Wednesday, August 26, 2009

19 comments TMQ: A Re-Introduction Into Football Ignorance - AFC Edition

I did not have the energy last week to tackle the first TMQ of the new football year, but I think I have that energy today. It actually makes me ill to read what Gregg Easterbrook writes sometimes. You may ask why I do cover it then? For you guys/girl(s)'s all for you. That was our Full House moment of the day, let's get to being haters.

players who produce touchdowns would seem to have value. Yet of the top 10 active NFL touchdown producers, six (Terrell Owens, Marvin Harrison, Edgerrin James, Joey Galloway, Tony Gonzalez and Torry Holt) were waived or traded in the offseason, while a seventh (LaDainian Tomlinson) was told to take a pay cut or hit the road. Only three of the top 10 active touchdown producers (Randy Moss, Isaac Bruce and Clinton Portis) were asked back without reservation by their teams.

(The headache begins)

What could we assume the top 10 active NFL touchdown producers have in common? They have played in the league long enough to be in the top 10 of active NFL touchdown producers. That also tells us these players probably have a few years on their tires already and can't contribute as much to teams as they used to. Just for shits and giggles, and because Easterbrook is too lazy to do this, let's see why these players were traded or cut...

Owens- he is a problem child, Buffalo was the only team that wanted him
Harrison- injury problems, wants too much money to sign with a team, could be a murderer
James- he's done as a running back
Galloway- injury problems
Gonzalez- requested trade
Holt- he requested his release
Tomlinson- made too much money for his production from last year, took pay cut to stay with team

Instead of just saying, "these guys have a lot of touchdowns, why don't teams want them," and making a blanket statement that each player was unwanted by his team, why doesn't Easterbrook look at each individual player and see if there were circumstances other than production that lead to the player's release? Is that too easy?

Four of the top five active sack producers were waived: Jason Taylor, Kevin Carter, Willie McGinest and La'Roi Glover.

Combined sacks last year? 9 sacks. That's why they got waived. It's called research.

As always, I will ask does this guy get to write an NFL column? Is it to torture me?

And Marty Schottenheimer and Mike Shanahan have more career wins than any active NFL coach, yet neither wears a headset, while Dick Jauron (55-77 career), Marvin Lewis (46-50) and Gary Kubiak (22-26) are employed as NFL head coaches, along with seven gents (Jim Caldwell, Todd Haley, Josh McDaniels, Raheem Morris, Rex Ryan, Jim Schwartz and Steve Spagnuolo) who have combined for zero career NFL head coaching wins.

Maybe those guys have zero NFL head coaching wins because THEY HAVE NEVER COACHED AN NFL GAME IN THEIR ENTIRE LIVES? COULD THAT BE A FUCKING REASON??? MAYBE??????????

I have no idea how you can hold the fact these 7 guys are all 1st year coaches against them. If people who had zero career wins could never be NFL coaches then there would never be new NFL head coaches because they have to start at zero and could never get a job based on this. I don't even know why I am explaining this.

Of course, aging athletes often lose their ability to gain yards and score points -- though something tells me several mentioned in the above paragraphs will end up with more productive 2009 seasons than the younger players who got their roster slots.

Will they make as much money as the older players? If not, their production may not be worth the salary. There is a thing called a "salary cap," at least there will be until 2010.

Another question that needs to be asked is what production will the team get out of the younger player in 1-2 years? If that player getting playing time will get the team good production 0-2 years down the road, then getting rid of an older player makes sense. Gregg Easterbrook sees things in black and white and tends to make blanket statements that cover whatever he is trying to talk about. He is never interested in actually looking at the reason behind why NFL players, coaches, and executives make decisions. That's too much work for him.

You can sign up to follow TMQESPN on Twitter and receive an early peak at my upcoming throwback column logo.

It's "peek" not "peak." Yeah sure, I will edit your column for you.

In political news, what huge obstacle to a successful Barack Obama presidency is about to emerge?

The Idiot Army led by Gregg Easterbrook will try to overtake Washington?

In 2008, Baltimore had a great season despite a rookie Division I-AA quarterback and a head coach who had never been a head coach at any level. Maybe both will suffer a sophomore slump, but the more likely outcome would seem to be a monster 2009 for the Nevermores.

One minute he is bemoaning the fact coaches get hired who have zero coaching wins, the next minute he is lauding a coach who had zero lifetime coaching wins when he took his first job for coaching well in his first year. I can't even pretend to understand TMQ/Gregg Easterbrook, so I don't even try.

The only puzzling decision was letting center Jason Brown -- an undrafted TMQ favorite -- go in favor of bringing in Matt Birk, who's on the downhill side of his career.

