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.

6 comments:

rich said...

normally one of the treats of attending the final contest is gorgeous, scantily attired, dancing women along both sidelines.

Don't get me wrong, I love cheerleaders, but I had no idea this was the case and I have to say, I don't really give a shit. Like you said, BGF, it's about the football game. If I wanted scantily clad women, I could go to a bar and/or use the internet.

Congratulations to Teresa Scanlan of Nebraska, the new Miss America.

OMG I TOTALLY MISSED IT. I CAN'T BELIEVE IT!

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

On the other hand, the students and coaches knew that they couldn't give out scholarships.

Also, if there aren't any scholarships, then it absolutely matters who gets tuition help... because that's what a fucking scholarship is.

why wasn't he even allowed to try from this distance in the NFC title game?

At that point, the game was still within reach and there was more value in pinning the Packers deep than attempting a 48 yard field goal and potentially giving the Packers great field position. Adding to that, I guarantee that Gould tried from that range in practice and would have told Lovie where his range was. Maybe Gould said his range in that direction was 40 yards. At that point the points weren't that crucial.

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?

Yes. Imagine if the Giants tried to switch to a 3-4 next season. It'd be a disaster. Everything you said BGF was spot on, so I can't add anything besides: how can you be a "long-suffering" fan and not know why the difference between the 3-4 and 4-3 is pretty critical.

Bengoodfella said...

Rich, everyone loves cheerleaders. Not as much as Gregg does, but still.

I don't think I have paid attention to cheerleaders in a while. Scantily clad women are pretty much everywhere, so cheerleaders have lost their allure in the Interwebs age.

Haha...I don't get what is okay with giving a D-III player money for tuition. It is making it an uneven playing field.

As far as the 3-4 to 4-3 defense goes, I could probably go on and on about this forever. If you don't see what the big deal is then I can't talk to you about this. If the Panthers wanted to switch to a 3-4 it would be worse than a disaster. They are two different defenses that require two different things from their players. Sure, some coaches do use it as a selling point, which may be overrated, but overall if you don't get the difference then that's on you.

Martin F. said...

And today's TMQ column is even worse. He writes 1,000 words whining about the Packers and Rodgers not telling people which anti-concussion helmet he's using. it's not a magic potion they have Gregg, it's a widely available anti-concussion helmet. Gregg thinks that somehow the Packers not telling him what helmet it is is causing tens of thousands of concussions across high school players in America.

Except, you know, high school football was over 6 weeks ago. Also, it's doubtful that this is the One True Helmet, and this is the Only One which will stop concussions. It's like golf clubs, baseball bats/gloves, a pair of shoes: what works for you, might not be what I like and works for me. YMMV.

Also, he didn't bother to understand the contract law that he acknowledges with his part about Riddel being the official helmet of the NFL. The Packers can't say which helmet AR is wearing if it isn't Riddel....and yet his brother is a Federal Judge....

Bengoodfella said...

Martin F, I will be getting to the TMQ for this week. Nice preview though. This past weeks was not so bad, but that always means the next week will be worse.

The Packers probably didn't announce what he was wearing b/c of Riddell's contract with the NFL. It is pretty basic to understand, it is not Rodgers' civic duty to announce which helmet he is using.

Actually, I read an article where he stated what helmet he was wearing and how it helped him prevent a concussion. Like you said, one size may not fit all.

your favourite sun said...

There should never be an uncovered receiver or blown contain in a Tampa 2.

I'm pretty sure no coordinator ever runs a defense where they purposely allow open receivers or blown assignments.

Bengoodfella said...

Yeah they do...whenever a team blitzes! That's why blitzing is such a bad idea.