Wednesday, October 14, 2009

15 comments TMQ: Does He Have to Write This Column Every Week?

I never intended to write a post about TMQ every week, but so far this year it has turned out that my queue of backed up bad journalism articles has been pretty empty on Wednesday when I get around to posting something. So here we are again on a Wednesday discussing TMQ and Gregg Easterbrook. There could be worse things that we could talk about I guess. This week Gregg contradicts himself and picks up a new corporate sponsor.

I forgot to mention last week that Easterbrook's TMQ is sponsored now by GMC Sierra. Does anyone else find it ironic that ESPN has placed a Miller Lite advertisment in a Bill Simmons column (this isn't ironic really, just another example of a sponsor in a ESPN column) and now Gregg Easterbrook is sponsored by an American car company, General Motors, that he regularly mocks for being bailed out by the federal government in his TMQ? I do feel like it is ironic. I guess they have enough money leftover from the bailout to sponsor TMQ. That takes what, $35?

Maybe you think football has been revolutionized by the spread offense, that passing is at an all-time high, that scoring is off the charts in big-college football.

No, no, no. That is Gregg Easterbrook who talks every single week about how awesome it is that the spread offense has taken over the NFL because it was originally used in high school football games. It's not us, it's you. Gregg Easterbrook, not us, is obsessed with advent of the spread offense and its application in the NFL.

"You know that assumption that I have repeatedly made in my columns? Well it turns out I was completely wrong about that assumption, but because you read my column I am going to assume you thought the same thing I did and make it seem like YOU, the reader, were the one with the misconception and not me."

NFL scoring is at or slightly below an average that has been remarkably consistent for 60 years.

I never said it wasn't.

Let me try this myself: Hey everyone, I know a lot of people who read this blog thought that the Red Sox were going to win the World Series, but it turns out you were wrong, they aren't going to.

(See what I did? I was wrong, but I blame you for reading what I wrote...that's what Easterbrook just did.)

In big-college football, scoring has indeed risen. But only a particular kind of scoring -- namely, football factories running up the score against nonconference or lower-division foes. The fad of rigged games against cupcakes has created an illusion of an explosion in Division I scoring. Factor out the cupcakes, and scoring trends revert to past decades.

Compelling evidence please. Nothing? Great. You are a misleading moron at this point.

If Gregg can't prove something happens in the NFL, he always falls back to college football to try and prove his theories. His way of proving the theory correct is to write the word "cupcake" repeatedly.

In his first game this season, Drew Brees tossed six touchdown passes. Evidence of an explosion in passing? Five NFL players have thrown seven touchdown passes in a game -- this first happened 66 years ago, when few of today's football enthusiasts had even been born, and last happened in 1969, just after the first moon landing. The seven-touchdown-passes-in-a-game club: Sid Luckman in 1943, Adrian Burk in 1954, George Blanda in 1961, Y.A. Tittle in 1962 and Joe Kapp in 1969. All seven-touchdown-pass games came from conventional two-receiver, two-back sets, not from any exotic offense. The crux was whether the teams had good blocking, open receivers and accurate passers.

The crux for Sid Luckman was also aided by the lack of any type of minority who was allowed to play the sport of football. I know this, I read about it in Sports Illustrated this week. It was a game of white boys throwing to white boys, which is sort of hard for me to take seriously to be honest. I am biased against those who played in times of prejudice in that fashion.

I don't know why Gregg assumes a normal two-back offense shouldn't have a lot of touchdown passes thrown. This isn't really shocking to hear a two-back set still has touchdown passes thrown out of it because running backs can catch a pass just like a wide receiver.

the Chicago Bears put up 488 yards passing that day. And good thing TMQ wasn't around then, because Luckman was still on the field, and still throwing, when it was Bears 49, Giants 7.

I am guessing Sid Luckman was still on the field because there wasn't a whole lot of backup quarterbacks located on the Bears roster. I googled this and couldn't find any information about the origination of the backup quarterback. I am mocking TMQ though, so if he doesn't have to use evidence I won't search too hard for mine either because I barely have enough energy to complete a whole TMQ as it is. It's not like the Bears probably had a ton of backup quarterback options necessarily (as always, correct me if I am wrong readers).

Also, why were the Bears lucky TMQ wasn't around? Would Easterbrook have confronted Luckman and the Bears coaching staff or does he think he mocks coaches and teams to the point they read what he writes and change the way they go about their jobs? I hope he realizes the drivel he writes every week has little to no effect on the NFL and what the coaches in the league do on a game-by-game basis.

Highest completion percentage by a quarterback? Ken Anderson (71 percent) in 1982, when quarterbacks almost never stood in the shotgun.