Matt Birk is in the downside of his career? Just a few paragraphs ago Easterbrook was bitching about why teams let productive veterans go and he acted like he couldn't understand it. The Ravens sign a productive veteran and Easterbrook thinks it was a bad move. He just contradicts himself many times in his columns and needs to quit writing about football.

Apparently he believes Terrell Owens, Torry Holt, Edgerrin James, Marvin Harrison, LT, Joey Galloway, and Tony Gonzalez are all on the upside of their careers. At least that is what I can assume...if you don't sign Matt Birk, a veteran player on the downside of his career according to Gregg Easterbrook, then you do sign a guy like Marvin Harrison, a veteran player, because he is on the upside of his career. In Gregg's mind, you don't sign a veteran on the downside of his career, so Marvin Harrison would not be considered by Gregg Easterbrook as on the downside of his career.

This further cements Easterbrook's reputation in my mind as not knowing anything about football.

In the past two seasons, Buffalo had 15 touchdown receptions by wide receivers; during the same period, Owens had 25 touchdown receptions -- almost twice as many as the entire receiving corps of the team he's joined!

I am sure this had nothing to do with the quarterback that was throwing the passes. The fact Trent Edwards/J.P. Losman were throwing these passes for Buffalo and Tony Romo was throwing them for Dallas had nothing to do with this I am sure. It's all Lee Evans, Roscoe Parrish, and Josh Reed's fault they didn't catch more touchdown passes.

This will be Owens' first season playing with a quarterback who has never made the Pro Bowl. We'll see how that goes. This is, of course, the honeymoon year for the Bills and T.O. but when you combine the fact T.O. loves negative/positive attention and Trent Edwards is the worst quarterback he has ever played with...

Excellent special teams have become a Buffalo hallmark -- Bobby April is the league's best special teams coach -- but this only proves special teams matter a lot less than offense and defense, or the Bills would be in the playoffs.

This is so obvious yet so ignorant. Obviously a team could not make the playoffs if they only had strong special teams. If a team had a great offense but stunk on defense and special teams they probably would not make the playoffs just the same. I am not sure it needed to be proven good special teams only can get a team in the playoffs, I thought it was pretty standard knowledge you need a good offense and/or defense as well.

The Trick-or-Treats recorded just 20 touchdowns in 2008, a wretched number, and just 17 from the offense. Is there reason to think Cincinnati won't have the league's worst offense again in 2009?

Yes, there is a reason. His name is Carson Palmer, he is a great QB and he is actually going to play more than a few games for the Bengals this year. I, along with pretty much everyone else who knows anything about football, think this will be the major difference.

You shouldn't even make stupid statements like "is there reason to think Cincinnati won't have the league's worst offense again in 2009" when the team was missing their starting QB almost the entire year last year. Does he not pay attention to the NFL? How can he forget the Bengals were so bad offensively because they did not have one of the league's best quarterbacks?

"Slotting" dictates 95 percent of a first-round pick's contract, so Smith's holdout can impact only 5 percent of his deal, while dramatically increasing the odds he will become a bust, and thus lose significant future income.

He is talking about Andre Smith. I am not for holding out but what the hell is Gregg talking about here? There is slotting in the NFL but I didn't think it was official to the point 95% of the salary is already made up. I always thought the slotting in the NFL was more of an agreement between teams to keep salaries in a certain range rather than an actual policy. I may be wrong, but I have a feeling he made this up.

What did Cleveland get for the fifth choice in the draft? Veterans Kenyon Coleman (defensive end), Abram Elam (safety) and Brett Ratliff (quarterback), and rookies Alex Mack (center), David Veikune (linebacker), Coye Francies (cornerback) and James Davis (running back). A no-name group to be sure.

Unless of course you watch college football or have in-depth knowledge of the NFL, in which case these are not no-name players. I know, I know...this excludes Gregg Easterbrook so I should excuse him for calling them no-name players.

Only at ESPN could a columnist write a column about a sport he/she doesn't have in-depth knowledge about. No seriously, only ESPN hires sportswriters who don't have experience in the field they are covering. It's like if I got hired to cover dog shows.

But through multiple trade-downs, the fifth overall choice was turned into seven players, several of whom should be legit contributors -- and all of whom, combined, will play for less than what the Jets gave Mark Sanchez, chosen with that fifth slot. Will the Browns end up wishing they'd simply taken Sanchez? There's a good chance.

So does Easterbrook think this was a good move to get these seven players? It seems that way, but then he says they are going to wish they had taken Mark Sanchez. Why again is there a good chance they will wish they had drafted Sanchez? They have Brady Quinn and Derek Anderson already and Mark Sanchez hasn't even played a regular season game yet. It's a little early to throw "a good chance" into a sentence involving the Browns regret for the Mark Sanchez trade.

Jacksonville: Nobody's had more high-profile personnel blunders lately than Jax.

