Wednesday, September 15, 2010

18 comments TMQ: At Least It Isn't a Bunch of Haikus This Week

I am very glad I skipped the haiku TMQ from last week. I didn't even read it. I find it to be more terrible than what Gregg normally writes in TMQ so if I am not writing about it, I avoid it completely. I am trying to be less nitpicky of Gregg and TMQ (even though they are the same thing/person), so I don't lose my point that Gregg Easterbrook sucks. Apparently, when I write 10,000 words about how Easterbrook sucks it has less impact than when I write 5,000 about how he sucks. So I am not being overly nitpicky, but it's not easy.

As a new season opens, all seems in order in the NFL. The Steelers won at home; the Lions lost on the road.

Well, the Lions really won, but actually lost. I know that doesn't make sense, but they got a moral victory of sorts.

The Saints look seriously great;

No, they didn't look great. They won and that's all that matters in the end though.

I still suck at writing and wish to be fired

Ok, I made that one up.

Tony Romo looks confused.

"Why are all my receivers running the wrong routes?"

"Is Roy Williams STILL on the team? Why didn't we trade Roy Williams and keep Patrick Crayton?"

"Why is Alex Barron holding Brian Orakpo again?"

"Seriously, why aren't my receivers running the right routes?"

The Giants played ugly but won, and Michael Vick is even dancing through tacklers again. Yes, all is as it should be in the NFL.

What's that -- the Texans defeated the Colts? Can this be?

Curveball alert!

Grab the tuna cans and shotgun shells and head for the hills! The end of days approaches!

If the end of days is really approaching, why would grabbing shotgun shells be required? Is there a gun fight I haven't heard about during the end of days?

The Book of Revelation predicts that a beast with seven heads and 10 horns, four horsemen on colored horses and a Houston series win over Indianapolis will be the signs of the approaching Last Judgment.

Apparently Gregg believes he will kill this beast with a shotgun when the end of days approaches. I am surprised Gregg doesn't go on a five paragraph rant about how a beast with seven heads, ten horns, and colored horses isn't realistic at all and the Bible isn't realistic either.

"Give us a little realism Bible. Come on. I can accept four horsemen, but colored horses? Where will they get the spray paint to color the horses? If they mate these horses where do they find multi-colored horses to mate with? I don't see red and blue horses just hanging around fields. Why won't the seven headed and ten horned beast accidentally attack the horsemen? Are we supposed to just assume they all speak the same language and know not to attack the horsemen? If a beast with seven heads and ten horns takes over Earth, what are the odds it will know to not eat the four horsemen? It's not like they all speak the same language. Besides, whatever continent the horsemen get on, they will have to stay there unless the colored horses can float over the ocean. This is so unrealistic!"

A 231-yard day for unknown, undrafted tailback Arian Foster surely helped. Never heard of Foster?

Nope, I have heard of him. He was a great running back for a season at Tennessee and for some reason wasn't drafted. He is also the greatest free agent find in the history of the NFL and a top-three pick according to Peter King, who took time out of constantly praising Wes Welker to notice the fast black guy running the ball for the Texans.

Had he left school as a junior, he might have been a heralded draft choice. Instead, he returned for his senior year in order to graduate, lost his starting job to Montario Hardesty and wasn't drafted.

Hardesty was a guy who I thought would be good this year for the Browns if he hadn't blown out his ACL for the 15th time in his life.

The biggest factor in the Texans' victory was a surprise game plan.

Change the name of the team to the Florida Texans because we all know from his experience in college Peyton Manning can't beat Florida?


Last season, Houston led the league in passing but was 30th in rushing. Indianapolis clearly expected a pass-wacky Houston offense and prepared for the same. Instead, adjusting for sacks and kneel-downs, Houston coaches called 39 rushes and 18 passes.

I am sure this pass/rush disparity had nothing to do with the fact the Texans were incredibly successful running the ball and were ahead for the entire game. Why throw the ball if you are ahead and running successfully?

Wasn't it two weeks ago that Gregg Easterbrook said rushing the ball is not a way to win a Super Bowl in the new pass-wacky NFL? So you can't win a Super Bowl rushing a lot, but you can beat a Super Bowl team by rushing a lot? I hate Gregg's contradictions.

As for my Super Bowl pick, annually Tuesday Morning Quarterback forecasts that the team goin' to Disney World will be one that did not appear on "Monday Night Football." This has happened three times in the past 11 years.

We all know the teams chosen for MNF has nothing to do with ratings and has everything to do with that team's overall skill level. So naturally there is a tie-in with which teams appear on MNF and which teams should appear in the Super Bowl. ESPN only chooses the best teams to be on MNF, regardless of ratings.

(end sarcasm)

I will be true to my school and predict that someone from the non-MNF group will win the Super Bowl.

Yet, he will not reveal the actual team he thinks will go to the Super Bowl. That's not really a prediction to pick one team out of seven teams and say they will be in the Super Bowl. That's a cop-out for a prediction.

My alternate-uniform Super Bowl pick -- from observing the television football touts I've learned that it helps to make several mutually exclusive predictions -- is Colts versus Packers.

