Wednesday, December 9, 2009

13 comments TMQ: Gregg Has Fun With Domes and Numbers

I am 95% sure that Gregg Easterbrook doesn't know there are other NFL teams at this point in the season who are successful. Nearly every single week he talks about the New Orleans Saints and Indianapolis Colts and mentions the undrafted/lowly drafted free agents they have on their team who are playing well. Gregg has fallen into the same trap that a lot of sportswriters fall into. This trap is to just talk about the teams that are doing really well this year and ignore some of the other teams. Then a team like the Arizona Cardinals make the Super Bowl and the media is scrambling to figure out who the hell these guys are.

I understand why sportswriters do it, if a team is doing well then that team is a hot story for the year, but there is a limit to how much we can hear about the "good" teams every season. Every year in the NFL there are a few teams that do well and sportswriters tend to cover these teams the most because they are successful and by about Week 12 everything that can be said about that team has been said. That's the case for the Saints and Colts this year. Gregg still keeps going though.

The best records in the NFL so far this season belong to Indianapolis, New Orleans and Minnesota -- all dome teams. That's largely coincidence, not any inherent dome advantage -- dome teams are 2-2 in the Super Bowl, and haven't done all that well in early playoff rounds.

I like how Gregg determines this is largely coincidence by using how dome teams in the past have done in the Super Bowl and in the early rounds of the playoffs. The playoff records of dome teams in the past have absolutely nothing to do with whether a dome team has an advantage in the regular season and it also doesn't mean dome teams don't have an advantage in the playoffs either. It's entirely possible dome teams have an advantage against lesser competition during the regular season in a dome but when they face a better team in the playoffs the "dome advantage" goes away. I don't know if it is coincidence that the Vikings have lost two road games this year and both were games played outside.

So now that Gregg has said dome teams have no inherent advantage when playing in a dome in the playoffs and regular season, Gregg is going to run down each team's indoor/outdoor schedule for the rest of the season to see whether they will be affected by playing outdoors at any point. Hmm, there is no advantage, yet Gregg wants to see if Indianapolis, New Orleans and Minnesota will have an advantage by playing in a dome in the playoffs. Doing this makes sense to Gregg for some reason. He says these teams have no advantage playing indoors because there is no evidence of this, but he just assumes they have a disadvantage playing outdoors using absolutely no evidence to prove this.

The Vikings have a cold-weather game in Chicago on Dec. 28 -- then, if they keep winning, they will play in the postseason either in their dome or New Orleans' dome, followed by a Super Bowl date in Miami.

Here is a fallacy in Gregg's thinking. The Vikings AND the Saints can't both have the advantage of playing indoors in a dome. These two teams would meet if the playoffs started today and the game would be played in a dome, which means neither team would have an advantage nor a disadvantage. So when he is determining if a team has a "sunny" outlook or not, he needs to factor in the Vikings and Saints could run into each other in the NFC Championship Game and theoretically neither team would have an indoor advantage. Gregg just says the Saints have a "sunny" outlook even though they would have to possibly play a dome team in a dome to make the Super Bowl.

In recent seasons, Favre has played poorly in the cold -- once Minnesota locks in its playoff position, the Vikes' priority will be to protect his 40-year-old denim-clad body for the playoffs, which will be played indoors or in favorable climes. Weather forecast: Warm and pleasant, with a slight chance of snow.

See, both the Vikings and the Saints like to play in a dome, so the "weather forecast" for them can't be both sunny, which is what Gregg writes. Despite the fact both teams are going to play in domes for a good portion of the forseeable future, neither team has an advantage when playing each other in a dome. I love splitting hairs with Gregg.

Indianapolis, holding a three-game lead over the rest of the AFC with four games to play, is virtually guaranteed the top seed in the conference playoffs, and could clinch it as early as next week. Will the Colts' starters really want to go all-out in meaningless late-regular-season contests, especially at Buffalo?

Considering the fact the Colts won the Super Bowl the one year they did not rest their starters in the last game of the season, they may have a reason to not rest their Colts starters. So yes, there is a chance the team may want to go all out at the end of the season if they believe there is a correlation between resting their starters and failure in the playoffs.

