Monday, September 30, 2013

0 comments Terence Moore Hates Changes to the Game of Baseball Except the Ones Tells Him He Has to Like

As we learned last October, Terence Moore loves the one game Wild Card playoff that MLB added to the current playoff system just last year. It's interesting that Terence likes this one game Wild Card playoff since he hates nearly every other change in MLB since the early 1900's. Terence would probably hate the integration of Negro League players into MLB if Terence weren't himself African-American. Here is a list of changes or adaptations to MLB that Terence has written about not liking:

-The Designated Hitter

-Pitchers who don't pitch complete games

-Baseball players who get hurt when baseball players never used to get hurt

-Instant replay

-Expansion of instant replay

-Instant oatmeal because it has the word "instant" in it

-The word "replay"

-Any improvements to make the umpire's impossible job easier

-Six man rotations

-Modern baseball celebrations

-Anyone who doesn't like Pete Rose, the Big Red Machine or can't accept everything was better back when Pete Rose and the Big Red Machine ruled baseball by winning two (TWO!) whole World Series titles

So I find it very, very, very, very odd that Terence likes the idea of a one game Wild Card playoff. I find it so odd that I think he is simply pretending to like the one game playoff because he works for There's no logical reason a person who doesn't like expanded replay, hates the designated hitter, and doesn't like any changes in baseball over the past 60 years would like the one game Wild Card playoff. But yet, Terence does like the one game Wild Card playoff. He likes it because it makes winning the division relevant again. I think it's good news winning the division is relevant again, but I hate the way MLB has chosen to go about making winning the division relevant again. After 162 games you have a one game playoff? That seems silly to me, but inexplicably Terence likes this idea.

Courtesy of the two Wild Card spots in each league, baseball is about to get crazy through September.

Two years ago the Wild Card finishes in the National and American Leagues were one of the best nights in baseball history. Shockingly, Wild Card and pennant races were exciting prior to the inclusion of an additional Wild Card team.

It's not like baseball pennant races were boring prior to the 2012 season. It is an exciting one game playoff, but it's also sort of contrived excitement. The one game Wild Card playoff manufactures the type of excitement that the crazy end of the 2011 season created more naturally through teams with similar records competing for one playoff spot. The 2012 Wild Card matchup was between the Orioles and Rangers who had the same record (success!) at 93-69 and the 94-68 Braves and 88-74 Cardinals. There was no reason for these two teams to determine who deserved the Wild Card since the Braves had proven over 162 games they were the better team, so what would one game do? I like the idea of a Wild Card playoff, but baseball can "get crazy" through contrivance anytime they want. Let's make the World Series a one game playoff! It puts more emphasis on winning the All-Star Game to gain homefield advantage. 

As I've said on several occasions, I could handle a three game series played at the home park of the team with the better record. I could even handle two games at the field of the team with the better record and one game at the field of the team with the worse record. A one game playoff for a Wild Card spot after 162 games have been played and the teams (most likely) don't have the same record is just stupid to me.

Trust me. Better yet, watch the Pirates, Reds and Cardinals scratch, claw and fight down the stretch in search of becoming kings of the National League Central.

Right, except St. Louis and Cincinnati both know if they don't win the division they always have a chance in the Wild Card game. This makes the 2013 season more exciting compared to 2011 when St. Louis or Cincinnati had to win the Wild Card over 162 games or they didn't make the playoffs at all? So Terence enjoys watching three teams scratch, claw and fight for three playoff spots, as opposed to in 2011 when these three teams would have been fighting for two playoff spots. Winning the division is more important, but there are more playoff spots to go around now, which cuts into the drama on which teams in the National League make the playoffs (as long as the standings stay where they currently are the Cardinals and Reds are way ahead in the Wild Card race).

They'll make this one of the greatest divisional races of all time. That is, if they aren't surpassed by more than a few teams in the American League East and the AL West.

The American League does have better divisional and Wild Card races at this point.

You see, the Rays won't yawn in the shadows as the Red Sox keep doing their thing atop the AL East, and the same goes for the Orioles and the Yankees. As for the AL West, the Rangers now have a three-game lead over the second-place A's, but you just know these two teams aren't finished swapping the top spot. I mean, the Indians are 6 1/2 games behind the Tigers in the AL Central,

These divisional races would be tight and exciting even if MLB didn't have the one game playoff. So the excitement of these races has nothing to do with the new one game Wild Card playoff. The only difference in the races in 2013 and 2011 is that in 2013 one more of these teams knows they are going to make it to a one game playoff with the chance to move to the next round against a division winner. The one game playoff does reward a team for playing well over a 162 games, but the one game playoff also penalizes teams who play well over 162 games but have the unfortunate luck of playing in a division with a strong division leader. The first Wild Card could show themselves to be 5-6 games (or more) better than the second Wild Card but forced to play in a one game playoff for the right to move on to the next round.