Gregg has two Super Bowl picks, naturally, who doesn't have two Super Bowl picks every year? I personally have 10 picks.

I have my real pick (Chargers-Packers), my dream pick (Panthers-Browns), my New York pick (Giants-Jets), my California pick (San Diego-San Francisco), my nightmare pick (Minnesota-Indianapolis), my Missouri pick (Kansas City-St. Louis), my "will anyone watch the game" pick (Jacksonville-Carolina), my after Week 1 pick (New Orleans-New England), my Peter King orgasm pick (New England-Minnesota), and my Texas pick (Houston-Dallas).

So Gregg seems to believe a team that doesn't appear on MNF will appear in the Super Bowl, he just isn't going to actually back that belief with a prediction that reflects it.

In other NFL news, one week is in the books -- why not open the Pro Bowl balloting? Last fall, the league opened voting for Pro Bowl slots in mid-October, when about a third of the season had been played. Might as well cut out the middleman and choose the Pro Bowl roster following the first game. Makes as much sense as choosing in October.

I think Pro Bowl voting is done too early, but voting after one game doesn't make as much sense as choosing in October (rubs head and wonders why he reads TMQ every week).

At 9:01 p.m. ET last Thursday -- a mere half-hour into the 2010 NFL season -- the first Preposterous Punt boomed. The Vikings punted on fourth-and-3 from midfield, against the highest-scoring team in the league. Needless to say, they went on to lose. Minnesota averaged a spectacular 6.3 yards per offensive snap in 2009 -- why was Brad Childress afraid to try for 3 yards?

Because he didn't want to give the highest-scoring team in the NFL the ball on the 50 yard line if his team couldn't get three yards and wanted to pin them deep and hope his defense could stop them?

Stat of the Week No. 4: Stretching back to last season, Dallas has one touchdown in its past two games.

Seriously? Not only does Gregg stretch back 8 months to last season for this statistic, but he only uses a sample size of two games to do so.

Sweet Play of the Week No. 2: Oakland holding a 3-0 lead, Tennessee had first-and-10 on its 44. The Flaming Thumbtacks lined up in double slots. Vince Young play-faked and bootlegged right; from the left, Justin Gage came to the right behind the Tennessee offensive line, while Nate Washington ran a deep cross. Usually on a bootleg, the intended receiver is directly in front of the quarterback.

This isn't true. There are bootlegs with multiple receivers and the intended receiver isn't always right in front of the quarterback.

Since Gage was running directly in front of Young, to the safeties, it looked as though the play was drawn up for a 10-yard gain to Gage. The safeties bit.

You are a safety for Oakland and you see Vince Young play fake to Chris Johnson and then run right. Of these three things, why would you have come in more and let a player get behind you?

1. You bit on the play fake to the best running back in the NFL, Chris Johnson, and thought he had the ball. You intend to try to tackle him before he runs too far down the field.

2. You see Vince Young running and would like to prevent him from running for a touchdown.

3. You assume because the ball usually goes to the short receiver on a bootleg, you will just ignore the receiver currently going deep and passing you on his way to the end zone.

I am sure it was the fact they just assumed the ball was going to be thrown short that had the safeties bite and had nothing to do with the play fake to Chris Johnson or the image of Vince Young running free with the football. Football players don't have assignments on each play, they just play free-lance defense based on their own assumption of what they think should happen on each play.

Sweet Play of the Week (Small-College Bonus): Playing No. 13 Virginia Tech on the Hokies' field, Division I-AA James Madison -- hired by the Hokies for an automatic win -- faced first-and-10 on the host's 12, trailing 16-14 in the fourth quarter.

Cupcake alert! This is terrible that Virginia Tech schedules shitty teams like James Madison just so they can beat up on team. Virginia Tech should not be able to get these easy win---...wait, Virginia Tech lost? But that doesn't support Gregg's theory! This can't happen.

I like how one week Gregg Easterbrook assumes any Division I-AA team is an easy win and is a "cupcake" and the next week celebrates his own wrongness by pointing out they aren't always easy wins.

James Madison came out in a "pistol" -- quarterback set back from center but not as far as in a shotgun, with a tailback behind him. (A pistol is smaller than a shotgun.)

Which is exactly why you would never take pistol shells to fight a seven headed and ten horned beast. They are completely ineffective against the beast.

Announcers and the sportsyak world love to drop the term Cover 2, but how many could tell you what this means or how it differs from a Tampa 2? How many could diagram a Cover 4 or a Cover 1? TMQ bets that few who talk and write about football for a living actually know what these coverages are.

Says the guy who writes a football column for (part) of his living and doesn't understand some of the basic principles of the sport. For example, he thinks when Event A happens on a football field then Event B will usually happen every time.

Later, leading 31-14 in the fourth quarter, New England faced third-and-goal on the Cincinnati 1. Backup offensive lineman Dan Connolly reported eligible and lined up as a fullback. Tom Brady didn't even play-fake, simply dropping back to pass; Connolly sprinted into the right flat as if the pass was to him. Linebacker Brandon Johnson covered Connolly; no one covered Gronkowski, the tight end on the right, who caught the game-icing touchdown. A goal-line play that results in a receiver covered by no one is a sweet play. Bengals linebacker Johnson could have covered a tight end or an extra offensive lineman, and chose to cover the lineman: That was sour.

