Saturday, September 29, 2012

9 comments What Do These Rule Changes Suggested by Chuck Klosterman Mean When Compared to How We Feel about Sports and How Does That Reflect on Our Existence?

Chuck Klosterman has some rule changes for the NFL he admits are terrible. I like how he is writing an article suggesting NFL rule changes and then admits what he is writing is complete shit. As if admitting what he is writing is terrible can be a ready-made excuse for a low quality column. It doesn't work that way in my world. Chuck has made some rule changes he is super-serious about or he is kidding about. Not that it matters really. The fact I don't like these rule changes in the NFL, what does that say about me as a sports fan and how much navel-gazing is too much navel-gazing and is it possible to overuse italics to show emphasis?

Here's something I hate about myself:

Here's something I hate about myself. I spend my time reading articles I don't like and telling everyone why I don't like them. Enough with the therapy, get to the ideas.

Whenever the NFL introduces a new rule, I'm automatically against it. My natural reaction to any change in the rule book is to assume it's wrong.

Well, great. We get along then because my natural reaction is to assume the rule changes Chuck suggests are wrong.

And yet — despite this reflexive disagreement with every change made by other people — I annually find myself inventing potential rule changes that I'd undoubtedly be against if they were proposed by anyone who wasn't me.

But what does this say about Chuck? Let's spend 30 minutes focused completely on Chuck Klosterman and why he would react this way to rule changes not proposed by him. Or does the fact I am focusing 30 minutes on how Chuck reacts say more about me as a blogger? Or does the fact I just called myself a blogger admit a natural inferiority complex when it comes to "real" writers and that's why I am criticizing Chuck? Or am I criticizing Chuck because the way he writes sometimes makes me want to stab myself in the eye with a pair of sharp scissors? Or do I want to stab myself in the eye with a pair of scissors because my natural inferiority complex causes me to hate myself, as well as those sportswriters I consider better than me?

Two things I notice in the first paragraph as a person who rarely reads anything Klosterman writes:

1. He and Bill Simmons love using italics in their writing. It is by far their favorite way to show emphasis.

2. I can see why Chuck and Bill get along. Both seem fairly self-centered and very focused on their own reaction to an event/person/place/thing and what this means in terms of the event/person/place/thing as a whole. It's all very self-centric.

Here are three rule changes that I would consider wrongheaded, except for the fact that I thought of them …

"These ideas suck, but I thought of them, so they don't suck, even though I think they suck."

What If Red-Zone Field Goals Were Decreased in Value?

Then this may be stupid because it would be de-incentivizing an offense getting closer to the opposing team's goal line, while rewarding teams who can't get as close to the opponents' goal line.

As an example, I will pretend two teams are playing, the Patriots and the Ravens. Let's say a red-zone field goal is worth only one point while a field goal out of the red zone is worth the standard three points.

The Patriots get in the Ravens red zone seven times on the day. Three times the Patriots score, one time the Patriots give the ball up on downs, and three times they kick a one-point field goal for a total of 24 points.

The Ravens get in the Patriots red zone three times on the day, but are stopped outside the red zone three times. The Ravens kick a one-point field goal, score a touchdown twice, and make three field goals outside the red zone for a total of 24 points.

Both teams would have scored 24 points, but the Patriots would be forced to make the choice between going for it on fourth down or kicking a one-point field goal three times. I'm not against a head coach having to make a difficult choice during a game, but the Patriots would be better off not making it inside the red zone. In fact, the Patriots would be better off losing yardage on third down to move the ball back out of the red zone in certain situations (Third-and-goal on the 18 yard line for example).

I don't like this idea since it gives teams who can't get to the red zone as often an advantage in that they get the opportunity to score more points by kicking a field goal and don't have to make the choice between a lower value field goal and going for it on fourth down. Now granted, a field goal is more difficult outside of the red zone (or should be), but I think a defense should be rewarded for doing their job well and not punished by increasing the value of longer field goals.

It's simply not interesting to watch someone kick a ball off the ground,

I would disagree. I think it is exciting to see a field goal attempt.

and it's problematic that the outcome of so many pro football games is decided by players who could not possibly compete at any other position on the field.

I don't see how this is problematic at all. Kicking field goals is a part of the game of football, so in the realm of kicking the football field goal kickers can compete. You could say the same thing for offensive linemen. Get rid of offensive linemen because they could never kick a field goal. Get rid of a quarterback because he could never play linebacker.

One possible adjustment would be narrowing the goal posts from 18 feet, six inches to a straightforward 15 feet. However, there are a couple of unavoidable issues with this suggestion. The first is that it would require stadium crews to swap out new goalposts whenever a college game was played on the same field;

Yes, let's make sure the stadium crew doesn't have to swap out goalposts on those 1-2 occasions when a college game is played on an NFL field, and instead just change the entire rules of football. That makes so much more sense to change the entire rules of football as opposed to having stadium crews do a little extra work 1-2 times per year. It's like killing an ant with an atom bomb.

The more militant option is decreasing the value of short field goals: If the line of scrimmage falls inside the 10, any ensuing field goal should be worth only two points.

Absolutely. Because teams need to be punished for getting closer to their opponent's goal line. That makes sense to de-incentivize good defense by rewarding teams who can't get in the red zone, but have a quality placekicker who can consistently make 40-49 yard field goals. While we are at it let's make some rule changes to baseball, runs that are scored on singles are only worth 0.5 runs, while a run driven home on a home run is worth 1 run. In basketball, baskets made in the paint are worth 1 point, while baskets at half-court are worth five points.

There are at least four. The first is that this change would be impossible to get used to (I think it would take me at least 15 years to stop thinking all field goals aren't three points, particularly since I still sometimes refer to the Colts as playing in Baltimore).

We wouldn't want the rule change that Chuck Klosterman suggested to confuse Chuck Klosterman.

Still another is that it rewards offenses for having drives that stall outside the red zone. But the most troubling scenario revolves around teams that are down by three late in a game and inadvertently advance the ball inside the 10. Do they then take a sack on purpose? It might come across as farcical.

This is one of those ideas better left in the "idea" stage where it just stays in Chuck Klosterman's head and never makes its way to a keyboard.

There's no way this rule wouldn't make football more watchable;

Unless you are an NFL fan who likes logic and aggressive defenses.

It would also give bend-but-don't-break defenses more confidence, since they'd have a greater opportunity to end long drives without giving up any points whatsoever.

And we all know while watching a kicker kick a field goal is very boring, nothing is more exciting than a bend-don't-break defense. In an age where the rules have changed to cause defenses to be less aggressive with receivers, it would be a welcome change to see defenses play even less aggressively.

I would love to have a discussion on how this rule would be integrated with Chuck's Rule #2 which helps defenses become more aggressive. So he suggests Rule #1 which would cause more teams to use bend-don't-break defenses, then suggests Rule #2 (which I will get to in a minute) that helps the defense become more aggressive.

The fact that some field goals would be worth more than others feels weird, but that type of structure exists in basketball and clearly makes the game better.

Except it is different in basketball. The three-point line doesn't reward teams who play bad defense but rewards teams who play great offense. That's not what this NFL rule does. It doesn't reward teams who play great offense and rewards defenses who give up a lot of yardage. Teams who give up a lot of yardage are rewarded for this, while teams who don't give up a lot of yardage and hold the opposing team to long field goals are punished.

Now, the idea of teams losing yards on purpose is hard to justify. It looks bad to retreat. But of course, that already happens on occasion (whenever teams consciously take a safety).

A team consciously takes a safety maybe 5-10 times per year.

Let's say any successful field goal from inside the 10 was worth one point less than field goals from the 11. The Green Bay Packers are faced with third and goal from the 7. Is it to their mathematical advantage to try to score a touchdown (and thereby settle for a 2-point kick if they fail), or would they be better off losing four yards on purpose to get an (almost guaranteed) extra point?

What a great rule! The Packers have a choice between giving up on third down or trying to score a touchdown. Any rule in football where a team purposely would lose yardage to earn more points isn't a rule I can support.

Would they be better served to throw the ball into the end zone twice (and risk coming away with nothing)? And what if instead of the Packers, it were the Jets or the Browns?

OR! What if, we just kept field goals at three points and didn't turn the NFL into a game based entirely on strategy and kept it a game of strategy and skill?

What If Offensive Holding Were Legalized and the So-called "Mel Blount Rule" Were Eliminated?

Offensive linemen would now be allowed to hold (but not tackle) defensive pass rushers inside the tackle box; meanwhile, defensive backs could make unlimited downfield contact on receivers, up until the point when the ball is in the air.

Great, so NFL games would turn into wrestling matches at the line of scrimmage and cornerbacks would see if they could knock the opposing wide receiver down and then hold the receiver down so he can't get up to catch a pass. Completion percentages would be at around 40% and any long passes would rarely get completed. Anything to take the excitement out of the game of football I guess.

The Problem With This Idea: It would contradict some basic ideas about how football is played.

This is just a minor drawback of course. I would suggest football be played in raw sewage and the players throw a canned ham around instead of a football, but one big drawback is this would contradict the entire set up for how football is played.

It might also affect the running game in a context that's hard to predict (for example, draw plays might become unstoppable).

You mean the draw play would be unstoppable when the offense goes four-wide, the offensive line could hold the defensive players, and the wide receivers could block the defensive players to where they conceivably can't get to the runner in time? Yeah, I could see how that is an issue.

The Reason This Idea Is Not Totally Insane:

None. It is totally insane.

But there would be some massive benefits to the abolition of these rules, one of which could save the game's future.

So these rules that are insane and Chuck Klosterman isn't really serious about implementing, unless you agree with these rules, in which case he is super-serious about implementing them in order to SAVE THE GAME OF FOOTBALL.

