Wednesday, April 24, 2013

6 comments Hide Your Common Sense, Get Ready for Your Blood Pressure to Rise, Because Gregg Easterbrook is Back

Gregg Easterbrook is back! I have missed him greatly. My blood pressure has lowered, my eyesight has straightened back out and there has been way too much sensible NFL analysis of late. It's good to have Gregg back showing us that he really doesn't understand the NFL and mislead his readers into believing the points he is attempting to make are (a) good points and/or (b) factually accurate. Gregg makes his great return to "mock" the mock drafts, or as I prefer to say it, he has returned to continue being a useless dipshit. I almost forget how frustrating Gregg can be until I read TMQ once again.

As the draft approaches, here's an incredible insider tip regarding team needs -- everybody needs everything.

The first sentence is a doozy. No, everybody doesn't need everything. The Packers don't need a quarterback and they don't really need a wide receiver. The Patriots don't need a quarterback and the Vikings don't need a running back. We just started and Gregg is already spewing some Grade-A nonsense.

Those thumbnails of team draft needs? Each one should read, "Needs: QB, RB, FB, WR, TE, OT, OG, C, DE, DT, ILB, OLB, CB, FS, SS, P, K, RS, SPT."

No, it shouldn't read that because that is factually incorrect. Ever team doesn't have a need at every spot on the roster. Good to have you back, Gregg. Now go back wherever the hell you just came from.

Between the size of NFL rosters, injury risk and salary cap turnover, even the best teams annually seek reinforcements at nearly every position.

Again, this isn't entirely accurate. Teams will draft backups for quite a few positions, but the best teams don't replace starters at every position on the roster from year-to-year.

the Super Bowl winners have vacancies at eight of their starting positions. And they were the best team of 2012!

The Ravens are a bit of a different story. They went into the offseason knowing they would have more significant changes than a team that wins the Super Bowl usually has. Usually the Super Bowl-winning team doesn't replace 8 of the 22 starting positions on the roster. Ozzie Newsome and Steve Bisciotti stated they weren't going to be holding on to older players and make the same mistake they made after the Super Bowl-winning season in 2000.

What NFL team is totally set at quarterback? The Broncos, Giants, Patriots, Ravens and Saints, all with future Hall of Fame starters, are unsettled at backup.

NFL teams can't have great depth at every spot on the roster. This is just reality.

Maybe the Forty Niners are totally set at offensive line -- maybe. Maybe the Falcons don't need anybody at wide receiver -- maybe. What NFL team is totally set at offensive line, linebacker, running back, defensive back, at any position?

My favorite team is set at linebacker and running back. They are also set at quarterback. That's three roster positions they seem totally set at and they aren't a very good team. I would bet almost every NFL team is set or really close to being set at at least one position on the roster. Gregg is simply spewing inaccuracy right at the very beginning of TMQ.

Annually, even winning NFL teams look to replace many players based on injury, age, the salary cap and the endless search for better performance.

This doesn't explain why Gregg makes a list "unwanted" players every single year. If Gregg understands players get cut for valid reasons then how does he get off calling these type of players "unwanted"?

At draft time, everybody needs everything.

This is pretty inaccurate. Not that I would expect Gregg to ever say something in TMQ I would consider to be accurate, but he seems to have come back from his TMQ break babbling even dumber shit than usual.

Draft time means such nonsense as NFL scouts and sports radio obsessing over hundredths of seconds. See below for TMQ's annual lampoon of absurd precision.

You can also see below my annual lampoon of Gregg's inability to understand that precision is required when evaluating NFL players. Gregg's consistent inability to understand the need for hundredths of a second constantly serves as a source of amusement to me.

Now the Clips have won their division, besting the cost-no-object Lakers. Didn't see that coming! What NBA team takes over the mantle of draft futility? See below. 

Great, let's get some NBA analysis from Gregg. He probably watches two games total during an entire NBA season so he clearly feels like he is an expert on the NBA.

Now begins Gregg's "mocking" of mock drafts. He's even less creative, factually correct and amusing than normal.

1. Kansas City. Carl Brewer, mayor, Wichita, Kan. Wichita State made the men's Final Four while the mega-hyped University of Kansas team watched at home.