This is what I was talking about when I wrote what I did above. What if the Bengals were running a mix of man and zone defense? Johnson's responsibility may have been the man coming out of the backfield and the other linebackers would drop back in a zone, as would the safeties. So Johnson did what he was supposed to on the play and followed the man coming out of the backfield, so was it was the linebacker or safety's fault a touchdown was scored? Gregg doesn't even think this could happen because a linebacker would never play man with a zone defense behind him in Gregg's mind.

Mike Singletary ordered a punt in Seattle territory while trailing 28-6 in the fourth quarter -- see below. Joe Staley and Anthony Davis, two of the league's highest-paid linemen, both played poorly Sunday.

Anthony Davis is a rookie...who was playing in his first game ever...on the road. Isn't it fair to give him a break this week?

Last week Princeton was hit with an NCAA sanction because an adult friend paid part of a tennis player's tuition.

This isn't as nutty as it sounds. The NCAA bans payment of tuition by anyone other than immediate family members. Otherwise boosters would pool funds to pay the tuition of prospects, and big universities could evade scholarship limits. Since in the Princeton case the person who paid was a longtime friend of the student, the NCAA should simply have let this pass.

So how are we supposed to tell the difference in "a close family friend" and some guy who pays for a college athlete's education to get around scholarship limits? Is there some test required that says a person is a close family friend? Anyone can claim to be a "close family friend" which is why the rule exists.

Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Martz: What to make of Bears offensive coordinator Mike Martz, the former Rams coach? He punted on fourth-and-2 from the Detroit 41, a mincing fraidy-cat call. Facing fourth-and-goal on the Lions' 1, Martz went for it, the manly-man call,

Was it Mike Martz or Lovie Smith who went for it and punted on these two occasions? I would hope Lovie Smith is making decisions like this and not Mike Martz.

but using a bland straight-ahead play that failed. TMQ maintains you must do a little dance on short-yardage downs: A shift or man-in-motion or both are required to distract the defense.

So to go for it on fourth down and not have Gregg criticize you, a team must make sure the play works. Otherwise, if it doesn't work then Gregg thinks it was a dumb is all based on the outcome that determines what Gregg thinks about it.

Then Gregg goes through a list of times when the Jets blitzed and should not have blitzed. He ignores the fact the Jets gave up a grand total of 10 points to the Ravens. This is evidence that may show blitzing worked, so he ignores this evidence because it doesn't reach the conclusion he wants it to reach.

Failing to score a touchdown in their final outing of 2009, the Cowboys scored only one in their first outing of 2010. Didn't we spend the offseason hearing about the "high-powered" Dallas offense, about its "weapons"? The final snap of the first half and the final snap of the second half netted minus-14 points for Dallas -- in a game the Cowboys lost by six.

Washington defensive coordinator Jim Haslett used an aggressive game plan that included 18 cornerback or safety blitzes on 71 Dallas snaps, a very high number of times to gamble on defensive backs rushing the passer.

So here Gregg criticizes the Cowboys offense for not being high powered enough against the Redskins and moderately criticizes the Redskins for blitzing so often and preventing the Cowboys offense from being high powered.

Everyone gaped in amazement at the idiotic play on which Tony Romo flipped the ball to Tashard Choice on the final snap before intermission, with Dallas stuck on its 36. Choice fumbled, and Washington returned the rock for a touchdown. What, if anything, was Romo thinking? Choice was just as bad -- hemmed in by Skins, he was struggling to gain an extra yard to pad his stats, rather than just get on the ground.

Of course there is also the field of thought that Choice may have been trying to get more yardage and score a touchdown by not going to the ground. That would be stupid to believe though, so I am sure rather than trying to score a touchdown for the Cowboys, Choice was trying to get some extra yards to pad his stats. What running back would refuse to be tackled just so he can score a touchdown for his team?

Buck-Buck-Brawckkkkkkk: Trailing 24-0 at New England, Cincinnati faced fourth-and-7 on the Patriots' 35 with 1:19 remaining in the first half, holding two timeouts. As the field goal attempt boomed, TMQ wrote the words "game over" in his notebook.

The game was over, not because the score was 24-0 at halftime, but because the Bengals kicked a field goal in this situation. If the score was 3-0 in favor of the Bengals, the game would have still been over in Gregg's eyes.

That big commitment to the run that Josh "When Does the Frat Party Start?" McDaniels decreed in the offseason? Counting sacks and scrambles, he called 38 passes and 23 rushes. Trailing 24-17, Denver reached third-and-3 on the Jax 14 with 4:51 remaining. Pound the ball? Incompletion, incompletion, ye gods.

Part of the reason the Broncos could not commit to the run is because they were down 17-7 in the early parts of the third quarter and down 24-10 at the end of the third quarter. Being down double digits makes it hard to run the ball in the second half.