Because everyone knows you can only pass for a lot of yardage in the NFL if your quarterback is in the shotgun. Dropback passers can never pass for a lot of yardage as evidenced by the four examples of 7 touchdown games Gregg just used from 40-60 years ago when the quarterbacks were presumably not in the shotgun.

There's no doubt Division I college scoring is increasing -- teams averaged 20.6 points per game in 1978, then 23.8 points in 1988, then 25.5 points in 1998, rising to 27.2 points per game last season.

No one is arguing scoring is up in college football. The reason the scoring is up is what I would be interested in finding out if Gregg can figure out.

Is this scoring trend caused by the proliferation of spread and spread-option offenses?

Yes, it very well could be. Scoring is up in recent years and that coincides with the rise of the spread offense. We can't flat-out ignore this fact.

Such attacks hardly guarantee points. Spread-crazed pinball-machine-offense Oklahoma opened this season against BYU, a school that's been pass-wacky for a generation, and the final score was 14-13. The University of Virginia debuted a spread offense in its 2009 opener and proceeded to lose to Division I-AA William & Mary;

So obviously the spread offenses can't be the reason because Gregg just gave us two examples of football games where the spread offense didn't work. The fact a team that scored 51.7 points per game last year only scored 13 in the season opener is definitive proof the spread offense is not responsible for the high scoring in college football in Gregg's mind. This is just idiotic. He takes the exception and thinks it proves his theory about the rise of scoring in college football, which it doesn't.

All-passing spread-based Hawaii just played at Louisiana Tech, a traditional power-rushing team, and lost 27-6. Flip back two decades to the 1989 Holiday Bowl between BYU and Penn State. In that game, Ty Detmer threw 59 times and BYU put up 34 points, but the Cougars lost because Penn State scored 50 points with a traditional I-backfield power-rush attack.

Oh my God, there are two more examples of when the spread did not score 50+ points? Well obviously the spread offense is overrated and is NOT responsible for the rise in scoring in college football because 20 freaking years ago Penn State scored 50 points without using the spread. I believe Gregg is an educated guy, so why is he so stupid to think even 10 examples proves his theory when there could be a thousand other games over the last 20 years where the spread offense put up huge offensive numbers?

Last year's BCS champion, Florida, averaged 41.7 points in conference and bowl games, and 49 points in nonconference contests.

Yes, it is inflated, but by a touchdown. That's it. Not exactly evidence the "cupcakes" of the world playing great teams like Florida are responsible for the rise in scoring average in Division I football. I am not saying "cupcake" teams don't have an effect on the difference in scoring margin, they obviously do to a point, but what I am saying is that I don't see a huge difference in Florida's conference and non-conference scoring last year.

Last year, Oklahoma State averaged 40.8 points per game -- breaking down as 32.2 points in conference games, 52 points in nonconference games. Missouri averaged an impressive 42.2 points per game -- a figure bloated by a 54-point nonconference average, including a 52-3 laugher against cupcake Southeast Missouri State. Last year, Texas averaged 49.5 points per game outside its conference, 39.2 points inside. Penn State averaged 52.8 points in nonconference games, and 32.8 points in conference games, feasting on cupcakes, including Division I-AA Coastal Carolina. In 2007, Texas Tech averaged 57 points against nonconference foes, and 33.8 points inside its conference.

Ok, now this is some good data. What problem could I ever have with this data?

First, Gregg assumes any non-conference opponent a team plays is a "cupcake" team.

Second, Gregg assumes teams weren't playing "cupcake" teams back when scoring was lower, so teams may just be beating "cupcake" teams by more points of late. Believe it or not (since I never use data here), I am data guy. You can't just throw some bullshit numbers at me and expect me to believe you. Once I see a chart showing the exact "cupcake" teams these teams played during the year(s) in question, how much these good major conference teams beat these teams by and information showing the schedule the good major conference teams played in 1978, 1988, 1998 I think we have a better look at whether the "cupcake" teams are responsible for the scoring spike definitively or not. There is a good chance the older teams when the scoring per game was lower played "cupcake" teams as well, they just didn't beat those "cupcake" teams by as many points.

Check these past teams that either led the nation in scoring or won a national title, or both. 1970: Texas scored 38.3 points in conference and bowl games, 39 points in nonconference games. 1971: Nebraska scored 38 points in conference and bowl games, 39.6 points in nonconference games. 1972: USC scored 35.6 points in conference and bowl games, 45.5 points in nonconference games. 1972: Oklahoma scored 42 points in conference and bowl games, 44.8 points in nonconference games.