Small sample size alert! Wichita State made a Final Four this year, while Kansas has made 14 Final Fours and won three National Championships. Kansas is hyped for a reason and that reason is they are a very good team who made the National Championship Game in 2012. 

2. Jacksonville. Errol Flynn, actor. The only person whose mustache is more recognizable than the mustache of Jags owner Shahid Khan. In second round, Jags hope to tab Tim Tebow. No wait, Jacksonville does not want Tebow -- that would be popular and exciting and might cause the Jags to win games. 

We all know when an NFL team makes an exciting and popular move then that will definitely lead to a Super Bowl victory. Just ask the Jets how well signing Tebow worked out for them last year and the Eagles about how well building their "Dream Team" worked out two years ago. Popular and exciting doesn't always equal wins.

5. Detroit. Theo Tonin, imaginary mobster. Leader of the Detroit mob, Tonin is the Big Bad of the hit series "Justified."

Is there any topic that Gregg actually understands and can discuss without being factually incorrect? Theo Tonin is not the Big Bad of "Justified." He has been shown twice in Season Three, both times for just a few minutes, and he is not supposed to play any role in Season 5. Tonin has been seen twice during the series run and never directly as the Big Bad. But don't worry, Gregg will have more idiotic thoughts on "Justified" later in this column that I don't look forward to.

9. Jersey/B. Rex Harrison, actor. He could rep in for Rex Ryan and belt out "I Could Have Blitzed All Night." 

Why does ESPN post this column every week during football season? Is this just a part of the plan to destroy the morale of their viewers? I'm assuming the very existence of Skip Bayless on television is a part of this plan as well.

14. Carolina. Matt Saracen, quarterback, Dillon Panthers. During last summer's Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, party figures tried to call the city's NFL field "Panthers Stadium" to avoid reminding voters the place is named for bailed-out, robo-signing Bank of America. 

As mentioned in the article that Gregg felt the need to link, but not read, it is often referred to as Panthers Stadium by some fans in the Charlotte area. I call it Bank of America Stadium, but will refer to it as Panthers Stadium if I am talking to one of my friends.

17. Pittsburgh. Bruce Arians, head coach, Cardinals. Needing someone to scapegoat for their playoff loss at Denver, the Steelers cashiered offensive coordinator Arians -- who went on to a fantastic season as a fill-in coach at the Colts, then the top job at Arizona. P.S.: Steelers haven't been to the postseason since.

P.S.: It's only been one season since Arians left the Steelers, so to say the Steelers "haven't been to the postseason since" is basically saying, the "Steelers didn't make the playoffs last year." Ben Roethlisberger was hurt for a while in 2012, which probably affected the Steelers playoff chances more than Bruce Arians not being the offensive coordinator affected their playoff chances.

19. Jersey/A. The Rockettes. Now that the Jets have leggy cheerleaders, what's the Giants' excuse?

They don't want to pay for a cheerleading squad? They are smart people who understand there is no correlation between a team winning games and having a cheerleading squad?

22. St. Louis. Bernard Madoff, jailed former confidence man. Rams owners Stan and Ann Kroenke, net worth estimated by Forbes at $4.4 billion, are trying to graymail local taxpayers into providing $700 million in public funding for stadium upgrades. Then they will keep almost all revenue. This plan would have embarrassed Madoff, whose marks handed over money of their own free will.

23. Minnesota. Allen Stanford, jailed former confidence man. Vikings owners Zygi and Mark Wilf, combined net worth estimated at $1.3 billion, graymailed local taxpayers into providing $498 million in public funding for a new stadium. They will keep almost all revenue. This plan would have embarrassed Stanford, whose marks handed over money of their own free will.

This really isn't that unusual. Owners sometimes want the public to finance improvements to their stadium or help in the building of a new stadium. It's not normal for the taxpayers to expect to receive some sort of income or revenue from this stadium. The trade-off is that the public helps the Rams or Vikings build a new stadium, while the team agrees to not leave town (if that possibility was even up for discussion), but mostly the fans get to see the Rams or Vikings play football in the new stadium. It's not the most fair of trade-offs, but there is a reason publicly funded stadiums are sometimes controversial.

