Monday, January 31, 2011

6 comments Gregg Easterbrook Continues His Assault On My Patience

Last week Gregg told us about how the Seahawks had made history by being the first and only 8-10 team in the history of the NFL, at least until the league goes to an 18 game schedule. Gregg also featured his weekly ravings about the NFL, including his discussion about how Reggie Wayne should learn to take a backseat in the Colts offense. Because it is always productive for a team's best receiver to take a secondary position in an injury-filled offense.

This week Gregg talks about cheerleaders and how defense is the key to the Packers and Steelers success is their defense. This is the same 3-4 defense that Gregg claimed in TMQ was a flavor of the day earlier this year. That's the same 3-4 defense which three out of the four championship game participants in the 2010 NFL playoffs used. It's just a fad.

Please sit down before I reveal the horrible news -- there will be no cheerleaders at the Super Bowl. Green Bay and Pittsburgh, the last teams standing, are among the small number of NFL franchises that do not have a professional cheer-babe squad.

How the hell is Gregg going to pleasure himself while he watches the Super Bowl if there are no cheerleaders to stare at? It sounds like he is just going to have to flip between the Super Bowl and "Teen Mom 2" if he is going to get his rocks off staring at young women during a football game.

So brace for no cheerleaders at the Super Bowl. How could this happen?

Because the game is about football and hype, not cheerleaders. Gregg is probably a pervert. I have come to this conclusion. He talks about cheerleaders way for this to be an attempt to connect with today's youth.

Because the Super Bowl is the sole NFL game each season to which both teams bring their cheerleaders, normally one of the treats of attending the final contest is gorgeous, scantily attired, dancing women along both sidelines.

I think Jason Whitlock needs to take Gregg to a strip club some time. I am pretty sure Gregg's head would explode.

But all of the final four teams were in the top 10 for defense. Of the top 10 rushing-offense teams this season, only one, Jersey/B, reached the title round. But of the top rushing defenses, Nos. 1, 2 and 3 -- the Steelers, Bears and Jets, respectively -- made the final four.

I would also like to add that of the teams in the Top 10 in regard to defense this year, six of those teams ran a 3-4 defense. Just food for thought on that "fad" defense column Gregg wrote earlier this year.

In 2009, the Steelers won the Super Bowl by controlling Kurt Warner and the high-scoring Arizona offense.

The Steelers "controlled" the Cardinals by giving up 407 net yards of offense and allowing Kurt Warner to throw for 377 yards. The Steelers had 292 net yards of offense. So I am not sure exactly which team actually controlled the other.

With both teams being built around defense, the trophy might go to whichever's offense is least frustrated. But since scantily clad cheer-babes propitiate the football gods, and neither team has them, how will the football gods know whom to root for?

How can someone read this column and actually enjoy it? It has to be a person who can look past the inconsistencies and ineptitude of the content. I personally can't do it. No one wants to read what he writes about cheer-babes. It is sort of creepy.

Steelers leading 17-0, Jersey/B facing third-and-17 on its 26, LeBeau sent a rush of two defensive linemen, one linebacker and two defensive backs, with both defensive backs overloading the offensive left.

Stop me before I blitz again! Blitzing is bad!

That's what we hear from Gregg on a near-weekly basis, or at least when blitzing doesn't work for a team. He is very proud to point out all instances of a blitz not working, but is very quiet about his past statements and even complimentary to a team when a blitz does work.

Leading 14-0 midway through the third quarter, Green Bay faced third-and-goal on the Chicago 6. Jay Cutler had left injured; little-used Todd Collins was warming up. So Packers, don't do anything silly -- a rush to keeping the clock moving, followed by a field goal and a 17-0 lead, would put the Packers in excellent position. Instead, Mike McCarthy radioed in a pass and the interception was returned to the 45. The game would prove tense 'til the waning seconds. If the Bears had pulled out the victory, sportstalk types now would be talking obsessively about this call.

I am pretty sure sportstalk types wouldn't be talking obsessively about this call if the Bears had won. They would more likely have been talking about Jay Cutler leaving the game, how well Caleb Hanie played and speculating on whether Hanie or Cutler would start in the Super Bowl. I am not saying this was a great call on the part of Mike McCarthy, but I don't think it would be a major talking point after the game had concluded.

Gregg always says fortune favors the bold and coaches tend to be too conservative to avoid making mistakes. So shouldn't fortune favor the coach who threw the ball and tried to score a touchdown rather than just go for a field goal? Or is this rule only pertinent when Gregg wants it to be pertinent (i.e. when the aggressive play works).

At 3:55, McCarthy called a sweep, and the inexperienced James Starks ran out of bounds, again stopping the clock.

Whoa, whoa. By "inexperienced" does Gregg really mean unwanted, lowly drafted (6th round pick) player? Aren't these the smartest, hardest working players in the NFL? All we hear about in TMQ is how undrafted or lowly drafted players work harder and are better players than highly-drafted "megabucks" players.

Hanie, expecting a big blitz, threw a slant; Raji stepped in front for the pick-six that proved to be the winning points. Sweet. Note to Pittsburgh -- Green Bay dropped a nose tackle into coverage on a zone rush against Atlanta, too. Expect this tactic.

Yes Pittsburgh, during one of the 40-50 offensive plays you may run the Packers could drop the nose tackle into coverage once. So be sure to look out for that and prepare for it over the next two weeks. In fact, make this your primary focus.

Raji began waving the football around at the Chicago 10-yard line and almost lost the ball. Very, very sour. Had Raji not scored, he would have joined Wrong-Way Marshall on the list of all-time boneheaded plays.

This brings up a major, major issue. Both B.J. Raji and Ben Roethlisberger held the football out as they entered the end zone on Sunday. Which team will the football gods favor in the Super Bowl? Most likely the team with the most undrafted or unwanted players. That's the answer.

TMQ's Law of Comebacks states: Defense starts comebacks; offense stops them.

Hey look, another stupid rule TMQ has created. This isn't a law of comebacks any more than it is a statement of common sense. Naturally, if a team is coming back from a deficit then the other team scoring some points will make the comeback harder and begin to stop the comeback. Similarly, a team can't really start to comeback in a game until the defense starts to stop the opposing offense from scoring. It is hard to stage a comeback when the other team is consistently still scoring points.

Give the Jets credit for playing with heart in the second half. Down 24-3 at intermission, they knew they had just as much time to come back as Pittsburgh had taken to get ahead. In the second half, the Steelers switched from aggressive defense to a backed-off shell -- what Pittsburgh did in the fourth quarter against Arizona in the Steelers' most recent Super Bowl --

The lesson from Gregg, as always, is always keep pressure on the other team by blitzing and being aggressive. Unless this doesn't work, in which case don't blitz the quarterback because a good quarterback likes to be blitzed, so stay back and play good defense. Essentially, do whatever ends up working well enough for your team to win the game. But blitz when it is working, until it isn't working, in which case don't blitz, unless this isn't working, in which case blitz.

After the game, whatever strategy you used that worked for your team to win, Gregg will say that was the right strategy.

Of course, the Steelers won both contests. But it might be time to have a look at that backed-off philosophy.

Aaron Rodgers is a good quarterback and a good quarterback loves to get blitzed. Doesn't Gregg constantly tell us this? So blitzing Rodgers in the Super Bowl therefore wouldn't be a smart move, right?

At halftime, Jersey/B adjusted, leading to much better defensive performance in the second half. And in the fourth quarter, Jersey/B play calling finally loosened up. The Jets stopped trying to power rush against the league's No. 1 rush defense, instead spreading the field with trips or double-slot formations.

I am not sure the play-calling loosening up was a specific strategy employed by the Jets for any reason other than they had to score as many points as possible before the end of the game. I submit if it were a close game then the Jets would continue to power rush and not have opened the offensive up as much.

Congratulations to Teresa Scanlan of Nebraska, the new Miss America. This year the pageant returned to network television, appearing on ABC, after a period of wandering in the wilderness of minor cable on carriers like The Yahtzee Channel.

It's is nice to finally found who actually watches the Miss America Pageant. Some women, some gay men, and Gregg Easterbrook. I have a feeling Gregg has a different purpose than the other two groups in watching the pageant though.

