Tuesday, November 17, 2009

19 comments TMQ: Easterbrook Sides With Belichick

One time only, let's see if I can do TMQ on a Tuesday. I usually don't want to sacrifice quality and give myself time to write, but today I say "screw it." Quality is overrated anyway.

Tuesday Morning Quarterback has been stumping for years on the notion that head coaches should go for it more often on fourth down, even if the ball is in their own territory.

40%-60% of the time TMQ has been incredibly wrong in thinking teams should go for it on fourth down in their own territory. The circumstances have to be right and I think the circumstances were right for Belichick here.

Had it worked, Belichick might have floated off the field and directly into the Hall of Fame in Canton.

I think we are overstating the importance of this play call a little bit. Belichick would have still be subject to the waiting period before he can be inducted into the NFL Hall of Fame and even if he wasn't subject to this waiting period this wasn't that important of a game. It was an important call in the realm of the game and maybe this NFL season, but as usual sportswriters are giving it more importance than it deserves because it was New England-Indianapolis playing.

On the night, the Patriots had averaged 6.6 yards per play, so the chance of gaining 2 yards was auspicious.

In all the ways that have been used so far to measure if the Patriots should have gone for this or not, Gregg Easterbrook has found probably one of the worst metrics...average yards per play is great but fourth-and-two is a special situation that probably doesn't adhere itself to the usual yards per play measurement being relevant.

More importantly, had New England punted, Indianapolis' fast-paced offense would have had the ball in decent field position, with two minutes to win the game.

That is pure speculation. Chris Hanson could have punted the ball 60 yards and pinned the Colts inside their own 20 yard line, he could have gotten off an average punt or he could have shanked it. The point is, we don't know, so this is speculation. The Colts may have had horrible field position or fumbled the kick. My point is that we don't really know, so Gregg shouldn't assume he knows what would have happened.

Belichick had just seen Indianapolis, on its previous possession, go 79 yards for a touchdown in 1:40, without using a timeout.

This may have impacted Belichick's decision but that was also the previous drive so it wasn't necessarily relevant to what could have/would have happened if the Colts had gotten the ball back. The Patriots had also stopped the Colts in the second half on a few occasions. It's useless to speculate what would have happened after the ball got punted, we need to focus on what happened on the fourth-and-two call.

It's fun to speculate but really no one knows what the Colts would have done with a longer field. If they would have fumbled the punt or what would have happened. We can guess, but the real question is if the fourth-and-two call was correct. I think through the long discussion we had yesterday in the comments, the decision by Belichick was pretty much a wash.

In 2007, AccuScore did thousands of computer simulations of the punt-or-go-for-it question for TMQ. One finding was that between your own 21-yard line and your own 35, you should go for it on fourth-and-2 or less.

Frustratingly, the Colts would have probably gotten the ball in this range without a return, which would make the decision worth if for Belichick. But, with a punt return the Colts may have gotten the ball past the 35 yard line making Belichick's decision not worth it according to this simulation. So it is still hard to determine if Belichick's decision would have been worth it because we don't where the ball would have been spotted after the return...if there was one.

Playing defense is more tiring than playing offense, and the Pats were tired.

When I am trying to do a TMQ on Tuesday, these are the type of comments I just have to shake my fist at and curse under my breath in its general direction.

On the previous Indianapolis series, the Colts' offensive line had been shoving the New England front seven around. Even second-year middle linebacker Jerod Mayo, who ought to be bursting with energy, looked exhausted and was jogging during plays rather than sprinting.

Jerod Mayo had been playing defense all game at this point, why should he be bursting with energy? These are football players who are conditioned to be play at a high level for 60 minutes every Sunday, when a player is tired he is tired and age doesn't always have something to do with it. It's not like playing football in the backyard with your uncles on Thanksgiving Sunday where you are still running around while they are tired because they are older. Mayo had every right to be tired no matter his age, because as Easterbrook just said, playing defense is tiring and he had been playing it all day.

Belichick correctly calculated that if he punted, the hot Indianapolis offense was likely to beat his tired defense -- while if he went for the first down, New England was likely to win.

I will argue with the assumption the Colts were likely to beat the Patriots defense. I haven't seen too many statistics that tell me the Colts were likely to score a touchdown. Everything I have seen says it is a wash or is unable to be calculated due to speculation over where the punt would have caused the Colts offense to start the drive from.

And bear in mind, though the fourth-down try failed, Belichick might still profit down the road. By being hyper-aggressive, he challenged his young Patriots offense to show it can finish games. TMQ contends that a team can be better off going for the first down and failing -- which challenges the team -- than shrugging and punting.

