Wednesday, November 4, 2009

13 comments TMQ: Gregg's Dream Is Our Nightmare

A few weeks ago we had a discussion in the comments about how if a team is down 10-11 points in the fourth quarter and has the ball with less than two minutes to go, it usually makes more sense to go for the field goal first to give yourself more time to try and get the touchdown after that. The clock, not the score, is your real enemy here, so the sooner a team gets the first score on the board the better. Monday night, the Falcons were at the 23 yard line with 52 seconds to go in the fourth quarter (down 11 points) and chose to run another play, which led to a sack, and then on the next play Matt Ryan completed a pass back to around the 23 yard line with about 30 seconds to go, and the Falcons hit the field goal. So they essentially just ran off 22 seconds by trying to go for the touchdown first, ran two plays, and ended up in no better position than they were in when they could have originally tried the field goal. Then they got the onside kick and completed a pass to a little before midfield inbounds, which was pretty much the end of the game because they could not stop the clock and on his last throw Ryan had a Hail Mary intercepted. This is why going for the field goal first is the best idea in my mind. The Saints would have had around 45 seconds instead of 28 seconds to try and get a touchdown, which is an extra play or possibly two.

Now that I have sounded like Gregg Easterbrook, let's cover TMQ. Gregg talks about his dream Super Bowl with the Saints and the Colts playing each other.

Kiss good-bye to pairings of undefeated teams. Perhaps two undefeated college teams will meet in a bowl game, or in the SEC championship game, but don't be surprised if there is no such contest left in the major-college season.

Considering the fact there has been one NFL team who has gone 18-0, I won't be shocked if both the Colts and the Saints don't go undefeated...and really no one else should be either.

In the NFL, Indianapolis and New Orleans are still standing, and could meet as undefeateds in the Super Bowl. That would require both to go 18-0. Only one NFL team has ever reached 18-0 -- two teams won't achieve that in the same season.

Which is why this isn't even worth talking about.

But we get ahead of ourselves! New Orleans first must get fired up for its next three opponents: Carolina, St. Louis and City of Tampa, with a combined record of 4-18.

I greatly dislike it when sportswriters throw misleading stats into their columns like this. I hate it when a sportswriter throws in a "combined record" stat where one or two teams drags down the statistic. Carolina is a mediocre 3-4, while the other two teams are a horrible 1-14. You could throw the Colts in this discussion at 7-0 in place of Carolina and say the Saints only have to play teams over the next three games that are a combined 8-14 and that doesn't look like they are playing quality teams. Combining record stats like this can just be misleading.

Indianapolis starts numerous players who were undrafted (Gary Brackett, Ryan Lilja, Daniel Muir, Gijon Robinson, future Hall of Famer Jeff Saturday) or who came out of nowhere (Pierre Garcon, from Division III Mount Union College).

I want to smack Gregg in the face with a glove when he starts spouting off shit like this. The Colts also have numerous highly paid and highly drafted players as well who contribute...including Peyton Manning, Donald Brown, Joseph Addai, Reggie Wayne, Dallas Clark, Dwight Freeney, Bob Sanders, Marlin Jackson. All of those players contribute nearly as much, as much, or if not more, than the players listed by Gregg.

The New Orleans lineup is heavy on out-of-nowhere players, or those unwanted by previous teams.

The New Orleans lineup is also heavy with first and second round draft picks that contribute as much or more than any of the undrafted players Gregg loves to hype up. Guys like Drew Brees, Reggie Bush, Devery Henderson, Robert Meacham, Jonathan Vilma, Sedrick Ellis, Charles Grant, Will Smith, and Jeremy Shockey. As always Gregg leaves these players out to try and make it seem like he has a point.

New Orleans standouts Drew Brees, Darren Sharper and Jonathan Vilma were players other teams actively wanted to unload.

Gregg should really be a politician because he knows how to mislead an ignorant and sheep-like crowd by shading the truth. None of these players were "not wanted" by their previous teams. That is just a bold faced lie. Sharper signed with the Saints as unrestricted free agent, Brees was unloaded by the Chargers because they already had a younger quarterback (who has done pretty well for himself) in Philip Rivers, and Jonathan Vilma wasn't a great fit for the 3-4 system that was run with the New York Jets team. As much as Gregg dislikes politicians, he is full of shit just like them.