Really? Have we already forgotten about the Raiders? Trading for DeAngelo Hall only to only cut him after one season, giving a ton of money to Tommy Kelly, drafting JaMarcus Russell, letting Tom Cable be the head coach, the way Lane Kiffin left the team after being the head coach, drafting Heyward-Bey and Mitchell this year, signing Gibril Wilson only to cut him after one season, or signing Dominic Rhodes only to cut him after one season. I am sure I forgot something as well that has happened over the past 3 seasons.

I think that list beats Jacksonville's list personally.

And what was the point of throwing Fred Taylor overboard? Sure, his career nears its end. Taylor's 11,271 yards with Jacksonville ranks fifth in yards by a player with the same team; keep him around for sentimental reasons!

Which is the worst reason to keep a player and a sure fire way to make sure the team continues to struggle. Just brilliant line of thinking Easterbrook, just brilliant.

Kansas City: What's the deal with Kansas City giving up on Tyler Thigpen?

That sound you hear is me banging my head against the wall realizing Gregg Easterbrook and I have made the same point when it comes to Tyler Thigpen. This will never happen again, I can guarantee that to you all.

Recently, the Dolphins have sunk five second-round draft choices into quarterbacks -- John Beck, Daunte Culpepper, A.J. Feeley, Chad Henne and White. Why did they waive Beck this spring -- he's now the backup in Baltimore -- rather than try to get something for him?

The same reason every team trades a second-round draft choice and not get any compensation for other team wanted him. In Beck's case, who wouldn't want a quarterback who is 28 years old, was drafted when he was 25 years old, and has played in a total of 5 NFL games? I am surprised the offers didn't just come flowing in for him.

In the past quarter-century, New England has spent only two first-round choices (Bledsoe, 1993; Tony Eason, 1983) and no second-round choices on quarterbacks. All those picks not expended on quarterbacks mean lots of defensive backs, guards, tight ends and other less glamorous players drafted, and a team with a deep, quality roster. For instance, the entire center of the New England defensive front -- Jerod Mayo, Ty Warren, Richard Seymour and Vince Wilfork -- is made up of high-first-round picks.

In all seriousness, I think this is the best and smartest way to build an NFL team. I know there are teams that didn't necessarily do this and were successful but I really believe this is a great blueprint to use.

That's the only thing I will say nice about the New England Patriots for another week.

Even those who don't like the Pats must admit that it was unfair they did not advance to the postseason despite an 11-5 record, while 8-8 San Diego did.

Actually I won't. It sucks and I would hate it if this happened to my favorite NFL team but it's the rules. I have said one nice thing about the Patriots, I can't defend them immediately after that. Yes, I am still bitter about the 2004 Super Bowl and no one can take my bitterness away from me.

Through a double trade-down, New England ended up with cornerbacks Darius Butler and Derek Cox plus wide receiver Brandon Tate.

Someone needs to tell Derek Cox he got drafted by the Patriots. He and nearly everyone else seems to think the Jaguars drafted him. Only in TMQ can you get such blatantly wrong facts.

Since Easterbrook is so clearly wrong about this, you may be asking what he was really thinking whgen he wrote the Patriots drafted Derek Cox...I have no idea. The Patriots only drafted one cornerback, maybe he thinks Patrick Chung goes by the name Derek Cox in order to prevent people from stereotyping him because he has an Asian-American last name?...but even then Patrick Chung is a safety. More likely, Gregg Easterbrook just doesn't do any research and his editor has given up on correcting him.

Oakland made so many subsequent trades with the picks, the answer isn't simple, but as you can see here, overall the swap was a fiasco for the Raiders. Fiascos, of course, have become standard operating procedure in Oakland. For example, the Raiders gave up a second-round draft choice for DeAngelo Hall, and got eight games from him before waiving him.

I still don't see how Easterbrook doesn't think the Raiders are the team with the worst/most questionable personnel decisions over the past several years. Jacksonville doesn't seem to have much on Oakland.

It must stink to be a Raiders fan, here is the link Gregg shared and it is sad to look at. What a mismanaged franchise.

Last season, Pittsburgh allowed 49 sacks -- only Cincinnati, Detroit and San Francisco were worse. Yet oft-sacked Pittsburgh won the Super Bowl, while two of the three least-sacked teams, New Orleans and Denver, did not make the playoffs. This is the kind of hidden indicator that must mean something -- if only TMQ knew what.

My initial reaction would be to say it indicates you shouldn't look too much into this and you are an idiot for doing so.

Upon further inspection I think this indicates the playoffs are a small sample size, the Steelers had a really good defense that was able to bail out the offense at critical times last year and the Steelers may have even won a Super Bowl with one of the worst Super Bowl winning offensive lines in recent memory.