31. San Francisco. Ivan Pavlov, physiologist. He will attach electric contacts to Jim Harbaugh and administer a shock whenever Harbaugh fails to call runs at the goal line. By their next Super Bowl appearance, the Forty Niners will be ready to win. 

For the 900th time, the Ravens were loaded up to stop the run. We will never know what would have happened if the 49ers had tried to run the ball more than once, but the Ravens were determined to make Colin Kaepernick beat them with his arm. Not to mention, Harbaugh doesn't make the offensive play calls, Greg Roman does. Not to even mention further, the 49ers weren't exactly on the goal line. They were close, but it isn't like they were on the 1-yard line and threw the ball three times.

32. Baltimore. Anquan Boldin, wide receiver. The Ravens may regret unloading this gentleman for a mere sixth-round draft choice. In the 2013 postseason, Boldin caught passes totaling 380 yards and four touchdowns. But he's 32 years old, get rid of the bum! Expect the football gods to wax wroth against the defending champions.

So basically this means if the Ravens don't win the Super Bowl next year Gregg will claim it is because they traded Anquan Boldin, despite any evidence to the contrary.

Alford can pal around with Andy Enfield, now at USC. Enfield spent just two seasons at Florida Gulf Coast, then bolted the instant money was waved, not even pretending to care about his commitments.

I can understand this criticism of coaches who jump ship to another school. I get why Steve Alford gets criticism, especially since he had just signed a new contract with the New Mexico Lobos. It makes sense for him to get some criticism. There is also a part of me that is annoyed by Gregg criticizing Andy Enfield for going from Florida Gulf Coast to USC. What kind of person criticizes another individual for daring to take a promotion? Doesn't Enfield have an obligation to himself and his family to do as well for himself as he can? If Gregg were offered a promotion at his job, would he turn it down because he is already gainfully employed? Probably not. Gregg hides behind Enfield having a contract and he is breaking that contract, but the reality of sports is that a contract is only as good as the paper it is written on. Coaches leave for better jobs just like regular employees of a company will leave that company for a better job. Contracts mean nothing to college coaches and administrators. As soon as you understand that, you get less annoyed at Andy Enfield daring to further his career by going to USC.

Then there was the Mike Rice fiasco at Rutgers. A coach who insults and shoves players is a terrible coach. Why wasn't it completely obvious to anyone who attended a Rutgers basketball practice that Rice had no business with a whistle? Emotional abuse can be as bad as physical abuse, but can't be filmed.

I'm pretty sure the emotional abuse that Mike Rice dished out to his players was filmed. Not everything that was seen on that tape was physical abuse and much of it was also emotional abuse.

The Timothy Olyphant crime show "Justified" just wrapped its fourth season with deputy U.S. marshal Raylan Givens, the protagonist, having shot and killed at least 20 bad guys during the brief span of the series -- likely more bad guys than killed by all current actual U.S. marshals combined.

I love "Justified," so now Gregg is just pissing me off. It is a television show and is not supposed to perfectly show what reality is like for a U.S. Marshall. It's supposed to be entertainment.

"Justified" is offbeat and entertaining, especially episodes based on Elmore Leonard stories.

Only one of the episodes (the pilot) is considered to be officially based on an Elmore Leonard story. But no, continue talking about shit you don't know about.

"Justified" is praised for gritty realism:

Nope. Read any review of the show and the witty dialogue and characterization is usually what gets praised before anything else. Again, you are letting your ignorance show. Carry on.

Givens makes regular trips to a maximum-security penitentiary that is -- where? There are two federal high-security prisons in Kentucky, one about 140 miles from Lexington and the other about 125 miles away, plus a state high-security penitentiary about 225 miles distant. The prison Givens regularly visits is depicted as minutes from his office.

Actually, if you watch the show regularly it can be interpreted that the prison is a long way away from his office in Lexington. Raylan's task for a day will often be to pick up a prison and transport him somewhere. This isn't presented as a project for the morning, but Raylan's task for the day as given to him by Art, his boss. So the show does skip Raylan's drive in the car (and for good reason, no one wants to see Timothy Olyphant driving a car for an entire episode), but it is made fairly clear the prisons aren't exactly close to the Marshall's office in Lexington.