The violations involved Hobart's Division I lacrosse and Division III football teams. Lacrosse players were admitted despite not having their high school credits checked by the NCAA Eligibility Center, a substantive violation. The other shocking, shocking thing that happened was that Hobart boosters helped pay the tuition of two players on the 2006 and 2007 football teams, whose wins were voided.

But Division III football doesn't involve athletic scholarships. There are no athletic scholarships in any Division III sport. At the Division I level, there needs to be rules against boosters paying tuition -- otherwise the football factory colleges would end up with far more than the limit of 85 scholarship players.

There should be rules against paying the tuition of athletes at the Division III level as well. If this wasn't the case then Division III teams would just have wealthy boosters pay athlete's tuition in an effort to put together the best team possible. It would create an unbalanced playing field.

At the Division III level, where there are no athletic scholarships, caring about who gets tuition help is silly.

No, it isn't. Teams that can pay the most for athletes will get the best players, which again, creates an unbalanced playing field.

Chicago scoreless in the first half, Lovie Smith ordered punts from the Green Bay 31 and Green Bay 34. The Bears are scoreless; why not attempt field goals? True, cold weather takes several yards off any place-kicker's distance. But Robbie Gould had four field goals of at least 50 yards in 2010 -- why wasn't he even allowed to try from this distance in the NFC title game?

Maybe Gregg didn't watch the game on television, but the announcers repeatedly said the harsh winds and weather made it nearly impossible for the kickers to make longer field goals in warm-ups. Gould tried four field goals from 50+ yards during the season, he made three of them. Part of the reason Gould didn't try from this distance is because he was 10 of 14 from field goal range this year at home. Having him kick a long field goal during the game with bad field conditions, and give up any amount of field position, wasn't a great move for the Bears.

There should never be an uncovered receiver or blown contain in a Tampa 2. Yet twice, Rodgers was able to spin around the pass rush and run to the offensive left for first downs -- gains of 25 and 12 yards -- with no contain in sight.

I really don't believe Gregg Easterbrook understands defense and how it works. Should there really NEVER be an uncovered receiver or blown contain in a Tampa 2 defense? I know it is ideal result, but I think this is a bit extreme.

Green Bay held Cutler and Todd Collins to 6-of-18, then allowed 13-of-20 by Hanie. Defenses often relax when an unknown takes over at quarterback; quick scores often are the result.

Oh yes, another blanket statement by Gregg Easterbrook. Defenses often relax when faced against an unknown quarterback. Gregg would provide proof this statement is true other than data from this one game, but he doesn't have any proof this is a widely true statement like he claims.

Personally, I would think a defense would blitz more and increase pressure when an unknown or unproven quarterback takes over.

Pittsburgh rushed up to the line to quick-snap, probably for a quarterback sneak -- then referee Ed Hochuli stopped the action for a measurement, although Steelers coaches had not requested a measurement and it was obvious Pittsburgh was a full yard short. After the measurement, Ben Roethlisberger threw an interception on fourth-and-1. Why did Hochuli stop the action? He is known to be vain about his muscular build and seems to use any opportunity to focus the television cameras on himself.

I am sure Hochuli's main intent here was to get some extra camera time for himself, rather than get the yardage marked off correctly. Gregg does realize NFL officials get graded for their performance rewarded for good performance doesn't he? Knowing this, Hochuli was working the AFC Championship game. Perhaps he is a good official and doesn't use his job as a chance to market his muscular build to a nationally televised audience as Gregg suggests. It was a weird time to mark off yardage, but the officials have the authority to call for a measurement, so Hochuli did.

Jeff Sitler of Beavercreek, Ohio, writes, "Early in the Steelers-Ravens playoff game, Pittsburgh safety Ryan Clark launched himself headfirst at a Ravens' wide receiver but missed and hit teammate Ike Taylor. If the NFL is truly worried about player safety, why wasn't this a penalty? Who he hit shouldn't matter -- what should matter is that he launched himself headfirst and head down. Any attempt at a helmet-to-helmet, even if unsuccessful, should be penalized."

(complete silence on the part of Bengoodfella while he imagines an NFL official charging a Steelers player with a penalty against him for a hit put on a member of his own team)

What's next? Call a Steelers player for holding against his own teammate?

Curtis Stauffer of Louisville, Ky., writes, "As a Pats fan, I expected you to give New England a hard time about its loss, but I was shocked that you didn't go after Tom Brady's ridiculous balaclava. Kickoff temperature not that bad at 30 degrees, the star quarterback wears a balaclava as if afraid of the cold. It appalled me."

It is easy to criticize a player for wearing too much clothing as you are holed up inside your house with the heat on and not having to be outside for an extended period of time.

Stephan Levy of Arlington, Va., writes, "I am a long-suffering fan of the Browns (v.2.5 or whatever they are up to) and have been following the recent stories about how they will likely shift from a 3-4 defense to a 4-3 defense. I don't understand why switching from the 3-4 to the 4-3 (or in reverse in case of the Redskins) is such a big deal. Is it really the case that big, hulking defensive linemen and linebackers that are well-suited for a 3-4 are suddenly ill-suited for a 4-3?

If you don't understand why the shift from a 3-4 defense to a 4-3 defense is a big deal then you have answered your own question. The answer being you don't understand. A 4-3 defense and a 3-4 defense require a front seven which do much different things. The 3-4 defense requires defensive ends that are larger and more capable of taking on blockers to allow the linebackers freedom to make tackles. The 4-3 defense requires defensive ends that are able to rush the passer with more effectiveness.

The 3-4 defense also requires a linebacking group that is able to blitz and be stout, while still covering wide receivers, tight ends and running backs. This is why many undersized defensive ends are used as 3-4 linebackers. They are heavy enough to pass rush, but not too heavy to where they can't cover a receiver. The 4-3 defense doesn't require linebackers that are as stout and generally these linebackers cover and play the run. These are generalizations, but fairly true generalizations of each defense. So it is entirely possible many of the personnel on the roster may not be suited for the 4-3 defense.

As TMQ has noted, modern football defenses employ so many looks that the 3-4/4-3 distinction often has as much to do with the lineup card as what happens on the field.

It may not have a distinction sometimes on the field, but each team has a base defense they run which requires the player at each position to have certain responsibilities. These players need to be at the right weight and have the right skill set to play these positions effectively. A 3-4 defense that shows 4-3 characteristics still needs a nose-tackle for the base 3-4 defense to be played effectively.

Next Week Arugula! Arugula! Clear the decks, prepare to dive! The Tuesday Morning Quarterback Challenge returns. (Limited engagement.)

I tried to participate last year and didn't make the cut. My submission wasn't included. I like to think it wasn't moronic enough.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

6 comments Woody Paige May Not Know John Fox's History With Quarterbacks Very Well

I may as well write a short book called "The Tebow-Paige Chronicles" with how many times I have discussed Woody Paige and his complete infatuation with Tim Tebow. I really don't mean to talk about this once a month, but I have never seen or heard of a sportswriter advocate for a player like Woody Paige has done for Tim Tebow. I'm not even going to start talking about Tebow's skills anymore. We saw in a couple of games this past year and he didn't look terrible. He showed potential. He was essentially what I thought he was. A fairly raw quarterback with running skills that couldn't magically (contrary to Woody Paige's opinion) make the Broncos defense into a juggernaut with his mere presence in the lineup.

A recent development has happened in the Tebow saga. John Fox was hired as the Broncos head coach. This is a man I have experience with, so I feel like when Woody Paige writes an article saying Tebow is the definite starter for the 2011 season...

let's just say I have questions about whether he has done research on John Fox from his years in Carolina.

Skeptics, soothsayers, scoffers and speculators can cackle until they turn predominantly blue in the face, and the head coach and the executive vice president of football operations can fib until they grow Pinocchio noses.

Oh no, John Fox is not fibbing in any fashion and he isn't playing coy. He doesn't know who his quarterback at this point truly is. If forced to choose right now, I have little doubt he would chose Kyle Orton as his starter.

But there is no quarterback controversy in Denver.

Tim Tebow will be the Broncos' starter next season.

Yes, there is more controversy than Wood knows. John Fox greatly dislikes young quarterbacks. He doesn't like to play them until they are on their second contract in the NFL. He would wait 2-3 years after a quarterback has been drafted to start him.