The Steelers' defense of 2008 numbers among the best ever -- just 14 points and 15 first downs per game allowed. Yet the unit is not stacked with high draft choices. Only Casey Hampton, Troy Polamalu and Lawrence Timmons are first-round draft choices. Aaron Smith and LaMarr Woodley were second-round picks.

There are 11 players on defense and if 5 of them were high draft picks that means nearly half the defense was 1st or 2nd round picks. Throw in the fact James Farrior was a first round pick also (its called research and Easterbrook should do some) and over half the defense is first round draft picks.

It's still impressive but I would guess this is somewhat on par with several other NFL teams. I would actually do research on this but it's very time consuming. Just think about your favorite team and how many players on the defense were high picks (1st-3rd round) and how many were not. I would bet it is somewhat comparable to the Steelers. Of course the Steelers won the Super Bowl, so it is impressive, I am just saying...

Sports writers want a justification for an expense-account trip to San Diego, so they extol the Chargers.

Yes, because if a sportswriter says positive things about the Chargers then that sportswriter immediately will get a trip to San Diego to cover the Chargers. That happens all the time.

For those writers who do get this wonderful benefit for talking nicely about the Chargers make sure you don't stay at the Westin in San Diego! I hear they don't save your reservation and you may not have a room to stay in if you arrive a little before midnight to claim your room! Beware the Westin's overt attempts to make a profit.

Here is a tough question: If you could only fire one person involved with TMQ who would it be? Would you fire Gregg Easterbrook for writing this crappy fiction filled column, his editor for allowing his football ignorance to continue unchecked, or the person at ESPN who originally hired him to write the column? You can only fire one person...who is it?

I think I would fire Gregg Easterbrook because I think the whole deck of cards falls with him gone. There would be no need to edit his column and maybe the ESPN executive who hired him would learn better for next time.

Trailing 10-7 with 4:26 remaining, Tennessee faced fourth-and-inches on the Baltimore 10. Fisher sent in the field goal unit. It didn't matter that a fourth-down attempt in the first half had failed -- what happened before had nothing to do with this down. At home, with the crowd roaring, needing less than a yard -- this was what TMQ calls a "go win the game" moment. Instead, Tennessee kicked a field goal for a tie, and eventually lost.

I don't even know what to say to this. Tennessee had a great defense and Baltimore had an average offense, so I can see why Jeff Fisher would have thought he could have gotten the ball back or at least the game would have gone to overtime. To try and get a yard at that point, especially against a Ravens defense that is incredibly good, not to mention when you are in a situation where you can kick a field goal and tie the game is just pure insanity. It's just a dumb, dumb risk that doesn't need to be taken...especially in the playoffs.

Here's what I said when TMQ first criticized this move:

Yet the Titans' defense played well throughout, and trailing 10-7, the home team reached fourth-and-inches on the visitors' 10 with 4:26 remaining. Tennessee had the home-crowd energy and, to that point, 116 yards rushing. Go for it! Jeff Fisher sent out the field-goal team, no doubt thinking he could not bear another trip into Baltimore territory without points.

There is no way in hell you can criticize a coach for deciding to tie a ball game with 4:26 left in the fourth quarter. To go for it would be absolute coaching malpractice. You can't criticize h--

Yet he would have been better off to go for it and miss than to kick! By taking the field goal, Tennessee only tied the game, leaving Baltimore 4:23 and a timeout to try to win.

No, no, no, no. By not getting the first down, it would mean Baltimore only has to bleed the clock out and they win the game. That's it. Coach Fisher had faith in his defense at home, which is absolutely what you are supposed to do. ESPN should not allow TMQ to criticize this decision because it shows that Gregg does not even begin to understand football strategy.

But if Tennessee had gone for it and missed, his defense still would have needed a stop -- and Baltimore would have been pinned deep in its own end of the field.

If Tennessee did not get a stop then the Ravens win the game with it not being a tied game. I am not arguing this. To leave 3 points on the board in a 10-7 game is worth being fired immediately after the game or possibly before the next kick off.

If Tennessee went for it and made the first down, chances were good for a touchdown to take the lead while grinding clock, so the slow-moving Baltimore offense would have little time to reply.

If they did not make it, chances are good Baltimore bleeds the clock and wins. If you can't see this, then please never question any coach's strategy ever again.

To go for it on 4th down in this situation would have been absolutely stupid. In a close game at home I think every coach in the NFL rightfully kicks the field goal...especially when trying to run against the Ravens defense in the red zone.

Do NFL coaches make super-conservative decisions in part owing to media pressure? Coaches know if they make conservative decisions they won't be criticized; if they gamble and fail, they will be denounced.