In one episode Raylan, protecting a prisoner from the mob, must stall for 30 minutes until backup arrives. The structure of the episode is: Can Raylan hold off the bad guys for 30 minutes? In that half hour, Raylan drives the prisoner from an isolated country house to an old high school in town; then drives back to the country house; then drives back to the high school; then gets a railroad dispatcher to stop a coal train in precisely the right place so another marshal and the captive can board, meaning the prisoner is long gone via rail when the mob attacks.

I'm not entirely sure this is how it happened if I remember correctly. I'm pretty sure Drew Thompson escaped with Rachel from the high school while Raylan distracted the mob by drawing attention to himself. My understanding was that Rachel got the railroad dispatcher to stop the coal train at the right spot while Raylan distracted the mob at the high school. So it was a packed 30 minutes, but Raylan had help in getting Thompson on the train.

Raylan needs to stall for 30 minutes because, viewers are told, "six Kentucky State Police cruisers are on their way" but cannot reach the town for half an hour. Is there really any location in Kentucky that has a high school but is 30 minutes from the nearest police car?

Well those who watched the episode would know that it wasn't necessarily the distance that was the problem, but that Tonin's men had set up a car in the road (which ended up having explosives in it) to block the police and Marshall Service from being able to pass. Art and Tim had to blow up the car with a Molotov cocktail in order to get the explosives to detonate so they could all pass. So it wasn't an issue of distance, but an issue of the police and Marshall Service safely getting to the school without being blown up or shot by the sniper who was set up to kill Drew Thompson (because Tonin assumed Thompson was with Art and Tim, not Raylan).

In the climactic sequence of "Skyfall," Bond rescues M in London, hops into his antique Aston Martin and drives to the Bond family castle in Scotland, there to make a last stand against the cackling super-villain. Scotland is a 450-mile drive from London. During the many hours Bond motors north toward the land of Scots, MI6 never sends backup to the castle, nor simply orders police to assist in protecting the head of a major British government agency. It seems all law enforcement officers in the entire United Kingdom have vanished. 

What's so interesting about Gregg's complaints in this section is they don't show flaws in a television show or movie, but show just how little attention and understanding Gregg paid when watching these shows or movies. The entire point of setting the trap for Silva was to make him think M and Bond were alone at an isolted place. Bond had Q leave an electronic trail so he could ambush Silva at Skyfall and finally kill him. The plan would not have worked if the British government had sent an entire army of agents to help protect M and Bond. Silva would never have shown up. Mallory, who was the de facto head of MI-6 when M was out of commission, approved this plan because he knew it would draw Silva out. So the plan was to have law enforcement disappear completely to draw Silva out.

Since "Winter's Bone," "Justified" has presented the Marshals Service as intently concerned with investigating rural drug dealing. This is a worrisome crime, but not one the agency has jurisdiction over. Protecting judges and courthouses, primary mission of the Marshals Service, has vanished from the show. 

This coming from a guy whose primary mission in writing is to talk about economics and public policy, and yet, he writes a weekly NFL column where he talks about television shows and movies. Go figure.

Viewers can only fret until 2014, since music playing under the final scene of the 2013 season suggests the hero believes he will never leave Harlan alive

"You'll Never Leave Harlan Alive" has been the song that ended Seasons 1, 2 and 4 of the show. It's a common thread for the show and not just a hint as to what may happen in 2014. 

Absurd Specificity Watch: Americans seem to love hyperbolic claims of precision -- perhaps it makes us feel that science is more efficient than it really is.

Or maybe specificity is used because thousands of simulations to help anticipate a result requires rounding to hundredths of a second/point/yard in order to let the reader understand how precise the results are.

When Nate Silver of The New York Times forecasts, as he did on the morning of the 2012 presidential voting, that Barack Obama will win re-election with "314.6" electoral votes to "223.4" electoral votes for Mitt Romney, such numbers are received with gravitas -- as if the decimal places made them deep, rather than silly.