For example, last year the Baltimore Orioles would have won the AL Central by winning 93 games, but because they played in the same division as the Yankees they had to play in the one game playoff against the Texas Rangers, who also won 93 games, they had to be in the one game playoff while the 88 win Detroit Tigers won their division and were rewarded for doing so. I'm not against rewarding those win their division, but I also think if you are going to reward a team for playing well over 162 games then the Wild Card playoff needs to be more than just one game. Most of the time the two Wild Card teams aren't going to have the exact same record and I think a three game Wild Card playoff better rewards the Wild Card team who played well over 162 games.

Baseball will never have a completely fair playoff system and I recognize that. I'm for rewarding teams won their division as well. I don't like Terence acting as if the one game Wild Card playoff is a revelation of epic proportions that has changed MLB's playoff system for the better. It's not quite that great. Baseball is a sport that isn't built for one game playoffs (I recognize how a one game playoff between two teams who have the same record has been necessary in the past, since those games only occur if both teams were tied for the division or Wild Card lead) and I think the Wild Card "round" should reflect this and be a three game series instead of a one game "series."

Even if Cleveland fails for a 13th time in 14 games against its northern bullies, it won't be because the Indians have settled to play for a Wild Card spot.

Nobody should do such a thing. Not now.

I get this point of view. There is also an extra Wild Card spot now though. So the Indians don't have to settle for anything, but they know if they are now the fifth best team in the American League (and depending on the record of one of the division winners this second Wild Card team could be anything from the third best team in the American League to the fifth best team) then they get a chance to make the playoffs. So if teams have really settled for the Wild Card (which I don't believe) then they can still settle knowing there is an extra spot available in the playoffs.

Let's just say that it was a simple move by Major League Baseball officials before last season, but it was a brilliant one.

Terence Moore hates most changes to baseball that have taken place over the last 60 years, but he thinks this is a "brilliant" move. This tells me two things:

1. Terence works for Major League Baseball.

2. This change has to be a terrible idea. No move could be described by Terence as "brilliant" if it wasn't an ill-advised and poorly thought out move.

They added a second Wild Card to the playoffs for each league, and they made those teams battle in a single-elimination game for the right to advance further.

I greatly dislike the idea of a one game playoff between two teams that may not have the same record. I hate it. Baseball isn't meant to be played in a one game playoff. It's meant to be played where there is more than one game played between two teams so that a team's full strength (in terms of starting pitching) can be reflected in the outcome of the series.

It was so masterful that those in contention for a playoff berth these days know that it's about winning the division or bust.

But it's not about winning the division or bust because two National League and two American League teams will get a chance to play in a one game playoff in order to go on and play a division winner. There's more emphasis on winning the division now, but more teams have a chance at making the playoffs. So it isn't about winning the division or bust, but more about "winning the division or having to win one more game at which point the playoffs resort back to the previous Wild Card system where the division winner doesn't get a huge advantage."

Well, they should know as much. If not, here's a quick reason why teams should fear becoming just a Wild Card team: "The Outfield Fly Rule," or so it is called among those into chopping and chanting in Atlanta.

What happened in this game in my opinion is irrelevant as to the basic reason why the one game Wild Card playoff should be a three game series. Atlanta did play in the same division as the best team in baseball and won six more games than the Cardinals, which I think shows they were the superior team over 162 games, which is why I think it should be a three game Wild Card playoff. So maybe the game isn't entirely irrelevant. Anything can happen in one game, which is fine, but I'm not sure a one game playoff for the Wild Card is the best way to determine which team moves on to play in the NLDS.

First, a little history. From 1995 through 2011, there was one Wild Card for each league. That team opened the postseason in a best-of-five Division Series like everybody else, and it was unfair for division winners.

I wouldn't call it "unfair" but it didn't reflect what winning the division should mean.

Despite slipping through the back door of the postseason, Wild Card teams won the World Series five times under the old system, and they even took three straight World Series championships from 2002-04.

These Wild Card teams won the World Series three straight times in five and seven game series. It was fair they won because they proved they deserved to win the World Series by beating "superior" teams in long series. I have no issue with winning the division meaning something, but I do have a problem with 162 games being boiled down into one game.

The new system arrived last season. Now the winner of the Wild Card Game advances to a Division Series against the league's team with the best regular-season record.

Too many "ifs" if you're a Wild Card team these days.

There's one extra game a Wild Card team has to win and one extra team in each league gets a chance to qualify for the playoffs. Really, the only big change is more teams are in contention for a Wild Card spot, which means there are fewer "ifs" if you are vying for a Wild Card spot due to there being more Wild Card spots. It's not like teams have been slacking off in the past and not trying to win games since they already have the Wild Card locked up. I'm not sure that's happened.