Doesn't McDaniels get credit for going for it on fourth down and not being a chicken so that he can turn around the losing culture in Denver? If this play worked, Gregg would give him credit, but because it failed he gets none. So fortune doesn't favor the bold, it favors those who are bold and succeed in being bold.

Gregg tries to pretend he has a rule that going for it on fourth down is smart in certain situations, when he really believes (in retrospect of course) that going for it on fourth down is only smart if a team converts a first down.

Welker had a good day for New England, and many touts have him as their predicted pick for comeback player of the year. "Comeback" player has no formal definition. But how can Welker be viewed as a comeback player when he missed only one game?

I don't know, ask Peter King.

Brett Favre got four votes for Comeback Player of the Year in 2009 and he never missed a game the year before. It brings me to the conclusion, awards like this can be fairly meaningless.

There has been a lot of praise for the Jets' funky defensive sets, too. On Monday night, Baltimore was in a conventional 3-4 almost the entire contest and blitzed only a few times. Who won the game?

This sample size of one game proves the Jets constant blitzing, which led to the best defense in football last year over 16 games in the regular season and got them to the AFC Championship game was just a fluke!

San Diego won the division last season despite having the league's 31st-ranked rushing attack. But when it's raining, you must be able to run the ball. In Kansas City, when it was raining, the Chiefs could run the ball and the Chargers could not. Who won the game?

It's a passing league though. Gregg said this himself. So the Chiefs could win this game, but they can't win the Super Bowl by rushing the ball well. I would think because the Chargers don't run the ball well, they would be fine in this new pass-wacky NFL.

Defending Champion Notes: New Orleans is viewed by the sports world as pass wacky, yet in the Super Bowl showed it could play superior defense, and against Minnesota showed it could play a traditional power game on offense -- rushing for 70 yards in the second half against the Vikings' top-rated run defense.

The Saints can rush the ball and they do rush the ball. They get ahead by throwing the ball and then run the ball well in the second half to try and ice the game. Again, it is easy to run a power running offense when your team is in the lead and you are running the ball well.

Arizona's dreadful seven fumbles kept St. Louis in the game. On Les Mouflons' last-gasp drive, $51 million rookie Sam Bradford kept throwing underneath -- it may have been that the game plan for the rookie's debut included only short passes.

Or it could have been that the Cardinals had taken away the deep pass from the Rams and the Rams were able to throw underneath because they had 3 timeouts left. There's no point in trying to throw the ball deep into double coverage and getting the ball intercepted if the receiver isn't open. Bradford had 3 timeouts and took what the defense was giving him.

Hidden Play of the Week: Hidden plays are ones that never make highlight reels, but stop or sustain drives.

I hate this definition. It is not like highlight reels contain every key moment or play of a game. They are called HIGHLIGHT reels for a reason. That reason being they only show the highlights and not every important play in a game.

Leading 14-9, defending champion New Orleans faced third-and-1 on its own 21 with 4:20 remaining, Minnesota holding two timeouts. If the Vikings could force a punt, they would have good field position to win the game on their final possession. Drew Brees play-faked a power dive, then threw a flare pass in the flat to blocking back Heath Evans for a first down. This play will never be on anyone's highlight reel, but was essential to the Saints' win.

This play was the first down that allowed the Saints to keep the ball and get a new set of downs. This is the play that kept the ball out of Brett Favre's hands and prevented the Vikings from getting the ball and coming back. For anyone who watched this game, this was not a hidden play simply because it wasn't on SportsCenter.

Cupcakes -- Fear Their Wrath: The college football season opened with Jacksonville State and North Dakota State, Division I-AA cupcakes hired to assure big-deal programs an auto-victory, winning at Ole Miss and at Kansas, respectively. In the second week James Madison and South Dakota, Division I-AA cupcakes hired to assure big-deal programs an auto-victory, won at Virginia Tech and at Minnesota, respectively. Note that in all four cases not only did the cupcake prevail, it prevailed on the home field of the football factory.

So either Gregg's whining about teams play cupcake teams doesn't have too much relevance because these teams win sometimes or these teams really aren't cupcakes so Gregg should stop criticizing teams for scheduling these games. Either way, I don't know if Gregg can complain about cupcake games being played when the cupcake is upsetting the "football-factory" schools.

Hurray for overmatched Morgan State. Trailing football factory Maryland 48-0 on the Terps' home turf, the Bears -- a hired cream puff who in 2009 lost by 41 points at Akron -- kicked a field goal to prevent the hosts from boasting of a shutout.

So the Murray State coach wasn't just padding the score to make himself look better by saying his team scored? Gregg would accuse any NFL coach who goes for a field goal in this situation of trying to make himself look better by not getting shut out, yet he celebrates Morgan State here when they kick a field goal rather than being bold and going for it on fourth down.

Gregg LOVES to call a coach who puts points on the board for his team in a blowout a selfish person for trying to make himself look better, yet he backs away from this criticism in this case.

Next Week: Tony Blair claims to have said "I have nothing to offer but blood, toil, tears and sweat" and to have written the Magna Carta.

This is supposed to be humor.


HH said...

Apologies for the length of this comment, but I have strong feelings.