Well, dumbass, there are 538 electoral votes and after thousands of simulations those are the results that Nate Silver came to. If he had left off the tenth of a decimal point (and it is a tenth of a decimal point, which is not even close to being hyper-specific) then he would have accounted for 537 electoral votes. His readers would wonder what the hell happened to the other electoral vote. If he rounded up or down, then he would be changing the results because Obama didn't get 315 electoral votes and Romney didn't get 223 electoral votes. The rounding to a tenth of a decimal point just provides perspective for the reader.

Football is wild for absurd precision. Here, a combine 40-yard dash time is touted as "4.27" seconds, trailing only a record of "4.24" seconds. A player who runs a "4.24" is half of 1 percent faster than a player who runs a "4.27," and would finish a 40-yard dash three inches ahead.

And we all know in football three inches faster or slower certainly wouldn't make a difference in whether a quarterback was sacked, whether a player got the first down or not, whether a player got a touchdown or not, if a quarterback fumbled or threw an incomplete pass, and whether a defensive player was able to tackle the offensive player or not. It's not like football is played at a fast pace and getting to the quarterback a tenth of a second too late makes a difference...except it does.

Does Gregg not watch football? Three inches can make a huge difference in the game.

Faster is better than slower, but only in Olympic-style track and swimming events might hundredths of seconds merit attention. 

This doesn't make sense. In football the players are chasing each other around, so if one player is slightly faster than another it can have an effect on the game. Three inches can determine whether a defender is able to trip up a running back trying to score a touchdown or not. Sometimes I forget how terrible Gregg Easterbrook is.

Maryland just raised its state income tax rate to 8.95 percent. It's certainly not 9 percent!

On $50 million in revenue the difference in 8.95 percent and 9 percent is $25,000. Maybe $25,000 isn't a lot of money to Gregg Easterbrook, but that's a pretty big difference in tax revenue. How can someone who tries to be smart and claims to be so smart be so fucking stupid? This can't be happening.

Medicare taxes are rising this year by 0.9 percent for many filers to help finance ObamaCare. It's certainly not a 1 percent increase!

No, a 0.9 percent increase isn't a 1% increase because there is a big difference in the rise of Medicare taxes by 0.9 percent and the rise of Medicare taxes by 1%. If you don't understand this, then that says more about you than how hyper-specific these numbers are.

Last fall, NFL Network said Barry Sanders's career average was "4.99" yards per rush. The difference between 4.99 and 5 yards is a third of an inch. 

I don't see the problem here. It's just a number rounded to the hundredth decimal place. Gregg must have really struggled with integers when he was in elementary school.

But absurd precision characterizes the Post rankings Matthews produces, which claim accuracy to the third decimal place. For instance North Fort Myers High of Florida is ranked 6.925, while Pensacola High of Florida is ranked 6.778. So North Fort Myers High is 2.168 percent better than Pensacola High? 

I would love to know from Gregg where should these rankings be rounded up or down to? Should North Fort Myers High be rounded to 6.9? 7? If so, then should Pensacola High be rounded to 6.8 or up to 7 as well? This would ruin the point of these rankings because they wouldn't accurately show the difference in the schools. There is a larger difference in these schools than zero percent or 0.1 percent. The more decimal places the number is rounded to, the better the rankings show the differences in the schools. This is really, really common sense.

Divide 65 by 11, and the result is 5.9090909. In most cases, the 5.9 is all that matters. In the Post's wacky mythology, the school would end up ranked as a "5.909." 

Gregg doesn't even understand his own stupidity. These are large amounts of numbers with large amounts of data that are being compared. Nate Silver isn't divided 65 by 11 one time, he is dividing larger numbers multiple amounts of time. So after so many simulations and so many numbers, the specificity is required to fully understand the data that has been produced. It's so frustrating that Gregg can not understand how data collection and reporting can work. It's basic statistics.

Next Week: Will there be a cheating scandal on NFL draft grades? 

Yes, there will be cheating. Mel Kiper will cheat by only handing out B's and C's so as not to be seen as wrong in the future when his draft grades are reviewed. I'm betting he won't fail a single team. Since he is such a draft expert, he wouldn't want to go on a limb and give an actual opinion using his supposed expertise.


