Monday, December 27, 2010

6 comments Gregg Easterbrook Gives Out Christmas Gifts; Unfortunately Not Writing TMQ Wasn't One of Them

This week, because he has run out of things to "fix" Gregg Easterbrook gives out Christmas gifts to each NFL team. We should enjoy this while we can because next week he is writing his annual "Unwanted players" list, which always serves to annoy me because Gregg hasn't grasped the drawbacks of the salary cap era in the NFL. He thinks players who are cut for salary cap reasons are "unwanted" by their team.

Enough getting ahead of myself, let's see what Gregg has put under the Christmas tree.

Ho ho ho! Here's what TMQ has asked Santa to leave each NFL team under its tree for Christmas morning:

No long introduction and a novelty idea for a column must mean Gregg had some sort of writer's block this week.

Arizona -- A time machine to return to 2008.

The Cardinals won a playoff game last year after winning their division. So the time machine would go to 2009 when Kurt Warner and Anquan Boldin still played in Arizona.

Atlanta -- An identity. The Falcons are on a blazing 15-2 run, yet are known for what, exactly?

The media tends to give teams their identities, so this really isn't the Falcons fault the sports media hasn't latched on to something in order to hype the Falcons up.

Buffalo -- A complete set of jerseys from the 1990s Super Bowl run. It's no coincidence the Bills have not made the playoffs since switching to the league's ugliest uniforms.

Yes, it is a coincidence.

Carolina -- Quarterbacks, running backs, wide receivers, tight ends, offensive linemen, defensive linemen, linebackers, defensive backs, kickers and coaches. That's all the Panthers need.

Like I'm not going to jump on this one...

I know Gregg is trying to be cute, but the Panthers really need running backs? I think most teams would love to have Jonathan Stewart, DeAngelo Williams and Mike Goodson. Same thing goes for the linebackers. I'm pretty sure there are teams that would enjoy having Jon Beason, Thomas Davis, and Dan Connor/James Anderson. I'm not a homer, there's still talent there.

During a 2-13 season I am not in the mood to joke. This is all very deadly serious.

Dallas -- A much larger state than Texas, to create room for Jerry Jones' ego.

My gift to Gregg Easterbrook -- an original joke that isn't from the mid-90's and hasn't been repeated in some form constantly.

Minnesota -- Brett Favre plays until eligible for membership in AARP.

That's a gift and not a curse?

Tampa -- A 2011 schedule consisting entirely of losing teams.

I think every team wants that. Still...HILARIOUS!

Washington -- Anyone chosen from the D.C. phone book at random to replace Dan Snyder as owner.

Gregg Easterbrook as the owner. Make it happen! I would love to see this.

Jackson is electrifying. But when he broke into the clear for the touchdown that would make this the first NFL game won by a punt return on the final play, he began waving the ball in the air at the G-Men 30-yard line even though he had already lost a fumble earlier in the quarter. Stop showboating!

DeSean Jackson lost a fumble earlier in the game when he was hit by a defender. He wasn't around a defender at that point. Maybe he shouldn't showboat but it was a great comeback by the Eagles and he deserved to celebrate it a little bit.

Ahead 31-10 with eight minutes remaining against the top big-play combination the NFL -- Michael Vick and Jackson -- if the Giants had gone to backed-off shell coverage and forced the Nesharim to nickel-and-dime their way down the field, the clock would have run out on any comeback. Instead, Giants defensive coordinator Perry Fewell ordered furious blitzing, and coach Tom Coughlin did not overrule him.

Here's the thing I hate about Gregg Easterbrook. I like that he is predictable but I hate that he will ALWAYS criticize NFL coaches based on the outcome of their decisions. He has no firm beliefs, he only believes a team should have done the opposite of what they did if it failed.

From last week's TMQ:

The Texans seemed finished when trailing the Ravens, a power-defense team, by 21-0 just before halftime. Results of the next five Houston possessions: touchdown, field goal, field goal, touchdown, touchdown, the last including a deuce conversion with 21 seconds in regulation to force overtime. The Texans staged fourth-quarter touchdown drives of 99 and 95 yards, and without big plays: Houston's longest fourth-quarter gain was 23 yards. In the fourth quarter, the Nevermores rushed three or four, didn't blitz, kept their safeties deep: the Texans endlessly completed intermediate outs and comebacks.