Brees, the best quarterback in the NFC, was shown the door by San Diego, then rejected when he offered to sign with Miami;

Wonderful! I love a good revisionist history story. Brees was offered a 5 year $50 million dollar contract with the Chargers which he TURNED DOWN BECAUSE IT WASN'T ENOUGH MONEY! Granted, it was mostly incentive laden, but the fact remains Brees turned down the Chargers offer. He was not shown the door. He was coming off shoulder surgery so the Chargers offered him a more incentive laden deal and Brees rejected it because he wanted more guaranteed money.

The reason Brees ended up in New Orleans is because they offered him more money than the Dolphins could. So Gregg is absolutely full of crap, and really someone at ESPN needs to prevent their columnists from outright lying in their columns. This is a bold faced lie. Drew Brees gave the Dolphins a chance to match the offer from the Saints and they couldn't so he went to New Orleans. He never "offered" to sign with Miami (like he was accepting less money or something) and he certainly was not rejected by Miami. Again, this is a lie. ESPN really needs to do something about this. Edit the column to take these misleading and false facts out or at least force him to fact check and not confuse his opinion with fact.

Scan around the NFL and behold team after team stacked with big-money first-round draft choices who don't perform. Give me motivated castoffs any day.

Yeah obviously this would be a team you would rather have. Give me a team of big-money first round draft choices versus a team of castoffs and I would take the first round draft choices any day.

Not long ago, many coaches would have said the reason quarterbacks aren't always in the shotgun -- it's easier to throw if you're scanning the field from the snap rather than wasting time dropping back -- is that teams can't run from a shotgun formation. Increasingly the reverse is true -- teams run better from the shotgun than from conventional sets.

I would love to hear proof of this but we will never get actual proof this is true because this is Gregg Easterbrook just talking out of his ass. Sportswriters can write their opinion all day and I won't jump all over them for being inaccurate but if a sportswriter makes a statement that "teams run better from the shotgun than from conventional sets" I want to see proof this is true and if it is not true than the company/newspaper that person works for should discipline that person. I just went there. It may sound severe to discipline someone for writing a false statement but it is habitual for Gregg to write sentences that he doesn't seem to know whether they are true or not...I don't have proof this statement isn't true, but Gregg doesn't provide evidence it is true either and he is the one who made the statement so the burden is on him.

If I lie to someone at work and I get caught in that lie, I am in deep shit. Why shouldn't it be the same for sportswriters like Gregg Easterbrook who write sentences that have no evidential backing? I am not saying a columnist can't write a statement he feels is true, but Gregg Easterbrook has written the statement "Increasing the reverse is true-teams runs better from the shotgun than from conventional sets" and provides ZERO evidence this is true, so my inclination is to claim this is just a misleading claim by Gregg because it doesn't pass my smell test.

Earlier this year the mainstream media about had a heart attack when a blogger used EVIDENCE to suspect Raul Ibanez of PED usage. He had graphs, charts and all that wonderful evidential stuff, but that didn't matter. Everyone went apeshit all over the blogger because of his allegations, yet many mainstream media outlets let guys like Gregg Easterbrook make blanket statements without ANY type of evidential backing. I realize Gregg's statement is merely a statement while anything dealing with PEDs is about a player's reputation, but the fact remains that the blogger attempted to use evidence to back his theory while Gregg has very rarely, if ever, provided more than one example to support the statements he makes.

I am useless blogger and I try not to do stuff like this. If I am proven to be wrong, I either edit the post to note it or apologize for my idiocy. I have no journalistic standard to uphold. Yet "joke column" or not, TMQ has an air of accuracy and reliability behind it because it is on ESPN's web site, so if Gregg is wrong about teams running better from the shotgun, he is outright lying to his audience. People believe these type statements Gregg writes because of the company he writes for.

Linemen have gotten so much bigger that there simply isn't room to run from a conventional set against a defense putting seven players in the box.

My favorite team is 5th in the NFL in rushing yards and they run from a conventional set the overwhelming majority of the time.

All that work Mike Singletary did building team spirit on the Niners went out the window when management decided a player could jerk the team around all he wanted and still get a $17 million reward.