I know I am asking for a lot of information that probably can't be provided but how do I know these aren't cherry picked numbers? Sure, this seems to prove Gregg's point but he has a tendency to cherry pick things that happen in the NFL to prove his points, like when teams go for it on fourth down, so I don't exactly trust him to say teams playing "cupcakes" is the reason for the scoring spike in recent years. If someone pointed a gun to my head I would say the scoring spike would be caused by a combination of the spread offense, the decline of the traditional I-back offense, the abundance of more and more D-I and D-1A football programs, and greater disparity in team skills, but I have no proof and I don't know if Gregg has provided enough here to show him to be correct.

Another problem I have with the data Gregg is presenting here is that he assumes the conference teams these teams play are good teams, which they very well may not be. It is possible the teams listed played crappy non-conference AND conference teams. Maybe the conferences of today have stronger teams top-to-bottom, so there used to be no difference in points scored in and out of conference, but now more points are scored because more teams run a spread offense and the teams in-conference are stronger.

I am rambling, I hope everyone is still with me.

In the past, there was less conference/nonconference scoring differential because football factories considered it embarrassing to schedule teams that couldn't win

Ok, you can't read the minds of people so this is pure speculation. There could very well have been less "cupcake" teams available to choose from because there were fewer D-I/D-IA football teams at the time. I hate it when TMQ decides to give a reason for why something occurs that can't be proven.

It was roughly in the mid-1990s when cupcakes started appearing on the schedules of power teams. For instance, in 1996, Florida scheduled Louisiana-Lafayette and Georgia Southern; in 1997, Nebraska scheduled Akron and Central Florida.

As I have said repeatedly before, it is not easy for a team to schedule good opponents to play every week of the season. Some teams don't want to play a really good team early in the season, so they don't schedule them.

Money began changing hands the other way, with cupcakes paid handsome fees, often more than $500,000, to come to a football-factory stadium and get hammered.

God forbid a small school gets money to play a football game that helps keep the program running. I hope Gregg knows that a lot of D-I college football teams lose money. He probably doesn't know this.

I strongly advise you not to defy TMQ's law, Cold Coach = Victory. On a 30-degree day at Denver, Bill Belichick came out in a heavy winter parka plus woolen ski hat, with tassel; Josh McDaniels wore a hoodie with a baseball cap. At kickoff, seeing how they were attired, TMQ said, "This game's over." And yea, verily, it came to pass.

It was beyond stupid to look at what the coaches were wearing and say, "This game's over." I wonder how many times Gregg has said this and it hasn't been true? My guess would be this is the first time he got this prediction right. If I remember correctly Tom Coughlin was pretty bundled up for the Giants NFC Championship Game against the Packers in 2007 (I have already corrected my NFL year problem from two days ago) and the Giants won the game. In Gregg's world where one example can disprove a theory, that would disprove his "Cold Coach = Victory" theory.

With 15 seconds remaining until overtime, Denver faced a fourth-and-15 at midfield, with New England holding a timeout. Rush eight men and try to block the punt! You're not going to get a 90-yard touchdown return.

And what if Denver ran a fake punt in this situation? New England would be stuck with 2 guys covering whoever Denver has go out and catch the pass from the punter in the flat. What if one of the Pats players rushing the punter roughs him and gives Denver the ball back with a first down near field goal position? It could very well happen with 8 guys coming at the punter. There are risks to just rushing the punter with abandon.

Also, why couldn't New England get a 90-yard touchdown return? It is possible.

Rallying from a 21-0 deficit, Houston reached first-and-goal on the Arizona 6 with 1:27 seconds remaining, trailing 28-21, with the defending NFC champion in danger of becoming a Tennessee-like collapse case. A run made it second-and-goal on the 1, then Arizona called timeout to preserve its own chance for a winning field goal. A run was stuffed, then Arizona called timeout again...Then Houston called timeout, and on fourth-and-goal from the 1, ran a plain vanilla straight-up-the-middle dive...Besides a sour pass and a predictable final play, all those timeouts seemed to drain the momentum from the Houston comeback.

Yes, Houston should have done something to prevent the Cardinals from calling two timeouts...because there is so much that could be done about that. The timeout called by Houston was necessary to set up a final play. It would be dumb not to call a timeout there if the Texans had one. This was bad play calling, there is nothing that could be done about the timeouts.

(Here's a play we talked about in the comments yesterday. Lo and behold TMQ commented on it.)

Vrabel catching the play-fake at the goal line is not exactly a state secret. A picture of Vrabel catching a touchdown pass in the left corner of the end zone off a goal-line play-fake is on the cover of the 2005 "NFL Record and Fact Book," the league's official annual! Dallas was still surprised.

Because every year NFL teams should look at and study the cover of the "NFL Record and Fact Book" to see what play is featured on the cover, since that play will most likely be seen again in another NFL game. If it is a picture of Tom Brady throwing a touchdown to Randy Moss, well a team should have studied the cover and known Brady was going to throw a touchdown to Randy Moss. Gregg Easterbrook has unreal expectations of what NFL players should and should not know on the football field.

