Friday, December 21, 2012

10 comments Gregg Easterbrook Accuses NFL Teams of Giving Up on the Season

Gregg Easterbrook has continued trolling us all last week with his latest TMQ. I am becoming more and more convinced Gregg isn't paid by ESPN to be a writer, but is paid to irritate ESPN's readers much in the way Skip Bayless is paid to irritate ESPN viewers. Gregg is good at it, because very few times in a week do I get more irritated then when I read TMQ and he blatantly ignores a truth or shades facts in a certain way to try and prove a point he wants to make. This week Gregg says certain NFL teams are mailing the season in, as well as telling us he will be giving us a mini-TMQ next week. Perhaps Gregg is mailing in his Christmas Day TMQ?

The United States Postal Service might be losing billions of dollars, but much of the National Football League tried to bail it out by mailing it in this week.

Terrible. Apparently Gregg Easterbrook was jealous that Rick Reilly had cornered the market on awful puns and so he made his own entry into the groan-inducing joke competition.

San Diego lost at home by 24 points to a team that arrived for the game 4-9.

But this 4-9 team had beaten the Falcons the week before and had lost on the last possession of the game to Dallas, Atlanta, and Tampa Bay during this season. So the Carolina's 4-9 record was misleading in that good coaching could have gotten them at least two of those victories.

Buffalo lost a "home" game in Canada by 33 points. Kansas City, playing a Raiders team that entered 3-10, did not record a first down until 5:28 remained in the third quarter, finishing with 119 yards of offense against one of the league's worst defenses. Detroit lost by four touchdowns to a team that entered the contest having dropped nine consecutive games. Jacksonville played cross-state rival Miami and neglected to score a touchdown.

Yes, there were a lot of blowouts this weekend. This could be indicative of teams mailing it in or could be indicative of there being a lot of blowouts this weekend. The Bills, Chiefs, Lions, and Jaguars aren't very good teams, so perhaps they didn't mail it in and instead just didn't play well.

On Sunday, there were three shutouts in 14 games. Discounting for Atlanta shutting out the Giants -- that was a hard-played contest in which a 12-2 team was terrific --

See that game doesn't count because it doesn't fit Gregg's narrative of teams mailing in the end of the season. This is what is important to remember when being a sportswriter. Come up with a narrative, write so that the narrative fits what you are writing and ignore any evidence that doesn't fit the narrative you have come up with.

The Giants were shut out, but this was a "hard fought" shutout because Gregg knows the Giants haven't given up on the season and it would sound silly to say so. Gregg can say the Chiefs or Jaguars have given up because they aren't very good teams and when they lose another game or two Gregg can simply say they have given up, rather than say they lost because they lack talent.

To say many teams mailed it in this week actually is sugarcoating. They didn't even phone it in. They barely bothered to text it in.

I read this as Gregg Easterbrook saying, "Rick Reilly, I can out cornball your writing any day of the week."

Eric Decker of Denver beat Cary Williams of Baltimore for a 51-yard touchdown. Once Decker broke into the clear, Williams came to a stop and watched him, not bothering to pursue. 

Doesn't Gregg mean "lowly drafted" Cary Williams? Oh yeah, that doesn't fit Gregg's narrative that lowly drafted players work harder than highly drafted players.

Later, Denver's Knowshon Moreno jogged across the goal line untouched as the Ravens' front seven stood watching.

Doesn't Gregg mean first round drafted, highly drafted glory boy Knowshon Moreno jogged across the goal line untouched?

Detroit trailed Arizona 24-10 but was still alive with the ball on the Cardinals' 2 in the fourth quarter. Someone ran the wrong pattern, as two receivers went to the short left corner of the end zone. The pass was intercepted by Greg Toler. Wide receiver Kris Durham, the Detroit player closest to Toler, casually jogged to about the 10-yard line and then just stopped and watched as Toler went 102 yards for a touchdown, making no attempt to chase down the play.

Fourth round draft picks...what are you going to do about those lazy bums?