This is such horseshit. Using Gregg's own worthless logic here, by challenging the offense to do better and causing them to get more confidence, Belichick has also not challenged the defense and given them the message he doesn't think they can stop the best the NFL has to offer when it comes time to do it...wouldn't this hurt their confidence? The knife cuts both ways. I am not saying the Patriots defense was insulted by this call by Belichick or that the Patriots defense is going to have it's feelings hurt. If Gregg thinks the Patriots offense got challenged because of the faith Belichick had in them, then the Patriots defense theoretically could have gotten insulted in a way with this call, so there could have been a confidence trade-off. I am not saying there was a confidence trade-off because the Patriots defense could have been pumped up Belichick had faith they could stop the Colts offense from 30 yards out. Gregg just sees situations with blinders on and it annoys me.

This call may have no effect on the rest of the year, but of course Easterbrook is going to say that anything positive the Patriots do from here on out is because of this play call. You can't win with him. If the Patriots failed, it pumps the team up for later, and if the Patriots converted then the team has won the game and it was a good call. The constant is that Gregg Easterbrook is always full of shit.

Former Patriots linebacker Tedy Bruschi, now an ESPN analyst, denounced Bill Belichick for "failing to show faith in his defense." So it's wrong to show faith in your offense?

No, it's not wrong to show faith in your offense. The problem lies in the fact that in a situation where most coaches would punt and rely on the defense to hold the other offense from scoring, Belichick chose to keep the offense on the field and go for it on fourth down, in essence giving the hint to the defense he didn't think they could stop the Colts or giving the hint to the defense he has so much confidence in them he thinks they can stop Peyton Manning from anywhere in the field. That's why it is stupid to speculate on the feelings of football players in situations like this. It can easily go two ways. It's not wrong to show faith in the offense but this is not a black and white situation and the defense may be a little insulted they didn't get a chance to be in a better position to save the game.

Part of being treated by the media as great -- whether in sports, politics or culture -- is taking pains to shift blame to others. Belichick didn't shift the blame -- what's the matter with him? A core reason coaches order short-yardage punts is that if a fourth-down try fails, they will be criticized -- whereas, if the ball is punted and then the defense surrenders a score, players get the criticism.

I actually 100% agree with this paragraph. Well written and said. See, I can be nice to Gregg Easterbrook if he isn't a dumbass.

NFL, NCAA, NFHS: Unwind a bit. Sports is a form of entertainment, so get rid of the silly anti-celebration rule. Taunting the opponent should always draw a flag. Jumping up and down in happiness should be encouraged!

This is where TMQ is wrong. Sports are not entertainment. Sports are a billion dollar business and they expect players to compete and still be professional and boring. It doesn't always make sense, but sports is not entertainment anymore. We would all like to see the game spruced up a little bit, but then some player would take it overboard and we would want the sprucing up taken down a notch or two.

The defending champion Steelers are now 4-0 when Troy Polamalu plays a full game, 2-3 when he does not.

Cincinnati's kickoff return touchdown, the game's big play, was by Bernard Scott -- one of two players drafted last spring out of obscure Abilene Christian. Both are having an impact right away in the NFL

Here goes Gregg again talking about unwanted and non-drafted players. Of course when talking about Polamalu he fails to mention that he is a 1st round pick and the Steelers seem to either win or lose depending on whether he is in the lineup, so this is a case where a 1st round pick is incredibly valuable...which Gregg hates because he thinks all 1st round picks are worthless and overpaid. An unwanted/non-drafted player returns one kick and Gregg tells us all about it, but he fails to mention when Polamalu was drafted when talking about his importance to the Steelers.

In sociological news, TMQ's Unified Field Theory of Creep holds that not just Christmas but everything is creeping.

I thought about this the other day...when does Gregg Easterbrook think it is appropriate for Christmas to "creep" up on us? Is it December 1st or when is the best time? He is always bitching about Christmas "creeping" but never tells us when it is appropriate to start celebrating for the arrival of December 25th.

Stats of the Week No. 4: In his past 10 starts, Jay Cutler has thrown 19 interceptions.

On a side note, how bad is Jay Cutler playing this year? I don't believe in all that "this guy is a winner" crap, especially when the Cutler/Orton trade happened this type stuff was discussed about why Orton was more valuable, but I do find it odd Cutler is so bad this year. Of course he doesn't have great receivers and the defense has taken a step back so both of those things could have something to do with it.

Stats of the Week No. 8: (Bonus college stat) Against Boise State, Idaho gained 514 yards on offense -- and lost by 38 points.

Whatever happened to Gregg's theory that when two teams of similar talent play each other the score will always be low? Boise State was 9-0 and Idaho was 7-2. Boise State scored 60+ points against Idaho. As always, Gregg is full of shit about this theory, but he will point out the one time it is proven correct.

Sweet Play of the Week No. 2: With Jersey/B leading 22-21 with 1:48 remaining -- talk, talk, talk, those Jets sure can talk -- the Jaguars had second-and-6 on the Jersey/B 10-yard line.

I find it ironic Gregg mentions the Jets can talk when he is referring to a game when the Jets played the Jaguars. Yet, Maurice Jones-Drew said earlier this year the Jags were the best team in the NFL and was very confident in saying this. The Jags haven't proven that statement to be true at all. Sounds like Gregg has forgotten the Jaguars can talk as well as the Jets or he does such great research before writing he didn't know Jones-Drew had said this.