No, that is not it. If a coach does something smart but still loses the game there is no need to criticize the coach...but if the coach does something stupid, like go for it on fourth down in the 4th quarter of a playoff game against a great run defense when a field goal will tie the game, then he knows he screwed up his job and should be criticized. Coaches want to put their team in a position to win, they don't care about being criticized...or at least shouldn't care about being criticized. TMQ is obsessed with thinking NFL head coaches care that they get criticized.

As Fisher sent in the field goal unit on this fateful play, CBS announcer Dan Dierdorf declared, "This is a no-brainer, they absolutely must kick here." When later this decision turned out desperately wrong, the announcers, of course, said nothing about their own previous advice.

Because there is nothing to be said, it is still good advice. It turns out the team lost the game but not because of that certain decision, that certain decision was smart. If I advise someone to not jump off a 200 foot cliff into a pile of rocks and they do it anyway but don't get hurt, it doesn't mean my advice was bad.

Dig this: If Collins throws for 3,159 yards this season -- he threw for 2,676 a season ago -- he would pass Joe Montana on the all-time passing list.

I bet he never makes it. I am not kidding. If I was Pete Rose, I would bet big money on this.

Next Week: NFC preview

I can't wait. Really this wasn't an AFC preview but more of an AFC Review from last year. There was almost no previewing done here, just talk about what happened last year. There are no predictions or even a preview of what may happen this year really, just Easterbrook talking about last year's statistics and team. Not only can I not understand the columns Easterbrook writes but the title of this TMQ doesn't make sense to me because it is not even an AFC Preview.


RuleBook said...

Good to have the TMQ review back.

With regards to the Jason Brown/Matt Birk situation, he makes perfect sense. In Easterbrookese, undrafted>career accomplishments>actual skill level.

What I find interesting is that, if you watched "Hard Knocks" last week, you would have seen the end was essentially that the Bengals seemed to be refusing to give Andre Smith more money than Derrius Hayward-Bey, thinking the DHB contract was out of line for his slot. Thus, according to how I interpreted what they said in the episode, the Bengals are trying to not comply with the slotting system.

He praises the Patriots for their draft accomplishments, but then goes back to discuss how they only used 2 first round picks on QBs in 1983 and 1993. That was well before the Belichick era, and those two QBs took the Pats to the Super Bowl. His argument about the Pats being successful without 1st round QBs just says that the 1st round QBs they got did well for them, so there was no need to keep investing 1st round picks in them. Brady is the exception for the Pats, not the rule.

Cowboys defensive starters draft count:
1st round: 6 (Spears, Ware, Spencer, Brooking, Newman, Jenkins)
2nd round: 2 (Olshansky, Hamlin)
4th round: 1 (James)
5th round: 1 (Sensabaugh)
7th round: 1 (Ratliff)
They also have another 1st as a backup in Bobby Carpenter. Thus, they have at least 9 1st or 2nd round picks on their defense. They also have 4 1st round picks on offense (Davis, Columbo, Jones, Williams) and 3 second rounders (Adams, Gurode, Bennett). Thus, out of 22 starters, the Cowboys have 14 from the 1st or 2nd round. These are just offhand numbers, so there may be more on the roster. I'm interested to hear the breakdown from everyone else's teams.

Finally, I am one of the most ardent supporters of going for it on 4th (I have actual numbers to back up my claims, not just anecdotes), but even I would have hung Fisher (who I really like) had he gone for it. I'm about to max out on my character count, but I'm sure I'll be addressing the 4th down issue during the season.

Bengoodfella said...

It is sort of good to have it back. I had almost forgotten how ignorant he could be. Easterbrook does love himself some undrafted free agents. Though to be fair, Matt Birk was drafted in the 6th round, so your equation makes sense, but Easterbrook should factor when the guy Brown was replaced by was drafted.

The Bengals need to comply with the slotting system, though I wasn't sure it was an actual system. Andre Smith needs to get into camp, what is a few million he doesn't get now. Is there an actual system for slotting or is it more of an unofficial agreement?

Great point about the Patriots and their choosing of QBs. There are so many things to argue about in a TMQ, I always miss some stuff. Brady really is the exception to the rule and really they had no need to invest a 1st round pick in a QB because they had Bledsoe and then Brady for the past 16 years.

Panthers defense starters...I will go with who actually would start if he wasn't injured:

DE: Peppers, Brayton (maybe)- 1st, 1st

DT: Lewis, Kemoeatu- 1st, undrafted

LB: Beason, Davis, Diggs- 1st, 1st, 4th round

CB: Gamble, Marshall- 1st, 2nd

S: Harris, Godrey- 6th, 3rd

So in total they have 6 1st rounders, 1 2nd rounder, 1 3rd, 1 4th, 1 6th, and 1 undrafted. I may get to the backups later. It's not that much off the Steelers makeup though.

KentAllard said...

I hate his stupid-ass nicknames for teams. And if Kerry Collins passes for more than 3,000 yds. this season, it will mean there is a new league rule limiting defenses to only using three players in coverage at a time.