It's incessantly (and accurately) argued that referees could feasibly call holding on every single pass play; it's really just a matter of whether or not the ref sees the infraction clearly enough (or whether it happens to be especially egregious). This would end that arbitrary judgment call.

I don't really see holding as an arbitrary judgment call. When I think of officiating calls that are arbitrary judgment calls, I think of the charge rule in college basketball. The charge call isn't clearly defined and seems to one that could go either way. Usually when I see a flag thrown for holding I see there was indeed holding on the play and the reason for the call is fairly clear.

If holding were legal, quarterbacks would be able to stand in the pocket much, much longer.

And we all know we want to see the quarterback standing in the pocket for a longer period of time while his offensive linemen try to wrestle defensive players to the ground.

But if a defensive back could essentially hand-check a receiver as he runs his route, the ability of that receiver to get separation would drastically decrease. In other words, it would be easier for the quarterback to accurately throw the ball downfield, but much more difficult for any receiver to break open.

What I would anticipate would then happen is the cornerback would essentially spend time knocking the receiver down, tripping him or doing anything to gain an advantage. Remember, Klosterman didn't say the wide receiver could commit offensive pass interference, so the receiver could conceivably not push off or try to create separation as the defensive player knocked him to the ground or off his route. The game of football would turn into the quarterback sitting back in the pocket waiting for a player to get open and these new rules would pretty much eliminate the threat of any long passes being completed.

I suspect the impact on passing statistics would be negligible;

I suspect you are wrong. The impact on passing statistics would be to where it would be much more difficult to complete a long pass. The short passing game might not be affected as much, but the defense would be taught to knock an offensive player down if they see him running a pass pattern deep.

the numbers might decrease a little, but that's OK. It's become too easy to throw for 4,000 yards in a season.

It might be too easy to throw for 4000 yards in a season, but I don't know if this rule change is the solution to this problem.

Obviously, concussions can happen at any time. But when do they happen most dramatically? It's usually when a wideout is sprinting unencumbered on a crossing route and a strong safety blows him apart when the ball arrives late.

Gregg Easterbrook claims concussions happen more often on kick and punt returns, while Chuck Klosterman claims concussions happen most drastically when a wideout is sprinting and a safety hits him hard when the ball arrives late. Clearly, I think more research needs to be done before I believe either point of view is correct.

What I do know is a strong safety could still blow apart a receiver using Klosterman's new rule. In fact, because contact with the receiver is allowed downfield, the safety could just blow up a receiver even if he isn't targeted for a pass. Hakeem Nicks could be running a post pattern and the opposing safety could simply come over and blow him up. Under the current rules there is a punishment in the form of a penalty for doing this, but under Chuck Klosterman's new rules there is no punishment for doing this. In essence, Klosterman has created a rule which (assuming he is correct about when concussions happen most drastically) will cause more concussions.

If cornerbacks could keep their hands on a receiver for most of the play, this kind of hyper-violent collision would happen more rarely (because WRs simply could not run free over the middle of the field).

Completed passes would also happen more rarely and defensive backs could also knock the shit out of a receiver if he does get open. I'm not sure making it legal for a defensive back to collide with a receiver is going to cause collisions to happen more rarely. The most effective way to eliminate violent collisions is to penalize them like they are currently penalized.

Meanwhile, letting offensive linemen hold would also decrease the likelihood of quarterbacks absorbing death blows from unblocked edge blitzers (because linemen could at least reach out and get a hand on the guy as he flies into the backfield).

Offensive linemen can already get a hand on a guy as he flies into the backfield to hit the quarterback. They would get called for a penalty of course, but they can still get a hand on an edge blitzer. Most of times when a quarterback absorbs a death blow it comes from an unblocked rusher who the offensive lineman or running back couldn't get to in time. So I'm not sure if the new rule allowing holding would necessarily prevent edge blitzers from hitting the quarterback hard.

in fact, it might make the game simultaneously safer and more physical. Football would still look like football.

Football wouldn't look like football if the offensive linemen and the defensive backs could legally hold the opposing player. Taking restrictions off the contact allowed in the secondary would not prevented the hit by James Harrison on Mohamed Massaquoi a few years ago. Part of what keeps receivers safe is the defense players know they can't hold a receiver or take a cheap shot on a receiver running a pattern without being called for a penalty. Now if you took the penalty away as a punishment, how that does that make football safer? Players would get hit hard even if they aren't targeted for a fact, since Chuck suggests the contact is allowed before the pass is thrown, receivers who aren't targeted for a pass would get mauled most frequently.

What If We Eliminated Overtime During the Regular Season?

What if we did this? What would this say about us as football fans who feel the need to have a definite winner and loser? Let's discuss this for 10,000 words.

In baseball, the 10th inning seems like the ninth inning — but every possession in an NFL overtime game adopts a conservative walking-on-eggshells posture, and the game inevitably ends on an anticlimax.

So change overtime, don't eliminate it completely. Keep overtime the same as it is now except give the second team with the football a chance to beat the score the opposing team put up, but the second team doesn't have the option of kicking a field goal. If Team A gets a field goal on their drive, then Team B can win the game with a touchdown, but doesn't get the option to tie the game with a field goal. Both teams get a possession and there is an actual choice to be made about whether a team wants the ball first upon winning the coin flip.

I mean, who says "no" to this?

The Problem With This Idea: Sports fans (and especially American sports fans) have a philosophical problem with disputes that end in ties. They want clear, irrefutable outcomes.

We are crazy that way in that we like to watch a competitive event and have a clear winner and loser.

The Reason This Idea Is Not Totally Crazy: Ties are deeply underrated. They make the divisional races more complex and they can have mixed, multiple meanings (whereas wins are always good and losses are always bad). Yet the larger reason they're compelling is that they force head coaches to make authentically difficult choices. Should they (or should they not) play for the tie in a deadlocked game against a superior opponent?

I can accept this reasoning, but why not change overtime to where coaches have to make authentically difficult choices rather than eliminate overtime completely?

In 2005, Jon Gruden faced this latter situation while coaching the Buccaneers in a game against the Redskins. Tampa Bay went for two and won the game 36-35. Now, this was ostensibly viewed as an ill-advised decision. Gruden would have been crucified had it failed. But that not-so-meaningful game remains unusually memorable. It was a far more compelling conclusion than either team winning on a cheap kick. And this kind of scenario happens all the time if we remove the possibility of OT.
This scenario could also happen all the time if overtime were set up in a way where each team gets one possession.

But if overtime did not exist, real choices would have to be made. Coaches would have to decide if they were willing to accept a tie instead of risking a loss (and they'd have to face the media scrutiny either way).

This is true. If overtime didn't exist then coaches would have to accept a tie instead of risking a loss. This could be done in overtime as well.

(I do love Chuck Klosterman's overuse of italics. I wonder if Bill Simmons got this writing trait from Klosterman or if Klosterman got this writing trait from Bill Simmons. Either way it brings me much joy to mock.)

As I've already noted, I'm not sure how I would feel about any of these changes if another man were advocating on their behalf.

"My ideas are stupid if they were coming from anyone else, but take them seriously because they are coming from me! Or don't take them seriously at all if you think they are bad ideas because I'm not really being serious...unless you like my ideas to improve the NFL, in which case I could not be more super-serious."

My guess is that most people reading this column are likely thinking, These are OK arguments for generally bad ideas. And this might be true — I certainly would not be comfortable in a world where my worldview dictated reality.

Chuck is so open-minded he believes even the ideas which he thinks should be implemented to improve the NFL should not be implemented because they are his own ideas. Of course Chuck also thinks these previous three ideas would have been stupid if they had come from someone else. So apparently these previous three ideas should in NO WAY be implemented by the NFL since coming from someone else they are stupid ideas and Chuck doesn't want his own worldview to dictate reality.

Critics will say that you should not fix something that isn't broken. But how do we know what isn't broken?

Because the NFL is the most popular sport in America and fundamentally changing the rules of the game when there is no apparent need to do so could affect the popularity of the NFL. People overwhelmingly like the product, which is a sure sign the NFL isn't broken. Sure, slight tweaks to the game are never a bad idea. We know the NFL isn't broken because it is the most popular sport in the United States. I don't know my car is broken, but I can take it a guess it isn't broken because it is still running and getting me from Point A to Point B.

I have no issues with "fixing" the NFL. I don't think making fundamental changes to the way the NFL presents the game of football makes sense, especially when I'm not convinced those rule changes would make the game any more exciting or safer. So these ideas that Chuck Klosterman believes suck, do 66.7% suck. The overtime item I will give him a pass on.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

4 comments Dan Shaughnessy Hates Ideas and Loves it When the Red Sox Fail

The Boston Globe seems to have put Dan Shaughnessy behind a pay wall, which makes me laugh. They expect people to pay to read his writing? This would be like a supermarket packaging pig feces and then trying to sell it for $10/pound to their customers. Sure, customers may want pig feces if it is free. After all, you never know when having pig feces around may pay off, but customers certainly aren't going to pay for it. I'm sure Shaughnessy won't be behind a pay wall for too much longer.

Dan Shaughnessy chuckles at the idea the Red Sox need more input from Bill James. He chuckles so much at the idea Bill James has anything positive to provide the Red Sox that the curls on his head bounce and his Rosecea flames his face up so red, it looks like he is choking. Earlier this year, Shaughnessy was on the Bobby Valentine bandwagon (or maybe not, he was probably playing both sides), but now that Valentine has been a disaster Dan Shaughnessy hates every suggestion to improve the Red Sox and provides no suggestions of his own. One thing we know for sure, Bill James isn't the answer Shaughnessy is looking for.