Jax knelt twice -- trying to avoid a touchdown! -- then kicked the winning field goal as time expired. Jones-Drew has been widely praised for a heady play, but what if the field goal attempt missed?

Then your kicker is fucking horrible and should never have won the job out of training camp. If you can't count on your field goal kicker to hit a kick from a distance less than 20 yards you shouldn't ever go for a field goal or an extra point or hire a high school kicker to do this. This is a closer attempt than an extra point attempt and an NFL kicker should be able to hit this 95% of the time at a minimum.

Yours truly would have gone for the touchdown on first-and-goal.

That's the reason Gregg is an economist and hack writer and not a football coach. Yes, the field goal was a risk, but so was running the ball and trying to score a touchdown. It's possible the Jaguars could have fumbled the snap or fumbled while running with the ball.

I think it is funny Gregg is all about fortune favoring the bold and coaches making risky decisions, but he didn't like this risky decision. Just because the Jags sat on the ball and set up for a field goal didn't make this a conservative move. Gregg can't be consistent in his criticisms.

As novice head coach Raheem Morris celebrated on the sideline, the Bucs' defense prepared for a pass -- and the call was a draw to Ricky Williams, who ran for 27 yards and set up the winning field goal. The call was extra-sweet because Tampa had a dime package on the field, meaning Miami's blockers were taking on lots of skinny gentlemen.

Remember a couple of weeks ago when Gregg didn't understand why Chicago didn't have their dime package on the field on a third down in the red zone and they got beat by a touchdown pass? I said the reason they didn't have the dime package on the field is because if the other team (I can't remember which one) had run a draw play or screen pass, it could have been a disaster because cornerbacks and safeties don't generally tackle as well as linebackers. This play Gregg describes here is exactly what I was talking about. The Dolphins were able to run a draw and gain big yardage against a dime defense. Yet here Gregg second guesses the Bucs for having the dime package on the field when he criticized the Bears previously for not having the dime defense on the field. We will never get consistency with him.

Sour Play of the Week No. 3: San Diego leading 21-6, Philadelphia had third-and-inches on the Bolts' 7 late in the third quarter. The Eagles went play-fake, incompletion, field goal. To that point, Eagles' coaches had called 35 passes, 10 rushes; Philadelphia had netted 24 yards rushing. Considering that Philadelphia wasn't even trying to run the ball, who's going to fall for the play-fake?

Haven't we reached the point where it is pointless to even criticize Andy Reid for never running the ball? I think we just have to put it out there as a standing criticism and try to move on with our lives.

Sweet 'N' Sour Play: Green Bay leading 10-0, the Packers faced third-and-goal on the Dallas 2. The Cowboys blitzed seven, which was sour -- even if you get a sack, Green Bay is still in field goal range.

Speaking of blitzing and it never working...The Colts blitzed the Patriots on the last two plays of the game Sunday night, which led to an incompletion and a gain short of the first down. I bet on both plays Gregg Easterbrook said, "Game over" like he always does when a team blitzes, but of course that didn't happen so Gregg didn't mention that in his TMQ. He only mentions things like this when he is right.

Does anyone know why Gregg only mentions instances where blitzing backfired? Because blitzing doesn't always lead to a team losing the game, that's why. Of course Easterbrook will only talk about the instances where blitzing didn't pay off for a team and leave out the times it worked.

Sweet 'N' Sour Team: Hosting Denver, Washington ran some of the sourest snaps you'll ever see. On a fourth-and-1 try, the Redskins called a slow-developing stretch run, with no misdirection,

A stretch run with misdirection? I would like to see Easterbrook design this play.

(Very solid rookie hybrid linebacker-defensive end Brian Orakpo is making Buffalo regret using a draft choice two picks ahead of Orakpo on rookie hybrid linebacker-defensive end Aaron Maybin, who is already being whispered about as a bust.)

I guess I was wrong about Orakpo not being a great NFL player. This is only the second time I have ever been wrong. As far as Maybin goes, he is switching positions and I wasn't that impressed with him at Penn State anyway, so maybe I should have picked on him and not Orakpo prior to this draft.

Unified Field Theory of Creep: Daniel Jenkins of Dayton, Ohio, writes, "Today is November 12, and in downtown Dayton, our 30-foot civic Christmas tree is being put up as I type this."

Christmas is almost in a month. Give it a break.

Hidden Play of the Week: Hidden plays are ones that never make highlight reels, but stop or sustain drives. San Diego leading 21-9 and facing third-and-2 on the Philadelphia 25 late in the third quarter, the Bolts were thrown for a loss by Philadelphia, and the field goal unit started onto the field. But Ramzee Robinson of Philadelphia was called for lining up offside; first down Chargers. The next snap was a San Diego touchdown that provided the winning points.

Again, this was not a hidden play but an actual important play...and highlight reels don't contain every important play in a game and it is stupid to assume they do.