To hear Braves fans tell it, Simmons' ball was deep enough in left to be called -- well, to be called nothing but a hit by the umpires and official scorer.

Well, it was deep enough to be a hit and not an infield fly rule, but that is not the reason the Braves lost the game. They lost the game because the Cardinals beat them and earned the victory. I will say if the Braves and Cardinals played a three game series we wouldn't be talking about the infield fly rule and could otherwise be talking about the Braves didn't get hits with runners in scoring position and that's why they lost the series 2-0.

The Cards won, 6-3, and those associated with the Braves blamed "The Outfield Fly Rule" instead of their inability to hit in the clutch and a crucial error earlier in the game by retiring third baseman Chipper Jones.

And again, this is the fallacy with a one game playoff. What makes it exciting also can create issues. The Braves didn't lose because of the outfield fly rule, yet that's what's remembered about this game. I believe the Wild Card playoff should be a best of three series.

When it's one and done in the postseason, anything can happen, and much of it isn't good. So most teams in serious contention for making the playoffs do whatever they can to stay away from those Wild Card spots.

This would mean some teams don't try to win their division and I would argue zero teams have ever intentionally tried to not win their division and settled for a Wild Card spot.

I said "most" teams, because for some teams, the more realistic choice is to play for a Wild Card spot. The Orioles, Indians, Yankees and Royals come to mind in the AL, where they currently trail their respective division leaders between 6 1/2 games to 8 1/2 games.

And under the current Wild Card system two of these American League teams know they are going to have a shot to make the playoffs, while under the system pre-2012 only one of these teams would get the Wild Card. This creates more certainty in the mind of these teams that they will have at least one chance to prove themselves in the playoffs, while under the pre-2012 system there was a greater sense of urgency because only one of these four teams had a chance to get the Wild Card. I don't mind the current system, I just don't think it is as spectacular as Terence does and wish it were a three game series for the Wild Card spot.

While Boston did the unprecedented by blowing a nine-game lead for the AL's Wild Card spot, Atlanta surrendered an 8 1/2-game lead for the NL's Wild Card spot. 

There was only one Wild Card in each league back then, but the winner did have a best-of-five series up ahead.

And under the current system the Red Sox and the Braves would have been rewarded for their collapse by getting one more chance to try and win the Wild Card spot, despite the fact their record over 162 game showed they probably didn't deserve to make the playoffs. It's not like the Red Sox and Braves just quit playing hard because they knew they had the Wild Card locked up.

That's opposed to the uncertainty that awaits Wild Card clubs these days.

There was uncertainty pre-2012 as well. Teams didn't know if they were going to win the Wild Card spot and there was one less Wild Card spot available to be had. The idea the one game Wild Card playoff creates more uncertainty seems like a fallacy to me and it creates ratings and drama for these games, which I get is great for the game and exciting to watch, but I don't believe a one game playoff after a 162 game season is how the Wild Card winner should be decided.

I hope gave Terence a raise for toeing the party line so well.

Saturday, September 28, 2013

4 comments Bill Simmons Has 14 Reactions to the Trent Richardson Trade Because a Longer List Means Higher Quality Content, Right?

Bill Simmons has 14 reactions to the Trent Richardson trade. Yes, 14 reactions. Bill is at the point where he is convinced a longer column makes up for less quality in his writing. He's like a band who knows their songwriting isn't as good as it used to be, so they make it up their fans by playing longer songs. It's like saying, "Hey, our work isn't as good as it used to be, but look how long we are playing our new mediocre material." Bill, not shockingly, applauds his good friend Mike Lombardi for trading Trent Richardson and Bill also has his Week 3 picks. NFL season is an exciting time for Bill because he doesn't have to resort to writing a mailbag in order to cover up for his lack of new, original material.

My first reaction: What?????

I'm guessing it took Bill 15 minutes to think of his first reaction. This may be the worst time to mention Bill broke this column up into two pages for no good reason, but I just mentioned it anyway. Neither section is especially long, but he broke up his comments on Richardson from his Week 3 picks. He probably did this just to make me nitpick him. Everything is about me.

My second reaction: Wait, shouldn't the Browns have gotten more for Trent Richardson?

If it were still 1989, then yes, the Browns should have gotten more for Trent Richardson. 

My third reaction: If Richardson turns into Edge James 2.0 for the Colts, Lombardi will be back on my podcast in time for the 2014 draft!

