Wednesday, October 31, 2012

3 comments Watch Out! Progress and New Ideas are Coming!

One of the biggest issues, at least in my opinion, that colors the "Sabermetrics v. Old-School Statistics" argument is the intense dislike those old-school writers have for the people who are using Sabermetrics to evaluate baseball players. The messenger affects the message for some of these old-school writers so much so they don't even bother to understand the message. They can't accept a person with a blog, someone who didn't go to "J-school" or doesn't have access to player can have an educated opinion on statistics or even sports for that matter. It seems Bill Madden is one of these people. Then there are guys who really aren't old-school writers, but are writers in the vein of Jay Mariotti who make a living off their audience absolutely hating what they write. These are writers who are perfectly willing to pick a fight, but don't want anyone else to have a bully pulpit to fight back. Once they get hit back, they start talking about how there is a lack of civility, and of course it is the basement dwelling bloggers' fault, not the fault of a negativity-spewing sportswriter. These bloggers fire off anger anonymously and some sportswriters don't like this. As if a picture beside something you have written makes you any less anonymous to the general public. I can't email many of these sportswriters and expect them to email me back. Often I can't fire off a Tweet in response to a column written by a sportswriter and expect a response from that writer either, so even though there is a picture beside the column these sportswriters are essentially anonymous as well. Ironically, much of what made these sportswriters less anonymous are the very modes of communication many sportswriters dislike (Twitter being the prime example). This new technology gives writers a chance (should they take it) to interact with their readers. There are still sportswriters who hate this type of medium and don't like feedback from the imbeciles who read their columns. Dan Shaughnessy is one of those people.

I'll start off first with Bill Madden who comes out firing at Sabermetricians in his MLB awards column. 

Here are our picks:

I'm confused through this entire column why Madden uses the plural form "we" and "our" in making the picks, but I will just assume he has a squirrel in his pocket helping to make these picks.


Which I am fine with. I somewhat disagree, but it is a person's point of view and Cabrera had a really great year. Bill gets a little hostile about it though.

With apologies to the Sabermetric WAR freaks, we believe winning the Triple Crown is a big deal

There we go. "Sabermetric WAR freaks" are those who like Mike Trout for MVP. This is the typical lack of respect for the other point of view that drives me crazy and really tells me Bill Madden is afraid of any type of progress or change. This fear reflects poorly on him, rather than the "freaks" he so blatantly seems to dislike. This is such a minor and immature attempt at an insult, I can't imagine a reason why it was necessary.

Yes, the Triple Crown is a big deal, but it doesn't mean a player automatically gets moved to the head of the class as the MVP. The Triple Crown proves that Miguel Cabrera was an exceptional hitter this year, but there are other phases to the game of baseball and the fact he won the Triple Crown doesn't automatically make him the most valuable player in the American League. It only means he won the Triple Crown.

and that Miguel Cabrera being the first player to do it in 45 years, leading the league in batting (.330), homers (44) and RBI (139) as well as slugging (.606) with the highest OPS (.999) in the majors, was something to celebrate.

Fine, let's throw Cabrera a party (a non-alcoholic beverage party, just to be safe) in honor of him winning the Triple Crown. I fail to understand how the fact it had been 45 years since a player hit for the Triple Crown is important in this discussion to the point it would help make Cabrera more valuable. So if a player hit for the Triple Crown last in 2005 would this mean Cabrera is less valuable in 2012? If not, then how does the fact it had been 45 years since the last player hit for the Triple Crown help his MVP candidacy? Maybe I am being too narrow in my thinking, but for an award for the most "valuable" player, I don't see how the time between Triple Crowns affects Cabrera's value as a baseball player. Yes, it does speak to what an accomplishment the Triple Crown is, but it may not make Cabrera the AL MVP.

We agree Mike Trout also had a season for the ages, but if you’re going to give him points for (WAR) hypotheticals to reward his defense, we would submit Cabrera volunteering to move to third base so the Tigers could sign Prince Fielder was worth a whole lot more wins.

Oh, my head hurts. WAR isn't really a hypothetical, it is a statistic based on other statistics a player has posted. What hurts my head more is that Cabrera is now individually more valuable because the Tigers signed another valuable player which caused Cabrera to move positions. Other than the fact Bill Madden is using another player's statistics to determine Cabrera's individual value and WAR measures a player's individual contribution to a team's win total, not that player's individual value based on other player's individual value, how does this make sense? So if the Angels signed Michael Bourn in the offseason and Mike Trout moves to left field he is now a more valuable player because he moved positions to allow the Angels to sign a specific player?

The fact Bill Madden even asks this question shows an absolute fundamental misunderstanding of the WAR statistic and explains why Madden shouldn't criticize a statistic he simply doesn't understand. The idea Cabrera is more individually valuable because the players around him are great players also is the line of thinking I absolutely abhor when discussing any MVP race. Cabrera moving to third base was a selfless move, but this doesn't make him a more valuable player any more than Martin Prado's versatility would put him in the NL MVP race. Prado played six positions this year and put up a line of .301/.359/.438. Does this give more claim to Prado being the NL MVP because Ryan Braun and Buster Posey can't play six positions? 

Both had MVP-worthy seasons, but Cabrera sealed his by out-hitting Trout .344, 19 HR, 54 RBI to .287/12/28 since Aug. 1.

Well then Cabrera can be August/September AL MVP. Last time I checked, which was just now, the MVP is a year-long award and not given to a player based on cherry-picked dates specified by Bill Madden.


This one isn’t nearly so close. Giants catcher Buster Posey epitomized everything an MVP is supposed to be, stepping up when Melky Cabrera, the team’s first half-MVP, was suspended,

His primary competition comes from defending MVP Ryan Braun, of the Brewers who had a similar season (.319, 112 RBI, league-leading 41 HR and .987 OPS) to last year’s, which was later tainted by that positive testosterone test. Bottom line, however: Braun’s Brewers aren’t in the playoffs this year.

Oh man. So Braun isn't as valuable to the Brewers as Posey is to the Giants because the players around Braun aren't as good? Whether a player's team makes the playoffs should have little to do with the MVP race. Bill Madden admits the Giants had the first half MVP in Melky Cabrera, so doesn't that have something to do with the Giants getting in the playoffs? I'm sure it contributed in some way. I would vote for Posey, but not because his team is in the playoffs. Acknowledging Posey wasn't even the best player on his own team during the first half only goes to hurt Posey's candidacy in my mind. Of course I am a freak, unlike Bill Madden who is a normal human being who willfully ignores new and relevant information that comes available in his field of work. That's a normal thing to do, right?


You couldn’t go wrong here with either Tampa Bay’s David Price, who tied for the league lead in wins (20) and led the majors in ERA (2.56)...Our pick is Price, who would’ve had 3-4 more wins were it not for the Rays’ pathetic offense — they were shut out in three of his starts.

Again, it is frustrating to read Bill Madden has the mental capacity to grasp wins are dependent on how much run support a pitcher gets and then watch him completely ignore this and use wins as a reason a pitcher should win the Cy Young Award. I'm not arguing the pick, but the way he gets to the pick. If you know wins are dependent on another variable, why use wins as the basis for why a pitcher should or should not win an individual award?


Trout unanimously. Did we mention he’s the only player in history to have 30 homers, 45 stolen bases (49) and 125 runs (129) scored?

But these aren't the appropriate cherry-picked statistics that could earn Mike Trout the AL MVP award. If Trout had gotten the Triple Crown, then he could have been AL MVP. As his lack of luck would have it, he only broke a record that doesn't have a fancy name.


Even though Cincinnati Reds handyman Todd Frazier bested him in RBI, OPS and batting average, we’re giving Nationals’ “super teen” Bryce Harper the nod here on style points.

Fuck it, Bill Madden is going to make up new criteria in order to award NL Rookie of the Year to the player he wants to award it to. Harper also leads Frazier 17 to 4 in "GBpY, (Groupies Banged per Year)," though in Frazier's defense 10 of those groupies banged by Harper thought Harper was the lead singer of a New York emo band.

Harper’s superior speed gave him a huge edge in runs scored (98-55) and he was one of the best defensive outfielders in the NL.

Notice how all of a sudden defense means something in terms of handing out individual awards. Mike Trout gets no credit for his great defense, while Bryce Harper does get credit for his great defense. It's almost like Bill Madden has his choices for each award already picked out and has to create a moving standard in order to give each player the award Madden believes he deserves.


You could justify giving this one to any of the division winners — Davey Johnson of the Nationals, who improved his team from 80 wins in 2011 to an MLB-best 98, the Giants’ Bruce Bochy, who lost his best player, Melky Cabrera to a drug bust in August and still ran away with the NL West or Dusty Baker of the Reds, who won the NL Central by nine games.

Or, you could give the award to a manager who didn't win his division but still may have been the best manager in the National League...if such a person exists.

We’re going with Johnson, however, for instilling a winning culture with the youngest team in the NL and successfully holding off a very good Atlanta Braves team despite losing his catcher, Wilson Ramos, going through four closers and having his best pitcher, Stephen Strasburg, shut down in September.

And of course there is no need to consider the manager of this very good Braves team as a potential candidate for this award. After all, it isn't like the manager of said very good Braves team had to deal with losing his best pitcher halfway through the season (Brandon Beachy) and having his #1 and #2 starters coming into the season (Tommy Hanson and Jair Jurrjens) both struggle and spend time in the minor leagues to the point Jurrjens is going to be DFA'd after this year and Hanson would not have made the postseason roster. That's the problem with comparing a team's battle scars to advocate why a manager should win Manager of the Year, nearly every team has some of these battle scars.


We’re always happy to honor an old-school GM such as Walt Jocketty, who values scouting and instinct over stats.

"Should I trade for the Padres 24 year old ace? My instincts say 'yes.'"

"This Cuban left-handed pitcher who can reportedly throw over 100 miles per this someone we should make a bid to acquire? Screw the stats, let's make a go for it."

" I offer a contract extension to a 20-something year old first baseman who recently won the MVP award? I'm not going to pay attention to the statistics at all because my gut says to go for it."

He traded three prospects and disappointing righty Edinson Volquez to the Padres for an ace in Mat Latos, who went 14-4 with a 3.48 ERA, and dealt three other prospects to the Cubs for lefty set-up man Sean Marshall (74Ks in 61 innings), who provided more depth to the best bullpen in the NL. Lastly, Jocketty signed Ludwick, an old favorite from his St. Louis days, for $2 million.

I can see Jocketty as the Executive of the Year, but I get a bit tired of hearing how he is a win for those who value scouting and instinct over statistics. He makes good decisions just like he makes bad decisions. Ludwick was a deal for $2 million and he dealt for an ace pitcher. These are smart decisions, but not the type of decisions that requires "gut instinct" or any special non-Sabermetric-type talent. Jocketty is the same GM who gave Ryan Madson $8.5 million to close for the Reds and then Madson got injured. It seemed like a deal at the time though and you can't blame him for injuries. I wonder what Jocketty's gut said about Madson needing Tommy John surgery?

Now Dan Shaughnessy continues to reveal his hatred for bloggers and anyone not named "Dan Shaughnessy." 

Eric Winston is my idol.

