Thursday, January 12, 2012

8 comments TMQ: Back in Gregg's Day Defenders Didn't Celebrate After Making a Great Play, Except for When They Did

Last week Gregg used statistics to talk about how amazing it was the Packers and Patriots were the #1 seeds in each of their respective conferences while also having the lowest ranked defenses in the NFL. This week Gregg discusses the prevalence of the spread offense and how we should just learn to deal with its presence in the NFL. This has been an issue that has been keeping me up at night, so I'm glad Gregg is finally addressing this problem. Gregg also does his usual second-guessing of any coach's decision that didn't end up working and then blaming a team's playoff loss solely on that decision.

It's the year of offensive stat-a-rama throughout the NFL. There have been five 5,000-yard passing seasons in NFL history; three of them were this year.

And Dan Marino's single season passing yardage record, the same one Gregg said would not be broken, was broken by two players this year.

Three of the top five rushing teams missed the playoffs

On a possibly related note as to why these teams missed the playoffs, two of these three teams that missed the playoffs also had rookie quarterbacks.

while all the top five passing teams made the postseason.

On another possibly related note as to why these teams made the playoffs, the quarterbacks for these five teams are Drew Brees, Aaron Rodgers, Tom Brady, Matthew Stafford and Eli Manning. Perhaps the key to making the playoffs is to have a really good quarterback? If I were Gregg Easterbrook I would write 5000 words about how I just made the earth-shattering revelation a really good quarterback is important in order to win football games and then act as if I am the first one to observe this "new" development.

Detroit just gained a spectacular 882 yards passing in two games over six days -- and lost both because opponents gained 928 yards passing.

It sure sounds like having a better pass defense would have helped the Lions win these games. Of course last week we learned from Gregg that the new-age NFL may not require a good defense because the two best teams in the AFC and NFC don't have good defenses.

The league's No. 1 defense, the Pittsburgh Steelers, is already out of the playoffs, torched by Denver. In this year of offensive stat-a-rama, even a sputtering offense trumped the best defense!

Denver gained 447 yards of offense against the Steelers. The Broncos offense was sputtering, but it definitely wasn't sputtering against the Steelers. Plus, the Steelers were missing 2/3 of their starting defensive line, their starting safety and had an important linebacker (James Harrison) that seemed to be injured. I'm sure this isn't relevant at all to the Steelers giving up nearly 450 yards in a playoff game.

Much of the same is happening in college football. In the Rose Bowl, Wisconsin gained 508 yards on offense, which a generation ago would have meant a walkover triumph. Wisconsin lost because Oregon gained 621 yards. The University of Houston averaged 599 yards of offense per outing.

And Houston did have many a walkover triumph and lost only one game this year. So the indication that Houston didn't walkover teams, yet scored a lot of points isn't entirely accurate. Houston was 35th in college football in points allowed.

What is going on? I journeyed alone to a distant mountaintop -- OK, a distant parking lot -- to ask the football gods. Their answer: The children of the shotgun spread have come home.

I like how Gregg's own theories don't always support each other. Gregg loves to tell us college programs put their best athletes on offense, because offense is more entertaining than defense. So naturally one would think the best athletes in the NFL would also be on offense since that's the side of the ball these players played in college. This is not true now or this is now only partially true. Now Gregg says the children of the shotgun spread have come home. I can't wait to find out what this means exactly.

The children of the shotgun spread are advancing to the next levels. Players who spent their teen years in passing leagues -- and in seven-on-seven, everybody wants to play offense, nobody wants to be on defense -- have headed to college.

This is somewhat interesting. I don't know if "nobody" wants to be on defense, but I can see how passing leagues and seven-on-seven has caused an increase in passing at higher levels. Is this an interesting story to talk about right in the middle of the NFL playoffs? I'll let you as the reader decide that.

A generation ago, college coaches put their best athletes on defense and tried to shut people down. In recent years, with a few exceptions such as LSU's cornerbacks, colleges have put their best athletes on offense.

There are other exceptions in college football like the entire Alabama defense and pretty much any other team that has athletic players on defense. I also find it interesting Gregg is claiming colleges put their best athletes on defense, which I would hypothesize if this were completely true then the NFL Draft would have more offensive players drafted than defensive players. At the very least I would think a significant larger amount of offensive players would be taken in the first round as compared to defensive players taken in the first round. Maybe my hypothesis is wrong, but logic would dictate to me if the best players are on offense, those are the players that would get drafted higher in the NFL.

In the 2011 NFL Draft 129 of the 254 players were defenders, including 16 of the 32 first round picks.

