Once there were giants walking our earth. And on Feb. 6, 2012 -- that was in the old way of counting years, before the Fox show "Terra Nova" altered the planet's timeline -- these gleaming heroes met in the Super Bowl at Indianapolis.
Of course, children, I am referring to the Buffalo Bills and the Detroit Lions.
Last week Gregg asked if Cam Newton was a “football god,” after having played two entire games in the NFL, and this week Gregg is putting the Lions and Bills in the Super Bowl. Apparently he has become a big fan of making premature statements that he will later hope we all forget. It's a bit early to discuss what teams will be in the Super Bowl, no? The Bengals were 2-1 after the first three games in 2010 and won 2 games the rest of the season. In 2009, both the Giants and the Broncos were 3-0 and they both missed the playoffs.
The ESPN research desk reports: "Since the current postseason format was adopted in 1990, three out of four teams to open 3-0 have reached the postseason."
These teams reached the postseason, three out of four teams didn't make it to the Super Bowl.
Well I guess it isn’t premature in Gregg's world to go ahead and pencil the Lions and Bills into the Super Bowl. I’m just waiting for Gregg to make a revised Super Bowl prediction or claim he knew one of these two teams would make the playoffs based on the fact neither of these teams played on Monday Night Football last year.
An ideal outcome for the 2011 NFL season would be for two underdog teams from fading old-industry cities to meet in the Super Bowl.
I disagree. I think an ideal outcome for the season would be two underdog teams from rising new-industry cities that have a temperate summer climate but a below average amount of Spring precipitation to make the Super Bowl. We could argue this all day I guess, but I just don't see what value two underdog teams from fading old-industry cities would provide to the economy. Wait, what are we talking about again?
I’m pretty sure the NFL has nightmare Super Bowl scenarios on a whiteboard in Roger Goodell’s office. Detroit v. Buffalo is near the top of the list in regard to nightmare scenarios for them. Who cares if it would be a good game? What is the narrative they could sell the public for this Super Bowl? That's all that matters. I think Buffalo v. Detroit in the Super Bowl is directly above Jacksonville v. Seattle on this “nightmare scenario” whiteboard, not to mention these aren't even fading old-industry cities.
At least Detroit has a superstar or two on their team and the network could go with “the no-name Bills” narrative for Buffalo during the two week hiatus between the Super Bowl and the championship games. Who cares what teams deserve to be in the Super Bowl, it is all about the narrative.
As TMQ noted last week, if Buffalo and Detroit met in the Super Bowl, "One of them would have to win -- I think."
I like how Gregg cites his joke from last week’s TMQ. Not sure why I like this, but the idea of repeating a joke, and then citing that joke even though you just re-told it and there isn't a need to cite the entire column, tickles me a bit.
Is this the best time to bring up some of the best players on the Lions team are Jahvid Best, Calvin Johnson, Brandon Pettigrew, Matthew Stafford, and Ndamukong Suh? Those guys appear to all be 1st round picks. Gregg naturally will never mention this. He wouldn't us to believe that first round draft picks and highly-paid glory boys are performing well in the NFL. He would be the first to tell us, and he does repeatedly in this TMQ, which undrafted or unwanted players perform well.
Bills faithful may recall that in the 1990 season, leading to the team's first Super Bowl appearance, in consecutive weeks Buffalo came back from big fourth-quarter deficits, against Denver and Oakland. Now history appears to be repeating itself.
Yes, because the Bills came back from big fourth-quarter deficits 21 years ago and they have done so twice this year this definitely means history is repeating itself. Book those Super Bowl tickets now Bills fans!
When history repeats itself in sports, it leads to the same outcome as before as well. That’s why the Patriots won the Super Bowl in 2008 after losing Tom Brady during the opening week of the season, just like what happened in 2001 when they lost Drew Bledsoe during the opening week of the season.
Today there is rending of garments and gnashing of teeth in Massachusetts, because a Haaaa-vuudd boy beat the Patriots.
Absolutely. Patriots fans are solely angry the quarterback who beat them went to Harvard. That’s the majority reason for their anger. They don't really care the Patriots blew a lead, but they are just angry it was a Harvard man who helped contribute to the loss.
The Bills-Patriots game even produced a moment in which the unassuming Chan Gailey, fired twice in the past five years and OOF -- Out of Football -- entirely in 2009, out-Belichicked Bill Belichick.