Bill rides the fence on this issue on whether he thinks trading Richardson for a first round pick was a smart move. I'm just kidding! Bill basically states that Mike Lombardi has revolutionized tanking and has set a standard other NFL teams will eventually follow while attempting to tank. I feel like trading 2012's first round pick for a 2014 first round is something he would normally rip the Cleveland Browns for doing. Of course this is assuming one of Bill's friend isn't the GM of the Browns, so all bets are off since Lombardi and Bill are friends. Isn't it fun how relationships affect the coverage of sports stories?

My sixth reaction: Wait a second … are we sure Trent Richardson is good?
(Did some Googling … looked at his numbers … noticed he ran for just 3.4 yards per carry behind what we thought was a solid offensive line …

Yes, "we" did think the Browns had a solid offensive line. I love reading Bill Simmons' columns in order to find out what I think.

My seventh reaction: Just because Richardson went third overall in the 2012 draft, does that mean that's where he should have been drafted?

This is the seventh reaction and Bill is already stretching to desperately find a way to start a discussion. This same question could be asked of any NFL player drafted any point in the NFL Draft, regardless of whether that player was traded or not.

found a PFT piece with Jim Brown saying he thought Richardson was "ordinary" and that he "wasn't impressed" with Mark Ingram one day before the draft … found Mel Kiper calling Richardson a "rare talent" in his 2012 draft grades … found a bunch of "Richardson is overrated" articles heading into that draft … remembered how dumb Cleveland's old regime was for trading up one spot to get him when Minnesota just wanted to take Matt Kalil anyway …

Oh yeah, the old Browns regime was stupid for trading up a spot to get Richardson. I would assume based on this comment Bill would ordinarily find trading Richardson for a first round draft choice a year after he has been drafted to be dumb too. After all, if trading up one spot to get a player is dumb, wouldn't trading that same player away a year later for a lesser pick be equally as stupid in Bill's simpleton mind? I'm trying to think overly-logical right now.

My eighth reaction: But wait — Lombardi worked for NFL Network and back then. Now he's the GM of the Browns. What did he think of Richardson before that 2012 draft? I looked up his archives. Here's what Lombardi wrote.
"I believe the safest pick in the draft — beyond Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin III — is Alabama running back Trent Richardson. He's a blue-chip player and has all the skills to quickly establish himself as a top-five player at his position. Forget the nonsense about not taking backs early — everyone would love the chance to get this guy."
My ninth reaction: Whaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaat? THE PLOT THICKENS!

This eighth reaction isn't an actual reaction, but more a question. Of course the same could be said for the seventh reaction as well. So the ninth reaction is an actual reaction, while the eight reaction is simply a question posed. I am only being hyper-technical because I think Bill is really stretching to make this Richardson discussion worthy of an entire column.

My 10th reaction: Was Lombardi's premise, "Forget the nonsense about not taking backs early," flawed? Yes and no.

What do you know, Bill rides the fence on this question. Also, this is yet another question and not a reaction.

He's right if you're talking about Adrian Peterson, or a prospect close to Peterson. He's wrong if it's anyone iffier than that. You don't need a franchise back to win a Super Bowl in the 21st century, as the Willie Parkers, Joseph Addais, James Starkses and Ahmad Bradshaws taught us.

Three things:

1. Trent Richardson isn't Adrian Peterson.

2. You don't need a franchise back to win a Super Bowl, but you do need Ben Roethlisberger, Peyton Manning, Eli Manning, or Aaron Rodgers.

3. The idea you don't need a franchise back to win a Super Bowl is a great theory and I support it, but the Browns drafted Trent Richardson in the Top 5 of the NFL Draft, where franchise players are supposed to go. So stating Richardson isn't a franchise back isn't a defense of the Browns in any way. I love the Browns got a first round pick back for Trent Richardson, but I don't think makes them smart any more than it shows the franchise needs to find a direction and go with it. It's a good trade for the Browns if you ask me. They got a first round pick for a player who probably isn't a franchise running back, except they passed up franchise players in drafting that running back a year earlier.

So basically Mike Lombardi the analyst was wrong and Mike Lombardi the GM was correct.

As for "luxury" running backs like Trent Richardson, teams have spent 13 top-16 picks on backs since 2002: Richardson (3), C.J. Spiller (9), Ryan Mathews (12), Knowshon Moreno (12), Jonathan Stewart (13), McFadden (4), Marshawn Lynch (12), Reggie Bush (2), Peterson (7), Ronnie Brown (2), Cedric Benson (4), Cadillac Williams (5), William Green (16). It's a grisly list. Only Peterson and Lynch made it. Bush and McFadden kinda sorta made it. Spiller made it in the "everyone overpaid for him in fantasy this year" sense. And that's it.

This data Bill is using regarding how running backs have performed over the past 20 years in the NFL is completely irrelevant as it relates to the Trent Richardson trade. What Trent Richardson is right now as a running back and what the Browns received in return for Richardson is all that matters. In that, I think the Browns succeeded.