Peyton Manning is smart enough to know that entering the postseason 16-0 would just mean there's a monkey on his back.

Yes, because the one thing Peyton Manning doesn't like and isn't used to is having pressure on him. If there is a quarterback in the NFL who could handle the pressure of going through a perfect season I would put Peyton Manning as near the top in that group.

Manning is also smart enough to realize what he did in the regular season doesn't matter because his team has to win in the playoffs or go home no matter what the team's regular season record ends up being. It doesn't matter if the Colts went 10-6 or 16-0 ,there is still pressure in the playoffs.

There's a good chance New Orleans will lock up the top seed with two weeks remaining in the regular season. New Orleans' players are saying they are psyched to go for 16-0; coach Sean Payton seems psyched, too. But would you really want to enter the Super Bowl at 18-0?

I honestly don't know if it really matters. It's not like the pressure goes away in the playoffs either way.

Only one team ever did, and the weight of those undefeated expectations helped defeat the Patriots.

The 1972 Dolphins went undefeated in the regular season and won the Super Bowl, so the weight of the expectations didn't affect them. Granted, they had to win less games than a modern team would have to, but the point still stands.

Gregg is taking a one team sample size and trying to create a rule out of it. What really helped defeat the Patriots was a good defensive gameplan by the Giants, good luck on the part of the Giants, good offensive/defensive offensive execution on the part of the Giants, and poor offensive/defensive execution by the Patriots. I would put the expectations of an undefeated season at #5 at the highest on a list of reasons why the Patriots lost the Super Bowl and a chance to go undefeated.

The Cowboys are now 15-29 after Thanksgiving in the past decade. Tony Romo and Miles Austin -- who jetted to Las Vegas for a midnight party after their Thanksgiving Day game rather than keep their minds on football --

I talked briefly on Monday that it was the perception of going to Vegas that was the problem, not actually going to Vegas. Plus, it wasn't a party, but a benefit of some type.

Romo badly missed on an easy throw for six points to Roy Williams, whose man had fallen down; when the game was still close, Austin was chased down in the flat and stopped short of a critical first down by backup defensive end Dave Tollefson.

Yeah, but Dave Tollefson was a lowly drafted player, so no matter whether he is a backup or not, he obviously has great skill!

I really, really, really, really doubt the reason Romo missed that throw was because he was tired from partying several nights earlier and I really, really, really doubt Austin got chased down because he was tired from partying. There is really no correlation between these events and Austin and Romo going to Vegas earlier in the week. Romo actually had a pretty good game against the Giants on Sunday.

In Christmas-is-coming news, man of the worldly mind, do you believe in the Crabtree Curse? San Francisco was 3-1 before signing Michael Crabtree, and is 2-6 since. Stretching back to last season, under Mike Singletary, the Niners are 8-5 without Crabtree, 2-6 with him.

Shut up, shut up, shut up! I want to put a curse on Gregg Easterbrook for saying stupid shit like this.

How the hell is Gregg going back to the 49ers schedule before they even had actually drafted Michael Crabtree in an effort to say there is a curse? I don't think he can go back to a completely different season to show the 49ers played well without Crabtree. It was a different 49ers team last year. Gregg's curse is bullshit anyway due to the fact the 2-6 record has more to do with playing quality teams than it does with signing Crabtree, but you can't have a curse on a team before the player ever actually played for said team.

This group of sentences is pure nonsense. Hell, why don't we say, "The 49ers won 5 Super Bowls before they signed Michael Crabtree and have won zero Super Bowls since then. Clearly Michael Crabtree is bad luck." It would be about as relevant a measurement of Crabtree's impact on the team.

All that work by Singletary to establish the notion that no one is bigger than the team went out the window when suddenly everyone saw you could jerk the 49ers around all you want and get $17 million guaranteed as your reward.

I am not a violent person, but I want to kick Gregg Easterbrook in the teeth for writing this. It was the original offer the 49ers offered him and MICHAEL CRABTREE is the person who caved, not the 49ers. Easterbrook copies and pastes this same sentence every week into TMQ.