Along the way through this post I am going to link some posts on Twitter from Darin Gantt, who is a Panthers beat writer for the Charlotte Observer and The Herald (in Rock Hill, South Carolina). He is a person I dare say knows John Fox and his personality about as well as any beat writer in the United States. These are Darin's comments about Orton-Tebow when asked about that situation and when he gave unsolicited opinions and they are evidence Woody Paige is mistaking wishing for something over actual realistic journalism. Very little in Fox's history says he would start Tebow over Orton. Any Tweets you see are Gantt's reactions to the QB situation in Denver.

Though I won't say Tebow won't be the quarterback in Denver, I think Woody Paige is just exercising his Tebow-ner by pronouncing him the quarterback. If Orton is on the roster, then he is the starting quarterback, at least at this point, I would bet significant money in it. Yes, I trust some guy in North Carolina over Woody Paige on this issue.

In another media interview Tuesday, John Fox reiterated that the team's quarterbacks will "compete, and we'll go from there."

To translate in Fox-speak, from Darin Gantt, on what this really means...

Cue the dramatic music. Here's the snap. Orton drops back, ... RT @ProFootballTalk John Fox won't commit to a QB:

These are the reasons Tebow will be the quarterback:

This is what John Fox actually said about Kyle Orton:

Smart, he's got some of the tools it takes to play QB. There's a lot of things he does well

John Elway believes in Tebow. He has used exec-speak since taking over the Broncos, but said the night before his first news conference: "I know Tim has all the intangibles and is a good football player. Now we have to find out if he can become a very good quarterback."

What's he going to do? Bash Tebow? Tebow is exactly what Elway says he is, but it doesn't mean in January of 2011 that Tebow is definitely going to be the starter in 2011.

Elway wouldn't have hired a coach who didn't believe in Tebow.

I don't believe John Elway is basing his entire hiring process around which head coach would start Tim Tebow in 2011. Sure, developing Tebow was probably a part of the process in hiring a coach, but he hired a great defensive coach to help fix the terrible defense the Broncos had in 2010. I know Woody thinks everyone's entire world revolves around Tim Tebow like his does, but really Elway wants to have a winning team and looked to hire a guy who would give him that. It may not have been a Tebow-centric hiring. Especially if anyone looks at the history of John Fox with young he didn't really have any until this past year, and we all know how that turned out.

Fox believes in Tebow. "Whatever it takes for Tim to succeed, he will do.


Woody Paige needs to do his research much better on John Fox. The Panthers owner had to order the General Manager to cut all of the older players on the roster because he knew if he kept them around the younger players would never get a chance to perform. Sure, we can argue about the effectiveness of this strategy, but where between "whatever it takes for Tim to succeed, he will do," and knowing the Panthers owner (Jerry Richardson) had to cut players completely off the roster so the younger players on the roster could play major roles, should Woody believe a second year quarterback would get the starting job over a veteran on a John Fox-led team? It may be a bullshit excuse for cutting costs in preparation for the lockout from , but there was some history to back up this worry.
You may ask yourself, "couldn't the owner have just demanded Fox play the younger players on the roster, rather than cut them?" Perhaps, but his history shows that Fox wouldn't do it necessarily at the quarterback position. This is the same coach who started Brian St. Pierre 10 days off the street over Jimmy Clausen one game this year just to prove he could do it to Panthers upper management. This is the same head coach who brought in Brady Quinn and Derek Anderson's quarterbacks coach to coach the quarterbacks. Sound like a good idea to you? Developing quarterbacks hasn't been a strength of Fox. So I don't know if Elway will be able to force Fox to start Tebow, even if Elway was an asshole who tried to do that.

If Tebow had been available in the second round last year, Fox probably would have lobbied for the Panthers to choose him.

I love how Woody is passing this pure speculation off as fact. Fox didn't want to take Clausen with the #48 pick and he was a steal (at the time) at that spot and Fox is close to Charlie Weis who gave Clausen a glowing recommendation. Why would Fox have chosen to draft Tebow over Clausen at that point? In fact, there is one draft in the entire time Fox was in Carolina that he had very little say in who was drafted and that was the 2010 draft. Prior to that, during Fox's time as Carolina coach the Panthers had drafted a quarterback twice...and never before the 4th round. He simply doesn't believe you need an elite quarterback to win in the NFL. What makes anyone think Fox would have lobbied to take a project quarterback in second round if he had a say, which he didn't, knowing he wasn't going to be in Carolina the very next year? So talking bullshit about how Fox "probably" would have lobbied for Tebow fails the smell test. It's just not true, no matter how much Woody wishes it were.

The Fox run-oriented offense will be perfect for Tebow, who won't be asked to carry the Broncos on every possession.

I absolutely agree with this. Tebow could thrive in Fox's system.

Mike McCoy, who will be the "real" offensive coordinator, believes in Tebow, and can design specific plays for his talents. McCoy developed Jake Delhomme into a Super Bowl and Pro Bowl quarterback with Carolina.

McCoy doesn't do a terrible job with quarterbacks, but it is a bit misleading to say he "developed" Delhomme into a Super Bowl quarterback. The Panthers made the Super Bowl, in McCoy and Delhomme's first year working together, and never made it back again while working together. McCoy worked for the Panthers from 2003-2008 and Delhomme made the Pro Bowl a total of one 2005. So it is not like Delhomme "developed" into a great quarterback and stayed there. He made the Pro Bowl one year and then never seemed to play that well again. McCoy was also there for Delhomme's 2008 playoff meltdown and Delhomme peaked in 2005 never to reach that peak again. So it is fine to credit him with the good stuff, but also blame him for the bad stuff too.

The Broncos cannot keep Kyle Orton for myriad reasons. He has proven to be an average quarterback — based on third-down and red-zone conversions, mobility and, most important, victories. In his past four years (after being benched for the entire 2006 season), Orton's overall record as a starter is 22-24 (5-18 since the seventh game of 2009).

After Tebow became the starter, Orton sulked on the sidelines and never tried to assist or encourage him.

Check out this post where Paige is in love with Kyle Orton and credited him for being a good teammate and working hard, which contradicted what Woody had said in training camp and what he says here.

Orton has to be traded and there could be as many as seven suitors. He will be gone before training camp.

Want to know another reason Orton needs to be traded? Because otherwise Fox would start him. Darin Gantt says it incredibly effectively here:

Wouldn't. That's why if DEN values TT, they might ought to take the bat out of Fox's hands. RT @kravon1 Why would Fox want Tebow over Orton?

but it wouldn't be a surprise if the Broncos bring in Delhomme, who was Fox's QB from 2003-09 in Carolina, as a backup. Fox felt so badly for his veteran QB at the end — when he was booed at home — he released Delhomme so he could sign with another team,

Look, I don't expect every NFL writer in the United States to know what is happening with every NFL team. If I were a sportswriter, and I was writing about the team I cover and that team's new coach, I would make damn sure I knew what the hell I was talking about. This isn't how it went down. First off, John Fox had no control over personnel matters this past offseason, so he didn't suggest cutting Delhomme. In fact, as I stated above, Delhomme was cut so John Fox wouldn't be tempted to start him again this year and give Matt Moore a chance to start (of course Moore got the chance and he wasn't great either). Moore was going to be a free agent after this past season and the Panthers had to know if he could play or not.

In regard to the booing, Delhomme was booed at home in the Arizona Cardinals playoff game in 2008 AND during the opening game the next season against Philadelphia and that didn't prevent Fox from starting Delhomme as much as he could until Delhomme got injured at the end of 2009.

With Delhomme and Quinn, there won't be the competition Fox claims. Tebow will get the time with the first team.

Which of course Woody assumes makes the Broncos a better team. Maybe it does, maybe it doesn't. Why would Woody just assume Orton couldn't be a backup though? He's been a backup before and it is not like Orton didn't see the writing on the wall when Tebow was drafted.

The two can't return to compete now that Orton is the backup — Orton won't accept a demotion (again) —

I think Woody makes the assumption Orton wouldn't take the backup job with the Broncos for two reasons:

1. He doesn't like Kyle Orton and he wants to make him look like he can't accept being demoted, despite the fact this continuously happens to him.