In the 2010 NFL Draft 136 of the 255 players selected were defenders, including 18 of the 32 first round picks.

In the 2009 NFL Draft 123 of the 256 players selected were defenders, including 13 of the 32 first round picks.

In the 1994 NFL Draft, 104 of the 222 players selected were defenders, including 16 of the 29 first round picks.

In the 1995 NFL Draft, 119 of the 249 players selected were defenders, including 14 of the 32 first round picks.

In the 1996 NFL Draft, 120 of the 254 players selected were defenders, including 13 of the 32 first round picks.

I'm not sure this really proves anything to be honest and I randomly picked the 1994-1996 NFL Draft to see what the results yielded, so I had no ulterior motive to choosing those three years. It seems to be college teams may be putting their best athletes on offense, but this doesn't mean there aren't great athletes on defense nor is there a lack of top-end athletic talent coming into the NFL Draft. So Gregg may be right about why the NFL is becoming such a passing league, but I'm not sure the explanation is as easy as saying many of the best athletes coming out of college are being put on the offensive side of the ball.

At the same time, defense has moved from discipline to personal flash as its highest attainment. Ours is a visual society, and Clay Matthews -- flowing long hair, showing his biceps in wild celebrations after a sack -- is at the moment the epitome of the defensive visual. Jack Lambert would get the tackle, Bruce Smith would get the sack, then they'd just walk back to the defensive huddle.

YAY! More Gregg Easterbrook lies! Check out Bruce Smith 10 seconds into this video. Either Smith just shit his pants and has one last turd hanging on for dear life or he appears to be doing a sack dance of some sort. Reality is just never as much fun as fiction. Bruce Smith didn't get the sack and just walk back to the defensive huddle. He celebrated.

Today's defensive players are bored by topics like tackling fundamentals or stripping blockers so a teammate can make the play: They want to generate flashy "SportsCenter" visuals like Matthews does.

"And what's with today's music? It's all about creating an image and not about great music. The Beatles were never worried about an image, they only wanted to make music. Why doesn't my perceived reality match up exactly with the real world's reality?"

If that means boatloads of offensive yards surrendered for every one flashy sack, so be it. The defender who misses what should have been a routine wrap-up tackle, because he's hurled himself into space hoping to become a highlight, is as much an image of this football season as the big passing day.

Nothing is more persuasive to Gregg's point of view than talking in complete generalities about a subject. We all know there isn't a single defender that missed a tackle or missed a sack before the year 2000 (or whatever year Gregg believes these missed tackles by showboating players started). I'd love to hear about these boatloads of offensive yards surrendered for every flashy sack, and see examples of this in today's game versus video of NFL players "in the past" never missing a tackle or a sack. Of course Gregg can't provide this because he's just talking out his ass and hopes his readers don't actually do research to prove him wrong.

In other football news, just perhaps you heard about Tim Tebow's Broncos posting another implausible win.

Implausible? If I'm not wrong, the Broncos led the entire game. The Broncos also won the coin toss in overtime. I'm not sure how giving up a lead and then winning the game in overtime is seen as being "implausible," but I guess that's the standard fallback wording when talking about anything QB Broncos does. The Broncos can be leading for the entire game, yet QB Broncos led an "implausible" win.

Tebow should dress in a tunic, like Sir Galahad, whilst monks watch for signs of the devil incarnating around the New England bench.

Because the best thing for QB Broncos to do is buy into the hype and stereotypes the media is perpetuating about him.

A year ago, TMQ warned , "The new format does not guarantee each team a chance at the ball. If Team A receives the opening kickoff and scores a touchdown, the game simply ends." Back to the drawing board for overtime formats, please. How about alternating possessions beginning at the 50, and no kicking plays allowed?

I could possibly favor this rule.

Stats of the Wild-Card Round No. 3: Tony Gonzalez, No. 2 receiver in NFL history, is 0-5 in the postseason.

Clearly Tony Gonzalez is a drain on whatever team he plays for. No wonder the Falcons lost to the Giants. Did they even have a chance to win the game with Julio Jones and Tony Gonzalez on the roster?

Stats of the Wild-Card Round No. 8: The city of Houston got its first NFL postseason win in 20 years.

Of course the city of Houston didn't have an NFL team for a few of those years...but who cares about details such as this?

The only thing that did not go Houston's way on this decisive snap was that Texans corner Jonathan Joseph should have knocked the pass down, which would have given Houston possession at midfield, rather than catch the ball, giving Houston possession on its 24. Fourth down, knock it down! Even if Houston coaches were shouting this, every defensive back knows interception stats are essential to future contract offers.