Eric Winston stood up for pro athletes against the tyranny of unfair expectations and gleeful joy that fans and writers feel upon that athlete's failure. Basically he stood up against much of what Dan Shaughnessy writes on a weekly basis. So not shockingly, I don't see how Winston is Dan's idol.

By now, maybe you’ve seen the video clip. Winston stands in front of his locker after the Kansas Chiefs’ 9-6 loss to the Ravens Sunday and tells us what he thinks about the hometown fans who cheered when Chiefs quarterback Matt Cassel was knocked unconscious in the fourth quarter.

Amen, brother Eric.

Winston is from Midland, Texas. He went to the University of Miami. He plays offensive line. He is 28 years old, is 6 feet 7 inches, and weighs 300 pounds.

These are all things I already knew about Eric Winston because I follow the NFL on a regular basis. Okay, I didn't know he was from Midland, Texas, but I know a little something about Midland, Texas and you get my overall point. NFL fans know who Eric Winston is and of course so does Dan Sha---

I never heard of him before Sunday, but I love this guy.

What? Dan Shaughnessy covers sports for a living and he has never heard of Eric Winston? Ever? Not even last year when Winston was the starting right tackle for a playoff team? I don't get how Dan Shaughnessy can cover sports and not have ever heard of Eric Winston. Winston is generally considered one of the best right tackles in the NFL. I simply don't understand how Dan had never heard of Eric Winston, though this does tell me a lot about Dan's wealth of knowledge when it comes to discussing the sports he gets paid to write about. If there was a way for me to lose more respect for his writing, this would do it.

Let’s go over a couple of points here:

What Dan really means is, "Let me lazily extend this one small idea into a full column because I have nothing else I care to write about today. The Red Sox season is over, so I can't keep thrashing them, and the Patriots won on Sunday, so I can't say how much they suck. I don't pay attention to the Bruins unless they are in the playoffs and it is too soon to talk about the Celtics."

Dan then begins rambling about this problem in a desperate attempt to fill space in the column. It reads like a Dr. Seuss book.

It’s not a regional issue. It’s not about Kansas City. It’s not about Boston or New York or Philly being a tough town for ballplayers. It’s not about a heated rivalry between Michigan and Ohio State.

"And what popped out of the egg? It wasn't a terrible turtle or a horrible Who. It wasn't a snotflogger or a fleabagger. Not the Grinch or a Sven the Dolphin without a fin."

It’s an issue about civility in America today.

Of course there is no better person to teach America about civility than Dan Shaughnessy, the same guy who wrote columns like this one. In this column he manages to accuse of Nomar Garciaparra of faking an injury, using steroids, and called him a fraud. Not that Red Sox fans have to like Nomar, but it is kind of hard when articles like this appear under Shaughnessy's byline for him to be claiming America lacks civility and not include himself prominently in this discussion. He gets off on being negative and trolling his audience.

It’s about accountability.

Says the sportswriter who repeatedly compared Adrian Gonzalez to Ted Williams, the same sportswriter who then bashes Gonzalez on his way out of town as a player who doesn't make his team better or carry the Red Sox team.

It is about angry fantasy football players who do not know how to look someone in the eye, or hold a face-to-face conversation.

I'm not entirely sure what Dan is talking about, but millions of people play fantasy football and hold down full-time jobs while looking other human beings in the face. So this lack of accountability isn't about fantasy football owners any more than it is about sportswriters who write columns purely to irritate and annoy their audience. I am sure Dan feels accomplished now that he has managed to incorrectly stereotype millions of normal people who in Dan's own opinion are clearly inferior people to himself. Dan is good at being hateful.

It is about fanboy bloggers who kill everyone and everything under the brave cloak of anonymity.

Again, not every blogger does this. Many bloggers are no less anonymous than Dan Shaughnessy is. I realize Dan is talking generalities, but it is a false generality with some irony involved in this criticism. If I want to talk to Dan Shaughnessy by email, I very much doubt he would respond to me and I know he doesn't respond to any comments left on his columns. So I don't understand how Dan can claim to not be under a cloak of anonymity. For intent and purposes he is still anonymous in that he can write columns and no matter what he writes there are no repercussions. He seems to write what he wants to write. I can approach Dan on the street, so he isn't anonymous in that way, but simply knowing what he looks like doesn't mean he has accountability to his readers.

It’s about instant tweets fired from the safety of your basement. 

Oh, "basement!" That's where all bloggers and fantasy football players live. I get it. There is no difference in what Dan Tweets and everyone else Tweets. Other than the fact Dan's Tweets come from Dan Shaughnessy, a person who has a ton of accountability and never would write anything that lacked civility. Take a look at Dan's Twitter account and see how often he engages with fans. The answer? Not often. So he is essentially still anonymous to his readers.

In fact, Tweeting has helped the public know who the real idiots are. A stupid comment can be Retweeted and that person would get barraged with negative comments for being such an insensitive idiot. The Internet makes people tough guys, but the fan reaction to Matt Cassel wasn't because of Twitter. It was a mob mentality which has caused everything from riots in various cities around the world to the death of Jesus. But no, blame technology for the ills of the world.

It is about anonymous bullying with the World Wide Web serving as the new bathroom wall.

Anonymous bullying is so much less worse than non-anonymous bullying. It's fine for Dan to bully "fanboy bloggers" and fantasy football players because his picture is right beside the byline. It's not bullying if you know who is bullying you, even if you have no way of engaging that person in a conversation. Right?

Those of us who write stories and do talk shows are not blameless.

(Faints in shock)

I’ve certainly done my share of tweaking and exposing professional athletes or organizations who don’t give an honest effort to live up to their contracts or fulfill the team-fan accord. In print, on TV and radio, we contribute to a climate of anger in the stands. But at least you know who we are.

If I say something stupid, at least you know how to tell me and I will respond. What does it matter if we know who Dan is? Do we really know him because we see him on television or read his work? Of course not. Being on television doesn't give Dan more accountability.

Notice how Dan still doesn't take responsibility (where's the fucking accountability, Dan????) for contributing to this problem. He says he contributes "to a climate of anger in the stands." He doesn't contribute in what he writes, but in how others react to what he writes. So it isn't Dan's writing that is the problem, it is the idiot blogger and fan boy's reaction to his writing. It's more of a passive responsibility that Dan has. At least Dan knows something about accountability though.

Sunday he was a person with a head injury, lying on the ground of Arrowhead Stadium. And a number of fans cheered. They cheered because they were frustrated, angry, and certain to remain anonymous.

This is what the Internet guarantees.

Dan does realize these fans are in the stadium booing, not on the Internet, doesn't he? I don't see how fans booing and cheering at a player being injured is "what the Internet guarantees" since these people are clearly in the stands of a football game in full view for anyone to see them.

Be as vicious as you want. Let it all out. Cheer the plight of the struggling quarterback while he lies motionless on the field. No one will ever know it’s you.


How on Earth does Dan think he isn't anonymous when he is on television but fans at a Chiefs fan cheering a quarterback who got hurt are completely anonymous? Why am I taking my time asking questions to absolutely no one in particular?

No. Supporting the team doesn’t give you the right to be a sub-human coward.

So says Dan as he sits behind the comfort of a keyboard while sitting at home. I won't excuse the behavior of the fans, but see the issue here? Dan is accusing fans of ripping athletes anonymously, yet that's exactly what he does in part to athletes. It's fine for Dan to do it, because he "isn't anonymous" despite the fact he sort of is anonymous, or at least difficult to get in touch with from the perspective of his readers.

Dan Shaughnessy can be reached at

I emailed him at his Globe address after he wrote this column and have yet to hear back.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

10 comments MMQB Review: Peter King the Conversationalist Edition

Last week in MMQB, Peter King told us that with Robert Griffin all things are possible. This doesn't seem so true this week after the Redskins lost to the Steelers. It seems Griffin couldn't make his receivers catch the football. Between God helping the Colts beat the Packers and all things being possible with Robert Griffin, there has been a lot of religious imagery in MMQB lately. Peter also criticized those who contribute to LiveStrong, mostly because he feels like he can stand in judgment of everyone else while staying in his little bubble where everything he does or says should be as free of judgment as possible. Only Peter King wouldn't keep his criticisms of people donating towards a good cause private. Peter also was surprised at the smut AOL shows on their home page, while also blissfully ignoring he works for a magazine that puts out the swimsuit issue every year (which isn't smut, but definitely shows more skin than any link on the AOL home page would show). This week Peter talks playmakers, pleads for more time for Mike Vick, and then tells us ten things he thinks he thinks, even though his entire MMQB essentially is what he thinks.

"Just landed. Thank you God''

-- Tweet from New York Giants defensive end Justin Tuck at 1:13 a.m. today, six minutes after the team charter from Texas just beat Hurricane Sandy up the East Coast.

Robert Griffin says, "You're welcome. With me, all things are possible."

Wow. Time to cower in the corner (and I don't mean Bill).

(Throws heavy fruit at Peter in anger)

Peyton Manning has been ascending as his surgically repaired neck improves daily, weekly, monthly; Sunday night's 34-14 rout of the Saints was another Manning-frozen-in-time game (73 percent passing, 309 yards, three touchdowns, no picks), and as he told me last week: "The whole goal was try to get better every week, even if only a little bit better every week. And I knew all along the nerve would take a long time, and you couldn't rush it. It'll be a tad better in two weeks, then a tad better two weeks after that. On game day, I get a little juice and feel pretty good.''

Oh sure, Peyton Manning openly admits to using steroids, or "juicing" as the kids like to say, and no one seems to care about it. It's bad enough he has a bionic neck, allowing him to sense heat patterns of defenders and rotate his neck in a full 360 degree circle, but now he spits in the face of the NFL drug policy and no one cares. What can't this man get away with?

2. Reid's got to give Vick one more week.

Except Andy Reid didn't give Vick one more week (or did he? I keep reading conflicting stories). Reid is in full "gotta keep my job" mode, which means he needs to make changes now to stop the Eagles from losing games. I don't think Nick Foles is ready to start for the Eagles, but Andy Reid has to keep his job and win games. He's not winning games with Vick, so he made a change. While not an unselfish move on Reid's part, the Eagles can now see what they have in Nick Foles for next season.

But I look at a couple of things with the Eagles' offense right now. One: Vick's been pretty accurate over the past month: four straight games of 60 percent completions or better. 

Except he is a turnover machine. He didn't commit any turnovers this past week and the Eagles still lost, but Vick turns the ball over at an alarming pace. So this tends to overshadow his completion percentage.

Two: LeSean McCoy has had three straight poor games -- 53, 22 and 45 rushing yards -- with 15.3 carries a game. He's just got to get the ball more.

I don't know, 15 carries per game isn't a lot, but it also isn't a small amount. At 15 carries per game McCoy needs to put up better yardage numbers than he is currently putting up over the last three games.

The Saints have allowed more yards over the first seven games of an NFL than any team ever has. This is the kind of game made to give a struggling team confidence. And Reid has invested so much time and effort in Vick -- who didn't turn it over once Sunday in the loss to Atlanta -- that to yank him now Reid would have to have an inordinate amount of trust in rookie Nick Foles to win big. I think there are too many signs that Vick and McCoy could bust out in New Orleans for Reid to yank Vick now.