He expects them to remember if a linebacker lining up as an eligible receiver HAS gotten the ball on the goal line before and expect the defense to expect that player to get the ball again under his "NFL Record and Fact Book" theory, but if that linebacker is lining up as an eligible receiver and HAS NEVER gotten the ball before, he would expect the defense to expect that player to get the ball under his "teams should go with the guy who never gets the ball on the goal line" theory. A football team rarely has hours to think about a situation on the football field like Easterbrook has to second guess decisions made by teams. Usually a team has 40 seconds or less to make a defensive or offensive play call, so they can't think of EVERYTHING that could happen in that short time span.

This summer TMQ supposed, "The Dolphins may end up appearing in more entertaining contests than any other NFL team this season." So far, that has held true -- Miami's close "Monday Night Football" loss to Indianapolis in Week 2 and this week's close "Monday Night Football" win over Jersey/B number among the most entertaining games of 2009.

That's true, unless you want to count the Cincinnati Bengals as the team that has appeared in the more entertaining contests this year than any other team since all of their games have been decided in the last minutes of each game. If you ignore that, then yes, maybe Miami has the crown and Gregg is right...which is really all he wants.

TMQ has been warning that Rex Ryan's all-out blitzing might work now and then, but it also will backfire -- the big third-down conversion on Miami's winning drive came against a seven-man blitz.

I don't know if a seven-man blitz counts as an all-out blitz, it may, so I will ignore that. What I won't ignore is how Gregg again uses one example of a blitz not working to prove that blitzing will not work in the long term.

Then Gregg goes on and on about how bad the space program and NASA is for the United States. Really it does seem like a waste of money, of course I also don't know a whole lot about the pros and cons of the space program, but I don't get why Easterbrook includes his thoughts about this in a column about the NFL. It's not like he doesn't have other forums to express his views on NASA, why does he waste space in TMQ doing it? I could understand if this was the only column he writes, for example, I can stand a little rambling about baseball from Peter King because it's not like he writes a column about baseball. Gregg Easterbrook writes other columns and has other forums for his thoughts on the space program, so he should leave his thoughts there in my opinion.

What to make of the Flaming Thumbtacks' collapse? Since the moment Tennessee took the field in the playoffs holding home-field advantage throughout the postseason, Tennessee has lost six straight. The loss of Albert Haynesworth cannot be the explanation, as his new team is struggling.

(Bengoodfella shaking his head disapprovingly)

Just think about the cause and effect problems that Gregg Easterbrook is having here. He thinks the problem with Tennessee can't be the loss of Haynesworth because the Redskins stink with him as well. This is another case of Gregg taking something and just seeing black and white instead of the shades of grey that are there. Tennessee should be a more talented team this year than the Washington Redskins are this year, just based on last year's record. The reason the Redskins stink is not because of Albert Haynesworth. He adds value to the team...value the Titans lost in free agency. I don't even know how to explain this but the fact Haynesworth's new team isn't good doesn't mean he isn't at least PART of the reason the Titans are not playing well. Gregg assumes both the Redskins and Titans have equal talent on their rosters for this year so Haynesworth provides equal value to both teams, which is not true. He may have meant more to the Titans because he is the missing puzzle piece for their defense, while in Washington he is just a good player on a struggling defense.

Now it's fourth-and-1 on the Tennessee 46, and that cannot be the punt team trotting onto the field! Fisher seems to feel burned by a failed fourth-and-1 in last year's playoffs. But that was then; this is now. Fortune favors the bold! I scarcely need tell you Indianapolis drove the other way for a touchdown.

If you scarcely need to tell us, why did you just tell us? On Sunday the Panthers went for it on fourth-and-one and fumbled the ball on the 1 yard line. Fortune favored the bold there didn't it?

(Of course for full disclosure, Julius Peppers made a cameo appearance two plays later and tackled Portis in the end zone for a safety...still the Panthers went for it on fourth down and nothing really good came of it because the 2 points for the safety is less than 3 points for kicking the field goal. The Panthers also punted after receiving the free kick, so fortune did not really favor the bold here.)

Hidden plays are ones that never make highlight reels, but stop or sustain drives. Baltimore leading 7-3, the Ravens sacked Palmer on third-and-8. Domonique Foxworth of Baltimore was called for holding, on a play on which Palmer hardly had a chance to look downfield. TMQ doesn't like the current defensive holding rule -- a fourth-and-19 at the Cincinnati 26 suddenly was a first-and-10 at the Cincinnati 42. (The theory is that unless a first down is automatic, defenses can hold willy-nilly on third-and-long; but there's got to be a better rule.)

