Monday, February 28, 2011

6 comments Gregg Easterbrook Again Points Out Where Everyone, Except Himself, Was Wrong

At the end of every NFL season Gregg Easterbrook likes to write down where NFL writers were wrong about predicting the upcoming NFL season. I won't let him get away with that. Just like last year I am going to focus on Gregg's terrible preseason predictions from earlier this year and then I will cover this week's TMQ. Gregg makes bad predictions and comments on a nearly weekly basis, so I will just stick to seeing how wrong he was about each NFL team's predicted record. If I tried to cover his wrong comments all year then I would have to make this a 10 part series.

AFC East

Gregg's predicted records:

New York Jets: 10-6
New England Patriots: 9-7
Miami Dolphins: 9-7
Buffalo Bills: 4-12

Actual record:

New England Patriots: 14-2
New York Jets: 11-5
Miami Dolphins: 7-9
Buffalo Bills: 4-12

He did get the Bills record correct, but he missed this division by 8 games. This will be one of his better showings.

In the past decade, the Bills have wasted first-round choices on busts Mike Williams, J.P. Losman and John McCargo and spent lottery-level first-round choices on Donte Whitner, Marshawn Lynch and Aaron Maybin, all of whom, in 2009, were kept on the bench by undrafted free agents.

This year Gregg referred to Lynch as an "unwanted players" by their previous team and ignored the fact he referred to him as being a bust. Gregg likes to pretend teams should have known something about these "unwanted" players, when in reality Gregg didn't know they were good either.

Perhaps Belichick's strategy of endlessly trading down for extra picks reflects his awareness of a need to remake the Patriots roster: Belichick has banked extra first- and second-round choices in 2011, too. But if instead he had traded up for someone explosive -- C.J. Spiller, Dez Bryant -- New England's prospects might be brighter.

Aaron Hernandez, Rob Gronkowski and Devin McCourty argue differently.

Later in this TMQ, Gregg will comment on the "wrongness" of an analyst who said Dez Bryant would help lead the Cowboys to the Super Bowl. Also, C.J. Spiller lost his job to undrafted free agent Fred Jackson this year. Of course, Gregg will never mention again that he suggested the Patriots quit banking draft picks and get someone explosive like Spiller. I am surprised he hasn't had it scrubbed from his 2010 NFL preview.

NFC East

Gregg's predicted records:

Dallas Cowboys: 11-5
Philadelphia Eagles: 9-7
New York Giants: 9-7
Washington Redskins: 6-10

Actual records:

Philadelphia Eagles: 10-6
New York Giants: 10-6
Dallas Cowboys: 6-10
Washington Redskins: 6-10

Yet again, Gregg nails the correct record of a team. He did miss on the NFC East by 7 games though.

Last winter, Fletcher finally appeared in a Pro Bowl, though as an injury replacement. Tuesday Morning Quarterback continues to believe London Fletcher will become the first modern NFL player to be named to the Hall of Fame despite never being voted into a Pro Bowl.

Fletcher made the Pro Bowl this year. So Gregg can stop believing this now.

AFC North

Gregg's predicted records:

Baltimore Ravens: 12-4
Pittsburgh Steelers: 9-7
Cincinnati Bengals: 9-7
Cleveland Browns: 4-12

Actual records:

Pittsburgh Steelers: 12-4
Baltimore Ravens: 12-4
Cleveland Browns: 5-11
Cincinnati Bengals: 4-12

Gregg missed the AFC North by 9 games.

Last summer, Suggs, a pass-rush specialist, signed a deal with $39 million guaranteed -- and he already has the $39 million, as it was a rare front-loaded deal. What does Baltimore have? Suggs registered 4.5 sacks in 2009, or $8.7 million per sack. Last summer, Suggs celebrated his megadeal by reporting out of shape. This winter, with the $39 million already banked, he celebrated by skipping minicamp. Suggs has been nearly as much of a disappointment as Haynesworth.

What an idiot Gregg can be. Suggs had 11 sacks and 68 tackles this year. He also made his 4th Pro Bowl. I bet other teams wish they had more disappointments like Terrell Suggs. Comparing Albert Haynesworth to Terrell Suggs is one of the dumbest and most intelligent forms of sports journalism.