My 11th reaction: If the Browns had just trumped Washington's offer for Robert Griffin III in 2012, they never would have found themselves in this pickle.

I know this isn't what this column is about, but why do people ignore the Rams could have had Griffin and given up nothing? They had the #2 overall pick and all they had to do was pick Griffin and then trade Bradford to get a few more picks. The Rams could have had Robert Griffin AND gained picks out of the deal. I'm done talking about this. Let the Rams keep Sam Bradford and have no one pay attention to the fact the Rams could have had Griffin and another pick(s) to go along with him. I know, I know, it's all hindsight. Still, if the Rams had done their homework on Griffin...

They were outwitted by Daniel Snyder and the Vikings (Daniel Snyder and the Vikings!), then "landed" their QB by rolling the dice with a 28-year-old rookie.

To be fair, the Vikings did make the playoffs last year...mostly because they have a real franchise running back who was drafted in the first round.

My 12th reaction: Is it possible that Cleveland's old regime had no idea what they were doing? We knew the Weeden experiment was probably doomed, but why didn't it bother us more at the time when the Browns spent a top-three pick on a back?

I didn't hate the Richardson pick when it happened. I thought he was going to be a great running back and always thought he was much better than Mark Ingram even when Ingram was the Heisman Trophy winner.

When my illegitimate son Barnwell wrote his 2011 and 2012 Trade Value columns, you might remember, he almost completely devalued running backs. Only Peterson made 2013's list (no. 30). Only Ray Rice made 2012's list (no. 39). So why take one in the top five? What's the point?

This is some good old fashioned Bill Simmons logic. Bill Barnwell wrote his 2011 Trade Value column on August 31, 2012 and Trent Richardson was drafted by the Browns in April 2012. So basically Bill is writing the following question:

"Bill Barnwell devalued running backs in his trade value column. Why didn't the Browns use a time machine to move four months into the future in order to find out Bill Barnwell's opinion on the value of a running back, jump back into the time machine and then base their draft evaluations on Barnwell's opinion? What's the point of taking a running back when Bill Barnwell doesn't think the Browns should, even though the Browns wouldn't have access to this opinion at the time they drafted Richardson?"

So Bill is posing a question that not only would require time travel in order to be answered, but would also require the Browns to ignore their own evaluation of Trent Richardson and pay attention to the opinion of a sportswriter. Bill really amazes me sometimes. He not only believes teams should listen to what his writers at Grantland may say, but also thinks NFL teams should base their draft picks on a column that wasn't written at the time they made the draft pick. Brilliant.

Justin Higdon of defended the Richardson deal and made a shrewd point: He's the first back since Ricky Williams to fetch a first-rounder in a trade. Normally, they go for much less. St. Louis gave up a fifth- and second-rounder for Marshall Faulk. Seattle gave up a fourth and a fifth for Lynch. Indy allowed Edgerrin James to leave for nothing. Now Richardson is fetching a first-round pick? Doesn't this seem … off?

Yes, because I don't think Richardson is worth a first round pick. Of course, and I'm not contradicting myself here I promise, Richardson doesn't have to be a franchise back for the trade to work out for the Colts. Basically, Richardson isn't worth a first round pick overall, but to a team like the Colts who need a running game to help out Andrew Luck then he is worth that price. It's sort of like how Joe Thomas isn't worth a first and third round pick, but the Giants would possibly giving that up to acquire him from the Browns. Maybe not, I'm just spit-balling here and I hope you know what I mean. This is how players get overpaid in free agency. A player's worth is inflated by the needs of one team. So while Richardson probably isn't worth a first round pick to most NFL teams, the Colts perceived need meant he was worth a first round pick to them.

My 13th reaction: Could Cleveland be the first NFL team to steal my NBA-centric concept of "It's better to bottom out than be stuck in no-man's-land?"

Bill is now under the impression that he invented tanking. There's literally nothing Bill won't take credit for. I'm shocked he doesn't take credit for inventing theories since he is the one who proposed the Ewing Theory to the general public.

In the NBA, you either want to be really good or really bad (with no in-between). You don't want to finish 42-40 and lose in Round 1 every year. Basically, you don't want to be the Bucks.

As I wrote previously, the Rockets seem to have done pretty well for themselves recently while being the 8th/9th best team in the Western Conference over the past 5-6 years.

Next March and April, it's only getting worse. We'll see more tanking than we saw in the final 25 minutes of Saving Private Ryan.

Okay. Whatever this is, good job, it was hilarious.

But whenever this happens in the NBA, the general public gets it. They might not like it, but they get it.

Here goes Bill taking on his self-proclaimed role as the official spokesperson of the general public again. "We" as a general public get it.

And that's the most compelling part of this Richardson trade: For the first time, an NFL team is thinking like an NBA team. Fifteen years of futility nudged them there.