Seattle's Marshawn Lynch was running for a touchdown with only Buffalo's Da'Norris Searcy between him and pay dirt. At the goal line, Searcy stepped out of Lynch's way so he would not have to exert himself by attempting a tackle. 

Again, when a highly drafted, highly paid glory boy is coming at you and you are a lazy fourth round draft choice, then you gotta step out of the way.

Later, Earl Thomas intercepted a pass intended for Buffalo's Scott Chandler. Thomas fell to the turf; all Chandler had to do was touch him, and the play was over. Instead, Chandler did nothing, then didn't bother to chase Thomas as he took off for a 57-yard, game-icing touchdown. 

It was a game-icing touchdown in a game where the Bills lost by 30+ points. Interesting use of "game-icing" there by Gregg. What I mean by that is, Gregg continues to mislead his readers. Not only does Gregg say this was a "game-icing" interception, but he fails to mention Earl Thomas is a highly drafted glory boy and Scott Chandler is a lowly, lazy fourth round draft choice. Again, it doesn't fit the narrative Gregg attempts to deceive his audience into believing is true for a first round pick to perform well.

The Giants and Ravens are strong teams that played poorly; the Bills, Bucs, Chargers, Chiefs, Jaguars, Jets, Lions and Raiders simply quit.

This is an idiotic comment. Gregg is basically saying a team's record is directly tied to their effort. The teams that have bad records and lost, quit, while the teams with good records and lost, just had bad games. Gregg assumes it is impossible for a team to quit in a game and have a good overall record, while also assuming a team can continue to try hard in every game and still have a bad overall record.

The Raiders accomplished the seemingly impossible feat of winning while mailing it in, failing to record a touchdown at home against one of the league's worst teams. 

This is just so stupid. Teams can play hard and have a bad record. There are teams that do quit, but it's like Gregg doesn't understand certain teams have a different level of skill from other teams. Giving a good effort is great, but a team still has to have talent to win games.

The NFL is a year-round enterprise that, for 20 of 32 teams, builds up to only 16 games. Every quarter ought to matter. Thousands of hours of offseason preparation, then teams simply quit when the playoffs become out of reach.

This is some great writing here. Gregg makes an assumption that certain teams quit and then just runs with it, never even acknowledging his assumption could be incorrect.

Stats of the Week No. 3: In 2011, Chicago opened 7-3, then went 1-5. In 2012, Chicago opened 7-1 and since has gone 1-5. 

Of course these two seasons aren't comparable in that the Bears were playing without Jay Cutler in 2011 when they ended the season 1-5. The Bears haven't lost Jay Cutler for the season in 2012.

Sweet Defensive Plays of the Week: The score tied with 1:34 remaining in regulation, the visiting Steelers had first-and-10 on their 46, holding three timeouts, and seemed ideally positioned to drive to a winning field goal. Dallas showed an unusual blitz alignment and got a sack. The Steelers used a timeout. Dallas ran twists on both sides of its line and got another sack. The possession ended with a punt, and the home team went on to win in overtime. Rob Ryan often calls too many crazy fronts. But calling just a few, and saving them for a big moment in the game, can be effective. 

As always in TMQ, the moral of this story is that the Cowboys should have blitzed when a blitz ended up working, but should not have blitzed if blitzing ended up not working. Whatever the outcome of the play, that's how Gregg decides whether a team should blitz or not, then he bases his criticism on the outcome of the play. It's very annoying and a way for Gregg to act like the smartest guy in the room when he is really chasing outcomes.

Because the Broncos yield the tiebreaker to New England, Denver needs at least one more victory to attain a bye week. The Broncs' final regular-season foes are Kansas City and Cleveland, combined record 7-21. This puts Denver in the driver's seat for resting starters in the regular-season finale, followed by a week off -- the very situation in which Peyton Manning tended to falter in Indianapolis. 

So now if the Broncos don't win the Super Bowl it will be because they rested their starters during the final week of the season. Just like last year all the playoff teams who didn't rest their starters faltered in the playoffs because they didn't rest their starters? It goes both ways. Should the Packers have rested Aaron Rodgers more and they would have beaten the Giants in the playoffs last year?