NFC North

Gregg's predicted records:

Green Bay Packers: 12-4
Minnesota Vikings: 10-6
Chicago Bears: 6-10
Detroit Lions: 4-12

Actual finish:

Chicago Bears: 11-5
Green Bay Packers: 10-6
Minnesota Vikings: 6-10
Detroit Lions: 6-10

Gregg missed the NFC North by 13 games. Not a great showing at all.

Unless Bradford becomes a star, there could be rending of garments and gnashing of teeth in St. Louis over the Rams' draft-day decision.

I hear the Rams are devastated they have found a franchise quarterback. You can hear the gnashing of teeth that Bradford exceeded expectations as a rookie. Ndamukong Suh was great this year as well, but the Rams are still happy with their decision I am sure.

AFC South

Gregg's predicted records:

Indianapolis Colts: 12-4
Tennessee Titans: 9-7
Houston Texans: 8-8
Jacksonville Jaguars: 5-11

Actual records:

Indianapolis Colts: 10-6
Jacksonville Jaguars: 8-8
Houston Texans: 6-10
Tennessee Titans: 6-10

Gregg missed the AFC South by 10 games.

In the past two drafts, Jax used two first-round, one second-round and two third-round choices on offensive and defensive tackles. In the previous draft, counting trades, Jax spent first-, second-, third- and fourth-round choices on defensive ends. And this offseason, Jacksonville signed defensive end Aaron Kampman to a big-bucks free-agency deal. So far, there isn't much return on the investment.

No return on investment unless you want to count the two defensive tackles the Jaguars have that are 24 and 23 years old respectively and combined for 7.5 sacks this year. The Jaguars appear to be on the right track in regard to their defensive line, at least in regard to defensive tackles.

NFC South

Gregg's predicted records:

New Orleans Saints: 12-4
Atlanta Falcons: 10-6
Carolina Panthers: 8-8
Tampa Bay Bucs: 4-12

Actual records:

Atlanta Falcons: 13-3
New Orleans Saints: 11-5
Tampa Bay Bucs: 10-6
Carolina Panthers: 2-14

Gregg missed the NFC South by 16 games. Not. Good.

AFC West

Gregg's predicted records:

San Diego Chargers: 10-6
Denver Broncos: 9-7
Kansas City Chiefs: 6-10
Oakland Raiders: 5-11

Actual records:

Kansas City Chiefs: 10-6
San Diego Chargers: 9-7
Oakland Raiders: 8-8
Denver Broncos: 4-12

Gregg missed the AFC West by 13 games. He really isn't getting too much more accurate as this goes on.

NFC West

Gregg's predicted records:

Arizona Cardinals: 10-6
San Francisco 49ers: 6-10
Seattle Seahawks: 6-10
St. Louis Rams: 3-13

Actual records:

Seattle Seahawks: 7-9
St. Louis Rams: 7-9
San Francisco 49ers: 6-10
Arizona Cardinals: 5-11

Gregg missed the NFC West by 10 games. That's considered progress for the guy who spends an entire column making fun of other people's predictions. Perhaps he should look at his own predictions for where he was wrong more than he does.

This team has won just six games in the past three seasons -- and, for the moment, has the highest-paid player in the NFL by the only measure that matters: guarantees. Why did the Rams choose Sam Bradford over Ndamukong Suh? Obviously, quarterback is the most important position in football, but I think the other factor is that Bradford looks like a quarterback should: He's tall and handsome.

Well, that and the Rams needed a starting quarterback and it turns out Sam Bradford looks like he will be a good one. I am sure it has something to do with the fact Bradford is tall and handsome more than it has to do with the fact he ended up being the right choice.

Now Gregg gets to the dirty business of criticizing other people's predictions, because Gregg was so accurate in most of the things he said.

Offseason Predictions: "Off" is the operative word

If a writer is going to do an entire column on how everyone else is wrong, wouldn't it make sense for that writer to make sure he is right or at least cover his own incorrect predictions more in-depth? Not so shockingly, Gregg is critical of some predictions that he seemed to believe himself were true.