What's the definition of insanity? Doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result? I don't think Nick Foles is the answer and I probably wouldn't start him at quarterback. Having said that, at least I'll give Reid points for being so desperate he doesn't trot the same players every single week and he is at least trying to save his job.

I don't get how Peter thinks Vick and McCoy could bust out this week. Sure, they could, but if anything they are both trending towards "no change" or "downward." I'm just throwing this out there if Andy Reid wants to think about it. I know a guy who can save his season. Jimmy Clausen. He can be had for the low introductory price of a 6th rounder.

3. A big day for a small corner. Of all the defenses in football, none plays offense like Chicago's. The Bears scored their sixth defensive touchdown of the season Sunday. The Bears' savvy 5-foot-8 corner, Tim Jennings, picked off Cam Newton twice in a 23-22 win, returning one for a touchdown that doomed Carolina. "This is what I always thought Tim would be,'' Tony Dungy said Sunday night at the NBC studios. "He's matured a lot, and he fits perfectly in that defense.''

By the way, Tim Jennings was on Steve Smith all day and Smith caught seven passes for 118 yards and barely missed a touchdown grab. So while Peter is giving Jennings kudos, Smith pretty much used him all day. It just so happens one pass not directed for Smith was intercepted by Jennings and one pass was intercepted by Jennings when Smith fell. Jennings played well enough, but he didn't exactly do a great job on Smith, who is the receiver Jennings was matched up with for most of the day.

He caught a lucky break when Steve Smith fell midway through the fourth quarter and he was able to dart into the open space, pick off Newton and run for a touchdown. Earlier, he had a perfectly timed diving interception on an attempted throwaway by Newton, a poor decision by the quarterback.

Like I said, he made one good play and the rest of the day he was pretty much average.

5. The play of the day ... maybe the year. Vick Ballard was a lightly regarded mid- to-late-round prospect from Mississippi State, a 219-pound bruiser thought to be a better runner between the tackles than outside of them.

He's from Mississippi? Why didn't Peter King call Brett Favre to get his opinion of Ballard? There has been half of a page of MMQB and we haven't had a Brett Favre mention yet. Rectify this, Peter!

"I knew I was going to dive for the pylon,'' Ballard said as the Colts waited to take off from Nashville for Indianapolis after the game. "I did it twice in college and didn't make it. Once, I fumbled through the end zone. The other time, I got stopped at the inch-yard line.'' Huh? The inch-yard line? 

Yeah Peter, the inch-yard line. Have you never heard this phrase before? This would be a ball that is right near the goal line and almost in the end zone. Sometimes Peter has the interviewing skills of a 11 year old girl who is interviewing a member of One Direction. Peter seems in awe of what the other person is saying, as if that person is saying the most interesting and revelatory statements Peter has ever heard.

Not saying a man whose team was 9-29 in the last 2.5 years doesn't deserve to have his job jeopardized, even though the timing for firing GM Marty Hurney in Carolina was ridiculous. What good does it do to fire a GM in the middle of a season?

I wrote a post defending Marty Hurney from Bill Barnwell a few weeks ago where I called Hurney an average General Manager. Average just wasn't going to cut it anymore. So Peter is telling me he doesn't know why a General Manager who has never had a back-to-back winning seasons and is 9-29 since 2010 got fired? Really? My question is, why not fire him midseason? Why wait until after the season if Hurney is going to be fired anyway?

The real reason Peter is defending Hurney is because Hurney was a beat reporter before taking a job with the Redskins and then joining the Panthers. Peter is just looking out for a fellow sportswriter.

Don't tell me, though, that Hurney left the cupboard bare. His sixth-round pick in 2010, defensive end Greg Hardy, had three sacks of Jay Cutler Sunday.

After having done nothing the rest of this year, being benched for a rookie against Dallas and being pulled from practice on Thursday for not giving enough effort. Good try though, Peter. Hardy hasn't been great this year at all.

His big 2011 free-agent keeper, Charles Johnson, Hurney's third-rounder in 2007, had two sacks of Cutler with two forced fumbles.

This is another if not good, but necessary, signing. These are also two players who played well in a game the Panthers lost, but aren't enough to save his job. Hurney also has never had back-to-back winning seasons as a General Manager and hired Ron Rivera, who will be fired after this year as well.

I know the way the business works, and I know Hurney deserves to be under the gun, and I know Cam Newton now is not a sure long-term thing in Carolina, and Hurney wanted Newton as his franchise quarterback.

Against Peter's wishes, I'm pretty sure Cam is staying in Carolina for another couple of years. Hurney is gone and I would bet $1000 Newton stays in Carolina for another two years minimum.

I'm just saying nothing is ever totally black and white in this game, and Hurney's record should include it all: the questionable free agent spending, the unlikely Super Bowl run in 2003, the three playoff berths in 10 seasons, the inability to get Carolina out of a losing funk over the past four seasons.

So he was an average GM playing for a 78 year old owner who had major heart surgery a few years ago and fired his last head coach because he strives for consistent winning in the team he owns? This consistent winning wasn't happening. What's to figure out or question?

1. Houston (6-1). J.J. Watt had neither a sack nor a deflected pass over the weekend. 

 What? What a terrible weeke---

Of course, the Texans didn't have a game.

Oh Peter, you little devil! You got me. I thought something was really wrong when your Defensive Player Pin-Up of the Year didn't have a deflected pass or a sack.

4. Chicago (6-1). Bears 23, Panthers 22 at Soldier Field Sunday. Another margin of one here: Bears six interceptions returned for touchdowns this year, Cam Newton five touchdown passes this year.

This is the second of Cam Newton bashing statements in this MMQB. Peter King does not like him some Cam Newton at all. It's probably just for the better. After all, Newton has played 23 total games in the NFL and Peter already knows he isn't the long-term answer. You will see throughout this column the passive-aggressive criticism of Newton by Peter.

Tony Romo threw four interceptions and Peter has nowhere near the passive-aggressive criticism for him that he gives towards Newton. Not that Romo deserves the criticism because the interceptions weren't all his fault, but it seems Peter will pick and choose when to criticize a receiver or a quarterback for an interception as it fits his agenda.

7. New England (5-3). After the best end-zone celebration of the season (by far), the one with Rob Gronkowski looking very much like a Buckingham Palace guard, Gronk was asked what his touchdown celebration was, exactly. He said: "That little nutcracker dude who's guarding the house."

He's so quirky and precocious! I just need to hear more Gronk stories. I bet Peter just wants to wrap Gronk up with J.J. Watt in the same sleeping bag and just tickle them to death.

13. Seattle (4-4). If I were Seattle GM John Schneider, I'd call Chiefs GM Scott Pioli, and ask if there's any way he'd dump Dwayne Bowe for a fourth-round pick. And if he would, which I doubt, I'd be a buyer. 

I'd use those exact words too. "Is there any way you'd dump Dwayne Bowe for a fourth round pick?" That'll surely sweet talk Pioli into making the deal.

The Award Section

Jason Witten, TE, Dallas. Witten looked crushed after the Giants' 29-24 win over Dallas Sunday, even though he set the franchise record for receptions in a game -- 18, amazingly, including 13 in the second half -- for a total of 167 yards. Everyone in the park knew where Tony Romo was going with the ball,

To the Giants defensive players? I'm kidding Cowboys fans. I give Romo credit for leading the Cowboys back.

Special Teams Player of the Week

Justin Medlock, K, Carolina. On a typical late October day in Chicago -- chilly, winds gusting up to 25 mph -- first-year kicker Medlock, from UCLA, kicked four field goals in the first three quarters to give Carolina a 19-7 lead. When Cam Newton gave the lead back,

"When Cam Newton gave the lead back." This is an incredibly misleading statement. The Bears drove the ball down the field to cut the Carolina lead to 19-14 and then on the very next possession with Steve Smith running a timing route, Smith fell running his route after Newton threw the ball and the ball went right into Tim Jennings hands for a pick-six. Cam Newton "gave the lead back" in the same way Peter's boy Peyton Manning gave the Saints a Super Bowl victory. It's incredibly misleading to those who didn't watch the game and while I really don't like harping on this, it's clear that Peter King does not like Newton and it shows in his tween-like passive aggressive criticisms of Newton.

Peter places the blame on Newton for "giving the lead back." Newton wouldn't have had to give the lead back if Steve Smith had not just missed catching a touchdown pass that Newton threw. Peter doesn't mention that nor does he mention Newton led Carolina down the field to take the lead BACK from Chicago after this interception. Peter fails to mention this of course because it doesn't fit his narrative nor his agenda when talking about Newton. Newton isn't a great quarterback and he is over-hyped, but to place blame on him for every little thing that goes wrong for Carolina is disingenuous at best.

Goats of the Week

The Washington receivers. Nine drops. Nine! A disgraceful performance in Pittsburgh.

I read 10 drops. Either way, the Redskins receivers played very poorly and the Redskins loss isn't Robert Griffin's fault at all. 

Bradley Fletcher, CB, St. Louis. As if Tom Brady needs help, Fletcher got whistled three times for pass interference in a 45-7 loss to the Patriots -- and every one was on third down, meaning that three times he gave the Patriots new life.

That's horrendous, but can we really blame Bradley Fletcher for the Rams losing by 38 points? He is a "goat" for this?

Robert Meachem, WR, San Diego. With the Chargers sleepwalking their way through a dismal performance at Cleveland, Meacham broke into the clear and turned for a Philip Rivers pass, thrown perfectly over Cleveland coverage. Meacham dropped it. He blew a clear touchdown. Cleveland beat the Chargers 7-6.

So this loss was mostly Meacham's fault? Back to harping on Peter picking and choosing when to blame a quarterback or receiver to fit his narrative: How about Steve Smith missing a touchdown pass that would have won the game for Carolina or falling down causing a pick-six? Either play easily can be seen as having cost Carolina the game against the Bears. Peter blames the receivers when it is convenient, but a quarterback blows the lead when Peter has a different point to prove.

The Deep End

Each week, thanks to play-by-play game dissection by, I'll look at one important matchup or individual performance metric from one of the Sunday games.

Sure, let's look at a player from this past Sunday's game. I wonder which player that played this past Sunday that Peter takes a look at?

This week, I wanted to take a look at the first half of Houston defensive end J.J. Watt's season. He's been the best defensive player in the league so far, and so I had analyze where the 23-year-old versatile run-stuffer and pass-defender has lined up, and what alignments his plays have been made from.

So Peter goes with a player who was on a bye this week. Then to make it worse, he talks (again) about J.J. Watt, who is Peter's Defensive Player Pin-Up of the Year. In high school, if a person talks about another person this much, then people start wondering. I'm starting to wonder.

I don't want to spoil things, but J.J. Watt has been great this year. The metrics that looked at confirm this. Unfortunately, this may only increase the wattage (see what I did?) of Peter's love for Watt.

I was deep in coach, in a middle seat. (The only way to fly! A middle seat for five hours and 15 minutes!) The 50ish woman seated to my left got increasingly frustrated with her iPad, sighing heavily, until finally she said, "Damn daughter!" and took the iPad and hit herself on the scalp with it. I clanked over, wondering if I was to feel the wrath of the iPad-abuser next, and she said, "My daughter must have erased this app I need! I can't figure the damn thing out!'' I told her I was sorry, and asked her what she did for a living.