Picked-up pieces while chuckling over the Yankees’ imitation of the 2011 Red Sox . . .
Dan thrives on the misery of others. He thrives when the Red Sox can't win games and when other MLB teams can't win games. Of course if the Yankees did a better imitation of the 2011 Red Sox then that would mean the 2011 Red Sox collapse was no longer the worst collapse in baseball history and Dan Shaughnessy could no longer rub this in the face of Red Sox fans. So I'm assuming he doesn't want the 2012 Yankees to surpass the collapse of the 2011 Red Sox. Dan thrives on the Red Sox misery and we can't have any other team's misery overshadowing the misery of the Red Sox.

You have to hand it to John Henry. Overseeing the worst Boston baseball team since the mid ’60s . . .

But hey, Bill Simmons is interested again! That means a lot to everyone.

The 1992 Red Sox were 73-89 and the 1994 Red Sox went 54-61 in a strike-shortened season. So I would argue this may not be the worst Boston team since the mid '60's as it was built at the beginning of the year. The 2012 version of the Red Sox was re-built to be bad in order to be good again. So there appears to be a purpose behind the terribleness of the Red Sox, not that Dan really cares about anything like "having a plan" or "reacting like a patient and thoughtful human being might react to a team going through a rough period."

readying for a return home to more phony sellouts with John Farrell managing in the other dugout . . .

So is Dan insinuating the Red Sox should have hired John Farrell? If so, the Red Sox totally should have fired Terry Francona after an 89-73 season in 2010 so they could have hired John Farrell, even though he had zero managerial experience. Other than the fact it would have made no sense at the time, it would have been a very smart move. It's so great what hindsight is able to teach us about what the Red Sox should have done two years ago. In retrospect, maybe the Red Sox shouldn't have signed Carl Crawford. If only the Red Sox had someone on staff who was against this Crawford signing at the actual time of the signing. Now THAT would be a person who was worth keeping around.

Hey wait, the Red Sox did have a guy who didn't seem enamored with the Crawford signing. He didn't like the way that Crawford would age. The Red Sox definitely need to keep this guy around and they know that right now. This is as opposed to Dan Shaughnessy having the experience of knowledge two years down the road and seeming to reach a conclusion he never would have reached two years prior to now when stating that John Farrell is in the Blue Jays dugout.

(It took me 10 minutes to get that sentence right and it still isn't right. Basically, the Red Sox would have had no reason in 2010 to fire Francona and hire Farrell, so complaining the Red Sox are playing against Farrell in 2012 as manager of the Blue Jays, as if he should be the manager of the Red Sox if management knew what they were doing is stupid.)

Anyone who clicked on those links knows by now, but the guy I say the Red Sox should keep around is Bill James...but Dan disagrees. I would think Dan would agree with James since Crawford is an example of everything "wrong" with the 2011 and 2012 Red Sox teams.

and the owner of the Boston Red Sox has come to the conclusion that the answer to all of the Sox’ problems is . . .WE NEED MORE BILL JAMES!

How stupid of them to rely on a person who was against one of the very signings that Dan Shaughnessy (seemingly) thinks the Red Sox should have never made. Just dumb! What the Red Sox should do is wait two years for the year 2014 and then try to figure out who they should have hired in 2012 to help solve the Red Sox problems. All problems and solutions can be identified using hindsight, and even if there is no way to solve these problems two years later, at least it makes Dan Shaughnessy feel smart to use hindsight in a sarcastic fashion.

Wow. Swell idea. Why not bring back Joe Kerrigan, Carl Everett, and Harry Frazee’s great-grandson, Max Frazee? Maybe we can round up Rick Pitino, Pete Carroll, Roger Clemens, Antoine Walker, Dave Lewis, Acie Earl, and Albert Haynes­worth while we’re at it.

Typical Dan Shaughnessy writing. He is packaging every Boston failure in with the idea of bringing Bill James back for a larger role, as if failure is endemic in the Boston area. He's so negative. Dan is choosing to chase negativity rather than focus on the fact Bill James has two World Series rings from the Red Sox in 2004 and 2007 for his contributions to those teams.

The last time we heard anything from James was back in mid-July when he made comments about Joe Paterno that might have gotten another man fired. Contrarian Bill said Joe Pa knew less about Jerry Sandusky “than everyone else there.’’

Bill James' opinion on Joe Paterno is completely irrelevant when it comes to his ability to judge baseball talent.

A few days after those remarks went public, Henry and Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington had a talk with James. They told him to stop talking about Paterno. Then they issued a joint statement, distancing the ball club from James and telling us that they told him to cease and desist.

James' comments were stupid. There's no doubt about that, but his comments have nothing to do with whether he can be successful in his role with the Red Sox.

I assumed they also revoked his phone privileges and recommended he stay in the windowless basement of his Kansas abode.


Bill James is a stupid blogger who lives in a windowless basement because he spends all of his time in his basement because he doesn't like sunlight because bloggers don't like sunlight. This is as opposed to Dan Shaughnessy who is lily-white but the only reason he doesn't go out in public is because 90% of the people who read the Boston Globe want to kick his ass.

Henry tells the Herald’s Michael Silverman, “One of the biggest issues we’ve had is that Bill James was a great resource for us but fell out of favor over the last few years for reasons I don’t really understand. We’ve gotten him more involved recently in the central process and that will help greatly.’’

James, we are told, was not a fan of the Carl Crawford acquisition.

One would think being against the Carl Crawford signing is a sure sign that Bill James perhaps should be involved in the central process more actively. A person who thought this would not be named "Dan Shaughnessy." Despite the fact Shaughnessy thinks nearly everything the Red Sox have done over the last two years was a mistake, he also believes re-involving a member of the Red Sox staff who uses "data" is also a mistake.

It doesn't make a lot of sense, but then it is hard to make sense when the central position in every column Dan writes is that everything is broken and nothing can be fixed in regard to whatever solution is being suggested. Dan believes the Red Sox need a change of direction, but he doesn't think re-involving James is this necessary change of direction. Perhaps Dan believes bitching, moaning and trolling Red Sox fans is the only way to truly solve any issues the team has.

Dan is at-heart a lousy politician. Everyone else's idea for a solution are terrible ideas, but Dan has no suggestions of his own and brings nothing to the table. He just knows that certain idea sucks.

Wow. Theo Epstein’s fault again, right? Apparently, everybody was powerless over the wishes of the bad boy GM in the final days.

It just seems James' point of view on Crawford was not heeded. That's all. The Red Sox are saying, "Maybe that guy who had some ideas which partially contributed to two World Series titles should be listened to a bit closer from now on." Considering the Carl Crawford signing went over like a led zeppelin I would think Dan would support a member of the Red Sox staff who spoke this view about Crawford having a larger role in the organization.

More Bill James. We’re told that Larry Lucchino runs the Red Sox. We’re told that Cherington is going to be allowed to actually be a general manager.

Cherington will be allowed to be the general manager, but Bill James' point of view may take on more weight now. This isn't a difficult concept to understand as long as you are trying to understand the concept and not being stagnant and willfully stupid.

Great. Let’s get some data to find out how the Sox can solve their problems.

Yeah, let's not use data to solve problems. Let's just continue to sign the biggest free agent available and see how that works. I can't imagine how this wouldn't work.

Dan is a great backseat analyst. He knows every single problem the Red Sox face, but he has no fucking clue on how to formulate his own solution to these problems. That's not his job. His job is to serve as the person who says every idea is stupid. I can't fathom how the idea of using data to solve the issues the Red Sox team faces is a bad idea. What's the alternative to using data? Using the Red Sox own two eyes to determine how to turn the team around? John Lackey and Carl Crawford looked really good when viewed through a person's eyes.

All those losses certainly must have something to do with UZR and Wins Above Replacement.

Let's allow Dan to derisively mock something he doesn't completely understand. It only shows his ignorance, which he is too ignorant to understand.

Who needs human interaction or eye contact?

Bill James is a blogger who loves stats. He hates human interaction and has a disorder which prevents him from having the confidence to make eye contact with other humans. This is the same boring cliche and half-assed joke 100 other sportswriters have made about Sabermetricians instead of actually taking the time to understand and develop a knowledge about Sabermetrics.

A person doesn't have to like or agree with another person's point of view, but derisively discussing that point of view while engaging in cliched and tired stereotypes, while clearly not having a full knowledge of that point of view is absolutely an offense newspapers should force their writers to move away from. This is the reason newspapers are dying. They can't or refuse to connect with an audience they have some animosity towards. The Boston Globe allows Shaughnessy to write his columns in such as a way as to be trolling his audience. I have come to the conclusion the only way Dan could be fired is if he murdered someone, and even then the Globe would probably allow Shaughnessy one more column to taunt the family of the person he killed. The Globe favors cheap sports journalism that provides pageviews over thought-provoking sports journalism that can build a customer base. That's some of what is wrong with newspapers and sports journalism.

More Bill James is guaranteed to make the Sox right.

No one has stated hiring Bill James will make the Red Sox right. Stating that Bill James will have more involvement in the evaluation process for the Red Sox isn't putting him out there as a cure-all, but is simply stating he will have something productive to offer. Of course, if Dan Shaughnessy overstates what the Red Sox intentions are for James then he will consider himself as being correct when the Red Sox don't win 8-10 World Series titles in a row.

Sorry if this column is too short. I’m a little winded after running a sub-three-hour marathon with Paul Ryan.

Look a politically relevant comment!