Skip Bayless of ESPN said drafting Dez Bryant made Dallas "the favorite to win the Super Bowl." The Cowboys missed the playoffs.

Gregg said the Patriots should have traded up to get Bryant or CJ Spiller, who had all of 460 yards running and catching the ball this year. Granted, Gregg didn't say the Patriots would have made the Super Bowl if they had drafted Bryant. Gregg is too chicken to make an actual prediction like that.

"A case can be made that the Arizona Cardinals' future has never looked brighter," Jim Trotter of Sports Illustrated wrote in the offseason. Arizona finished 5-11.

Gregg Easterbrook predicted the Cardinals would win the NFC West. Gregg predicted they would have a 10-6 record, which would have been their best record (tied with their 2009 record) since 1976 when they went 10-4. Verily, they ended up last. It sounds to me like Gregg thought the Cardinals future had never looked brighter too, even if he didn't come right out and say it that way.

Also notice how very few of the quotes Gregg provides us have links with them. We are either supposed to look up for ourselves whether these people said these things (which I would highly recommend) or trust Gregg to be correct (which I would not recommend). The least he could do when he cites these quotes is to provide a link so people like me don't believe he is making them up or taking them out of context.

In the offseason, Mike Sellers of the Redskins predicted "the sky's the limit" for the Skins' offense. Washington finished 18th on offense. Since the mesosphere stops at about 53 miles, a "sky's the limit" offense would need to gain 53 miles. The most productive NFL offense in 2010, San Diego's, gained 3.6 miles.

Clearly, to non-morons, Mike Sellers was using hyperbole.

For the Rams to draft Bradford, meanwhile, "would be a catastrophic mistake" according to Trent Dilfer of ESPN just before the 2010 draft. Bradford was the NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year.

Gregg said on two occasions that I know of (I quoted him above) the Rams should have drafted Ndamukong Suh over Sam Bradford.

Michael Wilbon, then of The Washington Post, predicted the Steelers would not make the playoffs, as did the New York Post.

Gregg Easterbrook had the Steelers 2nd in the AFC North at a record of 9-7. He gave five other teams a 9-7 record, so there is a good chance he would have had the Steelers miss the playoffs if he had the balls to give predictions on which of his 9-7 teams would make the playoffs. Basically, Gregg easily could not have had the Steelers in the playoffs, but he is too chicken to make playoff predictions even after he has guessed the record of each team.

None of USA Today's eight preseason predictions had Pittsburgh reaching the Super Bowl. Three USA Today predictors forecast Mike Singletary as coach of the year, one forecast Wade Phillips as coach of the year; both were fired.

Of course Gregg chose not to make a prediction for coach of the year. He finds it better to criticize everyone else's choice for Super Bowl winner, coach of the year, playoff participant, and nearly every single other award rather than make predictions himself.

Cris Carter predicted Dwayne Bowe would be the "breakout" player of the year.

Bowe had 72 catches for 1,162 yards and 15 touchdowns this year. The yards and touchdowns were career highs. Bowe did breakout this year by having his best season yet as a pro. So Cris Carter was right in some way.

Perhaps he meant to say "shutout," as Bowe had no receptions in Kansas City's home playoff loss.

That was one game. Not an entire season. Gregg mocks Cris Carter's prediction, which was accurate, because Bowe had a bad game in the postseason. This is what readers of TMQ have to deal with on a weekly basis. Gregg criticizes a season-long prediction based on season-long performance by using data from one game as proof this season-long prediction was incorrect, when in fact the season-long prediction was correct.

Jimmy Johnson of Fox and Boomer Esiason of CBS predicted the Cowboys in the Super Bowl, while Michael Irvin of NFL Network had the Chargers in the Super Bowl; neither made the playoffs.

Gregg had both of these teams winning their division. I am assuming since they won their division he would have also had the Cowboys and Chargers in the playoffs.

The Wall Street Journal predicted Ohio State would meet Oklahoma for the BCS title, while the SEC run in title games was "probably over."

To be fair, both Oklahoma and Ohio State made a BCS bowl game this year.

The Journal foresaw Canada winning 37 medals. When the games were half complete and Canada held nine medals, the paper wrote, "the prognosticators haven't handicapped Canada well so far," not noting The Wall Street Journal itself was the guilty party.

