive of it on the espnradio.com website.

Here's his comment about Vick:

"He's got a great arm, he's got a great release, a very strong arm. A guy that can just, you know, throw the ball on the run. He can really just kind of flick his wrist and throw the ball a long way. His deficiencies are as I indicated in my report from the Falcons camp at least that day...that day he was very erratic, which he was prone to be at times. I don't know if he's ever gonna be like a 65% completion rate passer, which is sort of the threshhold you want in a West Coast-style offense. But to say he's not a playmaker would be ridiculous. He can make plays with his feet, he can make plays with his arm. He's like a lot of guys who have an athletic arogance about them, that allow them to believe that maybe they don't have to follow the normal dance steps that the rest of us follow because they have such enormous skills....."

Why am I transcribing a radio interview? Must be time for me to go home. Must be time for football season to start.

31
by Parker (not verified) :: Fri, 07/29/2005 - 10:38am

Thank you, Astro Boy. I love this website and everything about it. Except the word fungible.

Football players are not commodities. They are people. Until we all realize that, there can be no peace.

32
by OMO (not verified) :: Fri, 07/29/2005 - 3:02pm

"Half the time he uses fancy words inappropriately"

...kinda like this quote?

"and if you add the glaring malapropisms to some tortured syntax, you have consistently unreadable pieces"

33
by Athelas (not verified) :: Mon, 08/01/2005 - 6:42pm

What words in that quote were used inappropriately? And I wouldn't call any of the words used 'fancy'.
I'm afraid I have to agree with Astro Boy--LP is unreadable.

34
by masocc (not verified) :: Tue, 08/02/2005 - 1:22am

#33: Well, technically, 'malapropisms' are generally humorous, and involve confusion with a word of a similar sound.

And unless LP actually flogs his words, it should be 'torturous syntax', not 'tortured syntax'.

Oh, and as for 'fungible'... I like it, and the times I've read LP using it, he's used it correctly.

35
by Astro Boy (not verified) :: Tue, 08/02/2005 - 6:19pm

Thanks for all the thoughtful replies. Hopefully we can talk about football soon.

Mostly this response is for masocc, who provided the details that OMO couldn’t be bothered with. Of course we’ll have to disagree, at least in part. If the link works, dictionary.com will back me up with a hair-splitting discussion of the differences, such as they exist, between tortuous, torturous, and tortured. As for the malapropisms, you do indeed have the proper definition, and here’s a great example of one from no less a source than our President:

"We have enough coal to last for 250 years, yet coal also prevents an environmental challenge." —Washington, D.C., April 20, 2005

So score one for yourself there if you insist. But what’s fun (to me at least) is that when Pasquarelli used this term in a tribute to Hank Stram, he described matriculating the ball up the field as a malapropism. With a wink to some other torturous discussions that have appeared on this site, I’ll note that it’s ironic that LP himself doesn’t uphold your strict definition of the term.

As for fungible, Parker has it right; the word is a legal term used to describe commodities. And hopefully, I can clarify my larger point here. It’s not that a word like fungible is a tiny bit wrong and therefore everything a guy says should be mocked. The point is that if you’re going to use fancy language, use it because the word you like is the best one for the situation. If a simpler word is more easily understood, and in fact more accurate, why not use the simpler word? Needlessly inflated language will just make you less likely to be understood.

I like to think that one goal of reporting is to make information as clear as possible to as many people as possible, and LP rarely goes a paragraph without screwing this up. So basically, my question is this: Does anyone out there actually enjoy reading Pasquarelli? Maybe you just want information from him, and if you are just tracking player movement or breaking down contracts, you probably find him useful. Maybe you want analysis, but given his comments on running back committees and completion percentage benchmarks, I think he contributes a lot less with his analysis than with his reporting. Regardless of whether you want facts or opinions from Pasquarelli, you’ll have to wade through some pretty bad writing to get them.

36
by masocc (not verified) :: Wed, 08/03/2005 - 4:28am

Ooooh, I had *completely* forgot about 'tortuous'! Can we just agree that it should be 'torturously tortuous syntax'? :D

And I could argue 'fungible' until I was blue in the face, but it wouldn't make much difference. I'd just like to point out that while it's *primarily* used in law and financial jargon, it is not a word EXCLUSIVE to that realm. And personally, I REALLY LIKE calling RBs fungible... why? Because I have the feeling that to most of the football execs, RBs are just that... interchangeable commodities. I like to think LP's use of fungible reflects a hidden disdain for the handling of players, and that he thought of it while talking with his broker, rather than perusing a thesaurus. A man can dream, can't he?

And yes, I like LP's writing. Why? It's different. Sure, he mangles the English language, but half the fun is deciphering what, if anything, he was trying to say. If it makes you think, it's okay in my book. EVERY writer screws thing up once in awhile. PK and LP just seem to do so a tad more frequently than most.