Perhaps you assume Golden was the sour player on this down. Veteran linebacker Lawrence Timmons ignored Witten, letting him run past; veteran defensive back Ryan Clark ignored Witten, letting him run past. Timmons and Clark are experienced performers. They knew a green guy had just come in and was likely to be targeted, yet ignored the receiver heading toward the green guy. Sour. 

What Timmons and Clark should have done is completely ignore the defensive play-call and blow their assignment so Golden's area on the field was covered? Does Gregg Easterbrook have a fucking clue about how NFL defenses are run? I don't think he does. He seems to believe defenses always run man-coverage and a defender can just ignore his assignment and do whatever the hell he wants to do. Golden's poor defensive play is bad enough, but the fact Gregg seems to think Steelers defenders can do whatever they want on a play is worse.

By firing Cameron now -- rather than this past offseason, when the offensive coordinator position could have turned over in an orderly manner -- Ravens coach John Harbaugh sent the signal that he expects yet another playoff collapse and wants an excuse lined up.

Gregg is so over-eager to point out how Harbaugh is pushing the blame away he doesn't look at this situation logically. If Harbaugh really wanted to blame Cameron for an imminent playoff collapse then he would keep Cameron on staff to blame him after the playoff collapse. It doesn't make sense for Harbaugh to fire Cameron now when Harbaugh expects there to be a playoff collapse in the future. Without Cameron on staff there isn't anyone to blame (other than Jim Caldwell) for a playoff collapse. So why would Harbaugh fire Cameron before the playoff collapse? It makes not of sense and this tells me Gregg Easterbrook is full of shit when he says Harbaugh is looking for a fall guy.

At the postgame media event following the playoff collapse Harbaugh/East appears to expect, he can blame Cameron for the team's troubled offense.

Except this doesn't explain why the offense failed over the last three games of the season and in the playoffs. If Harbaugh wanted to blame Cam Cameron for a playoff failure, it doesn't make sense to fire him now. Hypothesis fail.

Parents of children who are doing well in school should consider moving to Michigan, North Carolina, Virginia or Wisconsin, where the flagship state university is a prestigious institution, offering the chance of in-state tuition at a great college. (California has prestigious public universities, but its state budget, public schools and public university system are so fouled up, at the moment no one in his or her right mind would move to California for education.)

Apparently no one in their right mind would go to California-Berkley for an education. Good to know.

Its season on the verge of implosion, Philadelphia faced fourth-and-goal on the Cincinnati 1, score tied at 10, in the final minute of the first half. The home Eagles crowd roared for a touchdown try. Philadelphia is averaging 5.8 yards per offensive snap this season. The Eagles needed 1 yard in front of their home fans. Trotting out the kicker would send the team the message that the coaches expected to lose and were trying to hold down the margin of defeat.

When Andy Reid sent out the field goal unit, TMQ wrote the words "Eagles season over" in his notebook. And so it was -- Philadelphia went on to lose 34-13,

The Eagles were 4-9 prior to this game. Considering I believe the Eagles were seemingly mathematically eliminated from the playoffs prior to this game, it wasn't a longshot to write "Eagles season over" in a Selena Gomez Trapper Keeper notebook, considering mathematically the Eagles season was over at this point. This was a failure to make a good point.

The Bengals emerged from the game 8-6, with a decent shot at the postseason. They have been getting energy from Vontaze Burfict, who went undrafted after being roundly denounced in the draftnik world.

Son of a bitch. Quit deceiving your audience. Burfict's talent was never in doubt. Ever. The reason he was dismissed by draftniks is because he had a poor junior season, had a terrible Pro Day by his own admittance, tested positive for marijuana prior to the combine, blamed the Arizona State coaching staff in pre-draft interviews, and was known as a loose cannon on and off the field. I am sure if Burfict ends up having a great NFL career Gregg is going to point to him as an undrafted player who the draftniks missed on, but Gregg is leaving out the important fact that Burfict had three or four red flags, including throwing his coaching staff under the bus in interviews with NFL teams prior to the draft.