"I'm in sales,'' she said. "On the way to San Francisco for a sales conference."

"Oh,'' I said. "What do you sell?''

"Well, various things,'' she said.

Well, all right then. We flew the rest of the way in crammed, painful quietude.

How dare this lady not want to talk to the stranger in the seat beside her! She was clearly frustrated and probably not in the mood to be interviewed, but that shouldn't matter when given the chance to speak to the great Peter King. Next time Peter King is on the Acela trying to do a phone interview or some work I wish someone would saddle up to him and start talking to him. Let's see how he likes it.

I rarely speak to people on planes and if someone is clearly having a bad day and doesn't care to elaborate on their job description then I wouldn't include this brief conversation in my weekly NFL column as if this lady had some sort of obligation to answer Peter's questions in a more elaborate manner.

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

g. Chandler Jones is one impressive rookie rusher. He had a 17-yard sack of Sam Bradford.

That is impressive. Is there anything else Peter would like to add to his statement that Jones is an impressive rookie pass rusher or is this supposed to be our only required evidence of this statement? I'm not saying Chandler Jones isn't impressive, but is Peter basing this statement on this sack or Jones' entire resume as a rookie?

k. Richie Incognito, the mauling Miami guard, graded out like a road-grader against the Jets.

You know Peter wanted to say Richie Incognito wasn't "incognito" against the Jets.

2. I think this is what I didn't like about Week 8:

g. Philip Rivers isn't getting much help, obviously, but a few of his throws in Cleveland were way too far off target for a man with his resume.

Rivers' resume...and what is that resume again? He's been a very good quarterback in his career and has a 3-4 career playoff record. Much like Peter said about Andrew Luck after he didn't throw one pass well in a game a few weeks ago, I guess we can put Rivers' Hall of Fame canonization on hold because he played poorly during one game.

l. Rex Ryan's confidence. Gone. Vanquished. Sanchized.


4. I think Cam Newton did something at the end of the first half in Chicago that really bugged me. From the Chicago 33, the Panthers called a Hail Mary with three seconds left. Newton threw it way over the end line. Either he wanted someone in the stands to have a souvenir, or he didn't want to risk another interception on his stat sheet. I'm guessing the latter, and I don't like it.

So Peter King is accusing Newton of overthrowing the end zone in order to not get an interception on his stat sheet, despite having absolutely zero proof this is the case. Tony Romo's last pass on fourth down Sunday night went out of the back of the end zone as well. Was he trying to ensure he didn't have his fifth interception? Why doesn't Peter accuse him of this?

More importantly, what proof does Peter have that Newton gives a shit about his stat sheet and another interception being on it? Newton overthrew the end zone and why would Peter guess the worst unless he absolutely wanted to believe the worst? He's unbelievable (Peter, not Newton. Newton's football skills are pretty believable in their averageness). Peter wants to view Newton's actions in a way that reinforces his prior belief. So while he has no proof Newton did throw the ball out of the back of the end zone intentionally, he thinks that is something Newton would do based on his preconceived notions about him.

This play didn't even matter. Ron Rivera should have had Peter's Special Teams Player of the Week (Justin Medlock) come out and try a 51 yard field goal with three seconds left instead of throwing a Hail Mary anyway.

b. San Francisco: best walking city in America.

Put up the plaque San Francisco! You've been named "best walking city" by the honorable Peter King.

g. I need to see Argo.

Then do. Just don't keep us informed, that's all I ask.

The Adieu Haiku

Hey, Jim Cantore!
Tell 'em from D.C. to Maine:
Respect Sandy's wrath.

Isn't that only four syllables in the first line? Maybe I'm not good at counting. If you are going to lower yourself to doing a haiku, you may as well do it correctly, no? 

Monday, October 29, 2012

9 comments ...Our Pets' Heads Are Falling Off!: Week 8

Another weekend of games are done and the NFL season is almost halfway over. Time flies when you are not having any fun (at least for me). Just six months from now every team in the NFL will believe they have a chance to win a Super Bowl, only to have their and their fans hopes crushed three or four weeks into the 2013 season. I'm already excited.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers 36 Minnesota Vikings 17

It is usually good news for a team's fan base if I bash one of their players. I have a tendency to bash a player or criticize a player and then look like an asshole when I am wrong. Take for instance, Doug Martin. I criticized him earlier in the year for having "Eddie George Special" kind of games where he gets 70 yards, but it takes him over 20 carries to get there. In the last three games he has had a yards per carry average of 5.8, 5.3, 4.7. I could be a jerk and say 5.8 yards per carry was his high point and now he is going back down to his 3.3 or 2.8 average from the first and second games of the season, but that's probably not true. So I was right that Martin had an "Eddie George Special" kind of first few games, but it doesn't look like he will be that kind of running back in the NFL. He is more explosive than I give him credit for. He's what Mark Ingram will never be, a running back who can catch and run the football equally well. The big news coming out of this game is that the Vikings are "frauds," as if this should be any kind of news to anyone really. The Vikings played well at the beginning of the year and idiots like Gregg Easterbrook wrote they succeed because they run simple plays instead of being overly creative (How's that working out now, Gregg? Gregg? You there? I am sure he will address the Vikings success with a simple offense in a later TMQ...I'm very sure of it) with their offensive play calling. Was there really people who thought the Vikings were going to go 12-4 this year? It's a typical media overreaction to call the Vikings "frauds" or say the Buccaneers "exposed" the Vikings, just like it was a typical media overreaction to believe the Vikings were one of the best teams in the NFL just three weeks ago. The Vikings beat the 49ers, but otherwise weren't beating the greatest competition. The Buccaneers controlled the ball for 37 minutes and were able to put pressure on Christian Ponder. Three Vikings turnovers certainly didn't help matters either. I don't know if the Vikings are frauds or if the Buccaneers exposed them, but maybe the Buccaneers are simply a better team than originally thought? After all, they haven't lost a game by more than seven points all year.

Denver Broncos 34 New Orleans Saints 14

Peter King wrote last week about how if the Saints' season is saved then they can thank Malcolm Jenkins for chasing down Vincent Jackson and preventing a touchdown last week. I'm not so sure the Saints' season is saved after all, nor do I believe Malcolm Jenkins and his fellow defensive teammates are helping the team win games. Peyton Manning absolutely picked apart the Saints defense and the Broncos threw for 301 yards and rushed for 225 yards. The good news is that Drew Brees extended his streak of games in which he has thrown a touchdown pass. At least there is something salvageable for the Saints out of this game. We all know from last year that personal records like that are very important to the Saints. Joe Vitt, the interim coach for the Saints takes the blame though and realizes it could NEVER be the fault of the Saints players that the defense gave up 530 yards of offense to the Broncos.

"I've got to do a better job of preparing our football team," Vitt said. "I've got to do a better job of getting the team ready physically, mentally and emotionally to play in a game like this. And quite frankly, there's things I need to do better."

The only thing Vitt could really do better at this point is find a way to sprinkle magical fairy dust on the Saints defense that will help them stop the opposing team. He could also convince the Saints front office to trade draft picks in an effort to acquire better defensive players. I wonder if Bill Simmons will continue to call Peyton Manning "Noodle" since it doesn't seem to matter how good of an arm he has and it wasn't that funny of a joke in the first place? I'm guessing, yes, Bill will continue to call Peyton Manning "Noodle."

New York Giants 29 Dallas Cowboys 24

This was a crazy game. I thought the Giants had this game in hand pretty early on once Romo went on his interception-binge, but then the Cowboys came back. Also, someone needs to cover Jason Witten. He caught 18 passes in this game and was targeted 22 times. Everything the Giants tried did not work and Witten ran the same route it felt like on every play and continued to catch the football. My favorite note about the game is someone I follow on Twitter re-Tweeted a sports fan (I'm not sure of which team he is a fan) who was livid, livid I tell you, the Dez Bryant game-winning touchdown catch was overturned. In 140 characters he said instant replay was ruining football and if the Giants had any class they would petition the commissioner to give this victory to the Cowboys. You would think since it was obvious Dez Bryant's hand was out of bounds on that catch (which doesn't take away it was a great catch), this person would be happy with the multiple replays that showed overturning this call was a good move. Not so. He was angry the NFL doesn't have a field level camera, which he claims would show Dez Bryant's fingers weren't out of bounds, but instead were arched up in the air so that he wasn't actually touching out of bounds. You may say, "but how does he know Bryant's fingers were arched if he didn't have access to a field-level camera?" I am sure his answer would be that he knows and instant replay is ruining football. I think this is the only person I have ever heard claim instant replay is ruining the NFL. The call was correct. The NFL definitely needs to get on the field level camera, or at least have sensors around the field to detect when a player has touched out of bounds. Perhaps a big red light can blink and a loud buzzer could make a noise whenever a player touches out of bounds?

It's shocking the Cowboys were in this game in the first place. Six turnovers. They almost won the game after having six turnovers. The Dallas defense did a pretty good job of holding the Giants offense to less than 300 total yards of offense, but it's hard to get over a turnover-binge like Romo had in the first half.

Chicago Bears 23 Carolina Panthers 22

 This game was so Panthers. Six sacks in the first half, none in the second half. Dominating the game for three quarters, giving it away by allowing the Bears a chance to make plays in the second half. I personally never had a doubt Carolina was going to lose. That's what they do. They are 1-10 under Ron Rivera when the game is decided by less than a touchdown. Clearly, this is Cam Newton's fault. Let's talk about the other scapegoat though. Jay Cutler. He was bad in the first half, mostly because he couldn't stay upright, and then he came through on the final drive as the ran the exact same slant play to Brandon Marshall three times. The Panthers defense did all they could to stop this play by running the same defense THIS ENTIRE DRIVE. I kid you not. I would provide the link, but it makes me sad and I just can't do it right now. The Bears defense started to clamp down when they needed to and came up with a big pick-six on a Newton throw that never got to Steve Smith because he fell down (no word on whether he actually dove to the ground to beat the shit out of the field because the voices in his head said the field was talking shit about him) and then all it took from there was for the Bears defense to force Carolina into kicking another field goal and Cutler to convert against a soft-as-cotton Panthers Quarters defense. It seems to me that Jay Cutler is a pretty good quarterback when he is actually given time to throw the ball and it helps the Bears defense knows how to stop the other team from getting touchdowns. I think through all this blame on Newton (which this loss is obviously his entire fault) a few questions have to be asked.

1. Why is Carolina 1-10 in games decided by a touchdown or less? After 11 games like this, it no longer becomes about bad luck.

2. Why has Carolina never won a game when Newton threw an interception? That says more to me about what is expected from him than anything else.

3. When given the opportunity to kick a field goal right before halftime from 51 yards away, why did Rivera go for a Hail Mary rather than attempt the no-risk field goal?

At a certain point, and we are at that point, it's clear part of the problem lies with Ron Rivera. Bears fans may dislike Lovie Smith, but I would trade coaches in a heartbeat.