Which is exactly why Nnadmi Asomugha (career interceptions: 14 in nine years) and Darrelle Revis (career interceptions: 3 in five years) are two of the highest paid corners in the NFL. Because they have so many interceptions and all.

(As so kindly pointed out by Justin in the comments, I am a moron. Revis has 18 interceptions for his career. I looked at the wrong column for that statistic when writing this. Very embarrassing. My larger point is quality cornerbacks often don't get interceptions because the ball doesn't get thrown their way)

Denver takes possession on its 20 for the first snap of an all-new postseason overtime format that supposedly ensures no team will face defeat without a chance to touch the ball. Denver scores to win, which is sweet; the overtime format fails on its very first try, which sour.

The new overtime format isn't specifically designed for both teams to get a score. This is fairly obvious. So Gregg is incorrect in believing this is the intent of the new overtime format. The new overtime format is designed to ensure the team with the ball at the beginning of overtime has to score a touchdown or else the opposing team gets a possession. So I wouldn't say the new overtime format failed in any way because the Broncos scored a touchdown on their first possession.

Demaryius Thomas ran a simple in route, then was able to leg it to the end zone because there was no one back for Pittsburgh. Ike Taylor, a cornerback, was the sole Pittsburgh player with any depth, and he got outrun.

Or as I look at it, a highly-drafted, highly-paid first round glory boy draft pick threw an 80-yard touchdown pass to another highly-drafted, highly-paid first round glory boy draft pick and a lowly fourth round pick was beaten on the play. Gregg would never look at it this way though, because it would ruin the continuous lie he tries to perpetrate on his readers that highly drafted players rarely perform well compared to lowly drafted players.

The absence of safety Ryan Clark was a factor on this play -- his backup, Ryan Mundy, was charging toward the line at the snap, guessing run. Mike Tomlin was right not to dress Clark, who has sickle-cell trait, which makes exertion dangerous for him in high altitude. But Mundy didn't charge the line of scrimmage because the mood struck him. He was coached to do this when the Steelers read rush, and did so several times on first down in regulation.

Oh so NOW Gregg believes cornerbacks and safeties play a certain type of coverage because the coaching staff tells them to do so. Week after week we have to endure Gregg acting as if cornerbacks and safeties just freelance in the secondary and don't cover players they are supposed to be covering (when most likely the defense being called is a zone defense) because they just don't feel like it. Week after week I try to point out defensive players could simply be executing the play that was called. But now to avoid criticizing a 6th round draft pick, Gregg points out Mundy was only playing the defense that was called.

Tuesday Morning Quarterback maintains that the essence of the short-yardage play is misdirection. Boy, did Atlanta offer misdirection. First the Falcons shifted to an unbalanced line; then a back shifted; then a player simulated man-in-motion; then another back shifted; then Matt Ryan barked a hard count; then a man went in motion.

And yet the play failed. It is almost like Gregg's contention misdirection will always help to pick up the first down is bullshit. That could never be true though, right?

At the conclusion of the waltz, Ryan tried a sneak and was stuffed.

But the Falcons used misdirection! How can this be?

Yet Ryan just plowed ahead. Why didn't he audible to a pass? With eight defenders in the box and Atlanta having three men split wide, the home run pass should have been open -- a touchdown for Atlanta here would have changed the game.

And of course the home run pass was guaranteed to result in a touchdown, so the Falcons are stupid for not changing their play which would have immediately resulted in a touchdown...obviously. Do you know what else would have changed the game? If the Falcons had converted the fourth-and-one.

Arguably, Atlanta did not go for it enough! On the possession after the first fourth-and-1 failure, the Falcons punted on fourth-and-1 from the Jersey/A 42. Sure the last fourth-and-1 failed, but just because a coin came up heads on the last 10 flips tells nothing about what will happen on the next flip.

Unfortunately, this isn't a coin flip and the Giants defense had shown it could stop the Falcons on fourth-and-one.

Punting on fourth-and-1 in opposition territory is a punk move.

That's right homie. It's a punk move. Ya' hear?

Seeing their coaches quit, Falcons players quit. In the third quarter, Jersey/A faced third-and-7. Megabucks corner Dunta Robinson, one of the highest-paid defenders in the NFL -- paid much more than Atlanta corner Brent Grimes, a better player --

Based on what evidence? None? Sounds great then Gregg, just don't let the truth get in the way of your story, that's all I ask.

I'm not saying Robinson is a better corner than Grimes. I'm saying Gregg Easterbrook has provided no proof, outside of his own opinion, this statement is factual. Gregg Easterbrook has a magical way of stating an opinion as if it was a fact without providing any evidence his contention is correct.