Yeah Browns fans, Mike Lombardi isn't continuing the tradition of being the GM for a rudderless, directionless Browns team while promising things will be better in the future and not giving fans a clear picture of how this time is different. Lombardi is revolutionizing the art of sucking by admitting his team sucks and then banking draft picks as a part of the promise things will be better in the future while not giving fans a clear picture of how this time is different.

So they accepted their fate much like the 76ers did and said, "Screw it, this is ridiculous, WE'RE NEVER GONNA HAVE A CHANCE until we find a franchise quarterback."

Interesting, I think Browns fans would recall this same conclusion was reached two years ago and the result was the drafting of Brandon Weeden. Actually, this conclusion was reached when Tim Couch was drafted. I'm not saying the Browns made a bad move by trading Richardson, because they got a first round pick for a player they weren't using effectively anyway. There is a difference in admitting as a GM that your team needs a franchise quarterback and actually having the ability as an organization to evaluate a quarterback, develop him and help him become a franchise quarterback by surrounding him with the right players and coaches. The Browns haven't ever had a problem knowing they need a franchise quarterback. Their issue has been drafting and finding that franchise quarterback.

So if you think about Cleveland's Richardson trade like it's an NBA trade, it makes more sense: The Browns will have a top-five pick at worst (probably higher), and then, if Indy misses the playoffs, that gives them a second chance at finding their QB.

Yes, but if the Colts make the playoffs then the pick is in the 20's. Don't just suggest the ideal situation that helps to prove your point, Bill.

Let's say Jacksonville lands that first pick after losing to Cleveland in the Toilet Bowl on December 1 (yes, they play). Cleveland then ends up with the no. 2 and no. 12 picks, and let's say everyone agrees that Jadeveon Clowney and Teddy Bridgewater dwarf every other prospect.

Don't you love how Bill is working hard to get his buddy Mike Lombardi the best possible pick in order to give him the best possible outcome? Fuck it, let's just say the Browns get the No. 1 and No. 2 picks in the draft because the Colts lose every game from here on out. Wouldn't you take Teddy Bridgewater AND Jadeveon Clowney Browns fans? See, Mike Lombardi is a genius. Say his name.

Translation: Thanks to that trade, the Browns are officially in Drowney for Clowney AND Play Dead for Ted mode. Well, why not? How is that strategy any different from what eight NBA teams just did? Cleveland's brain trust just told its fans, "We've sucked for 14 years, and we're tired of it … it's Quarterback or Bust."

The problem is, and Bill doesn't pay sufficient attention to understand this, but this is the same shit Browns fans have been hearing for 14 years now. It's not "Quarterback or Bust" that has been the issue, but the issue has been picking "Quarterback Busts." The idea of finding a franchise quarterback has always been there, the execution of actually drafting one is the problem the Browns have had.

The short answer: Until they prove otherwise, we don't know if they're different. I know Lombardi, obviously. I know team president Alec Scheiner, a Sloan Conference staple who happens to be one of the smartest sports people I've ever met.

And yes, Bill loves to name-drop.

I know they're trying to build a first-class organization, and I know they believe that big decisions are made collectively, with everyone on the same page, from the owner down to the coach. I know they also believe that an NFL franchise cannot succeed short-term and long-term without such a decision-making structure in place.

Here's the fun part of the column. Bill has in-depth knowledge of what the Browns organization wants to accomplish. He knows what they are trying to do as an organization and knows enough about the Browns organization to vouch for their strategy. All of a sudden though, when it comes to the Browns opinion of Trent Richardson, well, he has no inside information. It's funny how that happens isn't it?

So for them to flip Richardson into a future pick, that tells me (with no inside info, by the way) they didn't want to build around him, worried about his durability and various injuries (red flags when you're trying to get 375 touches per year from the same back), believed he was the wrong fit for Chudinssksglskgskdkskski's offense, and didn't believe he would come back to haunt them.

See? Bill knows enough to know the Browns overall organizational strategy, but all of a sudden his knowledge well runs dry when it comes to specific information about that strategy. But don't worry, Bill's knowledge well fills right back up when it comes time to praise Lombardi for making this move. He knows the Browns thought they would get murdered for the trade, but anything that Mike Lombardi doesn't want Bill to reveal he conveniently doesn't have information about.

They saw the same things we saw — that for a blue-chip running back, Trent Richardson sure looked average as hell. And they KNEW they'd get absolutely murdered for the trade, only they did it anyway.

Gutsy. That's Bill's frien---I mean Mike Lombardi from a purely neutral observer point of view.

Put more simply: THERE IS NO GOING BACK.