Cleveland Browns 7 San Diego Chargers 6

Speaking of bad coaching. I haven't always been hard on Norv Turner, not because I believe he is a great coach, but because it's so cliche to knock Turner. Of course, then he loses to the Browns. I don't see any reason why Norv Turner should be the head coach of the Chargers after this season. He's shown us what he can do as a coach and I think his time is probably up in San Diego. He's a great offensive coordinator. I would want my favorite team to hire him as an offensive coordinator. Trent Richardson ran all over the Chargers and Philip Rivers didn't have a very good day either. Robert Meachem did drop a touchdown pass, which obviously affected the outcome of this game, but Rivers has to play better than this against a team of Cleveland's caliber. It seems to me like Rivers' time in San Diego is starting to run short and I have to agree with Bill Simmons, who said a few weeks ago that a change of scenery might do him good. Of course, then another NFL team will realize that Rivers is a huge dick and the fact he is an even bigger asshole than Jay Cutler might get out. I honestly don't know why I was even wondering who would win this game, since under Bill Simmons "Tragedy Effect" and based on Peter King believing God helps certain teams win, the Browns were destined to win,

Shurmur said one of the game balls will go to Browns vice president Bryan Wiedmeier, who underwent emergency surgery Friday to remove a brain tumor.

So the Browns were destined to win the game. Really, prior to an NFL game being played I don't need to see the matchup between the two teams or the team's injury report, I just need to see if any member of the organization is in the hospital. That will determine which team wins the game.

Detroit Lions 28 Seattle Seahawks 24 Detroit Tigers 0

Apparently the key to helping the Lions win games isn't to get the running game going, but is instead (and sit down because this is shocking), find another couple of receivers who can be threats in the passing game. Yes, it turns out a struggling quarterback can be helped by more than one passing threat on the field. Who knew? Again, why did the Lions win this game? Injuries and inspiration.

Burleson broke his right leg in Monday night's loss at Chicago, pushing Young up the depth chart. Burleson sent a motivational message to his teammates on offense that was shown on video Saturday night.

Seriously, why do I even look at the matchups between two teams? All I need to know as to which team will win a game is to find out who is injured and being inspiratinal. If Ryan Kalil or Chris Gamble taped a message for the Panthers team before every game, I have no doubt they would immediately make the playoffs, if not win the Super Bowl and then be voted President of the United States.

The Lions were 12-16 on third down in this game. That's an excellent way to win a game and an easy way for the Seahawks to lose this game. Russell Wilson seems to have played pretty well and this game seems to be an instance where it was a competitive game between two teams, but the Lions had the ball last and had the last chance to make a play. Hey, at least the Lions showed up in this game, which is more than the Detroit Tigers can say in the World Series.

Green Bay Packers 24 Jacksonville Jaguars 15

The world is upside down. Every offensive statistical leader in this game was a Jacksonville Jaguar. Blaine Gabbert threw for more yards than Aaron Rodgers. The world is ending. The Mayans were right. The Packers needed a blocked punt returned for a touchdown and a Mason Crosby field goal in order to beat the Jags. Not that the Packers were overconfident and didn't expect much from the Jaguars of course. Well, it seems some of the Packers were overconfident. Jermichael Finley, clearly pumped up and excited about his stellar 54 yards receiving over the last three games coming into this one said,

"They're an NFL team, not to get that wrong, but the Jacksonville Jaguars stayed around in Lambeau Field," Jermichael Finley said. "They were supposed to have been under the Frozen Tundra at halftime."

Except the Jaguars weren't under the Frozen Tundra at halftime. It's always nice to read a player who has underachieved this year has such confidence in his teammates abilities to play well. Finley wasn't overconfident, not at all and don't get him wrong, it's just he thinks the Packers were incredibly superior to the Jaguars and Jacksonville had no business being in the game by halftime. Nobody likes a cocky asshole. Who ever said football players from the University of Texas come out of college pampered and unready for the rigors of the NFL? I think all of this trying to run the ball is hurting the Packers. They should just let Aaron Rodgers air it out and don't even care about running the ball. I have to believe Gabbert's good performance on Sunday is just a tease and he will have a 9-21 for 121 yards next week against Detroit. I can't accept a world where Blaine Gabbert throws for 300 yards.

Indianapolis Colts 19 Tennessee Titans 13

Greatest quarterback in the history of the NFL and future Hall of Famer, Andrew Luck, led the Colts to another victory yesterday in overtime. Luck had another comeback victory (sarcasm has ended) and the Colts were able to survive a questionable review and Mike Munchak putting his tail between his legs and not trying to win the game with a Rod Bironas 58 yard field goal towards the end of regulation. I'm not a member of the "coaches should always be aggressive" team, but in this situation you go for the win, especially since the wind was at Bironas' back. It's clear the Colts appear to be on the right track at this point, which is good news for their fan base obviously. Vick Ballard's overtime leap was ridiculous though. If one hears the name "Vick Ballard" it doesn't sound like a guy who would make an acrobatic leap to help win a game. He seems like a "three yards and a cloud of dust" type guy or a Madden-created running back. It turns out he's a fucking acrobat. It's easy to second-guess head coaches, but Rod Bironas is a pretty good kicker and rather than take a chance in overtime I think the Titans should have gone for the game-winning kick. What do I know though?

New England Patriots 45 St. Louis Rams 7

This is the home game for the Rams that was taken away so the diehard Tom Brady fans in England could get a chance at seeing Brady play there. Maybe Rams fans are happy they didn't get to see this game. It wasn't a good showing for St. Louis. I really thought the Rams had a good defense and then the Patriots went and proved me incredibly wrong by putting up 473 yards on the Rams. The Rams had an excellent first drive and then just withered away after that. It's good to see the NFL expanding into England like this, especially at the expense of United States football fans. I am sure Gregg Easterbrook will chalk up the Patriots victory to Bill Belichick choosing to go for it on fourth down after the Rams had taken the lead, while completely ignoring the other 38 points the Patriots scored as any reason they won this game. Obviously that fourth down call was what caused the other 38 points to be scored. Any idiot can see that. Rob Gronkowski did a dance after scoring a touchdown, much to the enjoyment of sheep-like NFL reporters who search hard to find stories coming out of an NFL game that has as little to do with the game as possible. I can't help but wonder if Bill Simmons watched this game. We all know he is such a big Patriots fan that he almost didn't watch the Jets-Patriots game because the Patriots could have lost. Being a fan means not being a fan if things look like they could go wrong.

Miami Dolphins 30 New York Jets 9

Now these are the Jets we have come to know and love. Ryan Tanne-who? Matt Moore stepped in and played well for an injured Tannehill, as Matt Moore is prone to do. Just don't ask him to start an NFL game because then he will get all concussion-y and not play well at all. Mark Sanchez failed to block for himself and the Jets gave up four sacks on the day and shockingly the Jets didn't switch to their All-Pro quarterback, ex-backup quarterback punt protector Jets, in order to immediately turn this game around and rip victory from the rabid jaws of defeat. Fortunately, after getting beaten by 21 points most Jets players were focused on the important issues in this game,

"They're not a very clean team," wide receiver Chaz Schilens said. "They're a little cheap."

Cornerback Antonio Cromartie also called Bush "a punk" who showed "his true colors."

These are the important issues to focus on. With the Jets it is always drama first, winning football games second. If Super Bowls were awarded for teams who talk a lot of shit between weeks and in the offseason without actually backing it up then Rex Ryan and his team would have several Super Bowl trophies at this point. If the Jets are focused on the Dolphins being cheap then they aren't focused on the right things. I wouldn't describe the Jets as "a mess" but they have quarterback issues and from what (little) I read and hear it seems Rex Ryan doesn't always help his team focus on winning football games.

Atlanta Falcons 30 Philadelphia Eagles 17

The Falcons didn't have to live right this week. They went to Philadelphia and kicked the Eagles' ass. Not ironically, Mike Vick didn't commit one turnover and the Eagles still lost. I guess it seems Juan Castillo isn't to blame for the Eagles defensive woes. Is it bad form to re-hire him? The Falcons scored on their first six possessions, spit on the Eagles, stepped on their toes and then screamed in their ear. I'll let Andy Reid explain his thinking with firing Castillo. He does a better job than I could do,

"I did what I did and what I thought was right at the time,"

"Which was saving my own job."

Reid said about the switch. "We need to get better there."

"What? You think I am going to blame my offense for the losses? Bitch, please." 

Absolutely. It's almost like hiring an offensive line coach as the defensive coordinator and then blaming him for the defense's problems was a bad idea. Whose idea was that again?

The anti-Reid fans may be seeing him in his final months with the team. Owner Jeffrey Lurie already stated before the season that another 8-8 finish would be "unacceptable."

In response, Andy Reid said, "Fine I won't lead the team to an 8-8 season. How about a 6-10 season, is that more acceptable?" I'm just going to say the Falcons are the best team in the NFC, even if I still don't completely believe it. At a certain point, I will be correct or continue to look like an asshole if I keep on saying the Falcons aren't the best team in the NFC. I don't like looking an asshole, so all hail the Falcons, the best team in the NFC.

Pittsburgh Steelers 27 Robert Griffin Redskins 12

Since with Robert Griffin all things are possible (according to Peter King) I figured I may as well re-name the Redskins after him since he makes all things possible...except for his receivers catching passes thrown in their direction. The Redskins dropped 10 passes yesterday, which is such an impressive number I started to wonder if they were even trying to catch the ball. The Steelers did a good job of forcing Griffin to stay in the pocket and not allow him room to wander outside the pocket and make plays with his feet. Shock of all shocks the Steelers are back in the hunt as one of the best teams in the AFC. Who saw this coming? Other than the fact the Steelers are always in the hunt as one of the best teams in the AFC, this is completely unforeseen. Roethlisberger got plenty of protection in the pocket and the biggest issue he had was figuring out which of his offensive weapons he should be throwing the ball to. What a predicament. A week after everyone was fawning over Robert Griffin, he came back down to Earth a little bit. It's almost like he is a rookie quarterback and bad games are going to happen. Maybe next week he can play well and sportswriters can throw in all of the unused religious analogies from this past week's game against the Steelers. The good news is the Robert Griffin Redskins play Carolina, so that's a guaranteed victory.

Oh, and those Steelers uniforms were the worst. Horrible.

Oakland Raiders 26 Kansas City Chiefs 16

So it turns out that Brady Quinn isn't the solution for the Chiefs either. After leaving the game with one passing yard, one interception and a "head injury," which is probably actually the injury Romeo Crennel suffered right before naming Brady Quinn the starter, the Matt Cassel era returned to Kansas City. In related news, it didn't make a damn bit of difference. Cassel was the Chiefs leading passer AND leading rusher, so that's horrendous news. In asked why Jamaal Charles didn't get more carries Romeo Crennel confidently answered,

"Now, that I'm not exactly sure, either," Crennel said.

Well, it's a good thing Crennel isn't the head coach or else he should be able to answer the difficult questions such as why the Chiefs game plan featured their best running back so little. As was completely expected, Romeo Crennel isn't the guy to turn this Chiefs team around and probably shouldn't have been hired after doing a good job as the interim head coach. Carson Palmer was able to stay pretty clean throughout this entire game. In fact, it sounds from ESPN's game recap that perhaps Palmer was a little TOO excited to have such great protection,

Helps that Palmer could have pitched a tent in his pocket.