Last week a team in a similar situation as the Giants were was criticized by Gregg for not blitzing enough during the game. This week Gregg believes the Giants shouldn't have blitzed at all, even though last week in a similar situation he thought the Ravens should blitz. Everything he writes is contradictory at some point like this. This isn't a minor contradiction, but is a big one. What does he believe would have been the right move? Besides anything that works of course.

Calling blitzes when protecting a late lead was like sending Vick an engraved invitation to make big plays rather than forcing him to nickel-and-dime: "Dear Mr. Vick, please do us the honor of sprinting toward our end zone."

I wish someone at ESPN would fire Gregg Easterbrook. He brings up great points sometimes but his criticism of NFL teams and coaches is misinformed at best and outright hypocrisy at its worst. Anyone can write an NFL column criticizing that a team should have done the opposite of what they did do. All it requires is constantly changing your beliefs based on the outcome of what that team did.

A team went for it on fourth and didn't get it? They didn't use enough motion.

A team went for it on fourth down, used motion, and didn't get it? The motion was too complicated or the running back dove straight ahead, which he shouldn't do...unless it works.

A team loses a big lead and they blitzed? They shouldn't have blitzed and given the other team a chance to win.

A team loses a big lead and didn't blitz? They should have blitzed to put pressure on the other team.

Then the punt. The reason no one had ever won an NFL game on a final-play punt return is that when teams must punt on the final play of a half, they punt out of bounds. But this wasn't necessarily the final play; 12 seconds remained as the Giants lined up at their 29. It's hard to punt for both distance and direction. If it were easy, every punter would always punt long and out of bounds.

Oh my God. Make it stop.

Matt Dodge was trying for a long, out-of-bounds punt and botched it. As he waited in punt formation for officials to signal the ready-to-play, Dodge heard the referee announce he was putting 2 seconds back on the clock and knew that meant the kick had to have some distance.

Gregg Easterbrook: Professional Psychic.

The Flying Elvii have gone an NFL-record six games without a turnover -- very sweet -- and lead the league with a plus-20 turnover margin. In a league in which megabucks stars wave the rock around asking for turnovers, the Patriots protect the football. This must have something to do with their no-name, egoless offense. Big-ego players with big contracts, such as Roy Williams of Dallas, commit careless fumbles because they figure they will never be benched no matter what. The undrafted free agents of the New England offense know they must perform to stay on the field. So they protect the football.

Let's look at the Patriots no-name, egoless offense...

Tom Brady: not a no-name in any fashion. Probable MVP for 2010.
Deion Branch: Super Bowl MVP
Wes Welker: Pro Bowl wide receiver
Alge Crumpler: 2nd round pick and one of the best tight ends in the 2000's.
Sebastian Vollmer: 2nd round pick
Matt Light: 2nd round pick
Logan Mankins: held out of training camp this year (no ego there) and was a 1st round pick.

Yes, there are undrafted free agents and players that were drafted high on the Patriots offense but calling the offense egoless and no-name is just incorrect.

One of the drops came on a New England possession that ended with a touchdown. No matter how well the Patriots play, their luck on turnovers is bound to change at some point.

So Gregg Easterbrook compliments the Patriots on not turning the ball over and then says the lack of turnovers is due to having luck. This is pretty typical of Gregg.

Pittsburgh and Denver both surrendered safeties in close fourth-quarter situations. The Steelers were attempting a slow-developing sweep from their end zone. Don't sweep from your end zone! Journeyman left tackle Jonathan Scott whiffed on a block, lunging at Jason Taylor and missing him.

Gregg goes all out complimenting undrafted free agents when they do good. When they don't perform so well they are called a "journeyman." Scott has played in the NFL since 2006, has been on three teams and was drafted in the 5th round, so I am not exactly sure if the word "journeyman" fits him well. I'm guessing when Gregg talks about his "unwanted" players he will fail to mention how Jonathan Scott was unwanted because that would ruin his fantasy that all unwanted, lowly drafted players work really hard and are successful in the NFL.