That's what makes this such a riveting trade, and that's why it left the football world so stunned. NFL teams rarely make these kind of trades; when they do, it's usually a panic move by a regime on the outs (like Oakland foolishly sacrificing a first and a second for Carson Palmer).

These aren't comparable situations. The Browns traded Richardson for a first round pick while the Raiders traded for Carson Palmer. I think Bill is being a bit overdramatic. Trading a running back for a first round pick isn't an all-in, no going back move. It's not like the Browns gave up picks in this trade.

These Colts weren't one good back away from making the Super Bowl; if anything, they were this season's no. 1 regression candidate, and that's even before they nearly lost to the Raiders and got bested at home by a better Miami team.

Oh hindsight, must you be so cruel to Bill?

After the Colts lose in San Francisco this Sunday,

Oh assumptions, such a frightfully angry mistress thou art.

they'll be 1-2 with a home-and-home against Houston, home games against Seattle and Denver, and road games at San Diego, Tennessee, Cincinnati, Arizona and Kansas City remaining. They won't be favored in any of those nine games. It's true.

Not true. The Colts will be favored against San Diego, Tennessee, and Arizona at least. Of course, Bill will never acknowledge this comment if/when he is proven wrong. That's the best part about being Bill Simmons, your fans ignore your mistakes and focus on how right you are all the time and please can they meet you face-to-face they promise they won't be weird about it.

So instead of Richardson propelling them to 10 or 11 wins, there's a much better chance this trade swings the other way, with Indy missing the playoffs and maybe even losing a top-10 pick. Our friends at simulated the 2013 season 50,000 times and earmarked the "improved" Colts for 6.5 wins, projecting that they'd be handing Cleveland the sixth pick in next April's draft.

I don't care if the pick is #25 in the first round, it was still a good move for the Browns.

My 14th and final reaction: Whatever happens, it's the ballsiest NFL trade in years — two teams that said, "SCREW IT!" for wholly different reasons. We'll remember it as a watershed transaction, because either …

Yes, "we" will always remember it. Thanks for speaking for me since I can't speak for myself.

Just know that, if the Browns REALLY want to bottom out while keeping their fans vaguely intrigued by their 2013 season, I have a 27-letter word for them:


Ugh, a pretty weak ending. It's clear Bill didn't know how to end this part of his column. So now onto Part 2 with Bill's picks that are all correct. It's true.

Then Bill talks about taking his daughter to a WNBA game. He (not shockingly) name-drops the people he saw and tells us he sat beside Lisa Leslie. Bill is big deal guys, don't ever forget it.

You know what was interesting?

Absolutely nothing you are about to write?

They gave Candace Parker the MVP before the game, even though Taurasi is still the league's best player. As Taurasi laid the smack down — 30 points and seven assists — I was sitting there thinking, This is a little like the game when Hakeem got pissed because David Robinson won the '95 MVP and decided to kick his ass

It's just like Hakeem and David Robinson, except Taurasi and Parker don't play the same position and no one gives a shit who won the MVP of the WNBA.

Cards (+7.5) over SAINTS

Say this much for the Cards: They're one of those teams that, when they make a big play near their own sideline, suddenly 20 guys are excitedly leaping toward the field with their fists pumped. They just seem locked in. 

The amount of useless bullshit Bill writes regarding NFL/NBA/MLB teams is staggering.

Browns (+7) over VIKINGS


Fine, maybe not. But I'm grabbing the points.

Even with the "Fine, maybe not," caveat you know Bill is taking credit for this prediction. It's happening.

Apparently they make Factory of Sadness T-shirts and everything. I love that there's a "Cleveland comedian." Who knew those words were legally allowed to appear in the same sentence, especially this week, when they're sending me e-mails like this, from Scott in Cleveland:

"Having overcome the shock of the Browns tanking the season before fall begins (literally, it's only September 19th), I sent this email to my friends. It sums up being a Cleveland fan. 'I've been getting weekly junk emails from the Browns for years now and have just been deleting them in case there is really important or awesome news. I just got one about Sunday's game. I finally unsubscribed. Fuck the Browns.

This is no lie. I didn't write this post until after I wrote MMQB for the week. I have no reason to lie. I don't look at Bill's Friday columns until the following Tuesday morning at the earliest, usually after I have written MMQB. In MMQB, Peter wrote the following:

Essentially, the bounty of picks the Browns received for the one the Falcons on Julio Jones resulted in one player likely to be an average to above-average starter: Phil Taylor, who plays about 60 percent of the defensive snaps. And it cost Cleveland the equivalent of Justin Houston to move up to get Taylor.

Then I wrote the following:

If this were Bill Simmons, he would then follow this up with an email from a pathetic Cleveland Browns fan bemoaning how bad the team is.

Well, it happened exactly like that in Bill's Friday column. Bill is very, very predictable. It's actually kind of sad.