This was not a hidden play. This was a big penalty and does show up in the box score. I hate the holding call as well but it is true defenses will hold all they want on third down if a first down is not automatic. If it were a 5 to 10 yard penalty a defender could take the chance on a play longer than a 3rd-and-5 or 3rd-and-10 in the hopes he gets away with it.

Sarah Palin has an instant book out next month, and in keeping with the Unified Field Theory of Creep, it's already on bestseller lists though no volumes actually have been shipped from the warehouse.

This Unified Theory of Creep has to go away forever. The reason this book is on bestsellers lists is because people have pre-ordered copies of the damn book and had their credit card charged for these copies, therefore the book has sold copies. I swear Gregg Easterbrook has to be the most annoying person to know personally. If he is not questioning the realism of science fiction movies, he is questioning why books that aren't in the consumer's hands yet are on bestseller lists. He's like an inquisitive, yet obnoxious 7 year old who has to know "why" for everything.

Normally the immutable law Cold Coach = Victory doesn't come into play until November; But sharp-eyed reader Thon Morse of Austin, Texas, noticed during last week's big Packers at Vikings game, held inside the Metrodome -- kickoff temperature 68 degrees -- Brad Childress was wearing a polo shirt, while Mike McCarthy had on a zipped-up varsity jacket. Needless to say, McCarthy's team did not win.

I don't care if this is supposed to be tongue-in-cheek or not. There is absolutely no correlation between a coach under/overdressing for a football game and whether his team wins. There is none.

For an $8 billion enterprise to pay cheerleaders $100 a game, then use their images in national advertising without further pay, ought to embarrass the NFL. True, players' contracts include a clause that signs away some of their rights to their images under some circumstances. But players receive an average of $1.9 million per year. What they're signing is a good deal. What the cheerleaders are signing is exploitation.

This is not the worst case of exploitation I have ever witnessed. In fact, I don't know if I would call it exploitation. I am glad Gregg is here to take up the case of the NFL cheerleaders.

After the touchdown, Carolina led 18-17 and went for two. Steve Smith lined up wide left with Kenneth Moore in the slot; Moore slammed into DeAngelo Hall, who was attempting to cover Smith, who went underneath and caught the deuce. This was an obvious pick play and should have been flagged; Moore looked like a pulling guard.

It was an obvious pick play but I am also pretty sure it was completely legal. Neither the officials, the Redskins players or the announcers seemed to have a problem with the way this pick was run. I am pretty sure one of those three would have noticed something wrong if this play were in fact illegal.

(Here is where Rulebook may be able to help us...I googled it for 5 minutes and came up with nothing of substance about pick plays by wide receivers.) It was a legal play because the ball had yet to be in the air when Moore initiated the pick, thereby he essentially became a de facto blocker, where as if Delhomme had thrown the ball before Moore picked Hall then it would have been called illegal. I think I have that right, but no one complained so I have a feeling Gregg has his complaint of his incorrect. It's the same principle as a wide receiver screen...which this play essentially was. I think I have this right, but again I couldn't find the exact rule. Regardless no one seemed to have a problem with this particular play.

Buck-Buck-Brawckkkkkkk No. 1: Facing fourth-and-1 on the Washington 43 in the first quarter, winless Carolina came out as if to go for it, but all that happened was Jake Delhomme barking signals hoping to draw the Redskins offside. Don't try a gimmick that never works anywhere -- be a man and go for it! The home crowd at Bankers' Bonuses Federal Giveaway Stadium booed loudly, as it should have, as Carolina took a delay of game penalty, then sent the punter onto the field.

Needless to say the Panthers went on to win the game. Wait, they won the game? But I thought fortune favored the bold and a winless team that doesn't go for it will always be punished by the Football Gods? In fact the Football Gods smiled on the Panthers for nearly the entire fourth quarter, despite this chicken punt call. Gregg's entire theory is falling apart before our very eyes!

Davenport adds that Chu's security detail arrived in a Ford Excursion, a mega-SUV that gets less than 10 mpg and emits seven to eight tons of greenhouse gases annually. Chu himself has said artificial climate change could make entire states uninhabitable and that "I am hoping the American people wake up" to the danger of greenhouse gases.

I am not exactly for everyone in government getting a security detail, and I read an article about Chu in Time Magazine and he seemed like kind of a pompous environmental ass so I find it kind of funny he is a hypocrite in this fashion.

Single Worst Play of the Season -- So Far: San Francisco trailing 35-10, Dre' Bly of the Squared Sevens intercepted a pass and saw green in front of him. Bly started showboating for the home crowd at his own 40, then was caught from behind by Roddy White -- one of the league's fastest players, the sort of thing Bly is paid to know -- and fumbled.