Jackson not scoring was great for Buffalo! Belichick immediately realized that if the play was ruled a touchdown, Brady would have 1:43 and two timeouts to try for overtime. If instead Jackson was ruled down at the 1, Buffalo could kneel three times, force Belichick to burn the timeouts, then kick a field goal, leaving New England mere seconds to reply…As it happened, a personal foul against the Patriots allowed Buffalo to use the entire clock and launch the winning kick as time expired.
I am not sure how this is out-Belichicking Bill Belichick anymore than it is having the good fortune for the Patriots to commit a personal foul and allow the Bills to use more of the clock.
What’s interesting is the Bills may have actually out-Belichicked the Patriots on this play, but not for the reason Gregg cites.A bit more to the point, why hasn't Indianapolis made a play for Carson Palmer? He's the only person out there who could step in and make the Colts winners in 2011.
Carson Palmer, you are the Colts only hope to win this year. You and your rapidly declining skills at the quarterback position and arm strength can master the Colts offense in a day or two and then start this team a-winning again!
Let me make a list of reasons why the Colts haven't made a play for Carson Palmer:
1. The Bengals have stated they won't trade him at this point. Maybe they could be convinced otherwise, but this leads to reason #2.
2. Even if the Bengals traded Palmer, they would want at least a second round pick in return. Is Palmer worth that at this point? Especially to a Colts team that we have all seen has some holes to fill and historically rebuilds its team through the draft.
3. Palmer would have to learn the Colts offense in record time and he probably wouldn't run it effectively until he had a full offseason to work in the system. So basically the Colts would trade a second/third round pick for the privilege of missing the playoffs anyway.
4. If Peyton Manning comes back, what the fuck are the Colts going to do with Carson Palmer? Cut him? Waste a second/third round pick for a 13 game rental?
5. The Colts probably don't mind losing a little bit. Not sure if Gregg has noticed, but there are guys by the names of Andrew Luck, Landry Jones, and Matt Barkley who may leave college to play in the NFL next year. These guys are quarterbacks. Grabbing one of those guys may be a good strategy considering the Colts regular starting quarterback is going to be in his middle-30's and coming off a major injury.
6. Seriously, the Bengals aren't trading Carson Palmer right now, and if they did, it wouldn't be worth giving up a draft pick like that for a 13 game rental.
Conspiracy theory says the Indianapolis plan is to tank the season in hopes of getting Andrew Luck. If it worked that way, that would make sense. Luck is the most Peyton Manning-like quarterback since Peyton.
Yes, it would make sense.
Sweet Play of the Week: The Houston Texans leading the New Orleans Saints 26-17 in the fourth quarter, tight end Jimmy Graham lined up wide left, with two wide receivers right. The Texans were in Cover One -- only one safety in the middle of the field. This told Drew Brees the play would be a big blitz as, indeed, it was.
I love what I call "Gregg Easterbrook's Rules of Football." These are rules, which are basically huge assumptions, that Gregg makes. This is a good example of one of these rules.
The rule here is: Anytime a team is in Cover One, that means it will be a big blitz.
Is that really what a team playing Cover One is definitely going to do? I don't think so. Cover One does tell the quarterback there potentially isn't much help for the defenders, at in the form of safety help.
Brees audibled to vertical routes.
Because he saw the defenders didn't have much safety help and he trusted his receiver to beat the opposing defender. This is exactly what happened. Brees didn't audible to vertical routes because Cover One always means a big blitz is coming. He audibled because he saw Graham had single-coverage and a height advantage.
Sour Play of the Week Washington leading Dallas 16-15 just before the two-minute warning, the Skins had the Boys facing third-and-21 on their 30. Since the average NFL snap gains somewhat over 5 yards, and Washington this season is allowing 6.1 yards per snap, all the Redskins needed do was play straight defense and a stop was likely.
Gregg and his statistics, sometimes they make me laugh. This is a throwing situation, so the average NFL snap that gains over 5 yards and what the Redskins had given up during the game per snap are irrelevant because this statistic includes downs where the ball was run. A more accurate number of what the Redskins could potentially give up in this situation or what the average NFL snap gains in terms of yardage is if passing stats are the only ones included in giving any per snap data. This is true because this is an obvious passing down.
That cannot seriously be an eight-man blitz on third-and-21! The eight-man blitz is almost never seen, because it is like handing out a card that says "Please score a touchdown."
Except the Cowboys didn't score a touchdown on this play. I know, let's not get caught up in the details of what actually happened.
Tony Romo threw a 30-yard completion to the single-covered Dez Bryant, penalty yardage was added, and a moment later the home team launched the winning kick.