At 9:01 p.m. ET last Thursday -- a mere half-hour into the 2010 NFL season -- the first Preposterous Punt boomed. The Vikings punted on fourth-and-3 from midfield, against the highest-scoring team in the league. Needless to say, they went on to lose. Minnesota averaged a spectacular 6.3 yards per offensive snap in 2009 -- why was Brad Childress afraid to try for 3 yards?

The Saints managed virtually no offense except on two half-opening drives. There was no point in offering them a short field when your defense had already shown they could stop them. You can't be a half-hour into a game and have preposterous punts from midfield. There are silly punts, but they are in games when a team can't defend or trails big, and should go for short yardage downs because it needs every point. In fact, Gregg later correctly names one: Mike Singletary ordered a punt in Seattle territory while trailing 28-6 in the fourth quarter.

Usually on a bootleg, the intended receiver is directly in front of the quarterback. Since Gage was running directly in front of Young, to the safeties, it looked as though the play was drawn up for a 10-yard gain to Gage. The safeties bit.

Nate Washington was ALSO directly in front of Young, just further downfield. In fact, the play is designed to make the defenders choose whether to defend short or long. Young then makes the read and throws to the more open receiver, or, if both are covered they run off the defenders and he run. This, Gregg, is what good play-designed is meant to do.

Bengals linebacker Johnson could have covered a tight end or an extra offensive lineman, and chose to cover the lineman: That was sour.

Does anyone think that Brady, who threw like 10 TD passes to Mike Vrabel, would not have thrown to the uncovered man regardless of who it was? Maybe it was sour that Cinci had one guy guarding two receivers, but let's not blame him for probably doing his assignment right.

Martz went for it, the manly-man call,but using a bland straight-ahead play that failed.

Some call that "HB Off Tackle" and actually lets your runner pick between two gaps while running behind your two best linemen, you ignorant twit.

Choice was just as bad -- hemmed in by Skins, he was struggling to gain an extra yard to pad his stats rather than just get on the ground.

I hate you, Gregg. I will bet you a billion trillion dollars that Choice, at no point during the play, thought about his stats. In fact, I guarantee you he didn't think about the game situation, either. You know what he did think about? Nothing. At that speed, football is largely instict, or practice-acquired quasi-instinct. 99.9% of all carries, it benefits Tashard Choice to push hard to get the extra yard. At this point, that's as much his instinct as it is to swat at a fly that lands on you. He simply DOES NOT think about anything like that on these plays, he just plays like he's taught to, which is "finish your runs." If players stopped to think about game situations or stats mid-play, they'd get killed. TMQ is fond of telling coaches to remind defenses to bat potential INTs down on fourth down. This is necessary because if you don't remind them immediately ahead of time, the instinct to make a pick would dominate and you can get a defensive fumble situation. I've already gone on too long, but this is necessary.

Chiefs could run the ball and the Chargers could not. Who won the game?

Who won the game by scoring three unlikely TDs and barely holding off a visitor?

This play will never be on anyone's highlight reel, but was essential to the Saints' win.

Ben, this play was actually the last play on sportscenter. Granted, it's because there was only one game that night, but fuck Gregg.

arjun said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Arjun Chandrasekhar said...

i love that last one - it's bad enough that he believes that NFL coaches actually think about keeping a shutout off the resume during games. But for him to praise morgan state for doing the same thing for which he always criticizes NFL coaches is just so beyond how did he actually decide to print that? this seems like such an obvious contradiction and I can't believe that Gregg is the only one who doesn't understand how stupid he looks in this instance.

also didn't the jets risky blitzing hold the ravens to just ten points? didn't their big blitz cause a fumble on the ravens first offensive play? but that doesn't match with gregg's foregone conclusions so don't include it in the column.

by the way everyone make sure to check out when you're done here!

Bengoodfella said...

HH, no problem for the length of that. When you have something to say, no point in holding back.

That game between Minnesota and New Orleans is a great example of when it is not fine to go for it on fourth down. No need to give either team good field position that early in the game. There are times to go for it on fourth down, like the one you named, but this wasn't one of them.

Gregg doesn't understand good play design at all. He just thinks players always do one thing on certain plays. What kills me about the play by Johnson is that it may have been his assignment to follow the lineman and it wasn't his fault. Gregg just assumes it was though.

You are right that Choice was just trying to get as much yardage as he could, there wasn't time for thinking. I think that is a part of the NFL Gregg completely misses. He thinks players can think out there and reason through, when they are actually on the field and let coaching and instinct take over.

I assumed since Gregg works for ESPN he would have known if that play was on SportsCenter.

Arjun, that is a COMPLETE contradiction on the part of Gregg. He criticizes coaches for doing exactly what he praises Morgan State for doing. It's ridiculous. Gregg should be self-aware enough to know he is contradicting himself.

Blitzing did cause a turnover in the Jets and Ravens game and I don't get why Gregg hates blitzing so much. He usually likes things that work and it worked in that game.

rich said...

Indianapolis clearly expected a pass-wacky Houston offense and prepared for the same.

The Colts were 24th in the league at stopping the run last year. One yard better than Detroit. Maybe they just really suck at stopping the run?