TMQ has long believed that whenever all experts are certain something will happen, the reverse is about to happen.

BotB has long believed if Gregg Easterbrook claims something is true, then it is probably false.

The spread of computers and Internet service into disadvantaged homes creates equity in access to the information and services available on the Web. But society needs to be aware of the downsides of electronics. Those computer and software gifts being opened this holiday season might, especially for teen boys, backfire. 

Thanks for the information, Gregg. The world wouldn't know how to parent without your assistance.

Then Gregg does on and on and on and on about perks that corporation board members give themselves and their CEO. I tend to agree with him on most of this, but there's this one part when he was discussing Leon Panetta and his flights on the taxpayer dime...

Panetta contended he needed to be in a private jet so he could talk without being overheard if the president suddenly called him about a classified matter. Occasionally there is a military operation, such as the Osama bin Laden raid, that requires the defense secretary to have access to scrambled lines and live intel. On those rare occasions, he shouldn't be taking a weekend trip home!

Yes, but what if Panetta is traveling when the raid is planned or when a military operation suddenly becomes necessary? It isn't the expected reasons that require him access to scrambled lines and live intel, but more the unexpected reasons that would require him access to this information. So it is easy to say Panetta shouldn't take a weekend trip home, but if he knows there will be a raid or military operation, but doesn't know when, then he can't necessarily postpone his trip home in anticipation of something that may not happen. Panetta wasted taxpayer money with his private jet flights and he should not have done this, but simply saying "he shouldn't go home" as a reason to not have a private jet seems to fail the logic test for me.

New England would score 28 unanswered points to tie the contest at 31. San Francisco's front seven looked tired as New England gained 520 yards, made 32 first downs and ran 92 plays. San Francisco snapped out of it with a 62-yard kickoff return followed by the game's decisive play, a 38-yard touchdown pass to Michael Crabtree as the Patriots blitzed seven on first-and-10.

I'm sorry, who caught the pass and scored a touchdown again, Gregg?

a 38-yard touchdown pass to Michael Crabtree

This must be the same Michael Crabtree who Gregg was just two years ago blaming for the 49ers woes. Gregg made up a fake "Crabtree Curse" where the 49ers couldn't win football games because the other 49ers players were jealous the 49ers paid Michael Crabtree the slotted money for the #10 overall pick in the draft. See, the 49ers players thought (according to Gregg) Crabtree didn't deserve this money, so the team wasn't playing well because Crabtree held out for more money, got his slotted contract for the #10 overall pick, and then Mike Singletary dared to allow Crabtree to play during the season. The "Crabtree Curse" was all of a crock of shit if you can't already tell.

The Patriots are 3-3 in games against teams likely to make the playoffs, a middling record, and finish the regular season with Jacksonville and Miami, a combined 8-20.

What Gregg fails to mention is the Patriots are 3-1 against teams from the AFC likely to make the playoffs and have beaten two AFC division leaders. So the Patriots may be 0-2 against NFC teams likely to make the playoffs, but they won't have to face either Seattle or San Francisco until the Super Bowl.

Leading 47-17 in the fourth quarter, the Seattle Seahawks faced fourth-and-4 on the Buffalo 43 and ran a fake punt. Russell Wilson was still in the game, not leaving until the score was 50-17 and less than five minutes remained. A week before, Seattle repeatedly had thrown deep in the fourth quarter when leading Arizona 51-0.

Gregg has no problem with a football team throwing deep with a 50 point lead in the fourth quarter as long as that team is a high school football team from Arkansas who always goes for it on fourth down.

Obscure College Score of the Week: Valdosta State 35, Winston-Salem 7 (Division II championship). Located in Valdosta, Georgia, Valdosta State University has "approximately 12,491" students

It's very difficult for a college to pinpoint on a daily basis exactly how many students they have on their web site because students are constantly withdrawing from school or students in the graduate program (depending on how the program is set up) may enter or withdraw from school at a certain point during the semester. So the school goes with the "approximate" calculation of their student body.

Next Week: Bells are ringing all across the local star cluster -- and a mini-TMQ will appear Christmas Day.