Who is Ramzee Robinson? I am glad you asked. He is an unwanted 7th round draft choice and was actually Mister Irrelevant for 2007. This is a great situation where Gregg doesn't mention a player who screwed up is one of his beloved unwanted and lowly drafted players. If Robinson had done something positive we would have had the round he was drafted in and which team had previously cut him contained in Gregg's description of the play to show how great unwanted/lowly drafted players are.

Stop Me Before I Blitz Again! Tennessee and Buffalo tied at 7, the Flaming Thumbtacks faced third-and-10 on the Buffalo 15. The Bills blitzed six, a zone-blitz leaving defensive end Aaron Schobel covering speed receiver Nate Washington. Maybe you can guess how that worked out. Not only did this blitz result in a touchdown for the Titans, but even if the Bills had gotten a sack, Tennessee still would have been in field goal range.

Here is a situation where blitzing did not work for a team. Notice still how Gregg doesn't acknowledge the Colts won the game Sunday night by blitzing Tom Brady on the last two plays. He won't ever mention it because he wants to be right and is willing to mislead his reading audience in the attempt to be correct.

Even if futurist Ray Kurzweil is right and a " technological singularity" approaches, things just won't advance that much in a mere nine years. "The Sixth Day," released in 2000, also set in 2018, depicted the instant cloning of fully formed adults, complete with memories. "Blade Runner," released in 1982, was set in 2019, and depicted super-advanced cyborgs indistinguishable from people, plus faster-than-light starcruisers. (Faster-than-light interstellar fleets were referred to, though not seen on screen.) "I, Robot," out in 2004, was set in 2035 and had armies of super-strong intelligent robots powered by super-batteries, and some of the robots could see the future!

If Gregg hates science-fiction so much, why does he watch it? It's not like these movies are attempting to tell the future, they are a form of entertainment. Besides the genre is called science-FICTION, with the emphasis on the "fiction" part. It's not supposed to be real.

Exaggerating technology speed isn't new. The movie "2001: A Space Odyssey," released in 1968, was set in 2001, and had town-sized settlements on the moon, Pan Am commercial flights to orbit -- anybody remember Pan Am? -- plus a gigantic manned spaceship bound for Jupiter. Today, eight years after the movie's setting, manned flight to much-closer Mars, though perhaps technically possible, continues to look wildly impractical. Books overestimate future technological change, too. "Nineteen Eighty-Four," published in 1949, was set in 1984 and had an all-powerful Big Brother controlling the whole world -- you never learn whether he is a person or a machine --

Again, they are not trying to predict the future. It's not called Science-Here's Where the Hell We Are Going To Be In the Future So Take This To the Bank As Fact.

But generally, fiction overstates the likely rate of technical and social change. In turn, this reminds of the aphorism that people overestimate what can be accomplished in the short term and underestimate what can be accomplished in the long term.

Do you know why fiction overstates this stuff? Because it is freaking fiction and not real nor is it supposed to be real.

Most teams will sit a player with a concussion so bad he can't remember what he had for lunch. But as soon as the player recovers enough to recall the playbook, he may be cleared to resume competition -- and may be pressured to do so. Yes, there is an assumption of risk to performing in the NFL, and players know the sport is dangerous.

Forcing teams to sit players who have had concussions will only cause players to cover up their concussed condition. I really believe this is the truth.

The NFL should prohibit concussed players from returning until they have had a mandatory recovery period, or been cleared by neurologists unaffiliated with the league, or both.

Then the team will never report the concussion. They will report the injury as something else that isn't subject to league rules.

The NFL's attitude about concussions is callous and backward -- as if the league doesn't care about the long-term health of its players, so long as the hitting is sufficiently violent.

I am glad Gregg Easterbrook finally understands the NFL's position on this issue.

Football cannot be risk-free, but contact using the head should never be extolled. Announcers should be honest about the down side of football.

Yes, because the people we need educating America's youth and viewers of football games are play-by-play announcers and analysts. The same guys who can't get the names right of players on the field and use hyperbole in everyday conversation...those are the guys who should educate us on concussions during a game.

I'd give Belichick a hard time not for his fourth-down call but for the third-down call on New England's previous possession. The Flying Elvii led 31-21 and faced third-and-8 on the Indianapolis 18 with 4:22 remaining. The Patriots threw incomplete, stopping the clock, then kicked a field goal. Had New England simply run up the middle for no gain, the clock would have kept advancing.

This is exactly the kind of second guessing I can't stand. The Patriots were trying to get a first down. After all, they only had 8 yards to go and averaged 6.6 yards per play! This is second guessing that can only be used when the outcome of the game is known.

The only reason anyone could know this was a bad move to throw the ball here is if we already know the Patriots lost the game. Otherwise, this was just an incomplete pass on a third-and-long. I hate it when sportswriters second guess little stuff like this. New England was up 10 points and had no idea they would lose the game. Running the clock out and giving up a potential first down was not a good idea at this point in the game. Again, Gregg Easterbrook loves it when a coach is aggressive, except when it doesn't work.