Now Gregg cherry picks some statistics:

Stats of the Week No. 4: The Bucs and Panthers were a combined 18-6 when they met in December 2008; since then, they are a combined 9-24.

The Bucs are 1-15 and the Panthers are 8-9 since that date. It sort of makes the 9-24 number look a little bit different doesn't it?

Stats of the Week No. 5: Indianapolis and Tennessee, which just faced each other, are on a combined 17-1 stretch.

The Colts are 12-0 while Tennessee is 5-1 during this stretch...if you exclude the other 6 games the Titans have played this year and include the other 6 games the Colts have played this year. Gregg is completely ignoring the Titans first 6 games of this year to make his numbers work. So yes, the Colts and Titans are on a combined 17-1 stretch if you don't include the 0-6 stretch the Titans had at the same time the Colts started their 12-0 streak and went 6-0. This is cherry picking numbers at it's absolute worst. I just don't get how ESPN can allow Gregg Easterbrook to publish such misleading and cherry picked numbers.

Now Branch was out, and the unknown Deon Butler -- who had seven career receptions entering the game -- was in. And what did we see? A deep pass to Butler! TMQ loves the ploy of sending in a guy who rarely plays, then giving him the ball in a pressure situation.

TMQ loves this ploy because it's an absolutely brilliant play where Butler probably wasn't the primary receiver, but TMQ wants to pretend he was. It really doesn't make much sense to get the ball to a player who rarely plays and make sure you get him the ball in a pressure situation (even though I think Butler plays a fair amount). I am sure the fact Deon Butler got the ball here had nothing to do with the fact the other receivers were covered. I am sure the play was drawn up specifically to make sure Deon Butler got the ball in a pressure situation.

Also, Butler is not an unknown if you watch college football (and really why would you if you wrote an NFL article every week?). He is the all-time reception leader at Penn State and was drafted in the 3rd round this year. Why didn't Gregg mention all this? Because that would show that Butler is a high(er) drafted player who has done well in the NFL and Gregg wants to convince his guillible readers only lowly drafted players can do well in the NFL.

With the Saints having the ball at midfield with one minute to go, you know they're going to throw deep. There is no mystery. Robert Meachem ran a deep route -- that's what they would do, every ankle-biter-league player knew this! Yet the Redskins acted surprised.

Megabucks Washington cornerback Fred Smoot let Meachem run right past him -- Smoot basically covered no one at all on the play. Megabucks Washington safety LaRon Landry bit badly on a Drew Brees pump-fake to the flat, then let Meachem run right past him.

I bet everyone knows what type of defense this sounds like...that would be a zone defense of some type. The reason Smoot didn't cover anyone is because he was in his zone and there wasn't a player in his zone at the time. Landry was the safety help over the top and once he bit on the pump fake there was no safety help for Smoot and Meachem was wide open. This play seems to be completely Landry's fault.

I like how Gregg calls LaRon Landy and Smoot "megabucks," which is something he does when a highly drafted player screws up. Unfortunately, Gregg Easterbrook is too much of a dumbass to realize highly drafted Robert Meachem is the one who caught the ball and super megabucks quarterback Drew Brees is the one who threw the ball. So basically Easterbrook has absolutely no point. This play wasn't Smoot's fault completely and there were more than just two "megabucks" players involved in this play...there were four "megabucks" players and two of them actually did well on the play, one was involved to an extent, and there was a mistake by one of the "megabucks" players.

What's the real reason the megabucks LaRon Landry is playing poorly? Reader Matt Petrocci of Colorado Springs, Colo., writes, "Not only does Landry have a habit of showboating after routine tackles, he gave up two touchdowns against the Saints while wearing a wristwatch.

So he is struggling because he is wearing a wristwatch? That makes no sense.

I know LaRon Landry has gotten a lot of crap lately for the Redskins struggles but I don't think it is because of a wristwatch.