Much like the NFL teams he criticizes, it seems Gregg starts mailing TMQ in sometime around the Christmas holidays. 


Pillsbury said...

Give Gregg a break. 12,491 is obviously too "hyperspecific" for the mind to comprehend.

waffleboy said...

It has to be said every week, but Gregg is the worst. Of the three guys you regularly about this time of the year.

Peter King is just a big shambling mound of bad writing habits at this point. Thousands of words every week about all the perks that the NFL, NBC and SI throw at him, and him tirelessly updating us on his likes and dislikes regarding almost everything else in the world besides the subject he is being paid to write about. All of this is annoying, but you can live with it. He's like a dog that's been fed table scraps for too long. Sure, he farts under the table at dinner, but we've had the damn thing since I was a kid, and you don't go old Yeller over something like that.

Bill Simmons is a different sort of bad. Every column he's written for at least the last five years, could have be entitled "Admit it, I'm smart!" A lot of people think that Gregg shares this trait with Bill, but there's a big difference. Bill needs the reader to say to themselves, "my god, that guy's a genius. I never would have thought to compare the Kobe/Shack Lakers to the girls on on 90210." Bill needs someone out there to validate him.
Gregg doesn't need anyone for validation.

Gregg knows he smart. In fact Gregg knows he's smarter than everyone. This is why Gregg's columns reek of an icy contempt for all the simpletons who are going to read his column every week, and never grasp that going for it on 4th down is always a good idea, unless you don't make it, or come back to win the game later on, because your coach has faith in you.
Oh and for the record you can put the following Kenny Powers quote in front of every bullet point in a Gregg Easterbrook column
"Listen here you beautiful bitch, I'm about to fuck you up with some truth."

For example,
"Listen here you beautiful bitch, I'm about to fuck you up with some truth." The Raiders accomplished the seemingly impossible feat of winning while mailing it in, failing to record a touchdown at home against one of the league's worst teams.

Boom, tell me that just doesn't fit in there perfectly.

Actually, I've reached the point where I take Gregg's columns and just put random Kenny Power's quotes in them. Not only is this funny, because swear words are awesome, but they just seem to have the same mood and attitude towards humanity that Gregg has.

Anyway, thanks again for writing these up every week!

ivn said...

did Bill Simmons just explain a Yoko Ono reference in his newest column? Bill Simmons just explained a goddamn Yoko Ono reference in his newest column.

Anonymous said...

Yolo Ono = always relevant.

And I like how Easterbrook points out in THIS column that one must pick their spots when blitzing, but in his previous columns 4th down plays and fake field goals should be tried every time.

rich said...

Parents of children who are doing well in school should consider moving to Michigan, North Carolina, Virginia or Wisconsin, where the flagship state university is a prestigious institution, offering the chance of in-state tuition at a great college.

Yes, pack up and move because it's supremely easy and cheap to do so.

You also can't just up and move, you need to be in state for a minimum amount of time before qualifying for the in-state tuition and if there are younger siblings, you also have to ensure that you get them into a good school district within the state. Meaning that, if you're from a state that has a low cost of living, moving to a place like Virginia (cost of living in the Northern suburbs of VA is akin to moving to Manhattan) is going to cost you almost as much as just paying tuition anyway.

Moving is a fucking pain in the ass, especially if you're doing so in the middle of high school and since schools don't just look at your grades, you have to move to a new school and immediately get involved in extra curriculars in a brand new school, which is difficult to do for most teenagers.

So what happens if you pack up and move, but then because those schools are basically filled to capacity, your kid gets rejected? You're pretty much screwed. A lot of the "prestigious" state schools aren't easy to get into, so you have to consider what happens if you don't get in.

You also don't have to move to find a good state school because:

1) Most states have a decent state school at a reasonable tuition.

2) Most of the academically prestigious private schools give out massive chunks of financial aid. Half the cost of my undergrad was covered by my school.

3) If you have to take out student loans, take them out. If your degree isn't worth taking out loans for, then you're degree is fucking worthless and you shouldn't be getting it anyway. If you go for a degree that will be able to get you a good job, then taking out loans at 4% isn't the end of the world.