The Colts either would have burned a precious timeout, or have gotten the ball back, down 34-21, with about 3:30 remaining rather than 4:07. The situation would have seemed a lot less promising; the Indianapolis players and crowd might not have been so jacked up.

Gregg Easterbrook is an idiot. He is completely and utterly ignoring the fact the clock was not a problem for the Colts at any point towards the end of the game. Even if 30-something seconds had run off the clock, the Colts would still have had plenty of time to win the game after the Patriots had failed on fourth-and-two. There would have been no difference in the Colts getting the ball with 1:30 left in the game and 2:00 left in the game. The clock was never a problem for the Colts so Gregg's criticism here that the Patriots should have run more time off the clock and this would have led to success doesn't make any sense to me. If he is going to second guess things that happened in an NFL game, at least second guess things that were relevant to the outcome.

I'd criticize New England for calling a pass on third-and-2, the snap before the decisive down. As noted by reader Todd Asmuth of Madison, Wis., Belichick should have been looking ahead, using "two-down thinking" -- if you're going for it on fourth down, you run on third down, to keep the clock ticking and better the chance that either you make it on third down or fourth down is a fourth-and-1, not fourth-and-2.

Even though I generally believe Gregg to be an idiot, I made the same point yesterday. If you know you are going for it on fourth down then that makes the third down call that much easier. The Patriots should have run the ball on third down. That was my opinion at the time and is my opinion now.

Maybe two late officiating judgments which went against New England (the final spot, and a dubious pass interference penalty on Indianapolis' penultimate drive) mean the Colts are finally paid back for the officiating that favored New England in the AFC Championship Game years ago.

The final spot was a good spot. I keep waiting for people to start bitching about that, but Faulk never had control until his forward progress was behind the first down marker. I won't argue this point.

Battle of the Buck-Buck-Brawckkkkkkk: At one point in the second quarter, 1-7 Kansas City punted on fourth-and-1; 2-6 Oakland snapped the ball three times, then punted back on fourth-and-1. The Chiefs also went for it twice on fourth-and-1; the Raiders punted on fourth-and-2 in Kansas City territory. Knowing only these facts, can you determine who won the game?

Probably the team that had the most points by getting in the end zone or kicking a field goal won...because going for it on fourth down doesn't actually indicate whether a team is going to win the game or not and going for it on fourth down also doesn't give a team any extra points in the eyes of the NFL Football Gods, which don't exist. I love an aggressive coach but simply because a team doesn't go for it on fourth down doesn't mean that team will lose the game.

Buddy Garrity Owner of a car dealership, cheated on his wife and ended up in a messy divorce; sold his house to pay alimony; lost $70,000 in an investment swindle; was arrested for starting a fight at a topless dance establishment; an obnoxious rich guy muscled him out of his treasured position as head of the booster club. Of the FNL characters, Buddy's life seems most true to small-town Texas.

Gregg is such an asshole. He just essentially wrote that small-town Texas men are cheaters and are shady characters. That's real nice of him. It seems like Gregg is in a competition with Peter King to see who can be the most condescending, elitist person.

Untouched Touchdown Run of the Week: Jonathan Stewart of Carolina ran 45 yards untouched behind two pulling offensive linemen to ice the Falcons-at-Panthers contest.

I am going to start a Fact Check of the Week category for TMQ. This is factually wrong, there was a pulling guard and a fullback who opened up the hole for Stewart. The center never pulled but was actually zone blocking so maybe that is where the football ignorant Easterbrook got confused.

Increasingly TMQ is convinced that short-yardage plays must involve some misdirection: The defense is cranked to go straight ahead, so feint first.

Increasingly I am convinced TMQ thinks football players are robots who can't change direction laterally. No matter where the defense is cranked to go ahead, they don't necessarily blindly charge straight ahead, many times there are players responsible for outside containement and if they get blocked then there is a chance there could be a positive gain on the play. NFL players are capable of switching directions on a dime, I don't know why Gregg doesn't understand this.

He ran an up and Kurt Warner deliberately underthrew the ball; Fitzgerald knew the pass would be deliberately short and turned to catch it, and the cornerback had no idea the pass was coming. This action has worked since Joe Namath to Don Maynard, so why don't more NFL teams deliberately underthrow along the sideline?

Because it takes timing and if the wide receiver turns around to look for the ball too early or tips off the ball will be behind him, the cornerback will have an easy interception. It takes a lot of timing and the more a team does this, the more opposing teams will know this and overplay the backside of a receiver to prevent an underthrow from working.

Reader Comments: Many readers, including Sriram Krishnan of Arlington, Va., noted that Wake Forest took the lead by three points in overtime against Georgia Tech, then Tech faced fourth-and-1 on the Wake 6. Rather than do the conservative thing and kick a field goal, advancing to another overtime, Georgia Tech coach Paul Johnson went for it; the team converted and then scored a game-winning touchdown.