This is the pot calling the kettle black. Gregg is really going to criticize a paper for glossing over their own incorrect predictions?

The Associated Press preseason top 25 included Connecticut, Dayton, Michigan, North Carolina and Texas. All failed to make the tournament -- that is, failed to finish in the top 65.

Not exactly. There are things called "automatic bids" to the NCAA Tournament that teams who win their conference championship receive. These teams could have very well been among the Top 65 teams in the nation in regard to record (which they were), but they just didn't have a good enough record to get an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament. It doesn't mean they aren't better teams than some of the teams that got an automatic bid.

Last year teams with the following records made the NCAA Tournament:

19-15 (Houston)
20-14 (ETSU)
17-15 (Arkansas-Pine Bluff)

Since there are automatic bids given to the NCAA Tournament it is nearly impossible to say any of those five teams weren't among the Top 65 teams in college basketball during the 2009/2010 season. Arkansas-Pine Bluff and UConn both went 17-15. Can it really be said Arkansas Pine-Bluff was a better team because they got an automatic bid?

Drafting Darren McFadden "would be the worst decision a team can make" -- Mike Celizic, MSNBC Sports, just before the 2008 draft. McFadden "will be the colossal bust of this draft" -- Brian Baldinger of Fox Sports, just after the 2008 draft.McFadden had 1,664 yards from scrimmage in 2010.

He had 1,386 yards from scrimmage combined the two years prior to 2010. So these two guys were wrong (why is Gregg picking on Celizic? Way to pick on the dead guy, Gregg), but before the beginning of this season they would have been fairly correct.

On April 30, 2009, Todd McShay of ESPN offered a prediction of the first round of the 2010 draft. The top of the way-in-advance mock draft was quite similar to what would happen. But McShay predicted Adam Ulatoski of Texas, Ciron Black of LSU, Sergio Render of Virginia Tech and DeMarcus Granger of Oklahoma would be first-round selections. Not only did none of them go in the first round -- none of them was drafted at all.

I like how Gregg says, "the top of the way-in-advance mock draft was quite similar to what would happen." Yeah, it was really damn similar. In fact, there is no reason to criticize McShay for three guys not even getting drafted from the mock draft when he can accurately predict a draft a year in advance like he did.

Here's McShay's draft and here is the actual draft. A year in advance, McShay got 8 of the 16 picks I have access to (as a non-Insider) correct AND he got the actual draft position of 3 of these players correct. That's somewhat impressive. Of course, Gregg focuses on the 3 guys who didn't get drafted out of this group, not the fact McShay got 8 of 16 1st round picks correct.

Reader Osman Ahmed of Chicago proposed to solve this problem by requiring NFL players to list their degree type, that is, Myron Rolle of the Titans could choose between "Florida State, BS" or "Oxford University, MS." Since about half of NFL players did not graduate from college, if one player's bio said "University of Tennessee, BA" and the other's just said "University of Tennessee," that would reveal who graduated and who merely attended.

I have an even better idea. How about we just stick with what we do now and have the person listed as coming from X college? Because after all, it doesn't matter if a player graduated or not to the average football fan and if it did matter then there is this thing called the Internet where this information is fairly easily found.

On "Fringe," the heroes just learned there was an advanced human civilization on Earth far in the past, but it disappeared 251 million years ago, during the Permian extinction. The past civilization built a device designed to destroy the entire universe -- it's not explained why this was viewed as useful -- then before falling extinct, disassembled the device and buried the pieces around the world. In the show, FBI agents discover a map of the locations of the pieces, dig them up and hand them over to a sinister corporation for reassembly. It's not explained why this, either, is viewed as useful.

But if the pieces were buried 251 million years ago, they would not now be in the same locations, rendering the map worthless. That far back in history, all the world's land mass was formed into the single continent Pangaea. Tectonic forces that separated Pangaea would have scrambled the locations where the pieces of the ancient machine were buried -- and likely would have ripped up the pieces, leaving scrap metal, if any trace.