That's what happened, but that's not exactly what happened. At the snap, Romo ran as fast as he could backwards like he was running from the cops because the Redskins defense was on top of him and then threw a brilliantly thrown Hail Mary (essentially) to Dez Bryant. Kudos to Romo and Bryant, but it was a great play and the blitz served its purpose of making Romo run and make an off-balance or bad throw.
Gregg also neglects how the Redskins got the Cowboys in a third-and-long situation. I'll give you a hint. Blitzing was involved. Naturally, he leaves any positive aspect of the Redskins blitzing out of his analysis.
On the possession, Washington defensive coordinator Jim Haslett called an eight-man blitz on first down, a seven-man blitz on second down and an eight-man blitz on third down. He also handed out cards saying "Please score a touchdown." Dallas settled for as field goal.
Haslett was handing out cards for the Cowboys to score a touchdown, but they didn't score a touchdown. Again, those damn details.
even Skins corner DeAngelo Hall thought an eight-man blitz on third-and-21 was ridiculous.
Hall was questioning the call because he didn't have help on the play, which is true. Here is my rebuttal of why his complaint is a bit absurd. One would argue if a cornerback signs a $55 million deal then he should be comfortable covering another team's second-best receiver with single coverage (Dez Bryant in this case). Hall shouldn't necessarily expect help.
Sour Game Plans: The Jacksonville Jaguars surrendered a safety for the second consecutive week. On both, the Jaguars quarterback deliberately retreated into his own end zone.
Blaine Gabbert didn't deliberately retreat into his own end zone. He dropped back to pass (and took more than a three-step drop so he ended up in the end zone) and moved sideways a little bit to avoid the defensive player attempting to sack him in the end zone. I am nitpicking, but because that was a bad game plan to put a rookie throwing out of the end zone, but I want to clear up Gabbert didn't deliberately retreat into his own end zone, he was already there when he dropped back to pass.
Then Gregg criticizes the Texans for not realizing the Saints were using a two point conversion play they used in the Super Bowl two years ago. He continues to misunderstand that recognizing a formation means a team can immediately stop the opposing team's play out of that formation.
Michael Dietrich of Bethlehem, Pa., who lives in Warsaw, Poland, reports that MSN has already announced the "hottest toys" of the 2011 holidays -- "hottest" before hardly anyone has bought anything.
Well that's the point isn't it? To introduce the "hot" toys before anyone has bought toys for Christmas? It wouldn't make a hell of a lot of sense to introduce the "hot" toys two weeks before Christmas once many people have done some Christmas shopping and the inventory levels of these toys may low, would it?
"You have handed me the menu to choose what entree I want and I haven't even ordered my drink yet! It's Restaurant Creep!"
Reader Balázs GyQrik, of Budapest, Hungary, reports Citroen had a male model adorning its latest product at the Frankfurt auto show. He notes, "Sure, it's only a drop in the sea, but can hunks in the Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue be far behind?"
Sports Illustrated has had some male pro athletes with their wife (both in a bathing suit) in the swimsuit issue for some time now. It's not male models, that I will admit.
Stop Me Before I Blitz Again! Leading 22-16, Jersey/A faced third-and-11 on the Philadelphia Heat 18 with less than four minutes remaining. Philadelphia, known for being blitz-wacky, rushed seven men against a screen-pass call -- touchdown. And TMQ wrote the words "game over" in his notebook.
The Giants were up 13 points with less than four minutes remaining and Gregg Easterbrook said the game was over. What a bold statement. If the Giants didn't do anything and kicked a field goal on third down then they would be up 9 points, so the game was pretty much over at this point anyway. I didn't see this part of the game, but I am assuming the Eagles were blitz-wacky because they knew they were about to go down 9 points regardless and wanted to see if they could get Eli Manning to throw an interception. Or is this too logical to believe?
I just wonder, since the screen pass touchdown against the blitz is not worth 29 points, how the other 22 points were scored by the Giants? I am sure excessive blitzing and not poor tackling had something to do with this.
Then Gregg talks about "Moneyball" for some reason.
yet Oakland has not finished above .500 in five years, and currently is a dreary 72-88. Nor did the moneyball approach ever take the team into the World Series.
But the approach helped other teams. This is important to note. On a side note, it is really irritating for all of Sabermetrics to be thrown under a "Moneyball" heading. This tends to happen fairly frequently.
It is also possible that Beane fell victim to "commoditization," which happens with increasing speed in a globalized environment. This would mean Beane did in fact have an important insight, but his idea has been copied by most if not all MLB franchises, turning the idea into a mere commodity that, possessed by everyone, confers no advantage.