Convincing Dan Shaughnessy that he does in fact suck at writing a coherent and persuasive column is like convincing an 82 year old man not to talk to a chair.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

8 comments TMQ Accuses Greg Schiano of Using the Same Tactics of Persuasion that Gregg Easterbrook Employs

It doesn't take a genius to figure out much of TMQ was going to be about the NFL officiating. Don't worry there is still plenty of Gregg Easterbrook second-guessing the decisions of head coaches, an update on Pulaski Academy and what I call "Easterbrookian" reasoning, which it turns out Gregg calls "Nixonian" reasoning. Perhaps Gregg notices the double talk of Greg Schiano because this is a type of talk Gregg loves to use as well. 

This is not entirely their fault; NFL coaches and players did not behave well this weekend. And the regular officials have made plenty of mistakes. 

The NFL players are going to naturally try to see how much they can get away with on the field. This happens in every sport. That's why there are officials who are supposed to control the flow of the game and ensure the players behave and obey the rules. The fact the regular officials have made plenty of mistakes is irrelevant. It's true, but irrelevant. The old officials made mistakes, but it seems like the new officials' mistakes just keep piling up, or maybe we just notice them more.

Monday night, referee Wayne Elliott points the wrong way, assigning a penalty to wrong team. A drastically bad pass interference call against Green Bay in the fourth quarter bails Seattle out of first-and-25; the play by the defender was perfectly clean.

Officials miss calls. Even the old officials missed calls, but they were used to the pace of the NFL game, which I don't think we can clearly say for the new officials. It seems the new officials make more mistakes more often than the old officials did.

M.D. Jennings of the Packers clearly intercepts the ball. One official signals touchdown, another signals interception. Then the officials allow a mob scene -- cameramen, players and coaches crowding around.

Crowd control isn't exactly the primary job of the officials. If 20 cameramen and 100 players come on the field thinking the game is over it isn't exactly easy to get them off the field immediately. While I do agree with Gregg on the issue of officials losing control of the game, there are security team members who are also responsible for ensuring the field of play isn't crowded. Starting from the very basics, I wouldn't expect a team of officials who can't get a call correct to have exemplary crowd control abilities. As much as I want the officials to control the game, let's focus on getting the calls correct and marking off yardage correctly, then worrying about the crowd control at the end of a game. 

It's not just that the replacement zebras awarded the game to the wrong team, they lost control. If the game is out of control, why should anyone watch?

No....if the calls aren't made correctly and the ending of a game is a sham, why should anyone watch? The officials can eventually get everyone back to their respective sidelines, but getting the calls correct are priority #1 in my book.

Coaches such as Bill Belichick and John Fox who screamed at the replacement officials in public have done football no favors, undermining the authority of the people trying to control the game.

No, no, no. I very much disagree. It isn't the job of John Fox or Bill Belichick to worry about undermining the authority of the new officials. It is the job of the officials to exert their control over the game and get the calls right. Fox and Belichick's job is to win games for their team and they did (almost) nothing out of line in protesting some calls they didn't agree with. This isn't a situation of "all for one and one for all." The NFL has done Belichick and Fox no favors by putting officials on the field who clearly aren't quite ready to officiate an NFL game. So while John Fox and Bill Belchick need to be on their best behavior, the officials are undermining their own authority in some ways with being uncertain and incorrect in their calls.

With each week, players have tried to get away with more -- the 24 accepted penalties Monday night happened in part because players were trying to get away with things they normally wouldn't -- or to influence the replacement officials by exaggerated gestures and lobbying. These players have done football no favors either.

While this is scary because it sounds like what I was saying in my posts on Monday and Tuesday, the players are the ones who have to play under these conditions with officials who can't control the game or get the calls correct. It is not the job of NFL players to make sure the new officials are prepared to call an NFL game. It is the job of the NFL to make sure they are putting competent officials on the field to call the games. These players are lobbying to get calls to help their team win games and aren't supposed to help the NFL look good by not complaining about the officiating. The NFL knows how to shut these players up, they just won't do it. The NFL is worried about putting a good product on the field, while the players are worried about winning the game. It not the NFL player's job to ensure competent officials are on the field calling the games.

We need the regular officials back -- not so much because they are any smarter or better than the replacements, but because coaches and players will obey them.

Plus the regular officials show they know how to mark off the correct number of yardage lost on a penalty 99.5% of the time. That always helps to keep their authority from being undermined.

Then Gregg goes on to list instances where the old officials got calls incorrect. While he is right these calls were missed, they didn't happen over a three week span in a season. So far this year officials have given a team an extra timeout at the end of a game, granted a team a challenge when that team didn't have timeouts and couldn't challenge a call (twice), given possession of the ball incorrectly on a Hail Mary which allowed one team to win and another team to lose, and given a team 27 yards on a penalty instead of 15 yards. That's not a good way to start the NFL season three weeks in.

Calling Seattle and Green Bay back onto the field to stage a meaningless PAT was not a mistake. In high school, the scoring team can waive its try; in the NFL, a try must at least be attempted...Had the replacements allowed Seattle to run a PAT with no defense on the field, today the sports world would be outraged. 

Of course, Gregg. If the officials had allowed the PAT with no defense on the field the sports world's outrage would far surpass the outrage at awarding a touchdown to the Seahawks when the Packers clearly seemed to possess the ball. The fact the officials awarded a touchdown to Seattle (or some officials awarded the touchdown, while another said it was an interception) would have been forgotten, to be replaced by the outrage at allowing Seattle to run a PAT with no defense on the field. That's exactly what would have happened.

However this shakes out, don't blame the replacements for a situation they did not create. They are people of average means who were trying to better themselves. They need to exit stage left, but deserve a measure of appreciation -- say, first claim on future NFL officiating openings. 

No one is blaming the officials for the situation. The NFL needs to demand a certain standard in officiating that isn't being met right now. I have another idea. How about these new officials work on being good enough to officiate in the NFL and THEN they can look into claiming any future NFL officiating openings? I'm not sure the same guys who can't control the game are the ones in the NFL wants to get first claim on any future openings.

Here, Schiano told "Mike & Mike in the Morning" that charging the victory formation "caused fumbles several times" at Rutgers. Schiano told Pro Football Talk the tactic "actually created a fumbled C-Q exchange four times in the past four or five years. It does work." 

This is the part where Gregg Easterbrook gets angry that Greg Schiano leaves out small details when he is making a claim. This is like the pot calling the kettle black, because Gregg Easterbrook does this all of the time in TMQ every single week. Gregg will make a claim and leave out a small fact or two which could affect the audience's perception of that claim. He does this all the time when discussing "unwanted" players. It's not so fun when someone else uses the tactic that Gregg has seemingly patented over the years.

Schiano did not add: Rutgers never got a turnover.

No, he didn't. He said a fumble was caused. He left out the small detail that Rutgers never got the turnover. I think Gregg Easterbrook is just upset Schiano is treading on his domain of leaving out small, but important details when making a claim intended to persuade.

I asked Jason Baum, associate athletic director of Rutgers, what happened when the Scarlet Knights attacked kneel-downs under Schiano. Baum said that four times the quarterback fumbled -- against North Carolina in 2011, against Pitt and West Virginia in 2009 and against Cincinnati in 2007. Rutgers recovered once, but the play was nullified by a Rutgers offside.

But the possibility of recovering the fumble is there, right? I'm not necessarily for crashing the line of scrimmage but from 2007-2011 attacking kneel-downs worked four times. While NFL centers and quarterbacks tend to be more advanced at taking and handling a snap, there is a chance there could be a fumble. I don't like the strategy, but the possibility of a fumble does seem to be there.

Thus Rutgers never got possession by attacking a victory formation. The tactic did not "work," as Schiano claims -- unless the point was to show that Schiano is a bully. 

I think the point of the tactic was to have the center-quarterback exchange result in a fumble that Schiano's team would try to recover. I'm not defending the tactic, because I don't particularly like it, but in creating a fumble the tactic did seem to work.

not adding that Rutgers never got the ball, is a classic Nixonian statement -- literally true, but intended to deceive. 

I call this an "Easterbrookian" statement because Gregg writes many things in TMQ that are literally true, but are meant to deceive and mislead his readers.

Not only has Schiano's tactic never worked, even if it had led to a turnover, the clock expired on the play!

I'm not an official, but I'm pretty sure if Eli Manning had fumbled the snap then the ball could be advanced. So if there is a fumble and it bounces away from the pack of players to a Buccaneers player, the Buccaneers player could theoretically have advanced the fumble or lateraled it around until they scored a touchdown. So even if the clock is expired, play would continue. Not to mention, even if the ball couldn't be advanced in this situation, the new officials probably don't know or understand this rule.

Okay, so that was an unfair cheap shot.

Though I have never observed a kneel-down that resulted in an opposition victory, both on the field and along the sideline, many times I have heard the referee tell the defense, "The offense is kneeling, no contact allowed." 

Which is great advice from the officials outside of the fact there isn't a rule prohibiting contact.

But the sweetest play was the throwback punt return.

The down began with Flaming Thumbtacks punt returner Reynaud lining up on the left hash; Tennessee expected a punt to its left, which happened. Reynaud took a step, stopped, and threw a cross-field lateral to Tommy Campbell on the right, who went the distance. Where did Campbell come from? He began the play on the line of scrimmage, lined up to jam one of the Lions' gunners. Then he sprinted backward as if to get into a blocking wedge, but instead drifted to the right side of the field. Had Campbell lined up as a right-side return man opposite Reynaud, someone from Detroit would have accounted for him.

BREAKING NEWS: In a punting situation if an NFL team has a player back to return a punt, the opposing team will notice this player.

Botched communication between center and backup quarterback caused the ball to be snapped while most of the Lions stood around. (It was a botched play, not an attempt at the silent sneak.) Schwartz had to supplicate in his postgame comments, apologizing for defying orthodoxy. 