Wow! You mean this fictional television show is telling fictional stories? Next thing you know Gregg will tell us he can't tell me how to get to Sesame Street because it isn't real. How inaccurate is that show? A huge bird that talks...AND speaks English! How convenient!

As for exact final scores, TMQ does not fathom why people attempt to predict them -- this is a total waste of everyone's time. This season 23-20 was the most common NFL outcome, occurring on 13 occasions. If you'd simply endlessly picked Home Team 23, Visitors 20, you would have been right now and then -- more than can be said by any full-time professional NFL commentator.

Guessing scores is supposed to be fun. In fact, all of this is supposed to be fun, but Gregg tries to suck all of the fun out of the NFL and look at it from a scholarly point of view...which fails.

One of TMQ's themes this season has been the need for all levels of football to mandate that only advanced helmets -- which reduce concussion risk, though definitely do not eliminate it -- be worn. See last week's column for details. But what if your high school or youth program can't afford the $200 models TMQ advocates?

Apparently someone wrote in to Gregg informing him that in public schools, as opposed to the probable private school education that Gregg's children received, there is a budget crisis. So Gregg's solution to not being able to afford $200 helmets is...

Be sure players always have their mouth guards in their mouths.

Oh ok. So after this entire season of gnashing his teeth and talking about high schools get their cue from the NFL as to what helmets are appropriate, Gregg tells us high school football players to wear a mouthpiece to solve the concussion problem. What I get from this information is that after bitching and moaning this entire year about high school players not having the correct helmet, Gregg finally has realized the correct helmet is inaffordable for many high schools. This doesn't negate his point about concussions, but if mouth guards are such a great backup why hasn't he mentioned them every week like he did the anti-concussion helmets?

So mouth guards should be worn instead. There is nothing like complaining all year about a solution that isn't necessarily feasible financially and essentially giving up on that solution when finally presented with the evidence of the potential financial problems with the solution. Yet, I know Gregg will bitch about this same thing next year, again forgetting high schools have limited funds to purchase athletic equipment.

Worst Predictions of the Year:
Think the above predictions are bad? Here are the worst predictions of the year (Hey, if you go out on a limb, sometimes it snaps).

Runner-up: Gregg Easterbrook, ESPN.com. I foresaw a Super Bowl of Packers versus Colts; before the 2010 season, I forecast a Super Bowl of Saints versus Colts. So I've called three of the last four Super Bowl entrants correctly -- not too shabby.

It goes downhill from there. I thought the Bears would be 6-10, the Bucs 4-12, the Bolts in the playoffs. I predicted, "L.T. is likely to struggle in 2010" -- he just missed 1,000 yards. I warned the Packers lacked "postseason zing." That seemed to change.

So we get four sentences of how Gregg was wrong about his predictions. How humble of him. If he wrote down all the predictions and comments he makes from week-to-week that were wrong then he would have written 4,000 sentences.

Worst Predictions of the Year: Chris Berman, ESPN. The morning of Week One, Berman forecast a Super Bowl of Vikings over Chargers; neither made the playoffs. In November, he switched his forecast to Eagles over Patriots. In January, he switched his forecast to Patriots over Eagles. Thus on six tries, Berman failed to predict either Super Bowl entrant. Berman bonus: styling himself as "The Swami," Berman went 59-57. Thus even when picking only games he felt confident about, Berman barely bested flipping a coin.

I'm not going to argue with Gregg picking on Chris Berman. It's the least he can do since I am going to have to hear Berman sweatily scream "back, back, back...gone" about 1,000 times this summer and the audience has to hear Berman's terrible pun nicknames for players through the entire year. In fact, I am not sure I mind if anyone picks on Berman.

Season Sign-Off:
Tuesday Morning Quarterback folds its tent and steals off into the desert, though will resurface briefly during the draft.

TMQ is over for the year. Try not to be too upset.

Perform volunteer work. Appreciate the beauty of nature. Read, meditate, serve others. Do these things, and you will feel justified in racing back to the remote, the swimsuit calendars and the microbrews when the football artificial universe resumes anew in the autumn.

Why would a person go back to the swimsuit calendars in September when the year doesn't start until January? That's Swimsuit Calendar Creep!