Bingo, this appears to be what happened. Some teams integrated the approach into their scouting and now most teams know about the "Moneyball" approach to build a team so the A's are at a somewhat disadvantage again.
Angry Birds Become Tweedy Birds: What's the story with Atlanta? Since clinching home-field advantage in the NFC last season, the Falcons are 1-3 and just lost to City of Tampa, a team they traditionally own. The mega-trade for wide receiver Julio Jones so far has only disrupted chemistry.
Oh yeah, it has disrupted chemistry and caused all of the other players on the Falcons team to play poorly. No really, this is Gregg's hypothesis.
Sunday, normally reliable Roddy White let the ball bounce off his hands for an interception just before halftime, costing Atlanta a likely field goal, then dropped a perfectly delivered touchdown pass in the fourth quarter.
And clearly White dropped these passes because he doesn't like Julio Jones being on the team. Everyone knows one wide receiver who doesn't like another wide receiver on the roster immediately starts dropping passes. It's the Jones Curse! Just like the Crabtree Curse! Gregg doesn't even understand why teams draft wide receivers who are highly-paid glory boys like this. Teams should draft lowly drafted players like those Colts wide receivers, the same guys who don't look quite as great without Peyton Manning throwing them the ball.
Game tied, Pittsburgh reached first down on the Indianapolis 30 with 1:13 remaining. The Steelers patiently rushed four times, forcing the Colts to use timeouts, then kicked the winning field goal with 8 seconds remaining: the final Pittsburgh rush was to position the ball where the kicker wanted it relative to the goal posts. Finishing the game the old-fashioned way caused the football gods to smile upon the Steelers, who earlier had turned the ball over twice in 17 seconds.
In an alternate universe, if the Steelers had fumbled the ball by patiently rushing the ball four times Gregg Easterbrook would have stated they got conservative and they should have known they would fumble the football because the Steelers had turned the ball over twice in 17 seconds. Gregg would be irate the Steelers didn't go for the throat and gave hope to a team that was winless up to this point. As I commonly accuse him of doing, Gregg tends to judge a team's decision on the outcome of the decision, not the thinking that led to the decision.
So in this case, fortune didn't favor the bold and the Steelers didn't get conservative in beating the Colts on the road. It worked out for them. If this had not worked out for them, Gregg would have said Mike Tomlin got conservative which told the Steelers players he didn't trust them, which naturally led to a turnover, and then led to the Steelers losing the game because they got too comfortable and didn't get in better field goal range by passing the football.
The more football TMQ watches, the more your columnist thinks the tight end is essential to an NFL offense.
What a bunch of idiocy. The tight end has been essential to NFL offenses for a few decades now. What a painfully obvious statement.
Next trend to keep your eye out for: The decisive play of the Buffalo-New England contest came when the Bills split tailback Fred Jackson far wide, near the sideline, and he was forgotten by the Flying Elvii secondary. Every NFL coaching staff is pouring over film of that game. Look for tailbacks split far wide in weeks to come.
Nearly every single NFL team has a running back split wide at some point during the game. NFL coaching staffs are already doing this. I question whether Gregg Easterbrook actually watches NFL games. It took him until 2011 to realize tight ends are being put in the slot receiver position and he just noticed running backs being split wide.
Because the claimed velocity is less than one-thousandth of 1 percent more than light speed, observer error seems the likely explanation.
Gregg also wonders why scientists are using such specificity. Scientists should just say matter moves at the same speed as light instead of going to all of those decimal places just to avoid all this needless specificity.
In the Giants-Eagles game, the undrafted Victor Cruz from Division I-AA Massachusetts scored two touchdowns, including one over megabucks Nnamdi Asomugha. In the Indianapolis-Pittsburgh game, big defensive plays were made by Jamaal Anderson, waived by Atlanta,
Naturally, because Gregg wants to mislead his readers, he forgets to mention that Jamaal Anderson is a megabucks bust first-round draft choice. It's always awkward when Gregg's "undrafted/unwanted players" fetish collides with his "megabucks, highly drafted players are useless" fetish. Which side Gregg falls on when these two fetishes collide completely depends on the point he is trying to prove. Here, he wants to make Jamaal Anderson seem unwanted, so he neglects to mention Anderson flamed out as a highly-paid glory boy with the Falcons. Now, if Anderson had made a bad play here then it would be mentioned he was a highly-paid, highly-drafted glory boy and the Falcons were tired of his act. Gregg has criticism prepared no matter the outcome.
Next Week Jill and Polly ask Mr. Tumnus to save to Colts.
I don't get this weak attempt at a joke and I'm not sure I care to.