HH said...

everybody needs everything

This is false on many levels. No team NEEDS anything - all of these teams would survive just fine without any more players, though they perhaps wouldn't win as many games. They all WANT to improve at every position, much like I WANT to improve my car to a 3000GT (mint-green), improve my house to a mansion, and improve my cell phone to a magic wand. Given that I, and NFL teams, function under a budget constraint, let's not worry about what we want. Let's worry about what teams can do to maximize success under a player and salary cap, and that's where "needs" make sense to even the casual fan. Stop being an asshole, Gregg.

the Super Bowl winners have vacancies at eight of their starting positions.

Expect to see more of this. Under the cap, teams can create a window of few years in which to compete before they have to shed expensive talent. That will often also include the Super Bowl winners, who win at the end of their window.

The Broncos, Giants, Patriots, Ravens and Saints, all with future Hall of Fame starters, are unsettled at backup.

Unless you count the recent high picks (Broncos-Osweiler, Patriots-Mallett) and veteran backups (Giants-Carr and Saints-McCown). Ravens could probably use an upgrade, but they seem to be going the Colts way of "if something happens to our starting QB we're screwed anyway."

[the crap about the distance between the locations of Justified]

Maybe we just don't want to watch people driving for hours on end each season. I generally like realism, but I'm perfectly fine with time & space compression in TV.

But absurd precision characterizes the Post rankings Matthews produces, which claim accuracy to the third decimal place. For instance North Fort Myers High of Florida is ranked 6.925, while Pensacola High of Florida is ranked 6.778. So North Fort Myers High is 2.168 percent better than Pensacola High?

How exactly are you supposed to rank numbers that differ only in the third or fourth decimal other than by including those decimals?

This was a particularly stupid TMQ, and that's a high bar.

Bengoodfella said...

HH, that's a fun way to put it. These teams don't need these players, but they want them to improve their team. It's about maximizing success under the budgetary constraints the team has.

You think we will see more that? I feel like the Ravens are an outlier because they are a team who thinks they have learned from the past and don't want to repeat it. I could be wrong though. Teams may start shedding their older players and keeping the core in an effort to make another run and stay competitive.

I think a lot of teams are screwed if they lose their backup quarterback. I know Gregg is naming teams with great QB's, but once the starter goes down, there aren't a lot of great backups out there. Also, who knows what Osweiler or Mallet can do because we haven't seen them play.

I am a Timothy Olyphant fan, but I'm not sure I care to see him drive a car around. I really think they make it clear on "Justified" that the prison isn't very close. I remember a couple episodes where Raylan walks in the office and his assignment for the day is to transport a prisoner.

See, you can't rank them if they differ only in the third or fourth decimal and expect to be accurate. This is what infuriates me about Gregg. I think he's just trolling us.

Snarf said...

My faith in humanity was shaken last night. With all the talk of highly drafted guards, my roommate and I were talking about Alan Faneca. I knew he was drafted in the first round, but couldn't remember where. So I took a quick trip to the internet and googled "Alan Faneca." Hopped on his wiki page and saw his draft position. Began looking over his career accomplishments:
"9x probowler, nice."
"9x all-pro, sweet"
"2x NFL Alumni O-lineman of the year, awesome"
"Hey, you think he has a chance at HOF. I'm a Ravens fan, so I don't really like the Steelers, but he has quite the resume"
"TMQ non-QB, non-RB MVP"

Please tell me Gregggggg edited this page to include that....

Bengoodfella said...

Snarf, Faneca is one of Gregg's TMQ non-QB, non-RB MVP's. Clearly a fan of Gregg updated that page. Faneca was taken in first round, much like half of the other choices for that award. But always remember, first round picks are highly-paid glory boys.

Snarf said...

Oh, I know that he was. Just the fact that it's listed under key or important distinctions and awards section is what got me. The idea that is something to strive for only legitimizes Gregg's BS to a degree.

Bengoodfella said...

Snarf, I think it is on other TMQ non-RB non-QB award winners' wiki page too. It does give some credence, but some people know it doesn't mean anything.