The 49ers loss this past weekend had absolutely nothing to do with playing 7-0 Indianapolis in Indianapolis I am sure. Gregg just starts talking about a "Crabtree Curse" without checking his facts again this week. Michael Crabtree signed nearly the exact same original deal offered to him by the 49ers back in training camp. The team did not get jerked around and did not back down to Crabtree. I am sure a team with an underachieving backup QB in Alex Smith that makes more than nearly everyone else on the team does per year isn't going to be concerned with Michael Crabtree signing a contract at the #10 slot money amount if he performs well.

Cheerleader of the Week:

Hey look everyone! Gregg likes cheerleaders! He's not gay because he is talking about cheerleaders! I am glad he went out of his way to try and prove this.

Sweet 'N' Sour Play No. 1: Place-kicker Josh Brown of St. Louis threw a 36-yard touchdown pass to Daniel Fells on a fake field goal attempt, then kicked the extra point; that was sweet. The two situations in which a fake field goal attempt are likely are fourth-and-short, or a long attempt that would probably miss anyway.

Of course this 53 yard kick by Josh Brown indoors met neither of these criteria, because the kick was well within Brown's range, so the Lions should not be reasonably expecting a fake field goal attempt.

I would also like to argue with the idea those are the two situations when a fake field goal is most likely. I would like to think a more likely fake field goal situation, at least more likely than on a long attempt that would probably miss anyway, is in the red zone when a team doesn't have as far to go to get a touchdown. Of course since neither Gregg nor I are using any type of data to support this, I will call this one a draw.

Yet Detroit fell for the fake. Also, Detroit had no one back deep to return a potential short kick -- if there had been a deep man, he might have stopped the touchdown.

Josh Brown has a pretty good leg and the kick took place indoors, there was little chance this kick would have ended up going short so there was really may not have been a need for Detroit to put a deep man back there.

The Lions' falling for an obvious trick was sour.

Gregg Easterbrook calling this fake field goal attempt "an obvious trick" is sour.

Either team, if together a while, might have become really memorable -- Ohio State had Greg Oden and Mike Conley Jr., Memphis had Derrick Rose and Chris Douglas-Roberts. Since three of those four were freshmen, if they'd all stuck around in college longer and stayed eligible, those teams might have improved and become truly great a year or two down the road.

I guess the fact both teams made the NCAA Championship Game in the years that Gregg is referring to didn't make these teams "great" in Gregg's eyes. I would disagree. There was really only one more step they had to achieve to be the best college basketball team of that year, I would call being the second best team in a given year in college basketball as bordering on great.

I am not defending Conley, Rose or Oden but they were eligible to play in the NBA and didn't have much else to prove in college (from a team perspective) so I can't blame them for going to the NBA.

Increasingly TMQ is convinced that the short-yardage plays that fail are the ones on which a tailback simply plows straight ahead. With defenders cranked on short-yardage downs, a little misdirection creates the moment of hesitation that makes the play work.

Yes, because defenders that are "cranked" can't go from side to side at a fast speed. Also, if a defender is "cranked" then he probably won't have any hesitation on the play, so misdirection wouldn't necessarily wouldn't work due to a defender's hesitation.

Many readers, including Tanya Clarity of San Francisco but living in Milan, Italy, wrote to note it is common for Europe's best basketball players never to attend any college. OK, but it's also common in Europe to take dogs into restaurants!

Wow Gregg, that in no way is a coherent or intelligent rebuttal!

Many, including TMQ reader Nasr Abdul-Mujeeb of Detroit, also think Division I football and men's basketball players should be paid: "The NCAA is using a free-labor system that lines the pockets of coaches, ADs and NCAA administrators, but provides little benefit to players, many of whom don't get a college education anyway."

The argument that players should be paid for playing athletics in college makes some sense to me, but I am against it because they are already getting a free education, regardless of whether they choose to exercise their ability to get this education or not. I have college loans and I had to take those loans out to go to college, so I don't have any sympathy for a person who goes to college free and then complains they didn't get the benefit because they didn't get a college education. It's true the NCAA does use a form of free-labor but nearly every institution/company in America makes more from its employees/students than they actually provide to that student. I make a whole lot more for my company than I get paid. I have very little sympathy for some people who complain they need to get paid for a free education because they don't use the education.

The following season, Durant's rookie year, there were 55 NBA players who had just left college, either early or as seniors. Since 55 from that college season advanced to the NBA, we can roughly judge that 55 of the 7,159 major-program basketball players that year were being exploited financially, while the other 7,104 were not. The other 7,104 players were coming out way ahead financially, as they were receiving free college educations -- if they had enough sense to go to class -- plus experiences that might help them in later life, especially in the business world. ("Wow, you played basketball at Boston College?")