With defending Super Bowl champion Pittsburgh leading woeful Oakland 17-13 with six minutes remaining, the Long Johns faced third-and-1 on their own 25-yard line. The Steelers brought eight men up on the Bruce Gradkowski play-fake; he threw deep to Louis Murphy for a 75-yard touchdown.

Sour was that safeties Ryan Clark and Tyrone Carter were nowhere to be seen for the entire play.

Well the Steelers brought 8 men up on the play-fake and I am assuming one of those wasn't a either Ryan Clark or Tyrone Carter were in the box on the play-fake and either Clark/Carter were playing deep(er) on the play and most likely one of the Raiders receivers had single coverage on the play while there was safety help from Clark/Carter on the opposite side of the field. Simple math can tell us where at least one of the safeties were on the play and common sense may say Clark/Carter weren't responsible for the side of the field Murphy was on. This was a poorly timed blitz, but not necessarily Clark or Carter's fault they weren't in the picture for Murphy's catch.

With 15 seconds remaining, Pittsburgh showed one of its funky defensive sets: two defensive linemen, four linebackers, and five defensive backs -- all standing, no one in a stance. Just before the snap, two cornerbacks -- Burnett and Ike Taylor -- ran up into the line. At the snap, the play appeared to be a mega-blitz; actually only four men rushed, and Gradkowski threw the winning touchdown pass to Murphy. Sweet! But the Steelers dropped six to cover three Raiders receivers -- how did Murphy get open? Two of the four rushers were Burnett and Taylor -- both cornerbacks -- meaning the pass-coverage guys were chasing the quarterback and the linebackers were in coverage.

This would be a zone blitz of sorts, which is exactly why the pass-coverage guys were chasing the quarterback and the linebackers were in coverage. I feel like Gregg is confused about this and he really shouldn't be. This was a zone blitz, which is something Pittsburgh is famous for.

Plus, with 15 seconds remaining, Oakland absolutely had to throw into the end zone -- yet Murphy got behind Mundy, who made the high school mistake of looking into the backfield trying to guess what was happening, rather than just guarding his man.

Again, there is a chance Mundy didn't have a "man" but instead had a zone and was not looking in the backfield (as Gregg always just assumes) but was trying to figure out which guy to cover in the secondary. I am guessing he had gotten confused and wasn't sure where to (a) provide help or (b) he needed to be on the play.

Beyond that, what about the outside of helmets? Reader Jim Comerford of Bangkok, Thailand, writes, "Wouldn't it make sense to pad the helmets on the outside to reduce their ability to be used as a battering ram?"

I am definitely not an expert on things like this...but if the outside of the helmet is padded wouldn't this look stupid? Also even if the inside of the helmet is padded wouldn't the person getting hit with the helmet still feel the impact no matter what?

What about the problem that players won't admit to concussion symptoms, so they won't be pulled from games?

I have only been talking about this problem for a month and a half now.

This is indeed a problem, and will take rising awareness to change. Coaches need to teach that it's one thing to go back in the game if your elbow hurts -- smash a joint, medical science will just give you a new one. It's another to go back into the game with a brain injury -- impair your brain, and there is absolutely nothing medical science can do.

Oh ok. So all we need is a complete change in the culture of the NFL by changing the culture in Pee-Wee football, middle school football, high school football and college football by convincing the football coaches to risk wins and losses by sitting an important player and convincing players that playing with a potential concussion can affect their future when they are 20 years older? Not to mention if a player gets more than one concussion along their way to the NFL, this will cause NFL teams in the new "concussion conscious" era to potentially think twice about this player and cost him money in where he is drafted. That's it? That's all we have to do? That shouldn't take more than a decade or so to change.

Baltimore general manager Ozzie Newsome is Mr. Perfect on personnel decisions, but his offseason decision to release center Jason Brown and sign center Matt Birk -- essentially a trade of Brown for Birk -- has backfired. Brown is having a great year for St. Louis, while Birk looks like he's ready to don a garish jacket in the broadcast booth.