If Collins hangs on long enough to pass Montana in yardage, it will mean...he has more career yards than a quarterback far, far better than he.

Bengoodfella said...

I bet Easterbrook thinks if Collins passes Montana on the all-time list this year, or if at all, that means Collins is as good of a quarterback or a better quarterback than Montana. I am sure if it happens he will discuss this and it will anger me.

I don't even understand his nicknames for some of these teams honestly. The Flaming Thumbtacks is one and there is Flying Elvii for another. It's just stupid and I think he should know it is.

RuleBook said...

I'm pretty sure Easterbrook wouldn't say that Collins is better than Montana. The reason is that in the Cutler trade, he said he'd prefer Orton, "the quarterback that wins." Thus, since Collins has a sub-.500 winning percentage, Easterbrook would prefer Montana. (Of course this would suggest that Easterbrook would show consisitency, which of course is a poor assumption)

What he apparently is arguing is that Collins should never be cut again because he will have more yards than Montana.

Chris W said...

Last season, Pittsburgh allowed 49 sacks -- only Cincinnati, Detroit and San Francisco were worse. Yet oft-sacked Pittsburgh won the Super Bowl, while two of the three least-sacked teams, New Orleans and Denver, did not make the playoffs. This is the kind of hidden indicator that must mean something -- if only TMQ knew what.

oh my what a difficult question. Well, all that we have to go on is sack numbers, so this is a toughie. If only we had access to a very very basic piece of information--such as whether Pittsburgh had a great defense and Denver and NO had lousy defenses!

If only we had access to that information. But we don't. So let's talk about fucking SACKS ALLOWED

Good GOD.

AJ said...

I think sacks allowed is a great stat for predicting how good a team will finish! I mean it has nothing to do with just throwing the ball away to avoid a sack, or dumping the ball off to a RB instead of taking a sack, or the QB running for 1 yard therefore avoiding a sack.

Nope, nothing like that at all, sacks are the be all end all to predict good and bad teams.

Also, Detroit served more beer then all but two teams last year, Oakland and Philly: HOWEVER, only one of those 3 teams made the playoffs. There must be something in that stat there that means something, I just can't figure it out.

Bengoodfella said...

Rulebook, that's a good reason why Collins will never be as good as Montana in TMQ's eyes. I can't keep up with all his misconceptions.

That's what annoys me the absolute most Chris. Easterbrook takes one piece of information, like sacks allowed, and then tries to figure out what it means without looking at any other numbers. He did the same thing with the top 10 active touchdown leaders. He didn't look to see how old they were, why they left their teams or who they were replaced by...he just assumed they were still good because they are in the top 10 of active TD leaders.

He's horrible. I don't know how he gets to write for ESPN. He wondered last week how Pitt won the Super Bowl w/o a great running game...well it's because they have a fucking awesome defense. That's why, but he only looks at one variable at a time.

AJ, sacks allowed can mean something when it comes to how effective the offensive line is or whether the QB should get rid of the ball quicker or not, but as Pitt proved, it can't always be an accurate predictor. This is another example of what I was talking about where he only looks at one variable at a time.

Nice ending paragraph. You should submit that to Easterbrook.

The Casey said...


DE: Abraham, Anderson - 1st, 1st
DT: Babineaux, Jerry - 2nd, 1st
LB: Peterson, Lofton, Nicholas - 2nd, 2nd, 4th
CB: Grimes, Houston - Undrafted, 2nd
S: Coleman, DeCoud - 5th, 3rd

So 3 1st, 4 2nd, 1 3rd, 1 4th, 1 5th and 1 undrafted. So not many first-rounders, but some of the second-rounders were fairly high. Also, I think that I'd prefer to have my higher picks in the front seven, but I don't really have numbers to back that up, just a feeling that it's easier to build a team from the lines outward than vice-versa.

Martin said...

He's criticizing Kubiak for 3 seasons of work, when he took over a bad team and seems to be turning it around. At least give the guy a shot at a "make or break" type season before bitching about him having a losing record TMQ.

Didn't we have a discussion last year about a list of players he made and it had similar problems? Where guys had requested trades, or had retired or signed free agent contracts, and he bitched about their teams letting them go? This guy is so clueless that he can't be taken seriously.

I too am a big proponent of going for it on 4th down. When I first started to read TMQ a few years ago, the one thing I loved was him calling out teams punting in the "maroon" zone. Then he decided he didn't want to put in something about each game because he wrote the columns for fun/as a sideline, and they took up a lot of time. Turns out he just wanted extra 2,000 words for lame semi-cultural references, and his columns went to complete shit. Now he bitches about things like the Titans kicking the field goal.

What TMQ doesn't want to deal with is that the Titans would be in about the same situation no matter what they did.