Three things about this play:

1. Dre' Bly is paid to play cornerback in the NFL, not know the 40 yard sprint times of every single player in the NFL. He shouldn't have showboated but he also shouldn't have known Roddy White's 40 yard time.

2. Roddy White is fast but at 4.47 he isn't one of the fastest players in the NFL. That's fast but I would doubt he is among the 50 fastest players in the NFL with that Combine time. I could be wrong because that is a fast time, but I would consider some of the fastest players in the NFL to be those who are faster than 98%-99% of all other NFL players. I don't know if a 4.47 gets him in this company.

3. Dre' Bly celebrated too early and showboated a lot? What else do you expect from a UNC Tar Heel grad?

I am proud to make it through another TMQ. Tell me if I missed something. I feel like TMQ always causes me to start rambling like a homeless man about the issues he brings up.


Martin said...

Gregg seems totally oblivious that cupcakes have been scheduled for at least 35 years. His idea that it's a 90's thing is plain wrong. With larger schedules, the chance to schedule an extra cupcake or two has occurred, but it's not like they weren't being scheduled in the 70's.

He can talk all he wants about the scoring being up in non-conference games, but I think the big difference in in conference games in places like the Big 12, which used to seem to have tons of 21-17, 24-10 games, and now I see 42-33 a lot more often. He doesn't provide ANY statistical evidence other then averages and hearsay. Nothing to really compare what used to happen with what is happening now. He's such a pathetic stat spinner.

KentAllard said...

Why didn't Houston win? They went for it on 4th down, but maybe you don't get credit for if you have no choice.

Football powers have always had cupcakes on the schedule. In '73, Alabama beat VPI (now Virginia Tech) 77-6, and I think the same year Auburn beat Louisville 73-0. Those teams are respectable now, but they were cupcakes then.

As far as Luckman running up the score, what little I've read indicates the concept of letting up so as not to embarrass the other team in a blowout is a relatively modern concept. Back then, you took your beating like a man.

As far as the increased scoring, with no evidence behind me, I'd conjecture it might be the result of scholarship limitations. With only 85 slots, there may be a slight tendency to load the offense with more skilled players, whereas when you had 250 players on scholarship, you had plenty to choose from.

Bengoodfella said...

Gregg is oblivious to the fact teams have scheduled cupcake teams for decades. I think sort of like you do in that there has been more chances to schedule cupcakes because there are more cupcakes out there.

It would be a tough project to actually measure the reason for the difference in scoring differentials among conference and non-conference teams. He can't just grab a couple of teams from 1972 to show the differentials weren't that bad as compared to now. I am open to him proving me wrong, but I don't think the cherry picked examples he chose proves anything to me.

Kent, you get no credit if you have no choice to go for it on fourth down. The Football Gods don't care about that type of fourth down call. I am glad you have a few scores that don't prove too much but at least show cupcakes have been scheduled for decades.

Maybe sportsmanship is a new thing. I didn't know if it was the absence of the backup QB or a different attitude about throwing touchdowns late in the game to blow out a team even further.

The scholarship idea for why there is such a difference is a good one. I hadn't thought about that. Your point also helps me to think it is a case of several variables contributing to the scoring increase and not just one thing, like scheduling easier teams.

RuleBook said...

You left this out:
Stats of the Week No. 5: Cincinnati went 14 quarters without scoring an offensive touchdown -- then scored two in the second half against Baltimore.

Cincinnati scored 2 passing TDs against Cleveland the previous week, including one in the 4th quarter. The week before that, they scored 2 offensive TDs against Pittsburgh. In the last 3 quarters against Green Bay, they scored 3 offensive TDs. Thus, in the 14 quarters before the 4th quarter of the Ravens game, Cincinnati scored SEVEN offensive TDs. That's an error so big I can't believe even Easterbrook would make it. And even today, it hasn't been corrected.

I would imagine the spike in the most recent years is due to the advent of college OT. My guess is every overtime period averages over 10 additional points over a regulation game, as most teams can make a FG from that distance, so overtime typically ends with one team scoring a FG and one scoring a TD.

One reason teams likely scheduled fewer cupcakes in the past is that they played a shorter schedule, and thus had fewer non-conference games.

He expects them to remember if a linebacker lining up as an eligible receiver HAS gotten the ball on the goal line before and expect the defense to expect that player to get the ball again

Actually, I'll support this. When you scout another team, you should be aware of the specific plays certain players run. I know when I hear that Vrabel is in the game on the goal line, I think "they're going to throw it to him," and I think I've been right every time. The Cowboys should have known and expected it. I'll agree with Easterbrook (not because of his cover reason, just because good scouting entails knowing the opposing players' tendencies).

As far as the pick play is concerned, I researched it, and from what I read, this is what I pieced together.