Not re-signing Jason Brown was a salary cap move to get Terrell Suggs and Ray Lewis re-signed. The Ravens didn't want to commit to Jason Brown long term for what he was asking. Gregg Easterbrook has absolutely no capability to understand salary cap decisions. He doesn't understand the salary cap and thinks the only reason a team gets rid of a player is if they don't want him anymore. Then he calls this player "an unwanted player" and irritates me.

Aaron Rodgers came to the line and surveyed the defense on his right. He became agitated, shouted some code words, and enthusiastically motioned the slotback to shift out wide right. Then the tight end at fullback, Jermichael Finley, went in motion left, and caught a touchdown pass on an alley-oop left.

Actually Gregg it is called a "fade" not an alley-oop. Of course Gregg only writes a weekly column for the most popular sports entertainment network in the United States, I wouldn't expect him to know this.

My next book, "Sonic Boom," will be published the week after Christmas. It has nothing to do with sports or space aliens -- it's a nonfiction work about the good and bad of global economic trends. I have my fingers crossed, because the pre-publication notices so far are very good. Eric Schmidt, the CEO of Google, said "Sonic Boom" is "the business book you must read," while Gary Becker of the University of Chicago, a winner of the Nobel Prize in economics, has said, "I strongly recommend this book to anyone who wants deep insights into the future." Bear in mind, the goofiness of TMQ is a persona I adopt for the column:

See, sometimes I get the feeling Gregg Easterbrook is just screwing with people like me when he writes TMQ every week. I really don't think the entire TMQ is his goofiness persona though and he really is incredibly wrong about some of these things he writes.

Washington leading undefeated New Orleans 27-20 in the fourth quarter, the Redskins faced fourth-and-1 on the Saints' 3. Touchdown! You need a touchdown! A 10-point lead is not safe against football's highest-scoring team.

I am honestly torn about this. Sure the Redskins could have gone for the touchdown and made it clear they were trying to win the game by putting the game out of reach for the Saints, but if they had not gotten the 1st down then the Saints would be easily within striking distance and that high scoring team would have the momentum AND only have to overcome a 7 point lead. I think I would actually kick the field goal here.

George Noble of Middletown, N.J., notes the movie "Leap Year" opens on Jan. 8, 2010, 722 days before the next leap year begins.

It's a fictional movie. It doesn't have to be released the exact year of a leap year to be entertaining. "2012" didn't have to be released in 2012 did it?

Falcons, Bucs, Panthers -- Who Cares?

I do?

But good Arizona defense carried the day. Cardinals leading 24-10 in the third quarter, Minnesota went: Adrian Peterson loss of 5, sack, interception, and TMQ wrote the words "game over" in his notebook

This possession for the Vikings occurred with 5:10 left in the 3rd quarter and the Cardinals ended up with the ball on the Vikings 44 yard line. It's not exactly a bold prediction to say the game was over at this point.

Brett Favre stayed on the field till the final snap despite the fact the hosts led 30-10 with a couple of minutes remaining, which indicates coach Brad Childress is concerned with padding Favre's stats --

Or the Vikings were (the horror!) still trying to win the game until the very end and didn't want to put one of their backups in the game in a position where the Cardinals are going to be rushing the passer with a fervor because they don't have to play the run. I don't think it makes much tactical sense to put Tavaris Jackson or Sage Rosenfels in the game on obvious passing downs and the game has been decided.

Tim Graham reports the Bills have photoshopped Dick "Cheerio, Chaps" Jauron out of team pictures, as if he never existed. Maybe he didn't! Maybe the Bills should interview Nikolai Yezhov for their coaching vacancy.

I clicked the link for Yezhov's Wikipedia biography and it turns out Joseph Stalin had erased Yezhov out of photographs because he didn't like his leaders being high profile. So it's a semi-funny joke by Easterbrook and it is a joke about dead Russians at what could be more funny than that?

Then I read the link that led to the Tim Graham column and here is what he wrote:

More telling is the visual evidence Jauron was erased like he was Leon Trotsky.

Ouch. So basically Gregg Easterbrook stole the joke and just named a different Russian leader. He's like Rick Reilly except he steals jokes/column ideas from his co-workers and not from himself.