Schwartz wasn't apologizing for defying orthodoxy. He was apologizing for running a quarterback sneak in a situation where a better play, if the Lions went for it on fourth down, should have been called. It was clear Hill wasn't ready for the ball and while the Lions may not have gone for it, Schwartz wasn't apologizing for going for it, but was apologizing for how poorly the play was run.

But Detroit should have gone for it! Just with a better play. Suppose the Lions kick the field goal; all they've done is bought themselves a 50/50 chance of prevailing in the continuation. Run a regular play, you're 75 percent likely to convert the first down, positioning the team to win.

Wow! The Lions were 75% likely to convert the first down, positioning the team to win? Where in the hell did this number come from? This is what I am talking about with Gregg and his inability to cite statistics he puts in TMQ. This 75% number may be completely correct, but at least cite where this information came from. Otherwise, I have to assume he made it up.

It was fourth-and-1, Detroit averaged 6.3 yards per offensive play, go win the game!

What did Detroit average on third/fourth-and-one on the game? That's the number that helps to tell us whether the Lions would have had a good chance to convert this first down or not. Taking Detroit's yards per offensive play tells me nothing in the context of a specific situation like fourth-and-one.

The Lions should have gone for it! Just with a better play. For that matter, the Lions could have gone for the win on the untimed try that ended regulation. A fake kick for two would have been maybe 75 percent likely to succeed -- and then there would have been no overtime.

"A fake kick for two would have been maybe 75% likely to succeed..."

I can make up numbers too! Or a fake kick would have been maybe 10% likely to succeed, but let's go with the number that Gregg decided to go with since it non-coincidentally supports his position. There's nothing like making up fake statistics (or providing no citing documentation to support that statistic) that help support your position.

Wait, what's this? I just got information that says NFL teams only convert fourth-and-one 1.29% of the time. So it turns out going for it on fourth-and-one maybe never makes sense.

Saints practice-squad coach Aaron Kromer had Drew Brees retreating into his own end zone looking to hit a long pass. The tactic backfired when he was dragged down for a safety, but at least the tactic was aggressive. 

Does Gregg know what other tactic is aggressive? Constantly blitzing the other team in an attempt to force a turnover. Of course Gregg thinks this tactic of being aggressive defensively is a bad tactic, but being aggressive offensively is always a good thing. Well, that is until offensive aggressiveness is a bad thing, in which case an offense should not use aggressive tactics. It all depends on the outcome. We'll see a great example of Gregg changing his mind on whether an aggressive offensive tactic is good or not when he discusses the Patriots-Ravens game.

Of course we will probably see the "Stop Me Before I Blitz Again" feature in next week's TMQ. Aggressiveness is a good thing unless it doesn't work, in which case it is a bad thing.

Trailing17-0 with six seconds remaining in the first half at Arizona, Philadelphia faced third-and-goal from the Cardinals' 1. A defensive back blitz blindsided Michael Vick, who fumbled;...Trailing17-0 with six seconds remaining in the first half at Arizona, Philadelphia faced third-and-goal from the Cardinals' 1. A defensive back blitz blindsided Michael Vick, who fumbled;

I thought fortune favored the bold? At least the tactic was aggressive right? Going for a pass and not settling for a field goal told the Eagles that Andy Reid wanted to win this game. Shouldn't this have inspired the Eagles to play better, and verily, go on to win the game? As usual, a team being aggressive is a good thing unless it doesn't work, in which case it is a bad thing.

You and I both know if the Eagles had taken the field goal in this situation Gregg would have criticized the Eagles for taking a field goal when down 17-0. He would have said they were on the six-yard line and should have tried to score a touchdown. Because this play didn't work, all of a sudden a field goal was a fucking brilliant idea and that is what the Eagles should have done. Gregg simply chases outcomes. A play is smart if it works and it is aggressive, but if the play is aggressive and it didn't work then that team shouldn't have been aggressive (or Gregg will say the infamous line "they should have run a different play). Gregg would absolutely criticized the Eagles for kicking a field goal in this situation and not going for the touchdown when down 17-0, if they had chosen to kick a field goal in this situation.

The Steelers staged what could have been the Arkansas-style football play of the year: Score tied, they went for it on fourth-and-1 from their own 30 in the fourth quarter. Pittsburgh converted but the drive petered out after an Oakland sack.

How can this be? The Steelers not only went for it on fourth down, thereby being bold and having fortune favor them, but they also converted this fourth down? Doesn't this mean they should automatically win the game? Fortune favors the bold and teams that go for it on fourth down are being aggressive. From everything Gregg has told me, there is no way the Steelers should lose this game. I'm miffed. It is almost like Gregg just makes up shit about how being bold always favors a team and writes it down and ignores how being bold doesn't favor a team when it is convenient. 

Then Gregg starts criticizing a show he apparently watches, "Revolution."

Suppose you were a father and mother who knew all technology was about to stop working -- you'd buy more than one bag of groceries! You wouldn't wait until the last conceivable instant to draw water or copy the magic software. You'd stockpile inhalers for your asthmatic child, rather than do nothing, as is depicted. If the first two characters shown knew the blackout apocalypse was coming, why didn't they prepare?

Perhaps because they didn't know WHEN the blackout apocalypse was coming. The best I can figure to answer this question is to notice it is a television show. Thereby it is fictional and meant for purely entertainment purposes.

When anthrax spores were mailed to Washington, D.C., addresses in 2001, there was instant, intense desire to obtain ciprofloxacin, the medicine against anthrax. Drugstores across the East Coast sold out immediately. A couple nights after the attacks began, a neighbor who is a medical researcher knocked on my door and handed me a bottle of cipro she had requisitioned from the pharmacy of a hospital. To keep my children alive if anthrax hit our neighborhood, the neighbor explained -- asking me not to discuss this because she could obtain only enough for a few families.

So naturally, a eleven years later Gregg discusses this in his weekly national football column. Apparently there is a time limit to how long Gregg is willing to keep a secret.

the replacement officials were correcting their mistake when Skins offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan ran onto the field shouting obscenities, resulting in the unsportsmanlike flag.

Washington's 283 penalty yards is worst in the league. This team must learn to play with its head. The NFL's coaches must use their heads, too. The replacement officials clearly are nervous -- who wouldn't be, in their shoes? Having multimillionaire NFL coaches storming out onto the field to berate them has not won any team a game, but detracts from the officials' control, thus harming the NFL product. 

Three responses to this:

1. Kyle Shanahan isn't a multimillionaire NFL coach. His father is a multimillionaire, but I would doubt Kyle Shanahan is a multimillionaire at this point in his career.

2. Yes, having coaches storm on the field detracts from the officials' control and harms the NFL product. The NFL product isn't harmed by Shanahan storming on the field, but the officials getting the call incorrect harms the NFL product. If the NFL was really worried about this they would put officials on the field who can control the game and won't harm the product. It is not Kyle Shanahan's responsibility to stay calm as the officials make mistakes. He should control his temper for sure, but the incorrect call on the field is what is causing him to lose his temper.

3. Gregg has a picture of a cheerleader beside this part of his column. He stopped doing his weekly portion of TMQ dedicated to cheerleaders (Cheer-babe of the Week or whatever it was called) because everyone is showing pictures of cheerleaders now, but he hasn't stopped showing pictures of the cheerleaders. So his exploitation of these cheerleaders good looks in his column has stopped only in that he is now treating NFL cheerleaders as merely eye candy and not focusing on their life outside of NFL cheerleading.

At Baltimore, Bill Belichick grabbed an official to scream at him. Does Belichick think the replacements created this situation? They're bystanders.

Yes, they created the situation by making some really shady calls during the game. How are they bystanders if they are the ones making the calls on the field? Sure, the new officials didn't ask for the old officials to strike, but the new officials aren't bystanders when they get calls wrong on the field. They are the reason Belichick was upset. It doesn't excuse his behavior, but the officials aren't bystanders.

Belichick would be furious if one of the officials grabbed him in public and screamed at him. There's a character question here, too. One measure of a person's character is how he or she treats those who earn substantially less.

Obviously Belchick should not have grabbed the official, but I somewhat fail to see Gregg's point that these new officials didn't create the situation on the field. Either way, I feel sympathy for these new officials and Belichick was out of line for grabbing the official, though I can't say it is easy to hold your frustration in as a head coach in a situation like this.

And Belichick has only himself to blame for calling passes on five of eight snaps of the Patriots' attempted clock-killer drive. Three fell incomplete, stopping the clock. Had New England rushed for no gain on those downs, Baltimore would have run out of time. 

Perhaps the Patriots were trying to throw the ball and no run out the clock? Seeing as how scoring a touchdown would have made it a two possession game. Doesn't fortune favor the bold? Aren't aggressive actions on offense a sign that team wants to win and the football gods will reward this? So why is Gregg saying the Patriots should have passively tried to run the clock down if they have Tom Brady as their quarterback and can win the game with a touchdown? I thought aggressive tactics were best. It tells the team that the coach is trying to win this game. Isn't this what we are told by Gregg Easterbrook on a weekly basis?

This a perfect example of Gregg chasing outcomes. He says in this very column that aggressive offensive actions are best when discussing the Saints running a play in their end zone which resulted in a safety, but because the Patriots were aggressive and it didn't work he is wondering why they didn't try to run the ball and kill the clock. Gregg only bases a team's strategy on whether that strategy worked and not on whether the idea behind the strategy was sound.

Last Friday Pulaski won 56-0; the starters came out at the end of the first quarter, the JV began subbing in during the second quarter. Because the game was a walkover, Pulaski did not face many fourth downs.