This was a gutsy call. It did help that Georgia Tech has one of the most powerful running offenses in the nation and that they couldn't take the chance of tying the game and going to overtime (I am pretty sure the game was not in overtime when this happened because Johnson said he wanted to avoid overtime and that is why he made the call) because they needed to win to look good in the eyes of the BCS.

TMQ thinks Notre Dame alums should be proud of the football program's recent struggles -- because the reason for the struggles is that Notre Dame still requires football players to attend class.

I am sure the Notre Dame players and fans feel a lot better knowing that Jimmy Clausen is getting good grades in all of his classes.

Want the Irish to win more games? If the school stopped making football players do term papers, results would improve.

I am not sure this is correct. I am 90% sure there are limits on practice times in NCAA football and the Irish are probably practicing at that limit right now. I don't know if I see the correlation between making the classes easier to pass at Notre Dame and the team doing well. I think it has something more to do with the fact Notre Dame has educational standards they keep in place that other teams may stretch a little bit to get players on the football squad. Basically, I think it is the class of individual who goes to Notre Dame, not the time spent away from the football field or Notre Dame itself that affects this graduation rate.

Single Worst Day of the Season -- So Far: Extremely highly paid Eagles cornerback Asante Samuel made no attempt to cover Legedu Naanee on the 20-yard touchdown pass that put San Diego ahead 28-9. Samuel was "looking into the backfield" trying to guess the play, a high school mistake, and simply let Naanee run past him. At the endgame, the Bolts led 28-23 and faced third-and-2 with 2:45 remaining. Samuel fell down as Naanee made the catch -- and then simply laid there on his tummy-tum-tum, making no attempt to get up, watching his man run to the Philadelphia 15 and put the Bolts in position for the game-icing field goal. Asante Samuel, you have played the single worst game of the season -- so far.

No matter how fast Samuel ran at this point he would not been able to get up and start running to have caught up with Naanee in time to make any type of difference on this play.

Gregg Easterbrook, you have written the single worst TMQ of this season -- so far.


Dubs said...

I'm glad you started putting these up, as it ends any desire I have to check on how wrong Easterbrook is each week and I can avoid most of his article.

Only point of contention with your review, is I agree with Gregg about Asante. He is so overrated it physically hurts me to watch him play. He really did play about as bad of a game as possible. If a play doesn't look like it can be an interception, I'm fairly certain he just doesn't care. I'm also conviced that he faked falling down and not being able to get up so he didn't have to make a tackle attempt.

God, I hate Asante Samuel.

Jeff said...

Curiously, no mention of the Crabtree Curse this week by Gregg!

I thought he'd at least credit the way the owners, coaches, backup quarterback or cheerleaders were dressed with overpowering the "curse".

Go said...

Wow. I can't make it through this article. He's all over the place. Why would Dallas blitz because GB will get a FG anyway? Ugh. If Dallas doesn't blitz and GB scores does this asshat say that fortune favors the aggresive, i.e. teams that blitz?

KentAllard said...

I've run out of things to say about TMQ's anti-blitz obsession. He can't understand the difference between a good quarterback and a bad quarterback can be 3/4 of a second more or less to throw the ball.

You know your college football team is well and truly fucked when Gregggg starts showing sympathy toward them.

Bengoodfella said...

Dubs, I enjoy doing these, though I wish I could get them up on every Tuesday, but it's so hard for me to do. I knew a lot of people were wondering what TMQ would say this week so I felt the need to rush it out there. Wednesday will unfortunately be the date I will usually post it because of time constraints, so you will have to avoid TMQ for almost a full day before I chime in.

Haha, I have to be honest, I didn't see the play but I saw that replay and he couldn't have caught the receiver. Of course he did get burnt twice which isn't a good thing. I shouldn't have defended him since I didn't see the whole game, but my intention was to defend his ability to catch up to the play.

Jeff, I completely forgot about the Crabtree Curse. How did I do that? I wonder where the Crabtree Curse went to? They still have Crabtree on the team, yet they won a football game. What happened? I wish he had made an excuse because then I could have mocked him and remembered the Crabtree Curse. Seriously, how did I forget about it????

Go, for a guy who loves taking risks and being bold, it is weird Gregg hates blitzing. I don't like the attitude "well, they are in field goal range already, we may as well sit back and just try to stop them from getting a touchdown." That's the very opposite of being bold.

Kent, you are right. Gregg has a thing about tenths of a second and all of that. I remember FJMariotti talking about that in the past, so he would think you are full of shit if you explained that to him. The difference in a good and great quarterback can be the recognition and adjustment to a blitz that is coming and where it is coming from. It makes the difference in a sack, incomplete pass and a completion. He fails to get this constantly.

Poor Notre Dame. I had them covering the spread and they did, so that was good news for me. I think Weis is going to be gone soon. My fiance's father is a ND fan and was going apeshit during the game. I think Weis is having the fan's patience run short...but at least you have smart players right?

Mantis said...