Could it be that Bill Belichick will discredit the theory -- long advocated by TMQ and many sports statisticians -- that teams usually should go for it on fourth-and-short? Belichick obviously has been reading the literature on this topic, ordering tries on fourth-and-short at key junctures against Indianapolis, New Orleans and on Sunday against Miami. Three failed.

What? I thought fortune favored the bold? How could this be? Shouldn't the Patriots have some extra goodwill built up from the football gods because of the fact they went for it on fourth down? What is Gregg's excuse for all these fourth downs not working?

But all three that failed were super-simple plays -- the first two short quick-out passes, Sunday's a straight-ahead jumbo power rush -- which is puzzling play calling on Belichick's part (New England has no offensive coordinator).

Oh, of course. The very thing a team needs to do on a fourth-and-short play is to make it more complicated than it needs to be or take more time for the play to develop than necessary.

TMQ contends that fourth-and-short plays must contain some misdirection, because the defense is cranked to go straight ahead. Not just the Flying Elvii but San Diego, New Orleans and Jacksonville failed on fourth-and-1 plays Sunday when they simply went jumbo, straight ahead; San Diego's failure let the Browns back into the game, resulting in a surprisingly close ending. By contrast, when Denver went on fourth-and-1 against Kansas City, the Broncos showed man-in-motion, just enough to create a little hesitation;

Putting a man in motion doesn't really count as misdirection. I will say that maybe there should be men in motion is a decent idea but misdirection indicates the ball carrier will be behind the offensive line longer than necessary. I don't think this is a great idea.

In the piece, coach Gary Patterson is quoted as saying he used to be a negative person who screamed and criticized a lot, then realized that was his own failing, and now that he's a positive person who praises players, TCU wins more.

I am sure TCU winning more games now that Patterson is positive is a result of Patterson's increased positivity and not the fact he is a good recruiter, good coach or knows how to put his players in a position to succeed. It's all about the positivity and Easterbrook thinks it correlates perfectly with TCU starting to win more. I think this is nonsense and would look to a football-related reason why TCU has become a good college football team.

Single Worst Play of the Season -- So Far: Dallas leading 17-14 in the third quarter, Jersey/A had first-and-10 on its 26. Eli Manning threw a simple flare pass to lumbering power back Brandon Jacobs, who lumbered 74 yards down the sideline for the touchdown. Jacobs isn't a speed player -- yet none of the Cowboys' speed players ever got near him. The safety on the play side was blocked by backup tight end Darcy Johnson; but free safety Alan Ball and cornerbacks Terence Newman and Mike Jenkins didn't bother to chase the play, not even appearing in the picture until Jacobs was in view of the goal line.

I find it amazing that Alan Ball, Terence Newman,. and Mike Jenkins didn't bother to chase the play, according to Gregg Easterbrook, yet somehow they ended up in the picture when Brandon Jacobs got near the goal line. They must walk very, very fast. I am pretty sure Gregg Easterbrook is wrong and these guys did chase after Jacobs, it's just Jacobs was too fast from where Ball, Jenkins, and Newman were on the field for them to catch up to the play.

It's easier and lazier for Easterbrook to just assume they weren't trying on the play rather than to make an effort to understand where Ball, Jenkins, and Newman were on the field in relation to Jacobs when he caught the ball. Brandon Jacobs may be slow but he isn't slow to the point where three guys who were not near to him could catch him from behind. I saw the play and I am pretty sure Ball, Jenkins, and Newman were running, I just don't think they were able to catch Jacobs and it is easier (lazier) for Gregg to assume they weren't hustling.

Another week, another TMQ-induced headache.


KentAllard said...

Oi. Nice of Easterbrook to point out he's only an idiot when he talks about football. I find it implausible someone could understand economic theory but be unable to grasp how a zone defense works.

The Casey said...

Maybe the 49ers should just throw Crabtree into the ocean like Jonah. Then they'd never lose again!