Pulaski went 2 for 3 on fourth downs against an inferior opponent. I wouldn't consider the "never punt" fourth down strategy to count in games such as this because Pulaski is clearly better than their opponent. If the goal is to compare how Pulaski does on fourth down compared to NFL teams, then only the games where the difference in talent is closer should count, since the difference in talent between NFL teams is closer. Part of the reason I question whether going for it on fourth down would work in the NFL is because the difference in talent between teams is so small, going for it on fourth down wouldn't be as successful as often.

Arkansas-style football update: Reader Brian Buntman, Rochester Hills, Mich., notes that Oregon's Chip Kelly went for it twice on fourth down in the Ducks' own territory, and though only one of two tries converted, fortune favors the bold! Oregon staged a 49-0 cakewalk over Arizona. 

Right, in a 49-0 game Oregon won because they went for it twice on fourth down. Sure that makes sense. The key difference in this game was the fourth down Oregon went for and converted.

Trailing 30-21 with 11 minutes remaining, the Ravens reached fourth-and-1 on the Patriots' 33. Harbaugh/East went for it, which was the high-percentage call, not a "huge gamble," but didn't work. As Tuesday Morning Quarterback notes, sometimes it's better when a coach goes for it on fourth-and-short and fails -- communicating to players that he is challenging them to win the game -- rather than launches a kick, communicating to players that the coach is afraid of losing. 

Or by launching a field goal the head coach is communicating to his players that he has full confidence the defense will stop the opposing team's offense on the next possession and that team's offense will get the ball right back. See how that works? The coach can launch a field goal and still be communicating a challenge to his defense and offense to win the game. These whole fake mind games that Gregg Easterbrook presents to his readers can usually go both ways, though Gregg predictably never presents it to his audience in an alternative fashion for fear it would make his point of view look less persuasive.

As for the sulk-a-matic Randy Moss -- waive him now and get it over with. In 2010, New England, Minnesota and Tennessee all regretted his presence on the roster, and he hasn't had a big game since November 2009.

But Moss is an unwanted player! Isn't he motivated to play well because he has repeatedly been told he isn't good enough to be on the roster? More importantly, remember how Moss blew by three Green Bay defenders in Week 1 and Gregg said the 49ers were the team to beat? Notice how the 49ers weren't regretting his presence on the roster at that point. It's weird how Gregg thinks the 49ers didn't regret his presence on the roster then, but after losing one game he believes they are regretting his presence.

Cecil Shorts of Division III Mount Union caught an 80-yard last-minute touchdown pass as Jacksonville defeated Indianapolis. The Colts' safeties were way out of position, but what the hey.

Doesn't Gregg mean the "lowly drafted 6th round pick Antoine Bethea and undrafted and unwanted safety Sergio Brown were out position" on this play? Oh that's right, Gregg won't mention their draft position because it doesn't further his narrative that lowly drafted and undrafted players work harder than highly drafted and highly paid glory boys.

James Sanders of the Cardinals recovered and was racing up the sideline. By the time he reached midfield, only two Eagles were even attempting to chase him -- though the clock expired during the play. All Philadelphia had to do was push Sanders out-of-bounds, and the half would have ended without Arizona scoring. Instead nine of 11 Eagles quit on the play, and Arizona got a touchdown.

Yeah, sure the Eagles' players are lazy. I'm not entirely sure Gregg understands that even if James Sanders runs a 5.0 40 yard dash that many of these Eagles players were not going to be able to catch him on this play. The fact Gregg criticizes the Eagles for this play tells me that I can be 100% certain he didn't watch this game. Sanders had a head start on most Eagles players and he also had a SIX MAN CONVOY (Six!) of Cardinals players escorting him to the end zone. Even if an Eagles player was able to catch him he would have had to get through four or five Cardinals players to even get to James Sanders. The Eagles had no chance of getting Sanders out of bounds.

Philadelphia Eagles offense, you are guilty of the single worst play of the season. So far.

Gregg Easterbrook, you are guilty of the single worst piece of criticism of the season. So far.

8 comments MMQB Review: More Official Insanity Edition

Peter King is a little annoyed this week. He wanted to talk about what he wanted to talk about in this week's MMQB. But nooooo, the new officials had to go and have a bad week calling games incorrectly and now Peter has to talk about that in MMQB. Of course, after Peter wrote MMQB the officials decided to award a football game to the Seattle Seahawks after they "caught" a pass in the end zone (which a Packers player actually caught) for a touchdown to win a game. My favorite gif was of one official ruling interception and the other official ruling it was a touchdown. Overall, everything is such an inconvenience for Peter. He wanted to talk about Steve Sabol, which he does for 25% of this column anyway, but now he has to talk about the officials first and it is getting in the way of his Steve Sabol tribute. Peter also has some strong words for people who pay for a ticket to a concert and then have the audacity to choose what they do when attending that concert.

On a day to pay tribute to the late Steve Sabol, which I'll do for a good chunk of this column, it's maddening and saddening to have to discuss the officiating disaster so prominently. 

I know. It's maddening to have to discuss a topic that is about the NFL and deserves a discussion in an column that is supposed to be about the NFL. Why can't Peter just write about his daughter's softball games and give random shout-outs to people his readers don't know in his weekly column about the NFL? Don't Peter's readers care more about what's going on his own life and what he thinks about "The Office" than they care about NFL news?

The legitimacy of NFL games is at stake with officials who simply aren't suited to work games of the intensity and importance of Atlanta-Denver last Monday or New England-Baltimore Sunday night.

These games are super-important and super intense. Mess up a Washington-Cincinnati game and that doesn't matter too much because that is an unimportant, non-intense game, but these super-duper important games that are played between two teams that Peter really thinks are great teams should not be stood for. Let's execute every replacement official for having the audacity to mess up the Atlanta-Denver game. The Broncos aren't a 1-2 team, they are a really, really important 1-2 team.

If the lockout isn't solved by Wednesday or early Thursday, 25 percent of the season will have been officiated by the fifth-stringers from the NAIA and other such football hinterlands.

And Peter swears to God, if a really, really important game is messed up because of these new officials then he is going to be unhappy. Can't the old officials come back to call only the games that Peter deems to be very important?

In Minnesota, 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh got two free replay challenges he didn't deserve near the end of the second half (video below). When he called his third timeout late in the fourth quarter, he asked referee Ken Roan if he was allowed to challenge a play during the timeout because he'd noticed what he thought was a Minnesota fumble during the timeout. Roan allowed him the challenge, even though you've got to have a timeout remaining if you throw the challenge flag, because the penalty for losing a challenge is a loss of a timeout. 

But how important was this game? Minnesota v. San Francisco? Not that important so who cares if the officials completely ignored the rules on how a challenge is supposed to work? Let's move on.

In Tennessee, the stunner of all stunners gave the Titans a crucial 12 free yards on what turned out to be the decisive field-goal drive in overtime, the drive that provided the winning points in Tennessee's 44-41 victory. Tennessee had 2nd-and-18 from its 44, and Jake Locker threw what was ruled a 24-yard completion to tight end Craig Stevens. At the end of the play, Detroit linebacker Stephen Tulloch was called for a 15-yard personal foul on Stevens. But the completion was reversed and ruled an incompletion.

Now the officials had to mark off the 15-yard penalty. Presumably, replay official Earnie Frantz or the officiating supervisor told the referee, Gerald Wright, to mark the 15-yard penalty from the Tennessee 44. But Wright marked it from the Detroit 44, giving the Titans a first down at the Detroit 29. If the crew had marked it from the Titans 44, the first down would have been from the Detroit 41. As it was, Tennessee, from the 29, was already in field-goal range. It's beyond inexcusable -- and to think the league office put an extra set of eyes in the replay booth to ensure debacles like a 27-yard personal foul wouldn't happen. It did anyway.

Are we still watching these games? We are? Then the NFL doesn't give a shit. The NFL has no reason to care when fans still come to the games and watch the games on television. It's just like the NFL lockout last summer. The NFL didn't care if they ever came to an agreement with the players. Either way, the general public would be salivating for NFL action whenever the game returned. The NFL wasn't worried about losing the fans because they knew the fans would come back when/if there was an agreement. So all this complaining about the officials will mean nothing until a player gets severely injured because the officials can't control the game. Sure, the NFL is ashamed the new officials are screwing up calls like this, but not ashamed enough to budge on negotiations with the old officials. At this point, players are exaggerating their reaction when a penalty is called, seeing what they can get away with without being flagged, and I question whether the officials could keep control of a game between two teams that don't like each other. Still, the NFL doesn't care because we keep watching and the same sports media that whines about the officials still writes about the NFL games every week. It won't change until it has to change.

It's only a matter of time before some gaffe like a 27-yard penalty or two extra challenges costs some team a game it should have won. I think the league is going to have to compromise more than it wants to.

Very interesting comment by Peter on Monday in concern to the Seattle-Green Bay game later Monday night. I think it will come to something more than that. The NFL has already doubled-down on the new officials by warning players and coaches not to criticize them and fining coaches who argue too aggressively with the new officials. Those Packer players who criticize the refs over Twitter are going to get hit hard by the NFL with fines. I think the NFL will have to compromise more than they want once an agreement is reached, and one will be reached at some point, but Peter is wrong. The NFL doesn't care if an official's mistake costs a team a game it should have won. You could argue Detroit should have won the game Peter just talked about against the Titans. The Packers should have won the game against the Seahawks last night and I'm not sure the NFL cares. I don't know what will cause the officials or the NFL to get real and come to the bargaining table to make a real effort, but I don't know if a blatantly missed call that affects the outcome of a game will do it at this point. There may need to be a player severely injured before either side gets real about an agreement.