Greggggg is really approaching Simmons status. He's trying to make up bullshit reasons for things happening when a much more logical reason exists.

Minnesota averaged a spectacular 6.3 yards per offensive snap in 2009 -- why was Brad Childress afraid to try for 3 yards?

Because it wasn't 2009? Because at that time their offense wasn't playing very well? Hey, they averaged 6 yards a snap, what the hell were they doing having a fourth down? They should get a first every other play!

James Madison came out in a "pistol"

I really don't understand how the pistol formation is a "sweet" thing. It's not like VT players were sitting there going "OMG OMG OMG he's not under center, but it's not shotgun!"

How many could diagram a Cover 4 or a Cover 1? TMQ bets that few who talk and write about football for a living actually know what these coverages are.

Cover 4: 3 safeties, 4 CBs. The safeties play zone; 2 CBs play zone (usually the inside guys) the other 2 play man to man.

Cover 1: SS plays closer to the line; FS plays deep.

It's not rocket science.

Bengals linebacker Johnson could have covered a tight end or an extra offensive lineman, and chose to cover the lineman: That was sour.

To add to HH, it was a great play call: if Johnson covers the TE, TD to the OL; covers the OL, TD for TE. There was no way Johnson could have stopped that touchdown. Absolutely none. Imagine if he did cover the TE though:

"Sour play: Johnson, forgetting that BB likes to run plays to out of position players, decided to cover the TE, leaving the OL wide open for the score."

The fact that I know TMQ would write that means that he's a prick. You can't blast a player when he has two options and both of them suck.

Since in the Princeton case the person who paid was a longtime friend of the student, the NCAA should simply have let this pass.

You know what they could have done? Taken out a loan and had the friend pay it off after graduation.

He punted on fourth-and-2 from the Detroit 41, a mincing fraidy-cat call. Facing fourth-and-goal on the Lions' 1, Martz went for it, the manly-man call

Gregg really doesn't understand the difference between the 41 and the 1? Are you fucking serious? What Martz did was logical: 99 yards to go if you miss, okay. 59 yards, prolly best to punt.

A shift or man-in-motion or both are required to distract the defense.

Ya, I'm sure on 4th and goal from the 1 would've been much better if Hester had just gone in motion. Shit you could leave all the Bears WRs wide open in the endzone and Cutler would throw a pick. They were running and everyone knew it, putting a man in motion would have changed nothing.

rather than just get on the ground.

Again, TMQ can bitch about this play no matter what Choice does. If he goes down, TMQ calls him out for not playing till the whistle.

Who won the game?

This is very similar to baseball analysts saying a 10-9 win means the pitcher did better than had they lost 1-0.

kicked a field goal to prevent the hosts from boasting of a shutout.

Gregg then wrote "game over" in his notebook. A real man would've gone for it!

Martin said...

Princeton doesn't give scholarships at all for any student-athlete. This makes all of their athletes essentially walk ons, though they have often been recruited. In this situation, I'm not sure what NCAA rule was broken. There must be multiple students at Princeton who are receiving financial aide from family friends, and in theory, the NCAA wants the student-athletes to be just like regular students. I just find it puzzling.

Bengoodfella said...

Rich, I am with you, I don't see how last year's yardage total for Minnesota necessarily pertains to this year and why they should go for it on fourth down early in the first game of the season.

No matter how James Madison came out, VT should have won the game. Seriously, there should have been nothing the Hokies saw that confused them. They should be the superior team.

I can see Gregg bitching a/b the Bengals not covering the OL as well. Gregg would have brought up Vrabel and how Belichick likes to throw to "unexpected" receivers. Bottom line is that no matter what happened, Gregg would have hated it and criticized it.

Gregg doesn't understand yardage at all, so I am not shocked he doesn't get that giving a team the ball on their own goal line and giving them the ball at midfield are totally different.

Gregg thinks putting a man in motion fixes everything. I think the trend we are seeing in TMQ is that no matter what a team does, Gregg will criticize them if what they did fails, even if they do something he has insisted they do or Gregg is not consistent in his criticism.

Martin, how did I not know that? Seriously, I should know this just from the college basketball I watch. Overall, I can see why the rule is in place because then I can only imagine the fun John Calipari would have if the rule was made weaker.

rich said...

While Princeton (or any of the Ivy or Patriot league schools) don't give out athletic scholarships, the individual who was a "close family friend" also happens to be a booster for the school.

According to the news reports I've seen, the entire relationship was based on tennis and the girl's abilities. So, it's kind of in the "illegal realm" in terms of NCAA rules. The lack of athletic scholarships doesn't preclude student-athletes from adhering to the NCAA rules: namely, you can't take huge sums of money from boosters.

The thing is that despite my burning hatred for Princeton due to where I went to school, they give out very generous financial aid packages. Basically, if she "needed" 33,000 to pay for her education odds are her parents are loaded and the 33,000 he paid off put an extra 33,000 in her parents hands. Princeton actually covers all tuition costs if the family makes less than some amount (most ivies have this in place now; at Penn it was 60k a year and under you got full ride fin. aid). How is giving the girl's parents 33 grand any less punishable than Reggie Bush getting his parents stuff from boosters (other than the obvious difference in monetary value)?