Offensive pass interference can occur at any time in a passing play, even before the ball is thrown, as long as a forward pass is thrown at some point in the play. A WR is only allowed to engage the defender in a blocking manner up to 1 yard beyond the line of scrimmage. Any kind of downfield blocking before the pass is interference. Thus, a legal pick play must be done in a way that makes the receiver have to run around the defender. The defender cannot be blocked by the downfield player.

Anonymous said...

I was an avid reader of Peter King and Easterbrook until I found this blog, now I can't believe I was so blind.

Bengoodfella said...

Rulebook, if I got paid for this I would pay you for what you do. I can't believe Easterbrook missed that stat about the Bengals not scoring an offensive touchdown for 14 quarters. I should have paid more attention to that and not glossed over it like I did. That's horrible. How did he even think the Bengals were 4-1 with not scoring an offensive touchdown for 14 quarters. I remember the 2000 Ravens did that, but that was a fantastic defense, much better than the Bengals defense this year.

Overtime is your theory for the spike in scoring? That is a good theory as well. Again, it goes to show me the spike is about more than just "cupcake" teams being played by very good teams. Good point about teams having to play more non-conference games now too. That's also a possibility. I knew it wasn't just one thing.

Yeah, the Cowboys should have known the ball would go to Vrabel. I was covertly trying to refer to when Easterbrook expected a team last year to remember the opposing team had a player who fumbled on the goal line and he may get the ball again (or something like that) and him complimenting the Falcons for getting the ball to Jason Snelling on the goal line. I didn't do a very good job of writing that sentence. The Cowboys should expect when Vrabel comes in the game he may get the ball, but otherwise I don't think they remember the play was on the cover of the stats book. I was aiming to comment on how Gregg expects teams to pay attention to players who rarely score on the goal line and missed badly in explaining it.

As far as the pass interference goes, what you found explains it to me. Moore engaged Hall on the 1 and a half yard line (or close enough) for a two point conversion so it wasn't pass interference. I thought it was a clean play because Easterbrook is the first one to say it wasn't a clean play. In fact, I think Brian Billick complimented Moore on his block and I would think he would complain if it was dirty.

Anon, I am not trying to turn anyone against Easterbrook or King. Obviously I am an avid reader for different reasons and they can be right about things...sometimes...but often I do have issues with things they discuss. Thanks for reading and feel free to contribute if you agree/disagree with me.

Martin said...

To Anon. Right or wrong, Ben writes 'em up and the rest comment on them. If they deserve kudos, we'll be the first to give it to them. Part of the outrage that stems from the 20 or so of us that comment comes from the fact that Peter King used to be better, TMQ wasn't a complete asshat a few years ago, and Simmons could write an entertaining and semi-thoughtful column. These guys are all about the slap-a-stamp on it and mail-it-in now though.

I like most of what Pat Forde writes for ESPN. Is he wrong sometimes, sure. Does he make silly statements on occasion, yup. But he's not a pretentious ass about it. Mostly he makes his point, says his stuff, and goes home.

Between P.King bitching about his free coffee and TMQ just completely making shit up about how often a team has scored in 14 quarters, it's open season though.

Bengoodfella said...

Martin, that is about right. I actually never intended on covering Peter King every week and then I learned I really like doing it, but I don't know if I want Easterbrook and TMQ to be a weekly thing or not.

I actually have never liked Peter King to be honest. I remember writing him emails even 7-8 years ago about what a moron he was. I never read TMQ until lately because it is just a lot of words.

If Martin likes Pat Forde, I actually have to say I like Mark Bradley of the AJC because he doesn't believe in sacred cows (like Bobby Cox), calls them like he sees them and writes well in my opinion and I make a point of reading Gregg Doyel. I don't know if I like him or not but he changes his mind (which isn't always flip flopping but sometimes shows you have an open mind) and he is never boring. I feel like he puts thought into his columns. There are others I like as well.

I used to love Simmons. He just gradually became unbearable to me because of his constant homerism and I started to wonder if he knew anything about sports that didn't involve his favorite teams.

Anyway, it is open season on Peter King and TMQ. They drive me crazy.

vgcatano said...

Easterbrook has a point about the cheerleaders. $100 a game is probably less than the beer vendors make. However, one should note that most of the exploitation is coming from people like Easterbrook who drools over them in his column each week. I'd hate for him to have to feel guilty about who he is masturbating over.

dan said...

You forgot to mention the contradiction TMQ had in this weeks column. He opens saying how spread offenses are overrated and many of the records were set with "standard" offenses then later on he proceeds to rip Houston for a run play up the middle that didn't work. But TMQ, I thought plays that werent pass wacky and that happen on 4th down are always supposed to work!