The Flying Elvii rushed three; Packers right tackle Bryan Bulaga, a first-round pick this year who recently cashed a huge bonus check,

He cashed that bonus check on the Thursday before the game. Gregg checked Bulaga's back account and that's how he knew this information. Bulaga wanted to make sure he cashed the bonus check before he intentionally didn't block during the game on Sunday.

With star tight end Antonio Gates out injured, Vincent Jackson was San Diego's best threat in the red zone. San Francisco rushed three, while San Diego kept six back to block -- meaning eight defenders available to guard four receivers. Yet Jackson, running a slot-arrow, a standard goal-line pass route, was covered by 34-year-old linebacker Takeo Spikes -- no defensive back was in sight -- as he caught a seemingly effortless touchdown pass that turned the contest into a walkover. This from a team whose coach is supposedly a defensive mastermind.

I don't recall ever hearing anything about Mike Singletary being a defensive mastermind.

With defending champion New Orleans leading 7-0, the Ravens faced third-and-10 at the 34-yard line of the visiting Saints. The tastefully named Gregg Williams, defensive coordinator of the Saints, calls too many blitzes.

These are the same blitzes that won the Saints the Super Bowl last year. Nevermind that though, Gregg Williams calls too many blitzes...and it's destroying the Saints ability to win games. The Saints would have WAY more than 10 wins right now if Williams didn't blitz all the time. They would have somewhere near 19 wins at this point in the season without him.

But was the strange setting a reason for the Vikings to abandon basic football? Trailing 10-7, Minnesota punted on fourth-and-1 from midfield. TMQ wrote the words "season over" in his notebook. And yea, verily, the Vikings are now eliminated.

The Vikings season being over naturally had nothing to do with them being 5-8 prior to playing in this game.

Reader Sean Azarin-Burdine of San Francisco notes that Eastern Washington and Delaware, which will meet for the FCS title, were ranked third and fifth before the postseason -- meaning that, under a BCS-style system, they couldn't have played for the crown.

(Bengoodfella not saying anything...but thinking this speaks for itself because he agrees with Gregg)

My alma mater is/was the #1 ranked team in FCS, Appalachian State, and under the BCS system they would have made the championship game. Still, I prefer the playoff system because it makes teams earn the spot in the championship game by having to defeat the other good teams in FCS. Appalachian State lost at home to Villanova, they didn't deserve to make the championship game. That's what I like about a playoff system, teams play tough teams during the season, but still have to earn a shot in the championship game. I like this even when it sucks for my team.

As Tuesday Morning Quarterback noted of Shanahan this past summer, "His big seasons all came with John Elway: in his non-Elway years, Shanahan's results are pedestrian." Increasingly, it seems Shanahan gained a reputation as a top coach because he lucked into one of the best quarterbacks ever -- plus good players on the Broncs' mid-1990s rosters.

I've detailed my feelings on Mike Shanahan previously on this blog. I had some questions about whether Shanahan was as good of a coach as his reputation and authority in the Redskins organization seemed to indicate. I have thought Shanahan gets credit for things that he didn't necessarily do. Normally that wouldn't be a problem, but Shanahan seems to believe his own press at this point. Big name coaches are overrated. That's one of the reasons I am suspect when it comes to Bill Cowher's ability to succeed in the NFL at his next coaching stop.

Ho Ho Ho: In the process of getting pounded into fine dust by the San Diego Chargers, the San Francisco 49ers -- who did a lot of boasting in the preseason,

Possibly I should be paying better attention but I don't remember very much of this boasting by the 49ers and I don't think I recall Mike Singletary calling himself a defensive mastermind.

Three snaps later, Alex Smith ran for what officials signaled was a touchdown, but San Diego challenged and the six points came off the board, too. Mike Singletary went for it on fourth-and-goal from the 1.

Fortune favors the bold! Verily, the 49ers scored a touchdown...right?

High first-round draft choice guard Mike Iupati air-blocked -- he made contact with no one -- as undrafted Bolts defensive tackle Ogemdi Nwagbuo shot into the backfield to drop the runner for a loss, San Diego ball and zero points for San Francisco.

That's the kind of moment that makes TMQ love sports -- undrafted unknown gets the best of megabucks glory boy.

Even when one of the main principles that TMQ broadcasts proven to be incorrect, Gregg still finds a way to insert one of his other stupid principles into why the original principle failed. He's very irritating.