Basically, you can't have boosters giving people $33,000 whether it pays for "educational" things or not. First because it would create an entire business of boosters paying for "educational" expenses and second because "educational" covers a shitload of stuff; housing, food, computers, etc. that aren't necessarily for education.

If it had been an actual family friend then maybe the NCAA lets it slide, but after AJ Green and Reggie Bush, letting an alumnus with an interest in tennis pay 33,000 on behalf of a tennis player wasn't going to happen.

Martin said...

Ah I hadn't known that it was a "tennis family friend" which means that money could be seen as "agent money" by the NCAA, which makes perfect sense. Also I didn't know the Ivies were giving out the rides so generously now. I remember even a few years ago they were catching shit for multi-billion dollar endowments, and then charging students 30k.

Also, while I can see why they would punish this at a regular school, as there have been cases where teams tried this, at a school with zero athletic scholarships and a real family friend, it jsut seemed weird. Thanks for the clarification Rich!

Bengoodfella said...

Rich, I didn't know all of that either. Obviously if it is a guy who has an interest in tennis then it is more similar to a Reggie Bush-type case, though involving a less popular sport. I can't believe Ivy League schools are so generous with their financial aid. That's interesting.

I can see where the problem would come in because educational costs pretty much anything even remotely related to school. Whether it be a car needed to get to school, a computer, or even expenses that need to get paid so a student can afford to come to school.

On the face of this issue, it does seem weird to not allow the student to get the 33K since there are no athletic scholarships, but I can see how it is a problem.

HH said...

How many could diagram a Cover 4 or a Cover 1? TMQ bets that few who talk and write about football for a living actually know what these coverages are.

Rich: "Cover 4: 3 safeties, 4 CBs. The safeties play zone; 2 CBs play zone (usually the inside guys) the other 2 play man to man."

Rich, I'm not sure what this coverage is, but most Cover 4's aren't run out of the quarters [7 DBs formation]. The most common one is simply that both safeties and both outside cornerbacks drop deep. [In fact, the basic rule is that Cover X means that X people cover the deep part of the field.]

Rich: Cover 1: SS plays closer to the line; FS plays deep.

Yup, the basic centerfield play.

For good measure: A Tampa 2 spreads its safeties wider, and the middle linebacker drops back to cover the intermediate to deep middle. Most cover 2's have 5 short zones and two deep, whereas Tampa's is more a 4-1-2 or even 4-3.

rich said...


Thanks for the correction, I was going off my HS defenses, so I must have "misremembered."

Martin and BGF, the "top" ivies started giving out full rides when the public caught wind of their endowments. If I remember, Princeton is free for all undergrads, so iono what the 33k was for.

That said, the NCAA had to do something. If schools like USC could withdraw scholarships, give players "need" based aid and have boosters. Pay their expenses, college would become professional for some while remaining amateur for others.

HH said...

@everyone discussing Princeton tuition

Nominal Princeton tuition is upwards of $33K, and the whole package with housing et al runs closer to $50K. It's not free in that sense. However, it has very generous financial aid policies: anyone with a "demonstrated need" under the federal formula gets a grant for the part they can't afford. So if the formula says your family can only pay $5K a year, then Princeton will pay the remaining $45K.

As for the NCAA issue, obviously this kind of stuff should be against the rules as long as the NCAA hates players. Otherwise, boosters could pay off a parent's car loan as long as their son is playing outside linebacker, and so forth. I'm sure a lot of this takes place already, and as far as I'm concerned, it's better for everyone except coaches & administrators that payments to players become legal and transparent. I think the transformation of major college football into a semi-pro college-affiliated league would be a good thing, most so for the players. Think about it: most of them don't get a good education, and TMQ is right that they're held hostage by scholarships. They create tremendous value: think about the size of TV contract payments that schools get. That money is then used by administrators for their pet projects and salaries, and gives us $10 million coaches ["coaches" meaning "recruiters"] like Nick Saban. All this money is created by the sore muscles and torn ligaments of young men who are, by rule, not allowed to participate in this huge money pie. It's both unjust and unsustainable.

Bengoodfella said...

HH, that is incredible. I still can't believe I didn't know that about Princeton.

You make a persuasive argument about college athletes becoming semi-pro, especially with the popularity that college athletics has gained, but I still don't know if I can support athletes getting a piece of the pie. I will say these athletes do bring in the money and aren't the only ones who get to benefit from it and that's not fair.

I am afraid if college athletes start getting money to play then it will result in too much of a professional atmosphere rather than a semi-pro atmosphere. Players will go to college simply because of the best financial package that can be provided to them. I don't think that would be a sustainable model either.

I hope I am making sense, but I am probably happier in denial that under the table stuff takes place rather than have a free-for-all on the college football marketplace.

HH said...


I understand your reluctance. I felt the same way for the longest time: paying players makes the whole thing seem so...commercial and impure. But I've gotten over that. I hate to hijack the thread but I think we're mostly done hating on Gregg, so I'll elaborate a little. [If you won't read them all, read 4. it's key.]