With the Saints having the ball at midfield with one minute to go, you know they're going to throw deep. There is no mystery. Robert Meachem ran a deep route -- that's what they would do, every ankle-biter-league player knew this! Yet the Redskins acted surprised.

Actually, with a minute to go and the Saints already at midfield, they could have worked a few short passes to the sidelines.

Also, isn't "megabucks" technically a million bucks? Wouldn't that make the vast majority of the players megabucks players?

Why exactly would a book called Sonic Boom have to do with space aliens?

In honor of TMQ, I've been trying to come up with the bad sportswriting gods. So far I've got Blankspaceon (for Plaschke), Gimmickles (Paige, Reilly), Knobschlobulor (P. King), and Offtopicus (TMQ). Obviously it's a slow day here.

The Casey said...

"How dare TMQ refer to Brett's denim-clad body! I can't take sharing Brett! I'm going to go home and eat a gallon of coffee-flavored ice cream! Or is it drink a gallon of ice cream-flavored coffee? Brett, help me!"

-Peter King

Bengoodfella said...

Kent, you mean you aren't going to go out and buy "Sonic Boom?" I would think if he can write a book that seems to be that smart how he can't understand the intricacies of the NFL either.

I am with you Casey, the 49ers should just set up an "accident" so Crabtree is off the team and then the Super Bowl is theirs!

You are exactly right, the Saints could have done a number of things in this situation, not just go deep. I don't know how many timeouts they had, but if they had timeouts they could have done even more stuff.

I would guess "megabucks" would be several million dollars. I think "Sonic Boom" is supposed to have something to do with aliens. Clearly, the joke isn't funny and the book has nothing to do with aliens.

I will have to think about those sportswriting gods. I don't know if copying TMQ is ever a good idea, though I do like Gimmickles as a name for Paige and Reilly.

I like to think Peter would eat a gallon of both coffee flavored ice cream and ice cream flavored coffee.

rich said...

I'm pretty sure if you asked any team this questions "Would you really want to enter the Super Bowl at 18-0?" They'd look at you funny and then punch you in the face.

I'm pretty sure most of the players wouldn't care about the expectations of 19-0, but would be excited to, you know, be playing in the Super Bowl. The "expectations" of 19-0 didn't cause the the Patriots to lose to the Giants. The Giants pass rush and Ellis Hobbs falling down did though.

The play with Fred Smoot was absolutely a zone, it was so blatantly obvious to anyone watching that it was a zone. Meachem found the soft spot in the zone (along the sidelines 8-10 yards downfield) because the safety was playing deep and was slow to react to the route. Smoot did nothing wrong there. If I remember correctly (I may be remembering the Meachem catch in OT), Smoot's zone looked like it was protecting against a slant over the middle. Brees made a great read and Landry played it poorly. That one you pin on either the defensive play call, the safety or on the superior abilities of Brees.

I also think it's funny how Oakland scored a TD one a play where the Steelers only rushed four. Doesn't Greggggggggg usually yell at teams for blitzing?

One last point: the way the media talks about games that are "over," the NFL should adopt a 'slaughter rule' any time a team takes a 20+ point lead after half-time, just call the game. The Vikings get flak for leaving in the *gasp* first stringers to try to win the game they're losing, but if a team leaves their starters in while winning, they also take flak.

So really, what do writers want? If you're winning by "a lot" you have to pull your starters or else you're "padding stats" and "running up the score." If you're down by "a lot," you have to pull your starters because you're "padding stats" and "trying to make the loss look better." I mean, weren't the Vikings winning by 17 or something late against Baltimore? You know, when Baltimore almost won the game?

I really think the whole leaving the starters in argument is one of those "no right answer" problems for coaches. If you leave in your starters, you're rubbing it in/padding stats; if you take them out, you've given up. It's asinine.

brent daniels said...

I like to how he acts like Belichick is reading his column and that has somehow affected his play calling. I know TMQ didn't start watching football til about 5 years ago, but Belichick has always been aggressive in 4th down situations. I think there is better chance he got the aggressiveness from coaching under Bill Parcells who went for it 4th alot more than average also. I'm pretty sure the only people who read TMQ are people who either want to make fun of him, or people who don't like football that much and occasionally need someone to bitch about a movie, or misinterpret science journals. Of course I could be wrong and next week Belichick will have some kind of mass worship of the football gods, before he cuts all his 1st round picks for undrafted free agents.