This clown, TMQ, has the nerve to bring up the Crabtree Curse for weeks. Then when the 49ers win, he has nothing at all to say on the subject. I was also kind of wrong in the comments yesterday in saying TMQ would use the Patriots failing in 4th down as material for a future column in which they win a game by going for it on 4th down against the Colts. He decided to just go ahead and crown the Patriots virtual winners of that game and Belichick as the greatest human being to grace a football sideline.

Sorry I can't comment much more. I worked over 12 hours and can't find the patience to read through his column tonight. I'll have a more thought out response to his latest adventure in journalism later on.

Bengoodfella said...

I think that describes Gregg Easterbrook perfectly. He talks about the Crabtree Curse for weeks and then when it is proven incorrect, we get the sound of crickets chirping. He never says when his false theories are proven wrong.

Easterbrook really believes if the Patriots do anything else positive this year in a key situation or anything like that, it is because they went for it on fourth down in this game. He will attribute it to that and not the fact they are a good team. It's really a no-win proposition because he liked the gutsy call and will attribute all the positive stuff in the future to this move.

Look forward to your comments tomorrow.

Syed Ashrafulla said...

There were three other interesting tidbits of misinformation:

By being hyper-aggressive, he challenged his young Patriots offense to show it can finish games.

QB - 10th season
HB - 4th, 11th
WR - 12th, 6th, 7th (holy crap Sam Aiken has more experience than Wes Welker!?), 2nd, 1st
TE - 6th, 8th
LT - 5th, 9th
LG - 5th, 4th
C - 7th
RG - 8th, 8th, 1st
RT - 1st

So, except at way-backup WR and RT, the Patriots offense is quite seasoned.

Considering that Philadelphia wasn't even trying to run the ball, who's going to fall for the play-fake?

I had field-level seats for the game. The linebackers bit on the fake; the problem with the play if I remember correctly was that it was to the short side and the safety, who never had run obligation on 3rd and short anyway, caused it to be all clogged up.

Books overestimate future technological change, too. "Nineteen Eighty-Four," published in 1949, was set in 1984 and had an all-powerful Big Brother controlling the whole world -- you never learn whether he is a person or a machine --

Interestingly enough, Stalin's deciphels were Big Brother in the USSR in the 70s. In fact, even in 2009 we have Big Brother today; I'm surprised Gregg Easterbrook the economist hasn't an inkling as to how Kim Jong Il runs North Korea. The Daily Show interview with Mike Kim http://www.thedailyshow.com/watch/tue-june-30-2009/mike-kim shows just how brainwashed North Koreans are, replete with the infamous "grenades kill Americans" math problem.

Bengoodfella said...

Syed, nice information on the Patriots team being seasoned. Every week I miss something important that Easterbrook said and that was one for this week. That's right down my alley too. They are a seasoned group of guys and also an offense that has had some measure of success having just played in a Super Bowl two years ago and also being two years off an almost perfect season. There isn't really too much Belichick needs to teach them I don't think. Maybe Easterbrook was referring to the defense...either way it didn't make sense.

That play fake question Easterbrook posed is something he loves to do. He loves to ask a question like that about why a team did or not do something (like why they bit on the fake here) when there is a perfectly reasonable football explanation for it. That's why I say he undercomplicates things.

Field level seats huh? Nice.

I was thinking of drawing a Big Brother comparison in that part to how there is a constant focus now on people keeping up with each other whether through Twitter, Facebook or whatever else is out there and we almost play Big Brother to ourselves in that we always let people know where we are at all times. North Korea is probably a better example though. I would say North Korea is a Big Brother and I am sure there are other Big Brothers that are lesser known, especially in some of the dictatorships in Central and South America.

Gregg should have gotten that in his example, but I guess he was too busy trying to show how his rant was correct.

KentAllard said...

For that matter, 1984 was never about technological change, but rather sociological change. Orwell was writing a cautionary metaphor about the way things were at the time (he got the title by inverting the date of the book - 1948).

I hope he doesn't read Animal Farm. he'll bitch about how livestock can't communicate as well as in the book.

RuleBook said...

I prefer the Wednesday TMQ. It gives me time to form my thoughts (Tuesday is a much busier day for me). TMQ hit a nerve with me yesterday, and so I am going to rant.


I am often considered an optimist because I subscribe to the classic "it's not over till the clock strikes 0:00" (within reason). One thing I can't stand is when coaches give up when there is a real (albeit slim) possibility of winning. The Colts are the only team to have ever overcome a 21 point deficit with 5:00 left in regulation, as well as the only team to have ever overcome a 17 point deficit with 5:00 left to win in regulation. I firmly believe (warning: no statistics or research involved in this statement) that the reason that no one comes back from the 21 point deficit like that is because no one tries to come back from the 21 point deficit.

To clarify: I am not saying that I think the teams will win, but the probability of them winning is greater than zero. In my opinion, as long as that probability exists, the coaches should try to win.

It's the same thing with playoff scenarios. I will not ever accept that a team is out of the playoffs until they are actually out of the playoffs. I love dealing with playoff scenarios, and in doing so, I have seen the unbelievable happen. Thus, I am unwilling to accept that it is acceptable for the team to give up on the season until they have been officially eliminated.