The news could be ominous for Darrelle Revis. We should know by this afternoon, after he exits an MRI tube in New Jersey, if Revis will become the biggest loss any team has had this year. His left knee caved on the grass in Miami without being hit, the kind of awkward sight and subsequent crumbling of a player that makes you think it could be a serious knee injury. Why would the loss of Revis be a disaster for the Jets?

Because the media talks about what a great defensive coordinator Rex Ryan is, yet it seems his entire defense hinges on the health of one player? I realize Revis gives the Jets an advantage other teams don't have in that Revis doesn't need safety-help, but Rex Ryan had a lot of success in Baltimore without a Revis-type corner and I feel like we get told a lot how good of a coordinator he is. So I would think, banking on this genius-level defensive-coordinating skill, Ryan can figure out a way to run his defense without Revis. Every other NFL team manages to play defense without a player like Revis, so I would assume the Jets can figure out a way also. I have also heard the argument the Jets safeties can't cover in the secondary very well and are mostly used in run support in Ryan's system, which is another bit of reasoning I don't really care about. I'm sorry the Jets can't seem to find safeties who can cover receivers in the secondary, welcome to what the rest of the NFL and their fans have to deal with. If Rex Ryan is such a great defensive coach, I am sure he can figure something out. That's why you have backups. I could feel sympathy for the Jets and would lay off Ryan if Cromartie goes down for the season as well, but that hasn't happened.

Because they're not ready to put their recent first-round Boise State corner on Kyle Wilson Island.

Of course Wilson can't be Darrelle Revis, but this is his third year in the NFL. At this point, shouldn't Wilson be ready to start for the Jets and do a good job? Even if he can't be Darrelle Revis, he should at least be able to play corner sufficiently. He isn't some rookie being forced to start before he is ready. He has been in the Jets defensive system for over two years. Time to start earning that first round pick money.

Then Peter compares the Titans special teams play to the Music City Miracle. Both were very well executed plays, but the Music City Miracle was executed under such tremendously tough circumstances where the Titans had to score a touchdown or they lost the game. The special teams play on Sunday was just a really cool special teams play that helped to decide, but did not decide, the outcome of a game.

That's the strength of Jerry Reese as a general manager. He's not a knee-jerk guy. Last April, I wrote a story on Reese (and, in particular, how well he works with Tom Coughlin), and I sat in his office for a while talking about roster-building.

Seemingly every year Peter King talks about how well Jerry Reese builds the Giants roster. No one denies his ability to build a quality roster at this point. I just wish Peter would stop talking about it because it isn't a new story.

The subject of the abuse he took from the talk-show set and fans came up for letting Steve Smith and Kevin Boss go in the 2011 offseason. He got a smile on his face and played me a couple of, shall we say, interesting, voice mails from critical fans after those players went to Philadelphia and Kansas City by way of Oakland, respectively. He asked me not to report what was said in the voicemails, but let's just say you need to have some blisters on your hide to be a general manager for a New York sports team.

You need some blisters on your hide to be the GM for a New York sports team, but for every other GM in the NFL it is just smooth sailing while having zero issues with angry or disgruntled fans.

Brandon Jacobs had worn out his welcome; Brown and rookie David Wilson will have a shot to replace him -- and that looks good so far.

Andre Brown has played well for a game and a half and David Wilson hasn't looked very good so far. It also helped that Brandon Jacobs tends to be somewhat overrated, at least over the last season or two. He wasn't a guy who the Giants should have kept around. Jacobs hasn't been active this year due to injury and he is 30 years old coming off the worst year since his rookie season.

Charting players who have been good Reese picks in his first six drafts with the Giants:

I understand the purpose of this exercise, but Peter is basically proving the Giants had one good pick in each of their last six drafts. That's not saying much really. I would hope each draft had at least one good player come out of it, specifically since the Giants have won two Super Bowls in that time.

Yes, Jerry Reese has been great over the past few years. I'm not sure why it took a blowout win over a bad defensive team to reignite Peter's yearly passion of showing how great of a job Reese has done. It used to be charts about the New England Patriots (more specifically charts about Matt Cassel, the Patriots draft picks, and Tom Brady) that Peter loved to write in MMQB and now it is a discussion, with draft picks used as a supporting example, of how great Jerry Reese is at his job.

I thought the best way to tell the story of Sabol's impact on football would be to find 10 people whose lives were impacted by Sabol and who can tell what he meant to them, and to the sport long-term.

Did you know he was once asked to be commissioner? That he had Bill Belichick eating out of his modest hands? That he and his dad made Vince Lombardi cry? That he's the reason Mike Mayock's on TV? That he's the inspiration for a 23-year-old photography student in a small town in Ireland?

I had absolutely no idea that Steve Sabol was the inspiration for a 23-year-old photography student in small town Ireland. This super-specific nugget of information somehow managed to evade my knowledge.

Jim Marshall, former player

"In the '60s, most coaches felt cameras and microphones were an intrusion, and had no place inside a team, or on players. But it was a great, great positive for the players that America could get to see what we were really like. Steve wired me for 'Big Game America.' He showed me in team meetings, in games and he even showed me skydiving and skiing. When he came in to talk to me about participating in the project, he said, 'I want to show football players as they really are.'

Nowadays this would consist of showing the NFL player sleeping, studying his playbook for that week's game plan and then going out to a club.

David Maraniss, author

"Steve believed Lombardi's voice was something that separated him from others in history, and gave him his character. With NFL Films, the voice was central to the myth-making. They used John Facenda, and he was called the voice of God. But there was a practice in Green Bay once, and a dog got on the field and was interfering with practice. They couldn't get the dog to leave. All the players were laughing it up with this dog on the field, and Vince saw it, and he just yelled over, 'What the hell's going on here? Get that dog off the field!' The dog scampered away. That really did happen. Sabol witnessed it, and he thought it said something about Lombardi -- that his voice was so powerful, so controlling.''

This doesn't seem like anecdotal evidence at all. I once saw a beer in the wild and screamed at the bear to go away. The bear started to walk in a different direction and thereby my voice can make bears run away.

Brett Favre, former quarterback, current douchebag and media-attention hog

(stabs self in the eyes with a knife)

"It's funny. It used to be when I first got into the game nobody wanted to wear those wires for games. It was like, 'Get that camera out of my face.' Late in my career, it was, 'Hey, I'm wired today! Cool!' Numerous times I would tell [Packers PR chief] Jeff Blumb or [Vikings PR men] Tom West and Bob Hagan no, because I thought they wired me too much. But now, thinking back, I wish I would have done it more. It shows a side of the game you want to remember forever.

Plus Favre didn't mind being wired because, you know, Brett Favre absolutely adores any form of attention he can get and if he was wired for a game that means he was getting attention based how he played the game of football like a little kid would play. At the time when he thought he was wired too much, Favre had not quite become the narcissistic, ego-driven, media-hound that he developed into later in his career. Early in his career Favre would have done so many other things in order to grab attention if he had known earlier in his career how well it worked.

3. San Francisco (2-1). Sunday, in Minnesota, was the first real sign that the Niners might be mortal.

No offense to the 49ers, but they have Alex Smith as the quarterback. He can't manage the hell out of every game while having the lead. So the question becomes whether he can do what he did last year in the playoff game against the Saints, when he was able to play well in situations where he had to throw the ball and make things happen with the 49ers offense while coming from behind.

9. Chicago (2-1). Mayhem turns to fine working order in the span of a week. The Bears held St. Louis to 160 yards, and physically handled the St. Louis offensive line.

"Fine working order?" Did Peter watch the Chicago offense this past week? Why am I asking this question? Of course he didn't.

15. Denver (1-2). For those who'd like to throw Peyton Manning out with the trash, here's a stat for your consideration. Yards per attempt in his last healthy season, 2010: 6.9. Yards per attempt this season: 7.2. Time, people. Time.

Right, time. Time is going to wear down Manning's arm strength and test him the rest of this season. These yards per attempt only show me that Manning has had to come back in the last two games, so he has had to be more aggressive in moving his team down the field. The eye test of watching Manning play tells me his arm strength isn't by any stretch of the imagination bad, but there are 13 games left in the season and I don't see his arm getting stronger as the year progresses.

Flaherty's the unsung hero on the Giants' coaching staff, and he proved it again Thursday night. Eli Manning was sacked once in 51 minutes of play time, and rarely under duress. A first-time starting back, Andre Brown, rushed for 113 yards, and the Giants held the ball for 36 minutes. It shouldn't be this easy, but Flaherty's line made it look that way.

It also helps when the opposing team didn't show up to play and laid down once they got hit in the chin a few times.

Goats of the Week

Dan Carpenter, K, Miami. Missed a 47-yarder, wide left, in regulation -- in a game that went to overtime. Missed a 48-yarder, wide left, on the second possession in overtime, a kick that would have won the game. I know Carpenter's 41-yarder in the final minute forced overtime. Goody goody. A kicker can't miss two kicks in the 40s.

I probably would have added Joe Philbin as a "goat" as well, because he called timeout to negate a blocked kick by his team. Hey, at least he iced the kicker though.

"Who wants to support something that puts on a performance of embarrassment? If I was a fan of the Carolina Panthers, I would be holding my head down in shame of the product that was out there today."

-- Cam Newton, after his Panthers lost to the Giants 36-7 Thursday night.

Get a hold of yourself, fella. A bomb didn't fall on Charlotte.