2. He knows if Orton stays on the roster there is a chance he is the opening game starter in 2011 and he doesn't want to make this entire column sound ridiculous, since the entire point of the article is that Tebow is the 2011 starter no matter what.

Fox does know quarterbacks, between his 16 seasons as a secondary coach and defensive coordinator in the pros, when he specifically studied films of every quarterback, and in his nine seasons as the Panthers' head coach.

Eight of the quarterbacks on teams he coached were ultimately in Super Bowls — from Steve Young to Delhomme.

The relevance of this statistic eludes me. So eight quarterbacks on teams John Fox coached were in Super Bowls at one point? Is this good compared to other coaches? I'm asking, I don't know.

Fox was saying the other day in the hallway at Dove Valley how Young was a crude, inexperienced running quarterback (and Fox was an inexperienced pro coach) when the two were with the same USFL team in Los Angeles in 1985. "A lot of people thought he'd never be a quarterback." Young, who was close to finishing his career with the Broncos before he retired in 1999 because of a number of concussions, wound up in the Hall of Fame, and Fox wound up in Denver.

So obviously we can take from the sentence about Steve Young being inexperienced in 1985 that (a) Tim Tebow is definitely the starter this year, (b) John Fox considers Tim Tebow to be like Steve Young and (c) Tim Tebow will eventually be in the Hall of Fame. Woody wants you to believe this I think.

Tebow, as with Young and Elway before him, will make himself into a very good NFL quarterback and will make the disbelievers believe.

I believe Tim Tebow can be a good NFL starting quarterback. That's not what this post was about though, it was about how Woody Paige is a huge advocate for Tim Tebow...which is probably a relevant point because Woody can write an article about the Colorado Rockies raising ticket prices or eulogize a famous Denver area athlete and end the column by stating Tim Tebow will be a good NFL quarterback. It all comes back to that for Woody.

This column was an abomination. Woody came to the conclusion Tim Tebow will be the Broncos starting quarterback next year by cherry-picking every somewhat-positive quote that has been said about Tebow by John Fox, while ignoring the positive comments Fox has said about Orton. The conclusion may end up being correct, but the way Woody got there reeks of his love for all things Tebow. He should start a fan club for Tebow instead of using his Denver Post column as a forum for his Tebow-ner.

Friday, January 28, 2011

4 comments BotB Podcast #5

It's Baseball HoF time again. In this week's episode we are creating the greatest 9 man baseball roster ever to be assembled because the HoF has yet to do so.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

5 comments Joe Morgan Is Back Briefly and Defending Aaron Rodgers...Sort Of

You know you have missed Joe Morgan. I have. This upcoming summer won't be the same for me without him around doing chats for ESPN. Hopefully, the Reds organization will force him to do some chats in his spare time. For the time being, Joe has done an interview with radio station KJR in Seattle and the greatest second-baseman of all-time, yet one of the most headache-inducing announcers, had a couple interesting things to say.

The question is in bold and the answer from Joe is in bold italics.

So you’re going to move on here. You’re young enough. Do you have any plans yet in terms of working in broadcast?

“Uhhh…I’m not sure what I want to do in that direction yet. I actually work for the Reds. I’m a special advisor to the Cincinnati Reds.

I like how they transcribed Joe's "uhhh..." It just seems right.

I help them with their personnel and help them in the marketing department and help them in their community relations.

As if I didn't harp on this enough when I did his chats, this was a huge conflict of interest in my opinion. It was his job to be an analyst for ESPN while at the same time he helped the Reds out with their marketing and personnel decisions (maybe decisions...I hope not). Even members of Congress would be embarrassed to be paid to analyze a business or industry, while also being an advisor to said business or industry.

I also just opened up a Honda dealership in Cincinnati “Joe Morgan Honda,” so I’ll be working there with that.

Let's imagine the slogan for Joe Morgan Honda for a second...

"Joe Morgan Honda equals consistent satisfaction."

"We can't say for sure you will like the car. It's too early to tell you that, but we do know it's possible. Ask us if you will like the car after you have driven it for 100,000 miles."

Or perhaps a commercial...

"Here at Joe Morgan Honda, just name the price you want. We have no prices on the cars, in fact we hate numbers. Our salesperson will tell you how much he thinks the car is worth based on how much he remembers he enjoyed the previous models of that car."

Any better suggestions for a commercial or slogan? The possibilities are endlessly hilarious.

What made the “Big Red Machine” so tough to handle for opposing teams throughout the 1970′s looking at the back-to-back World Series Champions years of 1975-and-1976?

“Well I think the big difference is a lot of people don’t give give him enough credit and that’s Sparky Anderson.

Sparky Anderson is in the Baseball Hall of Fame. I am not sure how much more recognition a baseball manager or player should get than that. Even if he doesn't get enough credit, the fact he was managing a team of Hall of Fame players could be the reason for that. Still, to be elected to the Hall of Fame...that's getting some credit for your achievements. Does Joe want the Hall of Fame to put a statue up in his honor?

You know to have a great team. We did things, we gave up our own individuality to make the team better. You know I could have stolen a few more bases at times.

Of course Joe could have. Why would he do that though when he could stand on first base and give up his individuality to make the team better by not getting in scoring position? THAT'S DETRIMENTAL TO THE TEAM!

I think Bench [Johnny] could of hit a few more home-runs, but there was a time for a single to right stuff like that and he did it.

Because, why get two sure runs on the board for the Reds and be a rally-killer when you can single and get one run in? It's all about the team. Individuality was given up for the benefit of the team to score fewer runs.

(Sparky Anderson in the clubhouse) "Look Johnny, I know you can probably hit a two-run home run here and put us ahead by two runs. I'm going to need to single to right field though. Let's get that run in. We don't need two runs right now. Help the team more by scoring fewer runs."

(Joe Morgan walking around the clubhouse naked) "You don't get enough recognition Sparky."

(Sparky Anderson) "Put some clothes on Joe."

So I think we all gave up a little bit of ourselves to make the team better and I think that’s what made it such a great team because we all knew what we were supposed to do.

Apparently what they were "supposed to do" is score fewer runs for the team if given the chance. I fail to see how scoring more runs for the team is a good thing, but I also don't live in the world of Joe Morgan, which feels like a parallel universe really. A parallel universe where passing up a home run for a single is to the team's advantage.

It has been obvious for a while that Joe subscribes to the "clogging up the bases" mentality of Dusty Baker, but I don't see how a single instead of a home run is a good thing. I'm not baseball coach, but scoring the most runs possible in a game seems like the best possible strategy.

It's good to hear things haven't changed for Joe.

-Mike Tanier writes an article about how passer rating is an overrated statistic and I could not agree more. It's a fairly old way of measuring how good a quarterback has played. Like many other statistics it doesn't have a lot of meaning in itself in comparing quarterbacks to each other over different generations. I think it is a decent statistic to compare quarterbacks to each other using the same year's statistics, but even then I wouldn't use it solely to prove a point.

So I agree with him on his main argument. He does go overboard a bit. He uses Aaron Rodgers as the main example of how quarterback rating is overrated and creates a theory that I am not sure I agree with.

Aaron Rodgers is currently the NFL’s all-time career leader in passer rating, a fact that should leave you impressed, baffled, and maybe a little insulted.

Not really. He's only started for three years in the NFL. Of course he is also awesome, so that could have something to do with him being #1 as well. Still, this doesn't mean he is the best quarterback ever. Reasonable minds who like Rodgers could agree upon this.

Rodgers’ career passer rating is 98.4. Super Bowl foe Ben Roethlisberger ranks eighth on the all-time list at 92.5. The players between them, in order: Philip Rivers, Steve Young, Tony Romo, Tom Brady, Peyton Manning, and Kurt Warner. Some nobody named “Joe Montana” comes in ninth, with Drew Brees rounding out the top 10.

What do these players all have in common? They played in the NFL over the last 20 years. We can see the first problem with comparing passer ratings of quarterbacks that played during different periods of the NFL's history. Passer rating naturally favors the modern quarterback.

The “best” quarterback — Johnny Unitas or Bart Starr — typically did a lot of things well, but not well enough to lead the league in any one category.

So the NFL decided they needed a new statistic, and the league formed a committee. That’s what the passer rating is — a stat developed by a committee. A committee that met in the early 1970s, when pocket calculators were the size of blimps.