4) Work through school if you have to. Find a part time job and go to school. Just because you're at school doesn't mean you don't have time to do something like hold a job. I worked 20 hours a week during my undergrad, it didn't make a huge dent in my tuition, but it sure as shit paid the other bills.

Fuck I hate Greg.

Robert said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Robert said...

I always love it when Gregg is wrong from the very first sentence. And he's wrong in the most Easterbrook-y fashion ever - he's technically right, but only if you look only very casually on the surface and don't do even the most basic amount of actual research on the point.

The Post Office actually turns a reasonably large profit every year. The problem is artificial and forced on them by the accounting methods decided on by law.

The Post Office has been forced to pre-pay all projected health benefits they have to their employees for the next 75-years inside a ten-year window. That adds a massive expense. It's an expense no other business in the world has, and no other agency. The entirety of the Post Office's "debt" is artificially created by law. So yes, Easterbrook is right, but is completely wrong in substance - which I think is the perfect encapsulation of Easterbrook.

Joe Flacco threw a short sideways pass. The situation is first-and-goal on the 4, 30 seconds remaining, holding three timeouts. There's plenty of time to calls runs. A touchdown makes the score 10-7 at the half, and the Ravens usually win at home. Yet the call is a sideways pass, another mistake that seemed to result from the Ravens' puzzling decision to fire the offensive coordinator with three games to go.

I don't call out Easterbrook for the rest of the comment - yes, Flacco is a mediocre QB who threw a mediocre pass that got picked. My problem is this runs absolutely counter to everything he usually says. He constantly praises coaches who, on fourth down or at the goal line, go with lots of movement pre-snap, play-action, and clever passing plays instead of simply running the ball... when the team runs the ball and it doesn't work. When a team chooses NOT to run the ball and it doesn't work... well then they damn well should have run the ball shouldn't they have?

Perhaps you assume Golden was the sour player on this down. Veteran linebacker Lawrence Timmons ignored Witten, letting him run past; veteran defensive back Ryan Clark ignored Witten, letting him run past. Timmons and Clark are experienced performers. They knew a green guy had just come in and was likely to be targeted, yet ignored the receiver heading toward the green guy. Sour.

I'm sorry, but if the linebackers play call leaves Witten to the safety, you have to trust that an NFL player can actually play in the NFL. If you go and abandon your assignment to freelance you free up wherever you were for exploitation by the offence.

Also, notice how Easterbrook finds a way to shift blame from the "little-used" and likely lowly drafted safety to the "glory-boys" players on the defence.

moedrabowsky said...

Projection is a way for people to deny their own behavior by ascrobing it to others.

When Gregggggg accuses teams of quitting or coaches kicking field goals to avoid Having a shutout on their resume, it simply reveals what he would do in a similar scenario.

To quote Molly Ivins, Sheesh, what an asshole.

Snarf said...

Being a Ravens fan, I have to say that Gregg is farther from the truth on the Cameron/Harbaugh thing than he normally is, which is really saying something. In no way did he throw Cameron under the bus. Cameron has thrown himself under the bus for the past 2.5 years (didn't really have a problem with him during his first 2 years) and Harbaugh has repeatedly dove under the bus and got him out of there. Obviously nobody knows the inner workings of the Ravens, but its pretty widely believed that the owner has wanted Cameron gone for a while and Harbaugh stuck his neck out for him on many occasions. This firing was a long time coming and considering that Cameron was "Harbaugh's guy" to a degree, I don't see how this in any way deflects blame or "lines up excuses." I honestly can't imagine that Gregggggg truly believes half the crap he writes. Does he honestly think the league operates anything at all like his fantasyland? Players who stand around and do nothing, coaches just looking for excuses nonstop, football gods chortling, etc?

ZidaneValor said...

I love it when Gregg talks about how "nobody chased after the cornerback running for the pick-six." Gregg really believes offensive lineman and players from clear across the field should really be able to catch a cornerback in a dead sprint with a 10-15 yard headstart.