Bengoodfella said...

Rich, I am with you. I think teams that are good enough to go 18-0 are also good enough to realize anytime you make the playoffs you have to win all of your games no matter what to win the Super in essence the record doesn't matter. Of course there are outside media distractions.

I saw that Meacham play and it was a zone. Gregg misses this as usual, it wasn't Smoot's fault and Landry misread everything and didn't give Smoot help over the top. His fault, not Smoot's and it also didn't help that Drew Brees is a fantastic quarterback who can throw the ball wherever he wants to a receiver. That had something to do with it.

It's going to be a no-win situation with the starters involving Gregg. If a team keeps the starters in while they are behind then Gregg doesn't know why they are still in there but if a team that is ahead keeps their starters ahead they are running up the score. If a team is behind Gregg thinks they should just give up, but the other team should try to stop pretty much what Gregg wants is unwatchable football.

Brent, Belichick has a lot of 2nd round picks next year, so it would be mighty impressive if he drafted them and then released them in favor of undrafted free agents. I think TMQ actually believes that people read his column and adjust play calling according to what he says or pays attention to the tips he gives.

Most NE fans will tell you Belichick has always been an aggressive coach and he didn't turn that way because of TMQ. I think the only people who read TMQ want to mock Gregg or are just casual football fans and want to watch the sport get mocked a little bit.

HH said...

TMQ also has a ridiculous double-standard for teams that are losing big: go for it on fourth down, but sit your starters. I'm actually in favor of the first, because I do think too many coaches try to avoid shutouts of narrow the margin of victory, when they should be going for the however unlikely win. But if you're imploring teams to always try to win, however unlikely, then you must let them do so with their starters, no?

Bengoodfella said...

HH, that is another double standard Easterbrook has. I guess he wants teams to go for it on fourth down until a certain point and then give up completely? Or does he want teams to go for it on fourth down with the backups? If a team is going for a first down on fourth down with the backups, wouldn't it make much more sense to just keep the starters in the game?

rich said...

If you go for it on fourth down with your starters while winning relatively comfortably, do the "football gods" reward you for going for it on fourth down or do they penalize you for trying to "run up the score?"

These are the questions that TMQ really needs to answer. I'd ask myself, but the "football gods" must not think I'm worthy of their infinite wisdom.

Bengoodfella said...

You will be punished for running up the score and then the football gods will put bad karma on you and your team. You can't go for it on fourth down if you are up by too many points. That number only TMQ knows.

kaptemplar said...

I just found this blog. I read TMQ every week and I do have to agree with some of the contradictions you guys point out. Specifically those about pulling the starters / running up the score. So my question to you guys is, what weekly column do you like reading? Out of the sportwriters out there, who do you respect the most in terms of their football acumen?

Bengoodfella said...

The weekly column I enjoy reading. I don't know if I enjoy a weekly column, but here are some of the writers I do enjoy (this doesn't mean I agree with everything they say/write):

Bill Simmons (40% of the time...I just want to get that out of the way...I am hard on him b/c he can do better than he does sometimes in my mind), Gregg Doyel, Jason Whitlock, Mark Bradley of the AJC, Darin Gantt (beat writer for the Panthers), Mike Freeman, Joe Posnanski, Jeff Pearlman, Stewart Mandel (I find nothing objectionable and read every week), LZ Granderson (when he doesn't get too preachy/moral lessony), CBS Sportsline college basketball bloggers (mostly Gary Parrish), and Luke Winn.

I am sure there are more but I would have to think of them.

In terms of football acumen, I would say I personally I would go with Mandel in college football and in the NFL, it's really tough to choose a guy in print honestly. I may have to get back to you on that one b/c I am not sure. That's not good...

On television, I like Brian Billick and I like Ron Jaworski in certain amounts of time.