Divide 7,159 by 55, and get 130. So each player from Durant's college season who might have been earning an NBA salary was supporting the college educations of another 130 players. This is the key thought missing from free-labor complaints about college basketball. Yes, the tiny fraction of players capable of advancing to the NBA do perform for far less than their market price, but they create economic value that lets large numbers of others go to college on scholarship.

I think I may be sick because this actually made sense to me. I tried to read it repeatedly in the hopes this would not end up making sense to me, but alas, it kept happening.

Now it's third-and-11 at the Green Bay 16 with 3:54 remaining. If the Packers hold the Vikings to a field goal, they face a manageable eight-point deficit; if the Vikings get a touchdown, the game is over. As six Green Bay defenders crossed the line at the snap, TMQ said aloud, "Minnesota wins." And yea, verily, it came to pass, in this case, a touchdown pass. Not only does a skilled quarterback like Favre want to be blitzed on third-and-long, a sack here is meaningless, since even after a sack, the Hyperboreans would have been in field goal range.

Read that paragraph again and specifically pay attention to the second and last sentence. I will give you time to read it.

(Bengoodfella whistles the "Jeopardy" theme to himself)

Ok, so in the second sentence Gregg said the Vikings would have won the game if they get a touchdown so Green Bay has to hold the Vikings to a field goal and in the last sentence Gregg says a sack is meaningless because the Vikings would have still been in field goal range. But I thought it was good to keep the Vikings in field goal range because that would make an 8 point deficit that was manageable? So a sack was not meaningless because it made the Vikings kick a longer field goal AND would have prevented the Vikings from scoring a touchdown and keep the deficit at 8 points. Gregg contradicts himself in a matter of three sentences here.

If I Could Pick Just One Game This Season to Attend … It would be Indianapolis at Baltimore, Nov. 22. The Ravens' three losses have all been down-to-the-wire games against teams which are a combined 17-5. On Sunday, Baltimore basically toyed with previously unbeaten Denver; the Nevermores' defense looks as good as it ever has. Indianapolis has won 16 consecutive regular-season dates and looks Efficient with a capital E. Considering Baltimore is on a 15-4 run in the month of November, this pairing should be a monster contest.

Here is a simple example of where Gregg just doesn't pay enough attention to what is going on. I am not saying the game won't be close but Baltimore's secondary has been suspect nearly all year and the Ravens defense does not look "as good as it ever has this year." This game will be worth watching, and if I had to choose I would say this could be a pretty good game, but I feel like someone saying the Ravens defense is as good as it ever was may not entirely be the truth. Baltimore is 13th in the NFL in total defense, 4th in rush defense, and 19th in pass defense. That is definitely not as good on defense as Baltimore has ever been.

Group was called for pass interference three times as Dallas pounded Seattle. On the third occasion, as he collided with a receiver, Trufant threw his hands up in the "I didn't do anything" gesture -- and only then did the nearby zebra reach for his flag. Never make the "I didn't do anything" gesture! It only alerts officials that you did, in fact, do something.

I am sure the fact Trufant had been called for pass interference twice previously in the game had more to do with this pass interference call than his reaction after the play. Regardless of whether Trufant threw up his hands or not, the official had probably noticed Trufant had interfered twice and gave the receiver the benefit of the doubt.

Clang! Clang! Clang! Duke missed 66 shots -- 1.7 missed shots per minute -- in losing to Villanova in the NCAA men's basketball tournament. Villanova then missed 22 3-point attempts in losing to North Carolina in the tourney.

I had almost forgotten about this. Thanks for reminding me!

'Tis Better to Have Rushed and Lost Than Never to Have Rushed At All: Trailing 30-25, Jersey/B reached second-and-7 on the Miami 9 with 1:50 remaining, holding two timeouts. The Jets went scramble, sack, incompletion -- turnover on downs. Seven of the Jets' last eight play calls were passes, though Mark Sanchez is a rookie -- and the Jets have the league's No. 1 rushing offense. It was as if media-conscious coach Rex Ryan wanted to let Sanchez win the game, so sportswriters would call Ryan a genius for getting and starting the rookie.