I hate to pick on this article because it is fairly well-researched. Yet, I must go is in my contract that I must do so.

The mathematical juggling hides two major flaws.

First, it’s an insanely over-engineered solution to a simple problem, but we’ve come to expect that from a league that can turn a simple concept like a “fumble” into Supreme Court-worthy legislation. Second, the rating compares quarterbacks to an “average” that was established in 1970, which might as well have been the Stone Age.

You get the point. Can we overhaul the passer rating statistic though? What would the harm in it be? The NFL has changed and comparing quarterbacks across generations is nearly impossible, because older guys like Joe Namath look terrible in comparison to today's most average quarterbacks, when this may not be the case.

Then Tanier goes into detail about what the quarterback rating formula entails and proves his point very well. The passing game has exploded in the NFL, cornerbacks could hold in the past where they can't now, and essentially the league has let this happen through rule changes.

OK, that explains why Rodgers outranks Staubach, or even Montana. How the heck does he outrank Brady, Manning, and Brees?

The passer rating is built exclusively from percentage stats, not raw totals. Percentage stats can go up and down during a quarterback’s career. As you know, quarterbacks usually play poorly as rookies, improve until they peak for a few seasons, then (if they are very good) hang around for a few seasons as their performance and statistics decline

Now he begins to overcomplicate the issue in an effort to prove his point. It is really a basic issue. Rodgers has only started for three seasons in the NFL, so he hasn't had much of a chance to have a bad year. Staubach and Montana are retired and Brady, Manning, and Brees have had a chance for bad seasons (for them), plus Manning started as a rookie on a bad team, which affected his statistics.

Now, look at Rodgers’ career. It’s all peak. He spent his “rise” throwing 59 passes in three years while waiting for Brett Favre to cut bait. He hasn’t had time to fall yet.

So this whole over-analytical discussion about how the hell Aaron Rodgers is the all-time leader in passer rating is answered with the simple answer that he hasn't been in the NFL long enough nor has he accumulated enough data for it to be relevant. That's not enough though, there always has to be a theory.

Rivers, second all-time, shares a similar resume. He spent two seasons behind Drew Brees instead of throwing stat-deflating interceptions. Romo (third) hung around the bench for several seasons and was more-or-less at his peak the moment he stepped on the field.

To be fair, while this is true, these quarterbacks still have to play well when they get on the field. It's not that to practice for 2-3 years and then have to step on the field and play well. It is not like Rivers and Rodgers were just able to automatically play well because they were on the bench and knew the offense. They still have talent and were able to play well when put in the lineup. So a little credit should be shown to them, rather than act like it is obvious they would play well just from sitting on the bench for a couple of years.

Steve Young and Kurt Warner also had the chance to sit on the bench and then come in at their peak as well. So it is not exclusive to just Rodgers and Rivers. Essentially both quarterbacks (Young and Warner) were handed Super Bowl-type talented offensive teams to put around them. They just had to execute the offense well and they did. I take nothing away from them, but I would put them in the discussion with Rivers and Rodgers as quarterbacks who started playing at their peak.

Call it the “Iceberg” Theory: Active quarterbacks often reach the top of the passer rating list because we only see the tip of their iceberg.

This is kind of a blanket statement. While true to an extent, it's not completely true:

Out of the Top 20 passers in NFL history in passer rating (only the active ones) here are their rankings on the list and when they started full-time for their team:

1. Aaron Rodgers- 4th season
2. Philip Rivers- 3rd season
4. Tony Romo- 3rd season
5. Tom Brady- 2nd season
6. Peyton Manning- 1st season
8. Ben Roethlisberger- 1st season
10. Drew Brees- 2nd season
11. Matt Schaub- 4th season
12. Chad Pennington- 3rd season
13. Joe Flacco- 1st season
16a. Carson Palmer- 1st season
16b. Matt Ryan- 1st season
20. Brett Favre- 2nd season

I am not completely disagreeing with the "Iceberg" theory, just stating out of the 13 active quarterbacks in the Top 20 that 8 of those quarterbacks started full-time for their team in the 1st or 2nd season they were in the NFL. Some parts of the theory have merit, but Flacco and Ryan are already at #13 and #16 and they presumably haven't reached their peak yet. So their peak will move them up the list further (presumably), so I am not sure their presence on the list is a result of being an "Iceberg" quarterback.

Brady and Manning will probably wind up like Young and Montana, hovering at the top of the list forever, but always wedged among a bunch of young guns coming off two or three hot seasons. They deserve better. The league should raise the minimum pass attempt requirement for the career rating list from 1,500 passes to 2,500. That would cut our Rodgers Romo, and Rivers for at least another season, forcing them to prove a little more before they sneak into a club that’s too exclusive for them.

I am not sure a smart football fan really believes a quarterback who has been in the NFL for 3-4 seasons is better than Montana, Young, or Dan Marino. This whole problem seems to be one caused by a small sample size.

Ironically, Rodgers’ high passer rating could be held against him. When television announcers use graphics to show that Rodgers has the highest rating in history, it forces viewers to be skeptical.

Is this really ironic? I am not sure if two different assumptions based on the presentation of data can be considered ironic or not.

If Rodgers ranks as the best ever at some bogus stat, maybe there’s something bogus about his performance.

So here's how we got to this point and see how it holds up using the assumptions we are supposed to use:

-Aaron Rodgers has the highest passer rating in NFL history.

-He must be the best quarterback of all-time.

-This isn't true because quarterback passer rating favors the modern quarterback.

-So Aaron Rodgers must not be the greatest quarterback of all-time.

-The passer rating statistic must be bogus on some way.

-If the passer rating statistic is bogus, then other statistics must also be bogus.

-Aaron Rodgers has other good statistics.

-Aaron Rodgers may not really be a good quarterback because the statistics he accumulates all could be bogus.

Couldn't we use that same logic to say ALL modern quarterbacks' numbers are bogus and not just Rodgers? If modern statistics are bogus in some ways, then all modern quarterbacks who put up great numbers could not really be great quarterbacks.

Maybe it's too many screens, too much reliance on his receivers, something inherently “wimpy” about completing five-yard smashes to Greg Jennings when every Staubach pass was an 80-yard bomb into the Steel Curtain.

Yes, because we all vividly remember Joe Montana throwing the ball deep continuously. Is Montana overrated because he had the greatest receiver of all-time to throw the ball to? Is Kurt Warner any less of a quarterback because he had two Hall of Fame-type receivers and a Hall of Fame running back playing with him? I don't think so. I'm not sure why these type of things could be held against Aaron Rodgers either then.

I am not sure if Tanier is being sarcastic here, but Staubach's three longest completed passes over three seasons (I didn't delve into how many 80+ completed passes he had in one season) were 75 yards in 1969 and 1979, 85 yards in 1971, and 91 yards in 1978. Granted, Staubach led the NFL in average yards per pass attempt, but I don't know if this makes him a better quarterback any more than a high passer rating makes Aaron Rodgers a good quarterback.

Staubach also didn't start full-time for the Cowboys until his 3rd year in the NFL and was 29 years old when he did. He could perhaps be an "Iceberg" quarterback.

Rodgers is an excellent quarterback, just achieving his potential. He doesn’t need a glitch antique statistic to make him into something more. As for the passer rating itself, think of it as a grandfather: Old fashioned, set in its ways, and a little silly, but still worth listening to, if only to understand how quickly times have changed.

Agreed, passer rating is an old statistic that should be overhauled. I am just not sure if Aaron Rodgers' passer rating can be used against him at all. I also believe the presence of more active quarterbacks at the top of the all-time passer rating list is a product of the changes in the NFL passing game and some quarterbacks on the list not having accumulated enough seasons in the NFL. Tanier seems to somewhat agree with this.

I don't know how much the influx of modern passers has to do with "Iceberg" seasons where the majority of modern quarterbacks on the list started for their team when they were at their peak. Many of the quarterbacks in the Top 20 of all-time passer rating did start for their team when they would throw stat-killing interceptions that would move them down the list. What's interesting is Tanier says this:

As quarterbacks age, the law of averages starts to temper their statistics, which is why Brady, Manning, Roethlisberger and Brees have slipped below the newcomers.