Make the first down, still haven't tied the score, but have 4 minutes to tie or take the lead. This is good, but you're still behind. You still have to score, and unless you can run 4+ minutes off the clock from that close in, the Ravens still get the ball with a chance to score.

Don't make the first down, you rely on your defense to stop them so you can get the ball back and try and tie or win. If they get a couple first down, you've probably lost.

Kick the field goal, tie the game, rely on your defense to stop them (the same way you are relying on if you don't make it) but the SCORE IS TIED. If the Ravens make a couple first downs, but don't haven't lost the game!

So in 2 of the 3 options, you are relying on your defense to do pretty much the exact same thing, except in one, you're tied, not losing. The third, you aren't tied, but you still have the ball, and will most likely to have to give the ball back either from scoring or failing another 4th down. It still all comes down to the Titan defense needing to make a stop, which they didn't.

Bengoodfella said...

I am with you Casey, I think it pays off more to spend early round picks on the front 7. The primary name of the game on defense is to get pressure on the QB, so you have to get guys who have the talent to do this.

Really, there is not a huge massive difference in a 1st and 2nd round pick, depending on where they are on the draft. The Falcons seems to have a somewhat similar set up to the Steelers on defense, with a few less 1st round picks and more 2nds. I knew the Steelers weren't completely off the charts with getting diamonds in the rough.

Martin, this is a make or break year for the Texans but that team was a mess on the defensive and offensive side of the ball when Kubiak too over. Not to mention they are in the same division as the Colts, which never helps. I think if the Texans go 8-8 again then Kubiak may be gone but I think he deserves this year and maybe one more to turn it all around. So no, TMQ should not necessarily criticize his coaching record.

We very well may have had a similar argument. I know we talked about the undrafted free agents or late round picks that he named at the end of last year. He is doing something similar here. He has a fascination with undrafted free agents and late round picks. I like how he conveniently missed Farrior was a 1st round pick.

I sometimes find it hard to argue with TMQ when talking about going for it on fourth down because sometimes he has a point. Otherwise he doesn't. It's similar to what someone told me last year about writing TMQ. They told me I wrote so much on it that is eventually kills what I am trying to say. It's the same thing with going for it on fourth down. He says it so much, he is getting to the point where he is saying teams should go for it when they clearly should not.

In the Titans situation, which we talked about last year as well, you have to kick a field goal there. You have to have faith in your defense and can't take a chance they stop you on fourth and one. Sure, you also need faith in your running game but to be down 3 points and not take a field goal at home is just bad coaching.

You are right, it's not like the Titans were going to be able to most likely burn 4 minutes of the clock in that situation either. The Ravens would get the ball back and if the Titans scored a touchdown, sure the Ravens would have a tough time, but the Ravens have a really good defense and I think you tie the game in that situation. It think it is incredibly gutsy to the point of stupidity not to.

RuleBook said...

My favorite article about going for it/not going for it is this. It should be noted, however, that just like the infamous 2-point chart, blindly following the chart at the end of that document with no respect to time left in the game is folly.

The game dynamics change at that point in the Titans game, where the Ravens are no longer trying to score, but rather to run the clock out. Thus, the expected value of going for it at that point is lower than it would be at a random point in the game, as a failed conversion would have a much stronger weight.

In the middle of the 3rd quarter, I'd say that obeying the chart is a great guideline. However, once the clock becomes an issue, the parameters change, and the negative weights involved in the opponent's offensive progress become heavier, thus decreasing the expected value of going for it on 4th.

I hope what I just said makes sense.

Bengoodfella said...

Wow, that article is terrifyingly similar to something I did when I majored in Economics in college. I say blindly following anything involved with a chart tends to be folly so I agree with you on that.

The situation must dictate the decision. If it is any time in the game, I would even say with more than 8 minutes left in the 4th quarter I would go for it at that spot, if I felt it was a good risk, but in this situation it is not a good risk.

A failed conversion in that instance holds a much higher weight because it could lead to the offense getting the ball back and having the opportunity to run the clock out.

As always, the situation dictates the decision and a decision to go for it in that situation and failing has much greater negative effects, which is why the Titans correctly chose to go for the field goal.

I think I understood what you said.

The Girl said...

Thanks, BGF, for tackling the monstrosity that is the Gregg Easterbrook TMQ column. Gregg's douchey pretentiousness is the reason I found this blog, along with Fire Jay Mariotti, KSK, etc. It was good to know there are rational people in this world that were also wondering how in the hell this man writes a column at ESPN.

I think if given the choice, I would fire the person at ESPN who hired him in the first place. Some executive who gets paid money to make decions read Gregg's previous work and thought "This man needs to be writing a football column for us! Maybe it can include 4,000 word tangents on intergalatic war and awkward/creepy references to pretty cheerleaders!" And remember, the person who hired Gregg also hired Bill Simmons, Jemele Hill, Scoop Jackson, etc. Yikes.

