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.


ZidaneValor said...

I love how TMQ says "By the time he reached midfield, only two Eagles were even attempting to chase him". Note how he had to say that midfield part. Because watching the video, I count at least seven Eagles chasing him at the time of the recovery, and that's just because of the camera view.

Sanders is almost in a dead-sprint by the time he gets to the ARI 20 AND he has a 5-yard minimum head start. So none of the lineman or TEs are going to catch him, Vick can't catch him because he's on his back, 2 WRs are on the completely opposite side of the field, the 2 near WR are still in the endzone at the time of the recovery, and McCoy makes a pretty good effort but is blocked by the six-man caravan you mentioned.

TMQ really thinks O-linemen are going to be anywhere near a safety after a 40 yard dash when the safety already has a headstart?

rich said...

undermining the authority of the people trying to control the game.

Here's what I love - it's not okay for the coaches to complain about the officiating, but it's perfectly acceptable for him to complain about it.

How is what Fox, Shanahan, Darth Hoodie, etc. did any worse than the 150 articles written Tuesday about how bad the officiating has been?

The tactic did not "work," as Schiano claims -- unless the point was to show that Schiano is a bully.

If it's that big of a deal, run a play out of shotgun and just have your QB fall down after getting the snap. This isn't exactly something you can't gameplan for.

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


You'd stockpile inhalers for your asthmatic child, rather than do nothing, as is depicted.

Other than the fact you need a fucking prescription to get them, this is a sound idea. I'd love to see a scene where a mom goes into the doctor and asks for a lifetime supply of inhalers and watch her dance around the fact that would be a bizarre request.

if one of the officials grabbed him in public

I was unaware that Darth Hoodie grabbed the ref while he was eating dinner at the Olive Garden.

He went for the "I need to talk to you grab" not the "I'm going to kill you grab," there's a huge difference.

rather than launches a kick, communicating to players that the coach is afraid of losing.

Except kicking the field goal makes it a one possession game. Missing on 4th and 1 gave the Patriots the ball up by two scores. Granted it would have been a long FG, but TMQ's point that it's a signal of being afraid to lose is complete bullshit.

They were just in the AFC Championship game last year, I don't think any of them would have been on the sidelines questioning the coach's desire to win.

Good grief he sucks worse and worse each week.

JJJJShabado said...

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.

This was referenced on the broadcast, but a relatively similar thing happened in 1998 with the Bills and Patriots. Shawn Jefferson "caught" a 4th down pass, Drew Bledsoe throws a Hail Mary and Henry Jones get a questionable defensive pass interference call and the Patriots score on the next play. The Bills were pissed because there was debate as to whether Jefferson caught the ball. Doug Flutie and Andre Reed both claim to have heard "Just give it to them" (My contention was always that Jefferson caught the ball in front of the first down marker and it shouldn't have counted). Anyway, the Bills did not go out for the mandatory extra point and Adam Vinitieri ran it in. Nobody cared. People would have said good for the Packers had they not gone out. It's a different world, but nobody cares. In fact, I think Gregg would have cited the Bills in 1998 had the Packers done the same thing and applauded the protest. (Hell, the 1998 game is cited in the article because Pete Carroll coached the Patriots at the time)

One thing that you didn't cover was brought to my attention by a local sports talk radio host (who really likes Easterbrook, he was echoing the point)

Adventures in Officiating: C.J. Spiller looked good on a 32-yard screen pass touchdown for Buffalo at Cleveland, and guard Kraig Urbik's block at the Browns' 15 sealed the deal. But Urbik was five yards downfield when the pass was thrown.

Watching the play live, I just noticed how good Urbik did getting down field. I wanted to watch the play because I figured Gregg was wrong. You are allowed to be 1 yard past the line before the the pass is thrown then you can go down field. Line of scrimmage is the 32, Urbik runs along the 31 until roughly when the pass is thrown. He may have taken off early, but he is definitely not 5 yards down field. It's at most a yard.

Bengoodfella said...

Zidane, that's why it is the worst bit of criticism so far this year. I watched the video three times and there is very little way that anyone could have caught Sanders. Not only did he have a head start, but his teammates were protecting him. So even if an Eagles player caught him, which they probably couldn't have done, they still couldn't have tackled him because would have been blocked by the Cardinals players. What terrible criticism.