Now, with that preface, allow me to attack TMQ:

In an extreme display of poor sportsmanship, Mangini called all his timeouts in the final moments, when Baltimore led by 16 and was not trying to score but just trying to exhaust the clock.

Let's look at the play-by-play, shall we?

# 1-10-BAL 39 (3:45) 27-R.Rice right guard to BLT 40 for 1 yard (90-K.Coleman).
# Timeout #2 by CLV at 03:35.
# 2-9-BAL 40 (3:35) 27-R.Rice right guard to BLT 45 for 5 yards (90-K.Coleman).
# Timeout #3 by CLV at 03:29.

If the Browns stop the Ravens on 3rd down, then the Ravens would punt the ball, and the Browns would have 2:45 or so on the clock, down 2 possessions. Is winning likely? Of course not, but it's far from impossible. There was nothing displaying poor sportsmanship. The fact that Baltimore was trying to exhaust the clock is precisesly why you call your timeouts!

During the last drive for the Browns (with :20 left), I was in favor of them still attempting to score (as far as I know, Hail Mary/onside/Hail Mary has never worked, but it theoretically could). However, once the second pass fell incomplete and there was 5 seconds left on the clock, I said to a friend immediately "Now, if you try to score here, you ARE a bad coach because winning is now impossible, and only injury can happen". Interestingly, that play ended in injury.

Trailing 17-0 in the final minute, Cowboys coach Wade Phillips left his offensive starters on the field, desperately trying to avoid a shutout. There are no BCS polls and no style points in the NFL -- with a true playoff format, all that matters is W's and L's. But Phillips fears for his job. Knowing there will be an extremely unpleasant year-end performance review session with Jerry Jones, he wanted to keep "we got shut out at Green Bay" out of his file.

There was 42 seconds left on the clock here when the Cowboys scored. It was entirely within the realm of possibility (though highly unlilkely) that the Cowboys could recover the onside kick, gain 20-30 yards in 15-20 seconds, kick a FG, recover another onside kick and throw a Hail Mary. As a Cowboys fan, I couldn't care less about avoiding the shutout. But when I see my team give up before the game is 100% decided, it infuriates me. I was thrilled they were still trying to win. All that said, I know that if they had recovered the onside kick, Wade would have gone for the TD rather than the FG, so we still would have lost (when we scored that second TD with 5 seconds left on the clock, and no time for a FG try).


RuleBook said...

Oh, also:

Stats of the Week No. 6: Tennessee followed a 0-7 streak with a 3-0 streak; Denver followed a 6-0 streak with an 0-3 streak.

I can't figure out why he chose that number for the Titans losing streak. The Titans began the season 0-6. They lost their lone playoff game. They also lost the last game of the season. Thus, 0-8 would be an understandable choice (though still a terrible one, as it would be cherry picked to make the comparison seem more drastic). 0-6 would also be reasonable, but 0-7? I can't figure that one out.

Bengoodfella said...

Kent, I think Gregg completely missed the point of 1984 then. I remember reading that in high school and you are right. Being the scholar he is, I am shocked Gregg didn't get this...actually, not really.

Rulebook, it's probably for the better because I have a hard time posting everyday, much less TMQ on on Tuesday.

The problem is that anytime Gregg sees a team try to catch up he thinks the coach is just trying to cover the spread or make the score look a little better. He is exactly right, coaches don't want their team to give up and show a little fight. He doesn't understand that though, because he wants the coach to just give up and thinks anytime a team is "out of the game" they should just give up. He's a dumbass.

Easterbrook doesn't see anything from a rational point of view, he just thinks anytime a team is losing badly they are out of the game and a couple breaks will not go that team's way. I hate it when he talks about how coaches are just trying to make themselves look better by still trying to score. He doesn't get that the fan base and the owner would take it as a completely negative sign if the team just gave up. I am not sure he understands some of the psychology involved with football.

You are better not trying to understand why Easterbrook puts his statistics up the way he does. There is very little rhyme or reason. He usually cherry picks the best number that tries to prove his point or he picks a random time in the season to start counting. He's weird that way.

Anonymous said...

Paul Johnson wanted to avoid *second overtime*, not overtime.

Anonymous said...

And I'd love to see you comment on the atrocity of Ross Tucker's column that supported an 18 game season.


Anonymous said...

And I'd love to see you comment on the atrocity of Ross Tucker's column that supported an 18 game season.


Bengoodfella said...

I was basing what I said on Paul Johnson saying he wanted to avoid OT. I guess I misread it and was wrong. Either way, it was a good call by him and Georgia Tech needed to win that game.

I will have to check out that Ross Tucker column and see what it says. I haven't focused on him in a while so it would be good to hear what he has to say. Thanks.

Anonymous said...

Well, it kinda sorta relies on the fan's sociopathy--injuries makes football season exiting!


Bengoodfella said...

I have read it and thanks for the tip. I plan on covering it here soon, hopefully I will do it justice.