What is interesting is three of these quarterbacks were not "Iceberg" quarterbacks in that they started in their 1st or 2nd year in the NFL. So really wouldn't they throw their stat-killing interceptions at that point in their career and not have their statistics tempered as they got older? It may be a to-may-toe or to-mah-toe discussion either way I guess.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

14 comments A Summary of Dan Shaughnessy's Reactions to the Patriots Postseason Loss

I love to chart a good meltdown. I am sure I have had a few in my lifetime and it is always good to read about a columnist who isn't able to detach his personal feelings from the outcome of a sporting event. While Dan Shaughnessy hasn't had an exact meltdown over the past week due to the Patriots loss to the Jets, he has had quite a few things to say about it. I am going to start with his reaction to the Patriots loss to the Jets.

(As a beginning to Dan's incorrectness in this first column, he claimed the Patriots were third to last in payroll this season. This was later corrected by the paper, depending on how you calculate it, the Patriots were either 2nd, 9th and 12th. I am not exactly sure how Dan got to third to last. Check out more information here.)

The Patriots’ season was a failure.

The rational part of our brain wants to congratulate the Patriots for exceeding preseason expectations and compiling the best record in the NFL.

As many know, the irrational part of Dan's brain is responsible for writing many of his columns.

This is a young team that was facing a rugged schedule, and some of us (me) thought they would go 8-8. They had a raft of undrafted free agents (22) and 11 rookies.

In a later column we will see Dan complain the Patriots didn't spend enough money and have too low of a payroll. I have always thought the Patriots were on the right track with the way they build their team, and their success over the last 10 years backs that up. I guess Dan wants the Patriots to sign the really expensive undrafted free agents and overpay for their rookies. Payroll skyrockets and success will immediately follow!

All good. But the reality is that this season goes down as a failure because of what happened Sunday. And because of what should have happened Sunday.

What should have happened on Sunday? The Jets should have lost because that's how it was supposed to be? The Jets and Patriots split their regular season series this year. So should the Jets have lost because that's the only "right" conclusion? Since by destroying the Jets one time and losing to the Jets another time, this proved without a doubt the Patriots were the best team?

And now the tournament continues without the Patriots — the team everybody said was the best.

Everybody said this. The same team everyone said was the best is also the team that exceeded preseason expectations. They are pretty much the perfect team. If this world was fair, the Patriots would have won and Tom Brady would have let Dan run his hands through Brady's hair just once...just once...that's all. But the world is not fair, so Dan and Patriots have to live with the completely unfair 9th playoff appearance in the last 11 seasons. How does he go on with such disappointment?

The Bears, Packers, Steelers, and Jets are the NFL’s Final Four. The Patriots beat all of them. The aggregate score of New England’s four victories over the remaining Super Bowl contenders was 151-63.

If only there wasn't a postseason playoff system. If only the clear best teams in each conference, the Falcons and Patriots, could have met in a system designed to reward teams that have regular season success by placing them in the championship game based solely on their regular season record. Perhaps the other 10 playoff teams could have met in different games against each other which would have been shown prior to the Patriots and Falcons playing. We'll call it the "bowl system" and if this could happen I don't think anyone would have a problem with it.

I know Dan has blocked this out, but the Jets did beat the Patriots this year prior to beating them in the AFC Divisional Championship game. He doesn't want us to focus on this because it would take away from his attempted point that the Patriots were the best team and the team of destiny that had the Super Bowl unrightly (I made up a new word) taken away.

We all know the Patriots should have gone to Dallas.

No, we don't. The whole "we were the better team even though we got beat" mantra grows old among the Bill Simmons and Dan Shaughnessy's of the world. They seem to forget the 2001 Rams were clearly the best team in the 2001 Super Bowl. If football was fair, the Rams would have won that game because they were the "superior" team. In fact, if we believed "the best team" should have won each Super Bowl the Patriots won, I am pretty sure they wouldn't have three Super Bowl victories over the last decade. Ignore this speculative point though, because it is a grave injustice when the Patriots are the "best team" and lose, but when the Patriots aren't the best team and win, then it is a credit to how fucking smart Bill Belichick is and not an injustice on the "superior" team that lost.

To summarize Dan's point of view:

The Patriots lose: They should have won because they are the best.
The Patriots win: Bill Belichick is a genius.

(I was also informed via email that Dan Shaughnessy doesn't like Belichick and Robert Kraft, so he enjoys watching them lose so he can rub it in. I'm not sure if that is what he is doing here, it sounds more like he is a disappointed fan boy. This could explain Shaughnessy's insistence on criticizing how the Patriots have built their team though. They have a good plan, so maybe his criticism is meant as a way of being critical of Kraft and Belichick.)

Sunday’s shocker at Gillette is to the Jets what the 2004 American League Championship Series was to the Red Sox. Jet fans always are going to be able to throw this in the face of Patriots fans. Forever.

Oh my God, are we seriously still talking about this? The 2004 Red Sox were great...nearly seven years ago. Dan is the guy who keeps talking about this really attractive girl he dated a few years ago, as if anyone cares now. Let's move on. Weren't we just talking about football? No other writer intentionally cross-sections sports in one town more than Dan Shaughnessy. There are no other comparisons to be drawn in sports in his mind, other than comparisons to something a Boston-area team has done before.

The loss to the Patriots is like the Red Sox win in the 2004 ALCS, except the exact opposite and it isn't like it at all.

There is more to be written after this on Page 2, but I refuse to sign up with because I don't want to be spammed with content they have. But let's just trust there was a lot of other terribly written stuff on Page 2 of this column. I will summarize what is probably says for you...

"The Patriots should have won. Insert Celtics 2007 season reference here. Bill Belichick is like Grady Little. Pedro Martinez. Everyone knows the Patriots were the best team. Wes Welker. Too many young players on the roster. Look at how good our young players are. 2004 Red Sox."

Dan then tells Patriots fans in his next column why they should have cheered for the Jets in the AFC Championship Game. I guess Dan wants to take the crown of guy who "speaks for all Boston fans" from Bill Simmons. I'll give you a hint why Dan is on the Jets is because he is really on the Patriots bandwagon. Much like any sports-related incident has something to do with Boston sports in Dan's world, cheering for the Jets is mostly about the Patriots.

I’m in. I’m on the Jets bandwagon.

No one cares.

The Jets lack self-importance. They do backflips in the end zone.

Really? The Jets lack self-importance? This is the story Dan is going with? If a person made a list of the 30 teams in the NFL that lacked self-importance, the Jets would not be on that list. They lack a lack of self-importance.

Oh, and the Jets have fans who have suffered for years, just like Red Sox fans up until 2004.

Here Dan goes with the cross-sectioning one Boston area sports team with another AND he throws in some "suffering." The only thing Red Sox fans "suffered" from is having to read constantly about how they were suffering...well that and having to read Dan Shaughnessy's columns everyday.

If you are a Patriots fan still smarting from the shocker last Sunday, you should be rooting for the Jets tonight.

But why? Hint: It has something to do with the Patriots.

The better the Jets do, the more the Patriots will be driven to beat them.

Well naturally, is there is another reason to watch a football game other than to see the future-hypothetical-yet-purely-speculative-reason the Patriots will play better? I personally don't give a shit about the Super Bowl. I just want to know how three titles for the Steelers impacts the legacy of the Patriots. If the Packers win, well, we all know the Patriots would have beaten the Packers. So this is further proof of just how good the Patriots were this year, knowing they absolutely would have won the AFC Championship game and the Super Bowl without a doubt. They woulda, shoulda, coulda beaten the Super Bowl champs...without a doubt this is true based on the fact they beat the Jets and Packers (by a whole four points) this year, and therefore rightly should have beaten the Jets again.

If the Jets win the AFC Championship at Heinz Field, perhaps the Krafts will be inspired to spend a little more money on payroll next year (are we supposed to feel good that the Patriots have the third-lowest payroll in the NFL?).

I thought Belichick was a genius? I thought he could win a Super Bowl with twenty-two physically handicapped players?

This isn't baseball, upping the payroll isn't the best chance to win games, it is merely the best chance to spend money and have future potential payroll problems. If the Patriots "up" their payroll, how are they going to pay for their young nucleus down the road? Assuming there is a salary cap still of course.