Who is to say he didn't? Most quarterbacks probably get excited when playing against the Chiefs. Maybe not excited enough to pitch a tent in the pocket, but good protection in the pocket is very exciting. What's interesting is for all the great protection he received, Palmer still only completed 50% of his passes. He's worth a first and second round pick, isn't he? I would call the Chiefs the worst team in the NFL, but they still have games against Carolina and Cleveland. I prefer for this title to be earned on the football field and I have a feeling it will be. The Chiefs haven't led in regulation this year, which sounds about right. 

Saturday, October 27, 2012

6 comments If There are Football Gods, They Are Probably Cringing When Reading TMQ

Gregg Easterbrook spent time in his TMQ last week searching for pictures of shirtless athletes online, specifically pictures of ex-backup quarterback punt protector Jets, and wondering why some of these shirtless pictures were taken down off of the GQ website. That's pretty creepy. Really, TMQ needs no long introduction ever. He cherry-picks situations to make his theories look correct, calls players highly-paid glory boys, and criticizes television shows for not being realistic enough. Guess what? He mostly does it again this week, while also wondering why the Detroit Lions don't run the ball more and comments how they are in disarray as a team. What Gregg doesn't mention in this TMQ is he had the Lions going 10-6 this year. I'm guessing this won't end up in his "bad predictions" column at the end of this year.

Last night the final presidential debate and "Monday Night Football" aired simultaneously. Sports nuts and political junkies were torn. Why not combine the events? This is what "Monday Night Football" would sound like if it used a presidential debate format:

What follows is a skit that lacks hilarity. It consists primarily of NFL-related players and announcers saying not-funny things as if in a debate format. I will not subject you to reading this skit. 

In that period the Lions have followed a 10-5 streak with a 2-6 streak. Needless to say, Calvin Johnson being the "Madden" cover boy is a big factor in the Lions' decline, to say nothing of Megatron's personal decline.

The "Madden Curse" generally doesn't affect an entire team so this curse shouldn't affect the Lions team as a whole. It is true players important to a certain team do appear on the cover of a "Madden," and if that player struggles generally it means the team struggles as well. Since I am nitpicking today, I think Gregg should know the fictional "Madden Curse" only affects the player directly, not the team directly.

Tactics and attitude are factors too. Detroit players continue to dance and strut as if they were holding the Lombardi Trophy, when in fact they reside in the cellar.

The Lions are definitely losing because they dance and strut. That's part of the reason the Lions are losing games. I am sure this conclusion has been reached using fool-proof logic.

The Lions have no running game to balance Stafford-to-Johnson. True, they have invested recent first- and second-round choices in tailbacks Jahvid Best and Mikel Leshoure, both perennially injured. 

Jahvid Best has concussions problems, which considering the concussion issue is something Gregg has been talking about for a few years now, I would think he would be more sensitive to and not act like Best is sitting out with an ingrown toenail. Leshoure has been in the NFL for just over a year. This is his second year in the league and was out all last year when he tore his Achilles tendon in August 2011. He isn't perpetually injured. He is a second year player who was injured in his first season in the NFL. Facts that give perspective to misleading comments are so annoying, aren't they?

True, the Giants just won the Super Bowl after finishing last in the NFL in rushing, and if the playoffs started today, three of the top four rushing clubs would not be invited

But no football team can win if it actively shuns the run.

You can't "shun the run" but it is perfectly fine to be last in the NFL in rushing in Gregg's view. That will get you to the playoffs, just don't "shun the run." So the best thing for an NFL team to do is run the ball, regardless of whether they are effective or not, it doesn't matter. What is interesting about the link Gregg just provided in regard to the top rushing teams in the NFL is that 6-0 Atlanta is 29th in rushing, 4-3 Green Bay is 24th in rushing, and 4-3 Arizona is 27th in rushing. Where is Detroit, the team that needs to run the ball in order to win games, on this list? They are 19th in the NFL in rushing. That's not great, but certainly not absolutely terrible, and they are 13th in yards per rush. So maybe the Lions should run the ball more, but I'm not sure the lack of a running game is the primary reason they are losing football games.

Adjusting for sacks and scrambles, Lions coaches radioed in 51 pass plays and 16 rushes. 

They should probably run the ball more, but the Bears are 2nd in the NFL in rush defense, so the opponent-specific game plan for the Lions may have been to throw the ball more than run it. 

Chicago has been mixing up its Tampa Two defensive look with occasional zone blitzes, confusing offenses that expect the Tampa Two and nothing else.

Because all NFL offenses are short-sighted like Gregg and only expect the opposing defense to run one type of defense. I swear, if he wasn't a middle-aged man I would think Gregg grew up playing Super Tecmo Bowl, and believing a defense runs only a certain kind of defense, there are four defensive plays to choose from and a team rarely changes defensive looks.

In "Dr. No," when Bond is captured and taken to the villain's secret headquarters -- larger than a basketball arena, equipped with a nuclear reactor, yet constructed without anyone noticing -- he is thrown into a jail cell. Not only does the cell have a gigantic air shaft vent covered by a flimsy grate that takes Bond three seconds to yank off -- Dr. No can build an atomic ray gun, but doesn't realize people try to escape from jails -- the air shaft, ample to crawl through, leads directly to Dr. No's master control station. If you were building a sprawling nuclear-powered secret headquarters, wouldn't you include an air shaft directly from the prison to master control? 

I guess if Gregg Easterbrook had his way then the film "Dr. No" would primarily consist of James Bond sitting in a jail cell waiting for Dr. No to come kill him. It would be two hours of James Bond sitting around, and really, who wouldn't want to watch that? Realism in movies is so exciting to watch.

Reader Randy Hinckley of Atlanta notes that toward the end of the cartoon movie "Bolt," there is an air shaft that the heroic dog can fit through, but not the girl he is trying to rescue. Thus, he says, "an animated dog is more realistic than James Bond." 

You mean the animated movie "Bolt" where a talking dog fights crime? That's the movie which is more realistic than a James Bond movie? Are you sure about that or are you just cherry-picking this one situation to reach your conclusion? I only ask this because "Bolt" is about a talking dog that fights crime.

In rules quirk news, the Patriots took the opening kickoff of overtime against the Jets, and scored a field goal. When they in turn kicked off, had they onside kicked and recovered, New England would have won. That a team receiving the opening kickoff and scoring a field goal on that possession can end the contest with a recovered onside kick is a little-known quirk of the new NFL overtime format. What coach will be the first bold enough to try this? 

If by "bold enough" you mean unnecessarily risky enough to give up 35 yards of field position and put the opposing team in a situation where they can be close to field goal range without moving the ball very far while in sudden death overtime, then I hope it isn't my favorite team's coach who is "bold" enough to do this.

Score New Orleans 35, City of Tampa 28, the Bucs faced fourth-and-9 deep in Sinners territory on the game's final snap. Tampa receiver Mike Williams ran to the back line of the end zone -- and New Orleans cornerback Patrick Robinson alertly pushed him out...Heads-up play by Robinson -- not a violent collision but a simple push preserves the New Orleans victory. 

Doesn't Gregg mean "heads-up play by Robinson, a highly-drafted glory boy"? As I put on repeat every single week, if this was an undrafted free agent who made this play then Gregg would be sure to mention his draft position, but since it is a first round pick who made this good play Gregg neglects to mention his draft position. He wouldn't want reality to infringe on his own preconceived notions.

Sour Play of the Week: Jacksonville leading 17-3, the Jaguars went for it on fourth-and-1 from the Oakland 46. Quarterback Chad Henne rolled out, was under pressure -- and threw the ball away. Bad enough that Jax needed only a yard and coaches had the quarterback sprint backwards. Don't throw the ball away on fourth down, heave it deep and hope!

I thought "fortune favors the bold," so the fact the Jaguars went for it on fourth down means the football gods should reward them with a first down and with a win in this game? So the football gods punished the Jags for going for it on fourth down by having them lose the game? I thought the football gods rewarded being bold? Isn't that what Gregg tells us every week in TMQ? I wasn't aware there were a bunch of caveats that made "fortune favors the bold" to not be a true statement in certain situations.

Not mention, I believe Gregg said two weeks ago that a team who is leading in a game should play conservatively, so why didn't he question the Jags decision to go for it on fourth down? 

Buck-Buck-Brawckkkkkkk: The Bengals, hosting a night game on prime-time television, were tied at 14 with the Steelers early in the third quarter, and facing fourth-and-1 on the visitor's 30. During the tenure of Bengals coach Marvin Lewis, Pittsburgh has dominated Cincinnati, entering on a 14-5 streak against the Bengals under Lewis. Victories don't come in the mail, go win the game! When the field goal boomed, TMQ wrote the words "game over" in his notebook.

I bet TMQ also wrote "game over" in his Selena Gomez Trapper Keeper notebook after the Jaguars were up 17-3 against the Raiders, but we all know how that turned out. I would also bet Gregg writes "game over" in his Selena Gomez Trapper Keeper notebook at least once a week and then the other team comes back to win or tie the game. Gregg just doesn't mention the times this occurs because it would ruin the illusion he wants to create that he is always right.

Lewis had sent his charges the message that once again, the plan was to roll over for Pittsburgh.

By choosing to kick a field goal that put the Bengals ahead in this game early in the third quarter, Marvin Lewis had given the message that he was giving up? This is what you want your readers to believe and not believe that you are just making shit up? How is kicking a field goal to take the lead a sign that the head coach has given up?

Bengals possession results for the remainder of the contest following the fourth-and-1 wimp-out: punt, punt, punt, punt, punt. 

All because they dared to kick a field goal and take the lead in this game. This was the football gods punishing the Bengals for daring to take the lead.

Should newspapers and television stations accept advertising containing statements that are literally true but intended to deceive? Last week, USA Today ran a full-page ad -- ungrammatically labeled "special advertisement feature" -- from the World Reserve Monetary Exchange on Freedom Avenue in Canton, Ohio.

Why would a newspaper, especially at this time in their life cycle, turn down advertising dollars?

The incredible deal is so obviously a ripoff it's hard to believe even one person would fall for it.

If this is an obvious ripoff then where is the harm in the company spending money on an advertisement and then newspaper collecting money from this advertisement? If this ad is obviously a ripoff then the advertisement fails to deceive. A newspaper probably has a moral obligation not to print certain kind of advertisements, but at this point, if a company is willing to pay for an ad I don't see why a newspaper won't accept that money. Should they accept this money? Maybe. ESPN pays Gregg Easterbrook to write a weekly column that has statements which are literally true but intended to deceive. Is this in some way unethical for them to do this?

Perhaps anyone dumb enough to call the number deserves to lose $17. But should a major newspaper be the enabler of a swindle? 

Maybe a major newspaper shouldn't be the enabler of a swindle, but you can't stop idiocy. A fool and his money soon go separate ways, so I am sure if a person who is dumb enough to pay $17 for this would waste money on another swindle.

As for those selfsame Jets -- it's 2012, hasn't Rex Ryan heard that Wes Welker catches a lot of passes? Twice, Welker converted third downs when covered only by a linebacker.