I still remember the exact moment I realized Peter King was an idiot. I cant find the link (albeit I didnt look very hard) but its when he was writing about the randy ratio in minnesota with mike tice as coach. He predicted in all seriousness that he thought Moss was going to catch something like 150 passes and some insane amount of yards. He wrote it like it was gospel and it wasnt tongue in cheek at all. It was from that point on that I stopped reading MMQB.

dan said...

Ah. I found it.

Do the math. Tice says Moss will be the primary read on at least 40 percent of the pass plays this year. The Vikings called approximately 650 pass plays last year (555 attempts, 47 sacks -- and figure at least half of the 88 quarterback runs were designed to be passes but the protection broke down and the quarterback had to run). If Moss is the primary read on 40 percent of those, that's 260 times the ball is snapped with the idea of getting it to Moss. If on three-quarters of those plays Moss gets the ball thrown to him, that's 195 reception opportunities. If Culpepper completes 64.2 percent of his passes, as he did last year, that works out to 125 catches. If Moss averages 16.5 yards per catch (he had a 17.5-yard average last year, but let's knock that down a yard because he'll be doing a few more intermediate things this year), that would be 2,063 yards. If he averages the same one touchdown per 5.8 catches in his career, that would give him 22 touchdowns.

Catches: 125.

Yards: 2,063.

Touchdowns: 22.

That my friends is a definition of a moron.

Martin said...

I know I could look it up, but just going off remembered highlights, I would bet good American cashey money that there are more punts returned for touchdown then are blocked, much less blocked for a touchdown or blocked and successful Hail Mary on the next play, each year. There is absolutely no reason they couldn't return a punt for a touchdown.

Totally off topic. I finally have MLB Network, and while I like it, the 8 or so commentators seems like ESPN-ish overkill. Mostly though I can't stand Mitch Williams and Barry Larkin. I've had it two weeks and already I'm gritting my teeth whenever they are on. (On the flip side, getting Harold Reynolds back is nice. )

Larkin has already used such gems as "The Phillies use all 27 outs, they just grind it out, never waste an at bat. They jsut find a way to beat you." Followed by a Joe Morgan-esque. "The Phillies are a incredibly streaky team. They can all go in a slump at the same time, or all come out of it and be hot at the same time."

I would think that streaky teams have large chunks of time where they aren't grinding out anything except their teeth. Watching how many strike outs they were showing as he was talking, it seems also that they don't seem to have that grind it out, make every out count, mentality either.

Bengoodfella said...

vgcatano, I actually had something in the post about what you were talking about with the cheerleaders. I thought it was ironic he was bitching about exploitation of cheerleaders when he drools over them every week. Then I thought to myself that may be a stretch of a statement, but I feel better about wanting to write it now that you have said something similar. The cheerleaders are underpaid but they are probably as much exploited as being there for the fantasies of Gregg Easterbrook.

Dan, that is something in the post that I missed. I always feel like I miss something or gloss over something. I almost want to give myself two days to digest TMQ but that is too much time.

The Randy Ratio. I had forgotten completely about that. I think I actually remember reading that column and thinking as he was going through those numbers, this will absolutely not happen...and of course it didn't. I really hope Peter King didn't believe that would work. There is more to football than just focusing on your primary receiver anytime you want and throwing the ball to him. Those were some insane numbers for Moss that are really hard to take completely serious, especially since he was famous at the time for taking plays off.

Martin, the Patriots were in a tough situation there but I see two bad things that could happen when they rush the punter which could give the Broncos the ball back in field goal range. It is nice to want to go after the punter but setting up a good return and making sure there is no roughing the punter call is important as well.

I love MLB Network and probably most of my love for it is because I hate Baseball Tonight. I usually watched the shows that have four guys at the desk, which of course I can't remember what it is called. Williams sort of annoys me but if that tells you how much I hate Baseball Tonight, I would still rather listen to Mitch Williams than baseball shows on ESPN.

Most of my love for MLB Network doesn't come from actual good analysis but it comes from the fact they actually focus on ALL the teams and do live cut ins every night. It's just a fun channel to watch for that reason.

Larkin is wrong when he says the Phillies grind out at bats. I don't really think of them as a team that does that because of their power and strikeouts. It's like when analysts don't know what to say, they just lean on hyperbole. If they are streaky then there is probably not a lot of grinding going on.

Jeff said...

Rulebook - The Bengals "stat" is still not fixed. Great catch.

My jaw dropped when I read the Albert Haynesworth comment and I could not focus for the rest of the column.

Bengoodfella said...

Jeff, I almost quit reading at the part about Albert Haynesworth. I am not sure he realizes each team has different levels of talent. I would love to see Peyton Manning go to a crappy team and not play as well and watch TMQ question whether he is any good or not.