Maybe New England will stop trading down to get “value’’ for high draft picks.

Because Devin McCourty, Rob Gronkowski, and Aaron Hernandez were such huge disappointments this past year. Why did the Patriots even draft these bums? In this upcoming draft, the Patriots have 4 picks in the first 60 draft picks of the 2011 NFL Draft. The Patriots should increase their payroll AND spend more money on high draft picks. Who needs 4 picks in the first 60 picks of the NFL Draft when they can spend all that money on two players? That's the smart thing to do!

Maybe New England will seek more talent.

Nah, they will probably try to avoid drafting talent and draft loser bums like McCourty.

So, yes, the Jets are my team. I hope they go on to win the Super Bowl in Dallas in two weeks. Perhaps that will motivate people back at Patriot Place.

Because that's what the Super Bowl is really all about, making sure Patriots Place is more crowded.

Imagine the noise next year when the Super Bowl champion Jets come to Gillette Stadium.

Imagine the noise next year when the New York Jets, the team that beat the Patriots in the playoffs and have a rivalry with them, come to Gillette Stadium! That's right, without a Super Bowl win for the Jets I doubt any Patriots fans will find it pertinent to attend this game. That's what it seems like Dan Shaughnessy thinks.

How can you root against a team with a general manager who was a Needham Rocket and a UMass Minuteman? Mike Tannenbaum grew up watching Bob Lobel on Channel 4 and reading Bob Ryan on these pages. He is one of us.

I feel terribly bad for those who read Dan Shaughnessy's column every single day. It's like reading a fan blog by 13 year old, just more poorly written.

You should root for the Jets because they are homeless. For years the Jets played their home games at Giants Stadium. Officially, they are the New York Jets, but they’re more like the Queens Jets, the Long Island Jets, or the Jets from the Swamps of New Jersey.

This is as opposed to the Patriots who are named after an entire region? Yet they are located in Massachusetts. I am sure Dan uses this as proof the Patriots represent the entire region and are more important than your favorite NFL team.

If none of these arguments bring you around, you should root for the Jets tonight because you don’t want to root for the Steelers. The Steelers and their fans are babies.

The Steelers fans are babies says the guy who just wrote an entire article about how the Patriots were the team that should have won the Super Bowl. The same guy who wants the Patriots to increase their talent level, spend more money, and quit trading back for value draft picks...yet doesn't understand the best way to increase the talent level is to get as many 1st and 2nd draft picks as possible. This is exactly what the Patriots have done. The same team that Dan Shaughnessy thinks had the birthright to appear in the Super Bowl this year was built using value draft picks and not overspending on players, yet Dan wants the Patriots to go away from this strategy. I am sure his reason has something to do with the 2004 Red Sox.

By any definition, quarterback Ben Roethlisberger is a boor. If he wins tonight, he’s going to his third Super Bowl, and that’s going to start talk of comparisons with Brady.

Which of course should never happen because Tom Brady is a superior player to Ben Roethlisberger due to his being a New England Patriot. As a side note, Roethlisberger has won a Super Bowl with two different coaches, while Brady has won 3 Super Bowls with one coach. This doesn't matter at all, but I felt like I would mention this.
The Steelers have won two Super Bowls since the last time the Patriots won one. You want to see them go for a third?
No. You want the Jets.
It’s not as stupid as it sounds. Really.
Even if it isn't as stupid as it sounds, Dan Shaughnessy has a way of making it sound stupid.

In the column after this one, Dan details how painful the AFC Championship was because the obviously superior Patriots team didn't get to play in the game. His basic point is that everyone knows the Patriots were the best team in the AFC, that's not him acting like a baby, that's just him being a sore loser and acting like a baby.

Did you watch or did you boycott because you believed the Patriots should have been playing?

Again, Steelers fans are the babies. Boycotting the AFC Championship game because you rightfully feel your team should have been in the game, despite losing at home to one of the teams in the AFC Championship is the big boy thing to do.

It was a sloppy four quarters that only reinforced the notion that the Patriots blew a golden opportunity to go to the Super Bowl this year.

Everyone knows if the Patriots were in the game they would have won 38-3 in a clean game that had no penalties or sloppiness, like poorly executed fake punts or interceptions on screen passes...the Patriots would never do that in an important game. I still can't get over the fact Dan Shaughnessy thinks the Patriots were the best team in the AFC, despite losing to the Jets in the playoffs. It's delusional fandom at its best.

Pittsburgh is going to the ultimate game and the Jets are finally going home. The Steelers bolted to a 24-0 lead over Rex Ryan’s team, but the Jets — to their credit — did not fold. They scored 19 unanswered points and came close to mounting the greatest comeback in conference championship history.

It was a sloppy comeback though. The Jets defense in the second half just reinforced what a great team the Patriots were, because the Jets never would shut down the Patriots, just like the Steelers great offense in the first half reinforced what a great team the Patriots were because they couldn't score that many points on the Patriots, The temperature at the game also reinforced what a great team the Patriots were. The fact I am talking about this...reinforces the idea the Patriots were a great team. The sun only rises in the morning to see if the Patriots will be a great team that day and then sets out of disappointment the Patriots still aren't seen as the greatest team in the NFL for 2010. If aliens ever visit Earth, when they greet our leaders the first thing they will acknowledge is how they are there mainly to see the Patriots play in person. Again, this reinforces what a great team the Patriots were this year.

I like how Dan Shaughnessy thinks the Patriots are the best team in the AFC, yet he also doesn't think the Patriots have enough talent and they should start drafting better players and quit trading back to get value draft picks. I can only imagine how good he would feel the Patriots are if they followed the "Shaughnessy Plan" and spent a shitload of money on free agents and only had 1 draft pick in each of the first two rounds of the 2011 draft.

The greatest comeback in conference championship history was pulled off by the Colts. Remember that one? Indianapolis trailed the New England Patriots, 21-3, then came back to win, 38-34, in January of 2007.

Why the use of italics?

It’s always about us, right?

Acknowledging the faults in your writing style doesn't mean you shouldn't change it.

I have to tell you that it was impossible to watch last night’s game without thinking about the Patriots and the fact that New England whupped both of these teams and should have been hosting this game.

I don't mean to harp on this point, but the Jets beat the Patriots, at Gillette Stadium, in the playoffs. This happened just last week. In fact, the Jets beat the Patriots 2 out of the 3 times they played this year. Therefore, advantage Jets. So this whole talk about the Jets getting "whupped" is only true for one game. The other two games the Jets beat the Patriots.

I am afraid some idiot Patriots fans take their talking points from Dan Shaughnessy. There has to be a better Boston-related writer to get talking points from.

Pittsburgh’s Rashard Mendenhall ran for 95 yards in the first half. The Steelers had 231 yards of offense to New York’s 50 net yards. The definitive moment came when Mark Sanchez was sacked on his 20 and lost control of the football. William Gay collected it and went 19 yards for a touchdown to make it 24-0 with 1:13 left in the half.

He didn't lose control of the football. He was throwing the football and the ball got knocked out of his hand. Did Dan Shaughnessy miss the Jets-Patriots game? Why must he be willingly blind to the fact the Patriots didn't get screwed out of a win at home, but lost a game because they turned the ball over and didn't play well? It happened.

But New York came back. Pittsburgh never scored again. Sanchez stayed in the game and led a furious comeback that put the game in doubt when New York cut it to 24-19 on a touchdown pass from Sanchez to Jerricho Cotchery with 3:06 left.

It was a sloppy comeback though. There wasn't any white grittiness like Wes Welker, Danny Woodhead, and Julian Edelman show. The Jets quarterback didn't have his long hair peeking from under his helmet like the son of Zeus like Tom Brady has. So it really shouldn't count as a comeback at all.

In the end, the Jets proved somewhat worthy.

Do you know who wasn't worthy of appearing in the AFC Championship Game? The Patriots because they lost to the Jets in the AFC Divisional playoff. Most Patriots fans understand this, but the delusions of Dan Shaughnessy won't and can't accept this.

It sounds like sour grapes, but I couldn’t get it out of my head that the Patriots should have been in this game. And probably should be going to the Super Bowl.