Also, the football universe (with no strike) begins in mid-July with training camp, when it is still officially summer, not autumn. That's Seasonal Creep!

A work of pure awareness as life concludes, "The Memory Chalet" is a book God would read.

God would not read TMQ.

6 comments:

Pat said...

I feel like if I were an ESPN.com executive I would be pretty pissed that I was paying Gregg Easterbrook to openly criticize and belittle a good deal of our other "talents." On the other hand, Its very likely that most ESPN executives suffer from the same concussion like symptoms as those who don't have access to the $200 helmets that Gregg demands they wear.

Dylan said...

This is just a mean column. There's a difference between playfully pointing out everyone's mistakes and being just a mean dude, and Easterbrook has clearly crossed this line.

Bengoodfella said...

Pat, I think Gregg should buy a helmet for every ESPN employee so they don't hurt their head banging it against a wall after reading his latest column.

I would be mad too. I know I complain ESPN should change the way they do things but an ESPN employee is criticizing other ESPN employees for their predictions. He does this every year though.

Dylan, I find it to be mean. Gregg doesn't make any predictions other than records at the beginning of the season and 4 sentences of mocking himself doesn't make up for taking a couple sentences (without links of course) out of a prediction and mocking a person for it.

Gregg has a right to do this but I think it is a pointless column.

rich said...

It's too bad Steve Wozniak, Steve Jobs or Bill Gates merely "attended" college. If they had only stayed in school they could have made small fortunes for themselves.

I'm happy Myron Rolle got to attend Oxford and get his masters, but considering his job is to play football, it doesn't exactly mean anything.

I mean, Matt Leinhart graduated from college, is it really something to be impressed about?

Not only did none of them go in the first round -- none of them was drafted at all.

"Not only did none of them"... Someone get him a copy editor and slap him until he realizes that this sentence hurts to read. Okay, it was bad, but it can't get worse can it?

"None of them was drafted." Man, now I know why Gregg wants to know who went to college and who didn't. He's accepting applications for a proof-reader. "None of them was drafted" from a guy who has a masters in Journalism. Oh wait, did he graduate or merely attend?

your favourite sun said...

He had 1,386 yards from scrimmage combined the two years prior to 2010. So these two guys were wrong (why is Gregg picking on Celizic? Way to pick on the dead guy, Gregg), but before the beginning of this season they would have been fairly correct.

Before this season he would have bashed anybody who said McFadden was a good choice. I wouldn't be surprised if you went into his archive he did exactly that, drudge up some pre-'08 draft quotes that were positive and mock them. He would never walk it back, though. That's what gets so obnoxious.

I foresaw a Super Bowl of Packers versus Colts; before the 2010 season, I forecast a Super Bowl of Saints versus Colts. So I've called three of the last four Super Bowl entrants correctly -- not too shabby.

Either this is a typo or he's bragging that he predicted the Colts and Saints to repeat in the Super Bowl, then gives himself credit for identifying the previous year's SB entrants after the fact. Uh, well done? By this logic, I can predict this year's World Series to be between the Giants and Rangers, and no matter what happens I can claim to have guessed at least "two of the last four entrants correctly."

I'm assuming it's a typo, but either way he tried patting himself on the back here and failed.

Bengoodfella said...

Rich, if Gregg had merely attended college then he would list the high school he went to. Matter of fact, Gregg doesn't list the college he attended in his ESPN bio. Clearly, he is trying to deceive us into believing he graduated college.

Graduating college is something to be excited about, but I really don't know if a football player would worry too much about a graduate school he attended. He didn't go to play football, so it doesn't really matter that much.

Sun, I may actually do that. I am sure he called Darren McFadden a highly paid, lazy player at some point. Thinking McFadden would bust out this year wasn't exactly a popular thought. It is not like running backs take a few years to mature in the NFL like receivers or quarterbacks do. That's the kind of thinking that annoys me. Gregg thinks because McFadden turned into a good player in 2010 then the prediction was bad. It was a logical prediction, McFadden playing well wasn't logical based on his past performance.

I am guessing that is a typo, but I wouldn't be shocked if he really thinks he should take credit for that. I predict the NLCS will have the Phillies and Giants in it. I have gotten one of those teams right the last three years!