Rich, because Gregg sees the coaches as part of the NFL. For some reason he thinks they are responsible for making the NFL look good and not undermine the sport. I don't agree with that. So Gregg thinks it is fine for him to complain about the officiating, but because Fox/Belichick are supposed to look out for the good of the sport they shouldn't complain...or something like that. It doesn't make sense.

I'm just going to shake my head at the 6.3 ypc note, followed by Gregg not understanding 4th-and-1 is a specific situation where this may not apply.

I thought Belichick should have probably not have grabbed the official, but I also find it a bit irritating the officials run off the field and won't speak with a coach after the game. I guess it is their choice to do so...

If I have Tom Brady as my quarterback I am going for a touchdown to go up more than one score. That's just me though.

JJ, that was a crazy ending. I don't know if I remember that game. I don't know where this outrage would have come from, but after the ending of the game I would be surprised if most people didn't know there was even a PAT.

Looking at that video of Urbik, it seems he is maybe a yard and a half down field or so. It's a bit of an exaggeration to say Urbik is 5 yards down the field. I always wonder why Gregg doesn't link the video (and the articles he cites), like you did, when making his points. I think it is because he knows he is being Nixonian (or Easterbrookian as I call it) about that topic or he is intentionally exaggerating and doesn't want his readers to know.

A lot of people like TMQ. I think there is room for a column about the NFL that is off-kilter like TMQ tries to be, but Gregg is often just second-guessing and criticizing to fill space.

Steve Sprague said...

The tactic did not "work," as Schiano claims -- unless the point was to show that Schiano is a bully.

No, the tactic did work. The point is to force a fumble. Every coach knows that the chance of recovering a fumble is probably 50-50 given the odd bounce a football may take. Maybe the odds are worse - I don't have access to Gregg's information to cite specific odds for every circumstance.

Anyways. Coaches design plays to bring about an outcome they can control such as forcing a fumble. They know that they can't control what happens afterwards. Understanding this basic logic leads us to understand the tactic did work.

I still think it is a dick move by Schiano, but as rich said, have your QB take a shotgun snap and fall down.

jacktotherack said...

"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."

I am 100% certain Gregg is completely full of shit and has never been close enough to an NFL game to hear an official say this. You would essentially need to be an NFL umpire to know that a ref said this, and thank Christ Gregg has never been in that position.

Regarding his bitching about the lineman being downfield on the pass to CJ Spiller: I haven't seen the play or if I did I forgot some of the details, but if it was a true screen pass and the ball was completed behind the line of scrimmage, the offensive linemen are allowed to release downfield and block. Ineligible man downfield would not be called in this situation, so it was absolutely correct for their not to be a flag regardless of if the linemen was 5 or 50 yards downfield.

I am loving the irony that a football simpleton like Gregg is having the audacity to criticize the replacement refs. The man proves 100 different times in his column every week that he has no grasp of football strategy, rules, statistics, etc. This screen pass bitch is just further evidence that the man has no clue what he is talking about. It really is an insult to readers that ESPN allows this man a platform to write his fabricated statistics and the other complete fucking nonsense his column is littered with.

Anonymous said...

"A fake kick for two would have been maybe 75 percent likely to succeed -- and then there would have been no overtime."

Would have been maybe? As soon as I read this I wrote "game over" in my notebook.

Bengoodfella said...

Steve, I agree with you. Coaches don't teach defenders to strip the ball from an offensive players hands. If a team causes the most fumbles in the league then this coaching and tactic seems to work. It isn't the recovering of the fumble that is the issue, it is the causing of the fumble. THAT is the tactic.

Jack, Gregg's audacity knows no bounds. This is the kind of thing that happens when you can write whatever you like and cite statistics without providing any form of information on where the statistics came from.

I have no idea where Gregg heard the referee say that, but I'm sure he doesn't know either. He's just writing words down at this point and hoping no one asks for further information.

Anon, haha. It "possibly may have could have been" a 75% chance. Or it "maybe quite possibly" been a 5% chance. Either way, Gregg will do with the 75% number he made up.