Do you know who else should have been going to the Super Bowl? The #1-#5 seeds in the NFC. But they aren't. Green Bay is. So this bullshit about which team "should" or "should not" be in the Super Bowl IS sour grapes. Not saying, "I think the Patriots should have beaten the Jets and were the better team, but they didn't," and instead continuously harping on the Patriots actually being the better team is annoying. It is as if Dan Shaughnessy thinks the Patriots were cheated out of an appearance in the Super Bowl in a way that had nothing to do with their own performance in the playoffs.

Certainly the Steelers are playing better now than they were when New England came here and won easily in November, but there’s no way the Patriots would have gotten skunked by Pittsburgh playing in Foxborough last night. The Patriots own the Steelers.

I feel like Dan isn't a professional sportswriter, but some asshole at a bar talking shit to fans of the Jets and Steelers about the superiority of his favorite team. The Patriots have owned the Steelers, but the Patriots have also owned the Jets in the past and they lost to them twice this year. The whole "we would have beaten X team if we had played" argument doesn't mean much when it comes to actually proving something of substance if your team doesn't win enough games to beat X team.

Team of the new century? Pittsburgh’s making a case for itself.

If the Steelers win against the Packers in the Super Bowl, will that help their case for team of the new century? Maybe. Though in Dan Shaughnessy's eyes we would have to include that Tom Brady owns the Steelers and the Patriots had a Super Bowl and AFC Divisional Game stolen from them by teams that didn't nearly deserve to win as much as the Patriots did. Also, the 2004 Red Sox would have something to do with this as well.

Think about that. The Steelers were blanked in the second half, at home, and they are going to the Super Bowl.

This is merely another clear sign the Steelers are frauds and don't deserve to be in the Super Bowl.

The Patriots are powerless to stop the Steelers and despicable Ben because they could not beat the Jets at home, six weeks after crushing them.

Which they did 10 weeks before they lost to the Jets for the first time this year.

The 14-2 Patriots were forced to watch last night’s weird game and it served as one more painful reminder of an opportunity wasted.

Sorry. But if you watched, I know you had to be thinking the same thing.

Fans of the Falcons, Saints, Ravens, and Colts were probably also thinking about this as well. Naturally, Dan Shaughnessy believes it means more to Patriots fans, simply because he is a Patriots fan. See, it is like the 2004 Red Sox...

You know what I am really thinking? I am thinking I can't believe Dan Shaughnessy is respected as a sportswriter. It's hard to believe.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

8 comments Seriously Trying to Give Big Ben a Fair Shot

Only a few things must be said regarding this weekend's AFC/NFC Championship games:

1) The favorites won. Despite our innate need to point to some specific cause, it simply boiled down to the Packers' and Steelers' superiority. It's an odd phenomenon in sports: the team with better players seems to win more often.

2) We all know that the NFL media is full of hypocrites. If you care about player safety, you're not asking Jay Cutler to return to the game with a sprained MCL. That said, everyone needs to stop jumping the gun. As the eloquent Olin Kreutz put it, "They should turn that [expletive] Twitter off." You know, since the internet has an on/off button.

3) Brian Schottenheimer needs to purchase a treadmill. Mark Sanchez's headset had issues the entire game. With time winding down in the 4th the alert Sanchez sprints to the sideline to get a crucial play call on 3rd and goal (the Jets were down 24-12). Yet Schottenheimer made no effort to move closer to the end zone, instead choosing to remain 50 yards away and tire out his QB. There are only two reasons for such laziness. The first, and more unlikely scenario, is that he simply does not care about the game or understand the severity of the situation. The second, and more plausible explanation, was that he simply did possess the cardiovascular stamina to ease Sanchez's burden. With that in mind, I'm not asking for a sprint. Not even a jog. I would have settled for a long-strided power walk. But if Rex Ryan can amble (I imagined Chris Berman announcing Rex's sprint with a Mike Alstott, "bumblin', stumblin'" call.) 30 yards in celebration of a touchdown, you can help out your QB with a bit of physical effort.

4) Rashard Mendenhall is the real Pittsburgh rapist. See the video below for evidence. When it happened live, I was stunned. But you know the world is a great place when 10 minutes later Youtube has already captured the moment. How can you not appreciate videos with titles such as "Rashard Mendenhall humps Big Ben," "Rashard Mendenhall rapes Big Ben HD" or "Steelers Victory Hump?" Thank you for the high definition and music, "samplethief."

As DeeznutsFYC proudly proclaimed in the comments, "Karma's a bitch, ain't it Ben?" It's remarkable that someone with such a horrendous username could muster such creative thought. The wonders of the Interwebs, I guess.

Anyway, onto bigger and better things.

Namely, where Big Ben is ranked among the all-time QBs if he defeats Aaron Rodgers and the Packers to grab Super Bowl #3.

No matter what he does, Big Ben will never be able to rehabilitate his image. Deadspin reminded everyone last week that Mark Sanchez was also accused of sexual assault in his freshman year at USC. In an attempt to slander the media's random portrayal of certain athletes, they claimed that the Sanchez event was cast as a one-time incident that allowed him to mature. Big Ben, meanwhile, has made every effort to clean himself up but cannot lose the bad rep.

Everything about him oozes American infatuation. We love the small college, underrated star who plays the game just like they do in the Wrangler commericals. In short, we love the Brett Favre way of life. Big Ben, it seems has every one of these traits. His greatest assets are his big arm and creativity. He usually has an unecessarily long beard to give him the "I don't make enough money to be groomed" look. He's the QB of a blue collar town. His play elevates when it matters. He's already got two Super Bowl rings.

Detractors will ultimately use his reputation as a means to lower his all-time rankings because statistics say otherwise. When I ask you for the best QBs in the league at this moment, you will ultimately say Brees, Brady, Manning, Rodgers, Rivers and Roethlisberger (in some order). I've already ranked the QBs and suffered from the same malady. Despite statistical and visual evidence, I knocked Big Ben for no other reason than, "well, I don't really like you now that you have sexual assault women." In an attempt to correct misgivings, I went back to the stats. In Manning, Roethlisberger and Brady's first seven seasons as starters, the QB with the highest rating in each season went as follows (okay, that may have sounded confusing. I'm comparing Roethlisberger's 1st season as a starter to Brady's and Manning's. Then the 2nd, 3rd, etc.): Big Ben, Big Ben, Manning, Big Ben, Brady, Big Ben, Manning.

So Big Ben's first two seasons were dominated by running and defense. If you want to discount them, that's understandable. Let's look at the TD/INT ratio of season's 3-7, when each QB was unquestionably a large part of the offense (if not the whole thing).

Big Ben: 110/66 = 1.67/1
Manning: 164/100 1.64/1
Brady: 129/66 = 1.95

I did calculated many more stats but I'm not here to bore you with further statistical proof. That's what John Clayton is for. I'm more concerned with why perception will not match reality. If Big Ben picks up #3, we will do what we always do. Throw around a QBs name among the elite (Brady and Manning) but ultimately leave him a notch below. Take Drew Brees, for example. If there were ever a QB locked into a positional ranking, it would be Brees at #3. No matter what any QB does, Manning and Brady will be #1 and #2 until they retire. Aaron Rodgers or Big Ben meanwhile, will attempt to usurp Brees' throne this off-season depending on whoever wins the Super Bowl, but Brees will retain his #3 crown (only in a few years will one surpass Brees).

The built-in theory which bothers me most is that Roethlisberger is widely assumed to lack the potential to ever legitimately and permanently enter the Manning/Brady category. The reason, as mentioned before, will always be the sexual assault allegations. No matter where you stand on his guilt or innocence, the incidents have tainted him as badly as a baseball player suspected of steroid use. He may really be clean. He may have just been at the wrong place at the wrong time (I doubt it, but it's possible.) I just wish more would acknowledge that this is the biggest factor withholding him from our outstretched arms of approval. The beginning of his career mirrors that of Manning and Brady. He's got two of the biggest opinion-swayers already in the bag. Yet we continue to resist the idea almost as much as baseball hates instant replay. I'm not saying that Roethlisberger is as good as Manning or Brady. Nor am I saying that I'm above the widely held perception. No matter how much I try to convince myself, I cannot seem to change my core views. But the evidence cannot deny that that day is potentially closer than we think. They say that winning cures everything, but I doubt it will cure Big Ben's rep.