Twice, the megabucks San Francisco offensive line allowed rushers to come through untouched for sacks.

The 49ers gave up a sacks? They must be the first team in NFL history to have done this!

As Buffalo scored a touchdown at Miami to make the count Bills 6, Dolphins 0, the home team was called for a dead-ball personal foul. The penalty was walked off on the ensuing kickoff, allowing Buffalo to kick from its 45 and record a touchback. But a team receiving a dead-ball personal foul after a touchdown doesn't have to take the penalty on the kickoff; it can opt for the penalty on the PAT. That means half the distance from the 2 to the 1. True, on the kickoff, the penalty is worth 15 yards; on the try, worth 1 yard. But taking the penalty on the try means the offense needs just 1 yard for a two-point conversion.

Essentially, in this situation, the coach of the "offended team" is asked whether he thinks 15 yards of field position is as valuable as one point. Me? I'd take the penalty on the try and go for two. But if a coach does this and the attempt fails, he is blamed. If he takes the penalty on the kickoff, as expected, and the team loses, the players are blamed.

It is also possible the head coach of a team realizes that one point may not be worth as much as guaranteeing the other team has to start at their own 20 yard line. Considering the Bills ended up winning the game and the Dolphins have had some offensive problems of late it doesn't seem like a terrible strategy. Getting the two point conversion is great, but so is guaranteeing your opponent has to go 80 yards for a touchdown.

The Jaguars lead the league with 22 fourth-down attempts, and, at Indianapolis, they went for it on fourth-and-1 from their own 39 on the first series of the third quarter. The result was a busted play -- fumbled pitch -- and a quick Colts touchdown in the other direction. But the idea was the right one.

For a guy who judges nearly every single football play on the outcome of that play, I find it interesting he is now focusing more on whether the Jaguars made the correct decision regardless of the outcome. It is funny when one of Gregg's basic football principles is proven incorrect, that teams should always go for it on fourth down, he all of a sudden is focused on whether it was the right decision regardless of outcome...even though he tends to judge a team's decision based solely on the outcome of the play.

After TMQ complained of the superficiality, disregard for academics and lack of integrity that have swallowed the Heisman Trophy, many readers, including Andrew Simon of Milwaukee, noted that the Gagliardi Trophy for best Division III football player not only considers linemen -- the 2009 winner was tackle Blaine Westemeyer of Augustana -- but also takes into account GPA and community service in assessing candidates. Last week, the 2010 award went to quarterback Eric Watt of Trine University in Angola, Ind.

TMQ also complains most of the major college awards for best player go to a quarterback, yet he doesn't seem to complain this major Division III college award went to a quarterback. If this winner were a Division I quarterback he would immediately complain quarterbacks get all the attention from major award voters.

Leading by 21 points with eight minutes remaining, the Jersey/A coaches were calling crazy all-out blitzes against Michael Vick, fairly begging him to make big plays.

As discussed earlier, the alternative is to not blitz and have Gregg criticize you for not bringing pressure on Mike Vick. As long as the Eagles came back, the Giants' strategy would not be smart according to Gregg.

Next Week: They were undrafted or waived or both -- yet, through hard work and determination, they have become among the NFL's best performers. Tuesday Morning Quarterback's annual All-Unwanted All-Pros. Plus, my Unwanted Player of the Year.

By far my least favorite TMQ of the year. It's not even a contest.


ivn said...

Mike Singletary got fired. the Crabtree Curse strikes again!

Bengoodfella said...

What? I go up north into a blizzard and Singletary gets fired! If he had not have drafted Crabtree this never would have happened!

Martin said...

And the Vikings blitzed the hell out of Vick all night tonight, and the Eagles had no solution to this problem.

Dylan said...

One thing that bothers me completely unrelated to how the Eagles played was that on the sack, strip, return TD by Winfield, he got credit for a sack. Players shouldn't get credit for those sacks if they don't actually take down the QB. The only reason why I care is because of fantasy football, but it's point I felt needed to be discussed nonetheless.

Martin F. said...

hey don't be busting on Winfield! He's Fantasy Clutch! Those were his only sacks of the season, and clinched the BotB FFL title for me!

Also, my 5 defensive players were like my 5-9 highest scoring guys on my team, apparently 8 points a week has some merit.

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