This is a great theory if common sense didn't say this wasn't true. Rex Ryan is the head coach, not the offensive coordinator, I seriously doubt he took over the job of offensive coordinator and was calling the plays at this point in the game and only calling the plays that would make him look smart. The odds of this happening are maybe 5%.

Don't I remember Gregg talking a few weeks ago talking about how coaching was overrated? For someone who believe this, he certainly bitches about the coaching in the NFL blowing games for that coach's team a whole lot in his TMQ.

What's that? You were asking if there was a cheerleader picture beside this group of sentences? Why yes there was.

Carolina ran a simple hitch and go to Steve Smith -- Smith took one step backward as if to catch a hitch, then shot down the field. Rodgers-Cromartie so totally bought on the hitch action, gambling for an interception, that he was barely in the picture as Smith caught a 50-yard touchdown pass. The game started at 2:15 p.m. local time, a time no football player's body clock is set to.

It's funny that no football player's body clock is set to the 2:15 p.m. start time because it sure didn't hurt Carolina which had 28 points at halftime. It also doesn't make sense that this theory just applies to the Cardinals, which is a team that plays at 2:15 p.m. local time as much as any other team because that is often the time their home games begin. You would think they would have been used to it by now. Apparently not according to Gregg Easterbrook.

I think Gregg is lying here about a football player's body clock not being set to play at 2:15 p.m.

Loss of consciousness -- a Grade III concussion -- should mean at least a month off and no return until examined and cleared by a neurologist; often it should mean the player's season is over.

I have heard other sportswriters suggest something similar to this regarding high school students and concussions. What they fail to realize is that if a student/athlete HAS to take a month off when he/she gets a concussion then that athlete will probably be more likely to lie or cover up the fact he/she has a concussion to avoid missing that much time. You have to take human nature into account when making rules.

State high school sports associations should enact concussion rules -- such as that one Grade III or two Grade II concussions always end a player's season, while anyone sustaining even a mild Grade I must sit out a week. If this were a rule, then there would be no pressure to force players back into the game or back to practice.

Yes, then the pressure would be there to cover up the concussion and call it something else, like a player "getting the wind knocked out of him."

Hidden Plays of the Week: Hidden plays are ones that never make highlight reels, but stop or sustain drives. On the snap before Jason Elam missed a short field goal against New Orleans, the Falcons' Michael Jenkins dropped a pass that would have given Atlanta first-and-goal.

I argue with Gregg every week on this issue. I don't think this was a hidden play simply because it wasn't on a highlight reel.

With seven minutes remaining in the game, Drew Brees threw incomplete on third-and-5, and the Saints would have punted. But Falcons linebacker Mike Peterson was called for defensive holding; the Saints kept possession and scored the winning touchdown on the drive.

Again, this was a crucial penalty that shows up in the box score for the game under "penalties" and also on any type of GameCenter where a fan can follow the action of the game...or it could also show up if, you know, somebody actually watched the game and noticed the play.

Reader Comments: I supposed that coaching is overrated because the most the best coaching could add to performance is 10 percent.

And I supposed this was a stupid statement. For all the reasons stated here.

Pro Bowl Creep: Pro Bowl balloting began last week, after most teams had played six games -- 38 percent of their season. The 38 Percent Pro Bowlers! Wouldn't it be nice if the NFL required even half the season to pass before we decided who are the best performers?

So here we go with Gregg Easterbrook mocking the Pro Bowl for allowing fans to vote for the Pro Bowl when only 38% of the season is over, so in essence he thinks they are using too small of a sample size to represent the best players in the NFL. Yet, Gregg has no problem taking one or two instances where blitzing didn't work or a team punted on fourth down instead of going for it and blaming that decision as the exact reason that team lost the game. Gregg lives for small sample sizes. Without them he wouldn't have half of his theories, like the "go for it on fourth down when the distance is shorter than fourth-and-two," "punting in situations where a team should go for it always leads to that team losing," and "an undrafted or lowly drafted player is better than a highly drafted player."

One other note that I couldn't help but notice this weekend. Remember last January when Gregg Easterbrook nearly knighted "unwanted player" Mike Gandy for shutting down Julius Peppers in the playoff game Arizona and Carolina played? Well you hear nothing from Gregg this week because Peppers absolutely abused Mike Gandy in the game played this week. Abused is being polite, Peppers intercepted a pass AFTER Gandy had cut blocked him on an attempted swing pass. You won't hear Gregg talk about this though because it doesn't fit how he wants to see the NFL and how he wants to portray "unwanted" players. If Gandy had shut down Peppers again, then Easterbrook would have been all over it, crowing about how great the "unwanted" player was again. Alas, all we get is silence and the ignoring of the entire situation.