It's almost like the Patriots design plays so that Welker gets matched up with a linebacker. As usual, Gregg seems to struggle to understand NFL teams don't always play man-to-man defense, so the Jets didn't want Welker matched up against a Jets linebacker. The Patriots design plays so this happens. The Jets can't take every linebacker off the field just so Welker is covered by a cornerback or safety.

Bad sportsmanship occurs at many levels, of course. Saturday, Oklahoma was still throwing deep with a 52-0 lead over Kansas, trying to run up the score.

You mean, sort of like how Pulaski puts in their backups and then starts throwing the ball all over the field and always go for it on fourth down? I am sure the Pulaski only "accidentally" runs the score on overmatched opponents.

But Division I college football players are adults who are being compensated, via scholarships and per diem, for their efforts. No one need worry about the feelings of Division I football players.

I will remember this the very next time Gregg criticizes Alabama for running up the score on a Division I, II or FCS school. Since all three of the types of programs hand out scholarships for their athletes, we shouldn't worry about the feelings of these Division I, II and FCS players. It's weird, I seem to recall Gregg criticizing Division I schools for running up the score on FCS schools, don't you? Now it seems Gregg has no issue with this. We'll see if this point of view continues the very next time Alabama wins by 60 points over a "cupcake" school.

Steven Holscher of Simpsonville, S.C., asks, "My brother and I always scream this question when a pass is ruled incomplete after a receiver loses control when hitting the ground -- why during a rush can the ground not cause a fumble, but can cause a pass to be incomplete?"

TMQ's answer would be that all sports rules fundamentally are arbitrary. 

This doesn't seem like a very difficult answer and one that Gregg should be able to answer. I would suggest the ground can cause an incomplete pass is because the receiver never had possession of the ball before hitting the ground. If the receiver loses control then he never had possession of the ball, but a running back has possession of the ball before hitting the ground and therefore the ground can't cause a fumble. That's my best guess, but it seems like something TMQ should be able to answer. It's a possession of the football issue to me.

Is Mario Williams the Most Overrated Football Player Since JaMarcus Russell?

No, no he is not. He may be overpaid, but he is not overrated. Williams has 256 tackles, 56.5 sacks and 11 forced fumbles over 89 games in his 6 year 6 game career. That's pretty good.

This season, TMQ is following the fourth-down exploits of Pulaski Academy in Little Rock, Ark., where head coach Kevin Kelley has eschewed the punt for years. Last season, Pulaski punted once and won the state title.

Friday, Kelley took his starters out when Pulaski reached a 43-6 halftime lead.

Notice how Gregg tries to deceive his readers by giving out the score at halftime. He doesn't want to make Kevin Kelley seem like a bully coach for still throwing the ball and running up the score. Pulaski won the game 50-20 and you can see from the box score the backup quarterback attempted seven passes in the second half. Does that make Kevin Kelly a "bully coach" who throws the football despite having a large lead? I don't know, but Gregg just criticized Oklahoma for throwing deep while blowing out Kansas this past weekend.

Fourth-down situations faced by the first string:

Fourth-and-10, own 38 -- pass, did not convert.
Fourth-and-9, own 30 -- pass, first down.
Fourth-and-10, opponent 47 -- sacked.
Fourth-and-12, opponent 12 -- pass, touchdown 

So Pulaski Academy went 2 for 4 against an overmatched team on fourth down. Again, I'm not sure what we can learn since there was clearly a huge talent difference between these two teams. I would guess Pulaski has a better chance of converting fourth downs against an overmatched opponent. The percentage of converted fourth downs in games between Pulaski and another evenly matched team is what I would consider good evidence on whether always going for it on fourth down is a sound strategy or not.

Next Week: The next Bond flick will be his first football-themed movie, "Tiebreaker."

And this movie will feature a defense that specifically game plans for an opponent, plays a zone defense and shows the offense different looks during the game. Gregg will probably criticize this movie for being unrealistic due to this. 

Thursday, October 25, 2012

11 comments Bill Simmons Has Some Fat Rhymes to Spit at You

Bill Simmons wants to fire and re-elect sports commissioners in every sport. Needless to say, even though I will say it, I am sure Bill probably believes he is qualified to be the commissioner of the NBA. Few people could run an NBA organization or the entire NBA with the effectiveness that Bill Simmons could run an NBA organization or the entire NBA. Today, Bill tells us that commissioners are hypocrites (Bengoodfella puts look of shock on his face) and out of touch (what? really?) with fans. Besides being the very first person to notice this, Bill also reveals that commissioners only care about making money (I know, I was surprised to hear this too). Unlike other businesses such as Grantland's parent company, ESPN, which only cares about producing the most interesting of sports long as this content makes them money and the content involves Tim Tebow and/or a forced debate about Tim Tebow or LeBron James, the NBA/NFL/NHL/MLB are only money-driven enterprises. Sports should be pure and not driven by business interests. It's so hypocritical for the NFL to pretend to care about the sport and really only care about marketing and business interests. Anyway, let's get to Bill's Friday NFL picks column, powered by Subway.

(Bill's Friday NFL picks columns no longer feature a "Miller Lite Great Call of the Week." What a shame.)

This wasn't the best morning for Roger Goodell. Hours after former Viking Jimmy Kennedy practically ran out of ways to call the NFL's commissioner a "liar," Goodell announced that he would be recusing himself from hearing the Saints' latest bounty appeal. Taking over? Wait a second … good God, that's Paul Tagliabue's music!

This whole faux-wrestling introduction joke got old probably three years ago. Just keep beating the joke into the ground though.

Can you remember another commissioner having his objectivity questioned so vociferously that he had to enlist his former boss to clean up his mess? Me neither.

Can you remember a commissioner dealing with a bounty scandal, and as a result having suspended players and coaches for a full season based on this scandal? Me neither.

And you wonder why Goodell might be wearing the "Most Dangerously Incompetent Commissioner in Sports" championship belt for the foreseeable future, even as his rival commissioners keep halfheartedly trying to steal it.

The only person who could effectively run the NBA/NHL/NFL/MLB? You guessed, the VP of Common Sense, Bill Simmons.

I know Bill doesn't come out and say he thinks he could run these professional leagues but you and I both know he thinks he could be the commissioner of the NBA at the very least. This is the same man who has absolutely no background working in the NBA and thinks he could be a General Manager of an NBA team. Because all General Managers do is sit in their office and think of trade ideas, right?

So for Goodell to stand out so blatantly, that means things had to escalate quickly, and maybe even that Brick killed a guy.

Quick, shoehorn a pop culture joke into the column. Bill even had to make a statement like "that means things had to escalate quickly," in order to slip his "Anchorman" joke into the column. "Things escalating quickly" doesn't even really make sense in this context.

In this case, "Brick" was Browns linebacker Scott Fujita,

So Scott Fujita killed someone? I can see why he is on the commissioner's radar then.

who didn't kill Goodell with a trident but definitely ethered him.

In the context of this joke and in the movie "Anchorman" Brick really did kill someone. So if Fujita is "Brick" in this situation, then in the context of the joke he really did something wrong, and it isn't wrong for the commissioner to try and punish him. I realize I am over-explaining a joke. If Fujita metaphorically "killed" Goodell (which is what Bill is referring to), it is still a forced joke.

Bill is a 43 year old man. I like how he uses the word "ethered" in this sentence as a way of telling "the kids" he is still hip and knows how to sling the street slang around in normal everyday convo. You may think Bill doesn't have street cred, but you would be wrong. Bill's got the street cred because he is going to do an NBA pregame show this year with Jalen Rose and waves everyday to the black guy who lives next to Michael Rapaport in Bill's neighborhood.

Seriously, he just used the word "ethered." I know Bill claims even as a child he always wanted to be a black man, but it could be time to realize he has more in common with Mitt Romney than Nas.

Fujita didn't pour his feelings into a hostile dis song,

"a hostile dis song." That doesn't sound white at all when said out-loud. Don't worry, Bill doesn't start rapping at any point in this column.

Tired of being dragged through the mud of New Orleans's bounty scandal, Fujita crafted 100 carefully chosen words to say everything about Goodell that needed to be said.

Translation: This dude is a H-Y-P-O-C-R-I-T-E.

Translation: E-T-H-E-R-E-D.

If you noticed, Goodell never responded — not even after Fujita called him "condescending" and "extremely desperate," then complained about Goodell's "absolute abuse of the power that's been afforded to the Commissioner." By continuing to trade shots with Fujita, Goodell would have inadvertently broken the golden rule of hip-hop:

So it is understandable that Goodell never traded shots with Fujita. So why criticize him for not responding?

Thou shalt never beef down.

Not only does Bill write the words "Thou shalt never beef down," most likely with "Stillmatic" playing in the background, but he puts it in italics. I'm not even criticizing Bill's writing right now because this is too comical. Bill is teaching us the golden rule of hip-hop. I feel learned right now and not at all like laughing.

Even Stern during his swaggerlicious apex wouldn't have feuded with a badly injured player.

Is Jamie Kennedy ghost-writing this column as his character from "Malibu's Most Wanted?"

Then again, can you really fight back after you've just been checkmated? Everything Scott Fujita said was true.


He could have hammered Goodell for increasing the number of Thursday-night games to 13, then spinning it by saying this now allowed every team a chance to play in prime time. Has there ever been a lamer excuse for a shameless money grab? When your franchise sucks, there's nothing worse than playing in prime time. In the days of B.B.B. (Before Belichick and Brady), I came to dread every Patriots night game — it was like shining a giant spotlight on a chin full of pimples.

Yes, life has been tough in these pre-B.B.B. years of Patriots primetime appearances for Bill. That time period between the Patriots making the Super Bowl in 1996 and their appearance in 2001 was a tough time for Bill as a Patriots fan. That one losing season they had in this time period, 2000, was nearly impossible to forget, but Bill is trying.

Then Bill brings up the idea NFL teams are more prone to being injured when playing Thursday night games, if not actually injured in the games, but injured later in the season from the lack of rest between games. He also criticizes the Thursday night games as a pathetic money grab, which we all know they are, so this isn't really news to anyone paying attention.

They were running on fumes. News flash: That's how players get hurt. If you're pretending to care about player safety, and that it's not just a pathetic attempt to cover your asses for the wave of looming concussion lawsuits, then wouldn't it make sense to carve out more recovery time for players?

It would also make sense to not advocate an 18 game season, but as the point has been made over the past few years, Goodell cares about player safety only in certain situations.

Here's the real reason for those 13 Thursday-night games every year, in case you were wondering …

Whoops, sorry. Here's the right link.

Bill is absolutely right about this. I'm just confused as to what misconception or misunderstanding he is clearing up. Maybe he doesn't even think he is clearing up a misunderstanding or misconception, in which case he is treading familiar ground. Money controls everything.

And actually, the price will climb higher than that because the NBC Sports Network needs those Thursday-night games more than the Walking Dead guys need clean shirts.

Then he includes a footnote:

I know that was awkward, but I couldn't figure out another way to work that into today's column. How much zombie blood and guts can be splattered onto one guy's unshowered shirt before it joins forces with the guy's overpowering BO and just evolves into its own zombie?

No, that wasn't any more awkward than the Brick reference earlier or one of many pop culture references that get thrown into Bill's column. In fact, this pop culture reference made sense in the context of the sentence. I feel like we need a "Pop Culture Reference Guide" for Bill. He seems lost at times.