No, a bomb didn't fall on Charlotte, but this is somewhere near the attitude I want my quarterback to have. I prefer this attitude to a lack of caring and general comments about needing to prepare harder next time. If Brett Favre said something like this then Peter would see this as an example of him taking responsibility for the loss and it would show just how much Favre cares about winning or losing. Cam Newton says something like this and all of a sudden he is being overly dramatic. Newton was absolutely right. I was ashamed to watch that game and see the effort that was put up offensively and defensively. It was pathetic and embarrassing to get your ass kicked on national television. Being a 23 year old, Newton obviously has to mature some, but it's clear he cares, which makes me happy.

Mr. Starwood Preferred Member Travel Note of the Week

Not a travel note per se. More a lifestyle, world-we-live-in-today note.

This is actually more of a "why can't people act in public the exact way I want them to act in public" note from Peter King. It seems there is a consistent pattern about Peter. He has this way about him where he wants everyone to act in public the exact way he believes they should act. I tend to believe if we lived in a communist country or dictatorship Peter would work for the national police force ensuring all citizens behaved the way the State wanted them to behave.

Drove over to see Bruce Springsteen at the Meadowlands Wednesday night.

So the show starts. We're in an upper tier, last row. The fourth song is "Hungry Heart," which has the crowd going. The fifth song, "We Take Care of Our Own," is one of my new faves, from his latest album. I notice the four guys next me, maybe in their late 20s, all have their iPhones out, texting or reading email during the song.

No fucking way! People who had purchased tickets to hear Bruce Springsteen sing songs were choosing to spend their time hearing Bruce Springsteen sing songs while on their phones? Why can't we live in a country where everyone does the exact thing that Peter wants them to do? How dare they choose to listen to the music and text someone about how much they like the concert?

It doesn't make sense to go to a concert and check email, but if a person wants to do that, that is his/her choice. How does this affect Peter's enjoyment of the concert negatively?

They're texting or reading. "Death to My Hometown" is next, and I look around, and it seems half the section is fooling around with phones.

In fairness to them, "Death to My Hometown" isn't one of the best songs on Springsteen's new album.

We're such cellaholics. I get that. But outdoor concert events like this one, these are the nights where the experience should be enough to make you put away the phone (or at least stash it until you get in the bathroom), unless you're just writing down the setlist or something like that.

Maybe they were all writing down the setlist. Why does it make a difference what they were writing? While I agree with Peter that you would think these people would enjoy the concert without the use of their phone, these people paid for tickets as well, so if they want to do something else while they listen to the music that is their choice.

If Steve Jobs were still here, I wonder whether he'd feel triumphant that the masses can't live without his invention for three hours, or despondent that the masses can't live without his invention for three hours.

Considering Jobs spent his life trying to make his products absolutely essential to people, then I would say he would be triumphant.

 1. I think this is what I liked about Week 3:

h. Doug Martin, who runs every attempt like it's his last.

Oh yes, and Martin runs for 3 yards on every rush attempt. It's weird to me that Doug Martin seems to becoming known as a really good running back. His yards per carry in the three games he has played this year are 4.0, 3.3, and 2.8. He's gotten 63 carries and gained for 214 yards. He is 2nd in the NFL in carries and 12th in yards. His yards per rushing attempt is 39th in the NFL among the qualified leaders. I don't dislike Doug Martin, and he may run every attempt like it is his last attempt, but he isn't this explosive game-changing back that I think some people believe him to be. Maybe I'm picking on him too much because he isn't explosive, but I would hope an NFL running back could get 214 yards on 63 carries.

q. Heck of a bomb, Blaine Gabbert.

It was basically a slant, not even close to a bomb.

2. I think this is what I didn't like about Week 3

a. Tebow shirtless again. Come on, Tim. You're on the verge of becoming the girl who wants to be respected for her brain dressing in next to nothing.

 I don't think he wants to be respected for his football ability. It's not a bad thing, but I believe football is a means to an end for ex-backup QB punt protector Jets. That "end?" World domination.

b. The protection for Drew Brees. He must have gotten hit 15 times after releasing the ball by various and sundry Chiefs.

At least they didn't get paid additional money to hit far as we know.

4. I think Chris Johnson is costing every great running back of the future about a million bucks a year. Pay the guy big and he disappears.

What about Ray Rice? Isn't he helping the running back of the future who gets paid? Doesn't this show these players will still come out and play at a high level? Matt Forte is injured, but he was also playing well before he got hurt and earned a large contract from the Bears. Are these two players not helping great running backs who want to get paid?

7. I think, in case you didn't catch my drift about Cam Newton, I objected to three things he did Thursday night, aside from playing his worst all-around game as an NFL player. One: Scoring in the third quarter to make it 23-7, and then pulling the Superman act in the end zone; bush league.

Because I hate myself, I surfed a few Giants message boards after the game. A lot of the writers on this certain site I went to were talking about how they are glad Manning has class (apparently refusing to play for the Chargers is all but forgotten) and isn't as immature as Newton has shown himself to be. It doesn't matter to me what they write really, but Cam shouldn't have done the Superman-thing after scoring that touchdown. He looked like a loser doing it.

So Newton isn't completely mature yet, he is only 23. We all know Manning came to the Giants and was immediately incredibly mature. How quickly people forget it seems. Newton has been thrust into the spotlight as the savior of a franchise and like any normal person he isn't ready for it emotionally. Everything non-football related Newton does very well, but he tends to pout when Carolina gets their ass kicked and in this situation he worried too much about putting on a show. It happens and he may learn from it. I'm not the person who blindly defends his favorite teams and players, but Peter is making a bigger deal out of this on Monday than it should be three days after the game was played.

Three: Talking postgame about the loss like his dog just died.

I'm glad he cares enough to be down about the loss. I don't see how this is a bad thing. I think this is what the fans want from him. I don't speak for a group of people, and no one wants to see Cam pout, but it is nice to see responsibility taken. He came out in his postgame news conference and wasn't rude, wasn't short with the media, but answered the questions and was clearly upset about losing in the way Carolina did. He isn't the most mature player in the NFL, but he came out and played like shit, just like the rest of the team did. Acknowledging the shame the Carolina fan base felt was simply reflecting the feelings of the fans who came out on a beautiful Thursday night to support a team that clearly didn't give a shit.

Bernie Kosar once had a great line about a quarterback's job once the game ends. He said the postgame interview scrum is like the fifth quarter, where you help set the agenda for your teammates and, in part, your organization, for the next week. When you do that, you can't be an all-is-lost guy, which is what Newton looked like after the Giants beat Carolina.

I don't know what Peter's deal is, but he is taking that one quote and making it into a bigger deal than it probably is. The Panthers came out and laid down an absolute turd in front of a national television audience and Newton let his understanding about the fan's frustrations show through in his quotes. Three days after the game, this really isn't a big enough deal to devote this much time to it. This quote isn't taken completely out of context, but I think it is a welcome quote to read. Peter has never taken a quote and given it no context, has he?

I think Newton has a habit of saying things off-the-cuff that come off as stupid, but Peter King has a habit of taking these quotes from Newton and blowing them up. If anything Peter should jump all over the quote from Newton that partially took away credit from the Giants for playing so well. Newton played his first national television game and had the worst game of his short NFL career and the fans really were embarrassed. I know because I am one. So in the context of Newton having the worst game of his career in front of the biggest television audience of his career, he said the fans are probably embarrassed to be a fan of the team. Superman crap aside, I don't get the issue Peter appears to have such a huge problem with in regard to this quote. Maybe he saw Newton at a Bruce Springsteen concert using his cell phone mid-concert.

10. I think these are my non-football thoughts of the week:

a. The Triple Crown is a pretty big deal

Is this a thought anymore than it is a point that goes without saying that only a true idiot would say without believing he is truly stating the obvious?

If the season ended Sunday, Miguel Cabrera would do the exact same thing -- win the batting and RBI titles, and tie Josh Hamilton for the homer run title with 42. I admire the ridiculous season of Mike Trout, but if the season were over and I had a vote, Cabrera would be my MVP.

There is a reason Peter doesn't have a vote. He probably can't tell us who Mike Trout plays for.

e. Dodgers: 11-16 since The Trade.

See! It isn't the Boston fans, Red Sox management or the Boston media that is the problem. The problem are the players, not anything Red Sox management did wrong. I would say maybe Peter wants Beckett, Gonzalez and Crawford to come out and take personal responsibility for the Dodgers/Red Sox playing so poorly and sympathizing with fans of both teams, but apparently Peter doesn't like it when players do that. God, the Red Sox and their fans are so tortured.

Green Bay 21, Seattle 20.

To a lesser quarterback than Aaron Rodgers, I would make Seattle's cacophonous 12th man crowd a big factor tonight. And it still very well could be; Rodgers calls a ton of stuff at the line, and he changes plays with alacrity because Mike McCarthy gives him immense freedom in the no-huddle offense at the line.
But you can bet the Packers worked overtime on hand and non-verbal signals in practice this week. So I say this comes down to five Green Bay receivers -- Jordy Nelson, Donald Driver, Greg Jennings, Randall Cobb and Jermichael Finley -- making enough plays against the top five Seattle secondary men (Seahawks should be in nickel a majority of the time) -- Richard Sherman, Brandon Browner and Marcus Trufant at corner, and the punishing pair of Earl Thomas and Kam Chancellor at safety. By the score, you can see I believe this game could go either way,

Not really. From the score I can see Peter chose the Packers to win this game. The game did go the other way, but it is kind of a cop-out to say the game could go either way. That's pretty much true for every NFL game.

The Adieu Haiku

So long, Steve Sabol.
Do those slo-mo spirals look
as good from up there?

Two straight weeks of ending MMQB with a haiku. Why? Why do NFL writers love writing haikus so much? I'm guessing Peter will end next week's MMQB with a haiku about the ineptitude of the officials.