Every year there are several players, at least one named "Tony Romo," who look great early, get balloted into the Pro Bowl, and by season's end, would not be starting for the Rams.

Every column Gregg takes something that has happened once or twice and tells everyone it is now the norm in the NFL. Gregg is pretty much complaining about himself here.

By Saying This, We Do Not Mean to Insult Ryan Leaf: San Diego has won 13 straight against Oakland. JaMarcus Russell's career stats: 17 touchdown passes, 21 interceptions, 36 fumbles, 60 sacks. Isn't it time to accept that Russell is the new Ryan Leaf?

He is worse than Ryan Leaf! I will quote Rulebook from the comments yesterday for this because he summed it up better and before I did:

Jamarcus only has 22 fumbles, 14 of them lost.

Apparently Easterbrook didn't understand that the LOST category is a subset of FUMBLES. He added the two together.

Really I know I am not perfect when it comes to statistics but Gregg is supposed to have the research department at ESPN behind him. Shouldn't he know this?

We should not encourage JaMarcus Russell to be benched because he and Derek Anderson are locked in a death battle to be the worst quarterback of all time in a single season.

Cupcake Update: Is the rigged college schedule actually a century-old tradition? Caroline Svenson of Rochester, Minn., notes a Wall Street Journal article last week on the bygone days when the University of Chicago was the 800-pound gorilla of college football -- performing before huge crowds and regularly pasting Michigan and Notre Dame -- includes the sentence, "Seldom did the University of Chicago play road games, foes came to the South Side because the pay was too good."

Exactly. Teams have been playing cupcake teams forever. I am glad two months after complaining about this recent cupcake problem in college football Gregg decided to do a little research. I wonder how he feels this affects his hypothesis that scoring is up in college football because teams play more cupcakes than they used to? We will never know because Gregg was proven sort of wrong so he will drop the issue until one example happens which would prove him to be correct.

Stop Me Before I Blitz Again! (College Edition): Underdog Wake Forest led Miami 27-21 with 1:51 remaining, the Hurricanes facing fourth-and-16 in their territory. All Wake Forest needs to do is play straight defense and victory is highly likely. As seven defenders crossed the line at the snap, yours truly said aloud, "Miami wins." And yea, verily, it came to pass.

How many times did a team blitz and have it turn out really well for them this weekend in college football? Probably a lot more than times a team blitzed and had something really negative like this situation happen...but Gregg cherry picks the situations he wants to cover to trick his audience into believing he is correct.

You think it wouldn't anger me by now, but you would be wrong. I guess I have too high of standards for sports journalism these days. As always, tell me if I missed anything.


Carl the Big Fool said...

Why, exactly, does Easterbrook obsess over the potential matchups for unbeaten teams? Every week he runs down the possible undefeated matchups for the rest of the season. I suppose big games like that are fun, sure, but he's somehow flabbergasted that there are no such matchups left by mid-season, apart from the hypothetical Super Bowl.

I once e-mailed him about his annual rant that Thankgsiving home games for Dallas and Detroit are intrinsically unfair, "I don't think this issue is nearly as interesting as you seem to think it is." That would apply here, too.

Carl the Big Fool said...

Oh, his annual end-of-season statements that interest in the NFL season declines during the playoffs because so many teams are no longer playing, that's another one that most people read and say "Who friggin' cares?" He seems to be suggesting that the playoffs are a bad thing. He does not cite TV ratings for the playoffs and Super Bowl to somehow prove this point, of course.

Bengoodfella said...

Carl, I have no idea why Easterbrook wants to see certain matchups between different teams that are unbeaten. It IS an obsession that he has. Big games are fun but I don't get why he doesn't understand why there are no unbeaten matchups by mid-season, especially since he complains college football teams always play cupcakes. The NFL is an example of what happens when good teams don't play easy teams every week.

I would imagine you didn't get put in the column for that comment. I bet he will write the same thing again this year about the Thanksgiving home games for Dallas and Detroit.