1. It's already commercial and impure. The bowl games, the conferences, the tv contracts, it's all set up to favor some teams at the expense of others. The automatic bowl bids etc are ridiculously unfair. There's very little in "players playing for fun and traditional rivalries" that still characterizes major college football. [I'll grant you the Ivy League. Go Tigers.]

2. It's imbalanced. The point in #1 shifts the balance in the favor of top teams. You'll remember that Matt Cassel, a bona fide NFL starter, was at one point a third-stringer for USC. USC also once had 4 linebackers drafted in the first 40 picks, and they play a 4-3! Oklahoma had their top 4 receivers drafted not too long ago. I don't really care for this division into haves and have-nots. I feel like money can help balance this, if only by making some big schools pay for this massive recruiting advantage.

3. We already sort of have a payment system, except it's under the table and non-transparent. This also means that those who get paid are simply the worst character players: if a good player has ethics or parents that don't wanna be involved in such things, he plays without getting paid, while some thug with similar ability takes the money and runs. And if any of this is discovered, a relatively promising career can be cut short.

4. The worst part of the fact that players barely participate in the massive money pie that is major college football is this: the physical toll of football is terrible. They say that every year in the NFL shortens your life by approximately 3 years, and college 2. Even if a year isn't quite that bad, these guys are trading months of their lives for almost nothing [especially since few of them get an education, or benefit much from one]. All the work they put in, and the health consequences [how many of these guys need surgeries?] and the pain they endure at practices and games, I feel like telling them "we let you go to college" isn't nearly enough compensation. It's basically taking advantage of players who have no leverage and abusing them for the profit of schools, networks, coaches, and advertisers. That, more than anything tells me: forget it. Spin off teams into school-affiliated clubs. Maybe the smaller schools can keep the system as is, but major college football just can't go on this way.

Bengoodfella said...

HH, in response point by point (and we are only talking about college football right, not other college sports?):

1. It is already impure and I agree with that. It is almost like I would rather have the coaches and player sneaking around rather than outright paying the players. It's a form of denial, I know, but I prefer my college as closetedly dirty, not openly dirty. I want those who pay players to be under the table and out of the spotlight so I can look down on them when they get caught...even though everyone does it. It's ridiculous I know, but I don't want to open the floodgates.

2. I don't know if paying players will help the imbalance. If Matt Cassel goes to USC for nothing and becomes the third stringer or backup, what will prevent him from going to USC because they are paying him more than another school? I don't know if paying players will take away the problem of big schools having the best players and may actually make it worse because the bigger schools have more money and can pay the players better plus offer them television exposure.

3. I agree with this point. I don't want to ever pay college basketball players. I love that sport way too much to ever think Kyrie Irving chose Duke because they paid him more than another school, even though that may be true. I would prefer to know he played for Duke because he wanted to play at the school for a season or two and it wasn't a monetary reason. I know that sounds naive and I am turning a blind eye, but I like a little bit of the perceived innocence of college basketball.

I know every school does special favors for its players, but I don't think I actually want to know for sure Duke got a kid because they offered his parent something or they offered the kid more money. I wouldn't hate paying college football players, but college basketball feels different to me for some reason.

4. This is the strongest argument for paying them. If I had to argue in favor I would use this reasoning. They make the school a ton of money and hurt their bodies in the process.

HH said...

Ben, thanks for the response. Let me try to clarify my point #2.

I don't think that paying will necessarily help the imbalance, but it can't make it worse. Worst case scenario, we end up with something like baseball. Best case scenario...well, let's use the Matt Cassel example: if USC wants him to be the third-stringer, they have to pay him at least something. And that money then isn't available to sign a 5th four-star linebacker and an 8th top defensive lineman. Even in baseball, there are limits to budgets, which is why even the Yankees don't have Hanley Ramirez and Jimmy Rollins as utility infielders. I'd much rather have a major league baseball-type environment than having so many undefeated teams hosting all these winless ones.

As for other sports, I just don't think it'd have as much of an impact because most people don't really care. I don't care today if college lacrosse is corrupted, and I won't care tomorrow.

Bengoodfella said...

HH, so we are only talking about college football then. I don't really care about other college sports either, except for college basketball. If one sport has its participants get paid, all sports will want to get paid. This goes especially for women's sports. Some people wouldn't want to let the football players get money and then ignore women's sports. So I think if it happened to one sport, it happens to all or most of them.

You are right there are budgets for schools and that may affect a college's ability to get a player they want. I can't help but wonder if a school doesn't have enough money if they would find a way to get Cassel, that 8th top DL and the 5th top LB. Schools are greedy that way and just like how if the Yankees want a player, they find a way to get him, I wonder if college football schools would do the same.

Either way, I don't know if paying players makes the depth chart at certain schools any worse than it currently is. Look at Texas' depth chart for QB. It's ridiculous. If I am not wrong, they have three QB's that were are all very highly recruited. I don't know if paying players will create the parity we went, though it may not make it worse.

I think schools may still get the players they want, because boosters may be willing to chip in even more money to get these guys. Boosters for college schools can be even more fanatical than fans of professional teams.