In a year of gimmick defenses -- two linemen, zone rushes, safety blitzes --

All of these are gimmick defenses soon to be gone tomorrow.

Can they do so again? Kansas City showed that the formula for beating Green Bay is to frustrate Aaron Rodgers' receivers with bump-and-run and then, once holding even a slight lead, control the clock with power rushing against the Packers' (relatively) lightweight front seven, which is built to stop the pass after Green Bay jumps ahead.

Another key to beating the Packers is to outscore them after playing four quarters of football.

But remember what happened the last time Jersey/A went to Lambeau in the postseason.

Brett Favre threw an interception in overtime?

The Falcons have already spent much of their 2012 draft position to obtain Julio Jones. The Raiders have already spent much of their 2012 draft position to obtain Carson Palmer and Terrelle Pryor. Atlanta and Oakland, the teams that in 2011 mortgaged 2012 draft picks to win now, did not win now.

Julio Jones is a rookie wide receiver. A rookie. Jones almost had 1000 yards receiving this year for the Falcons. As a rookie. Maybe this won't end up being the best trade in the history of the NFL, but the jury is still very much out on whether the Falcons "mortgaged" their draft picks and whether this trade was a failure.

Starting defensive coordinator Wade Phillips returned to action, and the defense performed better. Philips called a few "overload" blitzes, including one that produced a key third-quarter sack. With the Cincinnati offensive line looking confused and sluggish, the overload blitz was the right tactic.

But I thought all blitzes resulted in long gains for the offense? How could the Texans have blitzed and it ended up working? Was Wade Phillips simply calling an overload blitz to show how smart he is and remind everyone he is coordinating the defense again? Hasn't Gregg told us defensive coordinators blitz a lot to draw attention to themselves? Or is that only Rob Ryan who does this?

Two referees over the weekend referred to hits to "the head and neck area." What's the difference between the neck and the "neck area?"

I'm guessing the "neck area" is right above the neck, but below the jaw? Or perhaps it doesn't really matter so shut up.

Good pass blocking allowed Tebow to carve up the Steelers' No. 1-ranked pass defense. Zane Beadles, noted in this column last week as a Pro Bowl snub, had a tremendous game, including pulling and knocking down two men on Tebow's touchdown run

Doesn't Gregg mean "second round pick Zane Beadles?" Actually, I should remember Gregg only mentions a player's draft spot when it is convenient for him to prove a point he wants to make. Gregg avoids mentioning a player's draft status in the hopes of misleading his readers who don't care to do research in order to find out Gregg is often full of shit. So you can bet if Zane Beadles wasn't drafted in the second round and was undrafted Gregg would point out this little fact out to his readers.

What should the Flying Elvii be on the lookout for as Denver arrives? The Denver offense sputters. But there is no NFL playbook for countering what Tebow does.

There is no specific playbook to counter what a lot of NFL offenses do. It is all in the execution based on a strategy the defense is using to stop what the offense wants to do. The Patriots can try to keep Tebow in the pocket, get pressure in his face (up the middle), and ensure he doesn't have a clear throwing lane on passing plays. The Patriots defense can also try to stay with the play design to not allow the running back to break containment to the outside, force Tebow to pitch the ball early when running the option, and tackle well on running plays. Like most things in the NFL, it is all about the execution.

Twice in an NFL playoff contest, the Detroit defense had no one even attempting to guard a New Orleans receiver. It's not that the receiver beat his man -- there was no one to beat!

It is almost like the Saints are good at designing pass plays to get their receivers open.

Pittsburgh defeated New England in part by jamming its receivers at the line to throw off timing; Kansas City defeated Green Bay in part by the same tactic. Will the Broncos and Giants play bump-and-run against the Patriots and Packers?

They should! Because that's the one surefire way of beating the Packers and the Packers. Jam their receivers on the line and a win will immediately follow. Why haven't other teams thought of using this simple tactic to beat the Packers and Patriots?


jacktotherack said...

"Today's defensive players are bored by topics like tackling fundamentals or stripping blockers so a teammate can make the play"

Here's another painfully obvious example of how low Gregggg's football IQ is. What the hell does "stripping blockers so a teammate can make a play" mean? I've never heard of stripping blockers in my entire life. I've heard of shedding blockers, which a player must do before he can do his flashy sack dance. Also, if you are helping a teammate make a play, you are probably tying up blockers and letting your teammate pursue the play unblocked. I fail to see how shedding/stripping (seriously, what the fuck) would help a teammate tackle.