He never cites statistics to back his point of view ever. The declining interest in the playoffs example you just gave is just one example of where Gregg Easterbrook makes statements of fact that aren't statements of fact and he gets away with it.

RuleBook said...

Two Part Post to summarize how horrible this article is:

- Indianapolis starts numerous players who were undrafted [...] or who came out of nowhere (Pierre Garcon, from Division III Mount Union College).

However, the reason that Indianapolis is starting Garcon is that Anthony Gonzalez, a first round pick, is injured. Obviously, those unappreciated players are so determined, they never get injured.

- I love how Easterbrook completely either doesn't understand or discounts free agency and the salary cap. He'll have Haynesworth on his "unwanted" team this year. Obviously, the Titans didn't want him because they refused to match or exceed the $100 million the Redskins offered. Brees and Sharper were not players that their teams were actively trying to unload. They were players whose contracts had expired.

In addition, he always criticizes coaches for being in it only for themselves when they take a new job. As you said, Brees and Sharper went to the Saints because they offered more money. Why doesn't he criticize them for not caring about the Chargers or Vikings/Packers and only thinking of themselves?

- Someone on FJMariotti said it best with the Crabtree curse:

Here are the records of the teams the 49ers have played:

Pre "Crabtree Curse" -
(W 4-3),(W 2-5),( L 7-1),(W 1-7)

Post "Crabtree Curse" -
(L 4-3),(L 5-3),(L 7-0)

So in other words the curse of having to play three good teams in a row.

RuleBook said...

- But why did Miami go for the two-point conversion? The touchdown made it Dolphins 30, Jets 19 -- an 11-point edge. A PAT kick gives you a 12-point edge there, which would "protect" Miami against a Jets touchdown, field goal and successful deuce.

From the Oct 5 TMQ:
Giants leading 27-15 with five minutes remaining, Kansas City, which just scored, took a single PAT rather than go for two. That's not going to change a losing psychology!

So, to recap: Dolphins shouldn't have taken a risk that might result in an 11 point game rather than a 12 point game, but the Chiefs should have taken a risk that might result in a 12 point game rather than an 11 point game.

In fairness, my call would also have been for the Dolphins to kick the PAT, and the Chiefs to go for two. However, in the same article he criticizes the Bills and Chargers for not going for two when they still would have been the same number of TDs back whether they got two or one. It's just funny how he'll criticize a team for not going for two when there is no reason to do so, and then he criticizes a team for going for two when there is no reason to do so.

- Also, Detroit had no one back deep to return a potential short kick [...] The Lions' falling for an obvious trick was sour.

Outside of intense wind, any NFL FG kicker is not going to kick a 53 yarder short enough that it's returnable. Beyond this, if Easterbrook ever did any research, he'd know that distance is one of Josh Brown's strengths.

And since when is a fake FG an obvious trick? Guess how many passes Josh Brown has attempted in his 6 1/2 year career. If you guessed 1, as in that fake FG was his only attempted pass ever, you would be correct. I'm sure Easterbrook had it predicted as soon as they lined up.

- The Cardinals are quietly struggling: Dating back to the Super Bowl, they are on a 4-4 stretch.

Obviously, the Cardinals struggles began when they lost the SUPER BOWL. This is one of my major pet peeves. I can't stand when people take one or two games from the previous season to exaggerate a problem. Yes, when the Rams lost their last 10 games of last season, it is reasonable to bring that in to the discussion. But pulling the one loss at the end of a season to make the record sound worse is just worthless and misleading. Any one of last year's playoff contenders other than the Steelers have an extra loss dating back to the last game they played.

Allow me to counter using my own cherry-picked time frame:

1) The Cardinals are quietly surging: dating back to week 17 of last season, they are on an 8-4 run.

2)The Cardinals are quietly surging: dating back to the bye week, they are on a 3-1 run.

KentAllard said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
KentAllard said...

"Wow, you played basketball at Boston College? How much did the Mob pay you when you threw games?"

Had to complete the quote.

Easterbrook is maddening to read; every anecdotal play serves as an eternal rule. If a blitz does/does not work on one play, that means it always/never works. Ugh.

Mantis said...

"Stats of the Week No. 4: Detroit and St. Louis, which met Sunday, are on a combined 3-46 stretch."

From the beginning of the 2008 season, Detroit and St. Louis are actually on a combined 4-43 stretch.

Mantis said...

"Stats of the Week No. 9: The Texans are two games above .500 for the first time in franchise history."