I am a Pats fan, and I agree with you that not making the playoffs last year was a case of tough luck, thems the rules. Oh, and he refers to the Pats as "Flying Elvii" because the helmet decal apparently resembles in some way the face of Elvis, and the helmet he is wearing is long in the back and tapered, which connotes "flying" to Gregg, and then he pluralized Elvis to Elvii. So basically his stupid nickname for the Pats refers to his interpretation of their helmet decal. He is HIGH-larious.

Bengoodfella said...

No problem, I enjoy the TMQ AFTER I have written it. Thinking about doing it gives me a headache. Same thing with a Simmons column. It's because I know I am going to have to pass over some parts of it for the sake of time and the reader's eyes. Plus, both tend to annoy me at times.

He is incredibly pretentious isn't he? I am not trying to be funny but I don't really know how he writes for ESPN. He is in no way qualified to do it. Maybe ESPN was concerned Page 2 may have some semblance of journalistic integrity and wanted to nip it in the bud quickly by hiring him.

Firing the ESPN executive who hired him in the first place is an interesting perspective because that person is solely responsible for the hiring. I am afraid if we got rid of that person, one more person would pop up in his/her place and hire more bad writers. Of course that is the risk you take when you fire Easterbrook also...there is really no wrong answer I guess. Maybe firing the executive would get the job done and put the rest on notice they need to bring actual talent in and not guys like Easterbrook.

When you look at the other stuff he writes, there is nothing on his resume that indicates he could be capable of writing about pro football. Absolutely nothing. I don't know how he got the job.

Don't get me wrong, I would be uber-pissed if the Panthers did not make the playoffs and an NFC West team did with an 8-8 record, but it is the rules now and with the divisional format I don't know of a way to change it.

Thanks for the explanation on the helmets, I don't pay attention to that stuff. I need to be more observant. I guess in Easterbrook's world his explanation makes sense as to why he calls them that but it still sounds like nonsense to me.

RuleBook said...

Regarding the nicknames. I actually think flaming thumbtacks is a pretty accurate description of the decal on the side of the Titans helmet. It's simply a circle with the Titans logo on it and flames coming out one part of it. It actually looks like a flaming thumbtack (that is not an Easterbrook original term. It was used long before he took credit for it).

Bengoodfella said...

Gregg Easterbrook is that you posing as Rulebook?

I think that is the lowest insult I have ever placed upon another human being. I googled the logo and it does sort of look like a flaming thumbtack...though you will never hear me about me admitting that again.

ivn said...

I agree that "Flaming Thumbtacks" is kind of funny (if only because going from the Oilers uniform/logo to the Titans uniform/logo was probably the biggest aesthetic downgrade in sports in the past 20 years, not to go all Paul Lukas here) but the rest of his nicknames are fucking tiresome.

and someone already beat me to the punch in saying that Eason and Bledsoe did help take the Patriots to two Super Bowls. Gregggg did remind me how happy I am at how the Patriots have drafted in the past decade--only two real first round duds (Maroney and Watson) in the bunch. Seymour, Wilfork, Warren, Mankins, Mayo = beasts. Daniel Graham couldn't catch a fucking cold but he was a damn good blocker. Merriweather started to come around at the end of last year. if there isn't someone they really want in the first round, they save money and trade down instead of talking themselves into someone who might not fit. did I want the Patriots to draft Vontae Davis? yes, but I'm still pleased at what they did.

given all the crap Gregggg writes about politics and complaining about Christmas and science fiction, he seems to think he's way too talented to write about sports. that actually seems par for the course for Page 2 though. it had Hunter S. Thompson and Ralph Wiley when it launched and now it hires anyone who awkwardly tries to shoehorn sports into race, pop culture, or politics.

Bengoodfella said...

Ivn, it is pretty clever that nickname, but from the earlier comments it is my understanding Easterbrook did not think of the name, he only repeats it. So I give him no credit. Yeah, the Pats did a pretty good job and they built a team the way I would personally build a team. Inside-out is the way to go in my mind...of course there are exceptions.

It is smart to keep trading back and getting picks if there isn't guys you want. It is sort of the opposite way the Panthers do it. They keep trading 1st round picks and hope either (a) the NFL is disbanded or (b) the world ends and they never get screwed by not having a first round pick.

I won't doubt Easterbrook is a smart guy, it's clear he knows a lot about a lot of things...but not football. I can't stand his inane observations that can't even come close to passing as any type of insight. He doesn't even bother to understand the NFL, he just makes observations and assumptions that are wrong.

ESPN does love shoe horning though don't they? They are the ones who hired Rush Limbaugh for a football pregame show...enough said.