Here's the point: You don't have a reason to watch NBCSN right now unless you love the NHL (R.I.P.), CFL, college football, college basketball, old Olympics games and events, hunting, darts, the Dew Network or something called Elk Fever (which actually ran in prime time on Tuesday night). They need to make a splash. Like, soon.

NBC Sports Network is fairly new. Clearly Bill doesn't remember ESPN's early days of fishing shows, exercise shows, lumberjack and poker competitions (I realize they still show poker). Seriously, I know they are a competitor of ESPN so Bill has to put them down to make Bristol happy, but give them a few years to "make a splash." ESPN didn't become the annoying behemoth it is now overnight.

You know those two guys in your fantasy auction who didn't realize all the elite running backs were gone until just DeMarco Murray was left, and suddenly they're locked in a holy war for him and ready to pay 40 bucks? That's how the Thursday-night auction will play out.

You know that guy who uses an extended analogy to say something rather than just coming out and saying it?

Of course, if Goodell genuinely cared about the welfare of his players (he doesn't) AND wanted to make money (he does), then he'd push for an 18-week schedule that included the following four wrinkles:

1. Fourteen Thursday-night games total (including Thanksgiving). When you include the two Thanksgiving day games as well, that means every team would play once on Thursday and that's it.

Nevermind, Bill just said the Thursday night games were only there for money purposes and he criticized how every team gets to play on Thursday once, his new idea is to not only keep doing this, but he wants to increase the amount of Thursday night games from 13 to 14. So Bill criticizes Goodell for not caring about player safety, then says if Goodell really cared about player safety he would do exactly what he is doing now, except he would add one more Thursday night game. My mind is blown.

2. Nobody would be allowed to play a Thursday game within 10 days of another game either way.

I'm not sure how this idea works out logistically, so while this seems like a good idea, it may not be possible logistically. If that game counts as both team's bye weeks then I don't know how a team would play in a Thursday night game the second or third week of the season. Would teams who have played one or two games really want a bye?

4. You might remember that 10 months ago one of my mailbag readers was pushing for an 18-week season in which every team was off for both bye weeks, calling it "Save the Marriage Weekends." I thought that was too radical but suggested the following compromise: Maybe they create two Über-Bye Weeks each season, with which something like 12 teams have byes and no game starting until 4 p.m. ET.

So assuming there is no Thursday night game or Monday night game (though I am guessing both NFL Network and ESPN would want one), this means three games would be played at 4pm and there would be a Sunday Night game on NBC. Why not just give teams the entire bye week off at that point? If NFL Network and ESPN still want their games, NBC will want their game, and there is one game being played at 4pm on Sunday. Even if there are only Sunday games, that is only four games. At that point it almost makes sense just to give every team the week off for simplicity sake.

I wouldn't necessarily classify these as bad ideas, but the logistics how of this could work out may not make sense and the owners would have to convince the NFLPA it was a good idea as well. Roger Goodell can't unilaterally make a decision like this without buy-in from the NFLPA. Sometimes I think Bill believes because Person A thinks an idea is a good one, this means automatic buy-in from Person B, when this isn't necessarily true. Bill has this misconception about NBA trades most frequently. Bill thinks if he himself believes a trade makes sense then the GM of an NBA team should obviously agree the trade makes sense.

Recently, Selig insisted that he'd retire when his contract ends in 2014, a bitter disappointment to everyone who wanted to follow a professional sports league run by someone IN HIS EIGHTIES. Are you kidding me???

Kenesaw Mountain Landis was MLB commissioner at 78 years old and died in office. He could have been 80 and served as MLB commissioner. Only his death prevented this from happening.

And look, I know the concept of electing sports commissioners is fundamentally impossible. It's a pipe dream through and through. But if Roger Goodell's job were threatened by an election, maybe he'd start thinking about semi-radical ideas like "an 18-week season with two byes."

I care not for this idea. I like a 17 week season with one bye. Maybe I am the only one who doesn't like this idea. To elect the commissioner seems silly though. Who would do the voting and could people vote more than one time? Not to mention, the NFL commissioner serves at the pleasure of and for the NFL owners. Why should anyone but the NFL owners get to decide or provide input on who serves for them in this capacity? This would be like the general public electing the CEO of a corporation. That's essentially what the NHL/NBA/MLB/NFL are, corporations.

To paraphrase an American hero named Scott Fujita, we're disappointed in you, Roger. You're a hypocrite. And there's just no way around it.

Yeah, Roger suck. Consider yourself ethered by Bill and he ain't beefing down.

Here's the kind of fantasy season I'm having with my crummy West Coast team: 

Here's the kind of thing I don't care to read about: Anything more than a cursory discussion of your fantasy team when I am not in the same fantasy league as you.

In other news: Cousin Sal and I actually had a brief "Should we bet the Browns at 50-to-1 to win the AFC North" conversation this week...Could the Browns go 7-3 the rest of the way with an easy schedule? See, you're screaming, "NO!!!!!!!!!! THERE'S NO WAY!!!!!!" But even us having that 90-second conversation about it had to be the Browns' biggest win in five years, right?

Absolutely. Because Bill Simmons is the ultimate decider on whether a team is a good team or not, and he will signify this by talking about the team, it is always an incredible honor for the great Bill Simmons to acknowledge your team may be competitive.

Robert Griffin III (-3.5) over Andrew Luck

Isn't it funny how this line has swung five times already?

It is funny how this fictional line has swung five times already. This is almost can be explained by the fact Bill creates this line every week in his NFL picks column and has full control of the line.

"Isn't it funny how my opinion changes from week-to-week? It's almost like I have no control over my own opinion."

Dolphins' Bye Week (-4) over Eagles' Bye Week

Put it this way: Miami didn't have to throw anyone off the stench of its season by firing a defensive coordinator who never should have been hired in the first place.

Does Miami's season really have a stench? I have been sort of impressed with the Dolphins for being 3-3 with a rookie quarterback. I guess the Dolphins 3-3 season isn't impressive to Bill.

And as Mike Lombardi pointed out on my podcast this week, Andy Reid won't do the right thing by promoting Nick Foles and looking toward the future, because that future probably doesn't include Andy, so he's going with the guy who can help him win right now. It's always fun when a coach or GM's short-term interests go directly against the long-term interests of the franchise, right?

This isn't exclusive to Andy Reid. I didn't hear the podcast, but I hope Mike Lombardi and Bill acknowledged nearly every coach who is coaching for his job will many times have his own short-term interests go against the long-term interests of the franchise.

Broncos' Bye Week (+4.5) over Falcons' Bye Week


Calling Peyton Manning "noodle" still isn't funny.

Is anyone else rooting for Bowe to snap on his QBs like Camila did on Big Easy on The Challenge this week? Wait, you didn't get that joke? Why aren't you reading Jacoby's reality-TV column every Friday?

Because it isn't interesting at all.

Ravens (+6.5) over TEXANS

Are we sure the Texans are good? Sure seemed like Rodgers, Peyton Manning, and even Mark Sanchez could throw pretty easily on them...Oh, and the Ravens are 6-0 lifetime against the Texans. And everyone is counting them out and leaving them for dead since those season-ending injuries for Lardarius Webb and Ray Lewis. Here's your "NOBODY BELIEVES IN US!" pick for Week 7: Baltimore 34, Houston 24.

Juuuuuuuuust a big outside. Bill almost got the total amount of points scored in this game correct, but he missed badly on the score.

Meanwhile, in last week's column, a reader wondered what this year's "Suck for Luck" quest should be called, offering us "Torpedo for Geno" (for Geno Smith, the likely no. 1 pick)...The three best ideas in reverse order …

1. "Geno-Schneid"

The most common suggestion was actually "Geno-Cide," which we're avoiding for obvious reasons because it crosses every line and about 10 other lines beyond all the other lines.

But "Geno-Schneid" (first suggested by Haverhill reader Ernie Bassi) — now that's comedy! And it actually works!

Other than the fact it still sort of sounds like you are saying, "genocide," this still works I guess. Let's immediately not adopt this phrase.

Then Bill whines about his 3-3 Patriots for a few paragraphs.

And I didn't even mention our Hall of Fame QB, who now takes two intentional groundings a game, throws it into traffic in the red zone and randomly ducks during pass plays even when nobody is behind him.

Bitching about your Hall of Fame quarterback who is having a pretty good season. Now that's something every sports fan can identify with and understand as being something a Patriots fan could and should complain about. Bill doesn't sound spoiled and overly-whiny at all.

The more I'm thinking about it, I might skip this game altogether and take my kids to a pumpkin patch or something. Who needs to be angry on a Sunday in mid-October, the greatest month of the year? And if you think I'm overreacting, check out these e-mails …

Yes Bill, we are aware there are other whiny, bitching, spoiled Patriots fans who write into you complaining that everything isn't perfect and it is a travesty the Patriots have the audacity to show up on Sunday with a .500 record. You have created this generation of whiny bitches and they want to be just like you. Congratulations.

The Patriots with a one score lead give me the same feeling as A-Rod batting in the 9th inning. —Cory, Miami

Good one Cory! Relevant AND it bashes A-Rod.

Here's all you need to know about the state of the Patriots, and the defense in particular: On that last Seattle drive, I would have absolutely bet anything I owned that the Seahawks were going to score and beat us by one point. I'm going to to punch a wall now. —Kyle, Cambridge, MA

This is Bill's fault. He has created generation of idiots who use their own feelings as justification their opinion is right.

We know how this ends right? We're either looking at a season ending like the 2006 season ended or the 2009 season ended. Why should I invest three more months of my life for that? —Cabot, Miami, FL

The Patriots made the playoffs in both of those seasons by the way. If there was any way Cabot could sound like any more like a fair weather fan, I am not sure how this could occur.


In February of 2005 Tom Brady was 27 years old, had three Super Bowls, and was coming into [h]is prime. Now he's 35, still has three Super Bowls and is exiting his prime. How is this possible? Trading 80% of your first round picks is a start. Wasted prime. —Muzz, Woburn MA

Dear God, this is almost as bad as Cabot's email. These Patriots fans are the equivalent of wealthy 16 year old girls who are pissed off their daddy bought them last year's model Range Rover. Buy some balls and stop whining about the "wasted prime" of your quarterback when your team has missed the playoffs twice since the year 2000. Have some fucking perspective and quit acting like a baby who had his binky taken away. These specific (and not every Patriots fan, not at all) Patriots fans have had it better than nearly every other NFL team over the past decade, yet these guys choose to act like they cheer for the St. Louis Rams.

This is what Bill Simmons has caused. His decade-long whine-fest at ESPN has caused his SimmonsClones and Simmonsites to be just like him. They have become prissy little drama queens who treat every loss as the end of an era and fully expect their favorite team to win a title every year, and if they don't win a title every year they curl themselves into a little emo ball of sadness and use Bill as the outlet for their frustration. This is the current state of fandom.

ESPN's NBA Countdown (+13.5) over TNT's Inside the NBA

Take the points. At worst, we can hang around and hit a garbage-time 3 to cover the spread … right?

Maybe Bill will write a rap song about how cursed the Celtics are and perform it on "NBA Countdown."