This is true. Unless you count the 2007 Houston Texans that started the season 2-0 with wins over Kansas City and Carolina.

Bengoodfella said...

Rulebook, I should just let you do the TMQ every single week. I feel inferior sometimes to what you write. I was actually going to include Gonzalez as one of the high draft picks for the Colts but since he hasn't contributed this year I left him off. Your point stands though. I don't think Easterbrook understands very much about football at all. He seriously misread both the Sharper and Brees situation badly. He pretty much lied in his column for why they left their respective teams. They weren't unwanted.

It is a curse to have to play good teams isn't it?

I am under the impression that he is criticizing teams without ever actually having any type of point. He is incredibly inconsistent with his criticisms too. He is very inconsistent when making rules on when teams should go for it on fourth down and when they should attempt a PAT and a 2 pt conversion. I am glad you remembered that part of his Oct. 5 TMQ. I have followed Josh Brown through the time he was in college and I know like you that one of his strengths is that he has a great leg, but I would never expect Gregg to know this at all. A fake field goal is rarely obvious and an NFL kicker should never be short on a 53 yard attempt indoors.

I hate how writes will cherry pick stats like that too. The Cardinals lost the freaking Super Bowl and he is holding that against them. It's like that comment he made in this TMQ about the combined records of New Orleans next three opponents. It would look bad even if you threw Indy in there. You cherry picked a time frame just like Gregg does.

Kent, spoken like a true ND fan. Gregg is the king of small sample sizes. One example can prove why something doesn't work.

Mantis, good catch. I need to probably question his math more often but I usually just assume he is right, which is obviously a mistake. Gregg would never count the 2007 start by the Texans as them being 2 games over .500 because the sample size is so small...though he will complain about coaches and formulate theories based on small sample sizes.

KentAllard said...

Every body hates Boston College, not just us.

It's interesting how short the public memory is. When Brees became a free agent, there was a lot of debate over his future. His surgery was very involved, and a lot of people thought he would never be effective again. Which is what led to San Diego deciding it was a better bet to go with Rivers, Miami deciding not to offer as much as New Orleans, and a lot of Saints fans to criticize the signing. It's easy now to look back and with the knowledge of what Brees has done, to say the Saints were smarter than any other team that needed a quarterback, but truth is, they took a gamble and it paid off better than anyone could have thought. Good for them, but it doesn't make San Diego or Miami fools to not roll the dice.

Martin said...

The big hate going toward the Charger front office was that they had played Brees in a meaningless game at the end of the season when he got hurt. They had already been talking up Rivers as their starter and letting Brees go before that game, and it only intensified after the injury. What had the local media and fans up in arms was that Rivers should have been starting that game. It meant nothing, they weren't going to the playoffs, so let Rivers play and see how he does under semi-realistic NFL conditions. It was just an asinine choice made by one of the most arrogant front offices in the NFL. Sadly, they have nothing to be arrogant about. Hell win a few Super Bowls before you become a complete a-hole AJ Smith.

Bengoodfella said...

I know, that's exactly what I am talking about when I said there is some revisionist history going on. Kent, if I remember correctly and I think do, Brees wanted a lot of guaranteed money from teams (specifically the Chargers) and teams weren't willing to give it to him. The Chargers offered him an incentive laden deal and the Dolphins offered him less than the Saints and he took the most money offered. Brees was a risk and I give him and the Saints props for making the risk pay off, but you should understand why teams weren't willing to give him guaranteed money. Gregg doesn't remember any of this of course and just assumes Brees wasn't wanted. If I remember correctly there was talk the Chargers could trade Rivers and keep Brees but they obviously ended up not doing that.

Gregg is ignorant, so of course he will blame teams for not taking a chance on Brees but at the time he was damaged goods and not really a great candidate to take a risk upon because he wanted a lot of money.

Martin, there was a lot of second guessing against the Chargers because of that and I remember it well because I always liked Brees and thought they should keep him over Rivers. Really they didn't go wrong either way, Rivers is still a great QB. It was dumb for the Chargers to keep him in that game, but I thought they made a decent attempt to keep him around, especially given the fact they already had another QB who they thought could play.

Your words that they were arrogant are exactly right and they didn't have reason to be. I still don't blame them for not laying out a ton of money for Brees. Gregg is an idiot, so of course he does.