This lazy piece of shit would rather blame defensive celebrations than look at the totally obvious reasons that the game has become more offensive minded. My guess is the rule changes that have made it pretty much illegal to hit a QB or touch a WR have a lot more to do with the gaudy passing stats we are seeing than Jared Allen doing his rope the calf dance.

jacktotherack said...

"Denver takes possession on its 20 for the first snap of an all-new postseason overtime format that supposedly ensures no team will face defeat without a chance to touch the ball."

No it doesn't you shithead! It says right in the rule that if the team receiving the kickoff scores a TD on the first possession of OT, the game is over. It says the exact opposite of what Gregg is claiming.

HH said...

A generation ago, college coaches put their best athletes on defense and tried to shut people down. In recent years, with a few exceptions such as LSU's cornerbacks, colleges have put their best athletes on offense.

Erroneous. Erroneous. Erroneous on both counts.

I've explained this before, but the placement of your best athletes is a bit of a game-theory issue. If you have 21 average players and one great one, you put him on offense. Not because offense is more important, but because on offense, you can dictate how he's used and make sure his has a big impact on the game. Then as you get more great players, eventually you start adding some to your defense because there's only so many offensive plays to go around. There's never been a time where the general rule was "best athletes play defense." (I should note that the very worst athletes you have go on offense, where you can control what they do and they don't pose a liability defensively.)

Bengoodfella said...

Jack, I'm not sure what stripping blockers means. Maybe he meant blocking strippers? I think QB rules and the defensive PI penalties.

I couldn't believe tried to tell us the new rule tried to prevent both teams from not having a possession. It was designed so a team couldn't win the game w/ a FG and the other team didn't touch the ball. Gregg just really makes things up.

HH, I had forgotten about your theory. I tend to like it and agree there hasn't been a rule that ever says "the best athletes play x position." Gregg likes hard and fast rules, even when the situation doesn't call for it.

rich said...

Detroit just gained a spectacular 882 yards passing in two games over six days -- and lost both because opponents gained 928 yards passing.

Wrong. They lost because they gave up more points than they scored. Yardage has nothing to do with it.

Wisconsin lost because Oregon gained 621 yards.

I was going to give a nitpick alert for the above statement, but he said it twice!

Sure giving up more yards means you'll likely give up more points, but not necessarily.

Just say the defenses played like shit and leave it at that.

Why didn't he audible to a pass?

Because it was fourth and less than a yard? Because the Giants D-Line pretty much owned the line of scrimmage?

Ryan rarely had any time to pass, so to think Ryan would have time with the Giants D coming hard is hilarious.

paid much more than Atlanta corner Brent Grimes

Because he came to the NFL from NFL Europe. Lets wait until his next contract and see what happens.

But remember what happened the last time Jersey/A went to Lambeau in the postseason.

That was four years ago. I'd say half the players in the game weren't there in 2008, so... this has no relevance.

You know what might have more relevance? The game these two teams played earlier this year.

Justin Zeth said...

It has to get boring calling Gregg out on the same things week after week after week. You, sir, are doing work week in and week out that can only make the world a better place.

Nitpicking: Darrelle Revis has 18 career interceptions, not 3. He has three interception return touchdowns. It's not like 18 interceptions in five years is blowing anyone's mind, though.

J.S. said...

Grimes is better than I get Easterbrook's complete lack of justification for his claims but...yeah, he is...easily

Bengoodfella said...

Justin, shit. I thought that number looked wrong. What a terrible mistake. I will correct that. I clearly looked at the wrong number. I have corrected it in big red writing.

It doesn't get boring calling Gregg out for the same stuff week after week. I just don't want the reader to get bored, so I try to vary some of what I say week after week. That's the only problem w/ covering TMQ every week. He repeats himself and therefore I could end up repeating myself.

Rich, what I love is Gregg not only wanted the Falcons to pass, but go deep with a pass. This is something the Falcons aren't great at anyway, but he wanted the Falcons to take the time (they may or may not have had) to pass deep on fourth and one. This would have been a pretty big risk during this game considering how well the Giants D played.

Good point about Grimes not having a contract negotiation quite yet. If he gets a new contract and plays poorly he will fit in well with Gregg's highly-paid glory boys he despises so much.

I am excited for the Packers-Giants game this weekend. My father-in-law is a Giants fan, so I hope the Giants put up a great fight and maybe win the game. I like happy relatives, not sad relatives.

J.S., I think you are right about Grimes v. Robinson. I just found it interesting Gregg throws that statement out there with no proof or verification his opinion is correct. He's got to justify an opinion or it is just that, an opinion, not a fact.