Rams (+4) over SAME OLD COWBOYS

Your official "The NFC West Is A Juggernaut And The NFC East Is A Doormat" game. If you add up the rankings for every Week 3 team from my Half-Assed Power Poll and separate them by divisions, the lower the number, the better that division is overall, right? Example: Seattle (1) + San Francisco (3) + Arizona (19) + St. Louis (20) = 43, our lowest number for the eight divisions. Who has the highest number? Well …
NFC West: 43
NFC North: 53
AFC West: 57
NFC South: 66
AFC East: 67
AFC South: 72
AFC North: 84
NFC East: 86

Translation: The NFC East blows.

Oh my. Here Bill is making a statement that the NFC East sucks and then he uses his own opinion through his NFL power rankings as proof that he is correct. Bill does this shit all the time. His ego is massive. Bill is saying, "The NFC sucks and if you don't believe my opinion is correct, here is another example of my opinion that proves I am correct that the NFC sucks."

Maybe Bill just wants credit for keeping his opinion consistent, but either way he is very, very impressed with himself.

Speaking of great things, I'm excited to introduce a new weekly feature called "This Week's Really Mean E-mail About Roger Goodell." Our first installment comes from Jeff Z. in Weston, Florida:

"It appears that the porn industry voluntarily shut itself down after Cameron Bay tested positive for HIV. Who would have thought that porn purveyors would show more responsibility for the safety of employees than Roger Goodell?"

Yep, concussions and HIV. They are the exact same thing.

Bucs (+7.5) over PATRIOTS

The good news for the Bucs: They're a stupid late hit and a missed 46-yard field goal from being 2-0. The bad news for the Bucs: everything else. Meanwhile, here's how bad it's gotten for my Patriots this month (I'm using "we" if that's OK) …

Considering Bill uses "we" to tell us what we all think about a certain topic because he believes he speaks for the sports-loving public, I'm not sure why anyone would have a problem with him using "we" to talk about the Patriots.

Because on Wednesday night, I was watching America's fifth professional sport (The Challenge) and one of America's greatest competitors, CT, described his feelings about making the Challenge finals like this …

This is a reminder that Bill Simmons is "that guy" who still watches "The Challenge" on MTV. In fact, Bill is "that guy" who still watches MTV and believes he is on the cutting edge of today's youth.

As for the Ravens, they're a 30-40-50-40-30 team this year — every time you flip over to one of their games, the football is located somewhere between the 30s. Houston's too good offensively to lose to a 30-40-50-40-30 team right now, especially a team that has Brandon Stokley and Dallas Clark on pace for 128 catches total. That offense is miles away from being good.

Apparently Houston isn't too good to lose to a team who Bill describes using a descriptor that he made up thirty seconds prior to writing about that team's upcoming Week 3 game. Hey, throw shit against the wall and see what sticks. Who really knows what the Simmonsites will like or not like?

Then Bill posts emails from Carolina Panthers fans whining to Bill about how bad their team is. It is fine to whine, just don't write to Bill Simmons and whine. That's all I ask.

To recap: We just heard Ron Rivera compared to a disease, losing your virginity to Lindsay Lohan, getting punched in the dick, and being the Bizarro Mariano Rivera.

He's really a great coach as long as his team is winning 38-0. If you want him making tough calls at the end of a game, then he suddenly becomes absolutely horrendous. So the key is for the Panthers to win by more than seven points, so the 2-14 record (Rivera's record in games decided by 7 points or less) doesn't come into play.

SEAHAWKS (-20) over Jaguars

Poor Gus Bradley — he's returning to Seattle with Chad Henne against a juggernaut with an insane crowd that won its last nine home games by an average of 30-11. They couldn't make this line high enough. There's only two tiny cases for the Jags +20: Bradley knowing how to slow down Seattle's offense, 

Knowing how to slow down the Seattle offense and having the players to actually slow down the Seattle offense are two different things. Gus Bradley isn't even close to having the players he needs to slow the Seahawks down or even come close to beating them.

"We need a new statistic to truly define the stink that is the Jaguars offense. I think I have it. You see, my cousin was given a clock with the Jaguars' score as the hour and the visitors' score as the minutes. His coworkers have taken it upon themselves to show up to the Clock whenever the Jaguars are able to successfully complete a clock game. What's a Clock game? Any time the Jaguars score 12 points or less and the opposing team has anywhere from 2 to 59 points.

That's brilliant. A Clock Game! The key for a Clock Game is that you can't get shut out — you'd think the 1977 Bucs (103 points in 14 games and six shutouts) would be the Clock Game leaders, but they were shut out six times. I don't know who had the most Clock Games in NFL history, but I couldn't resist looking up the offensively impotent 1990 Pats — coached by Rod Rust's cadaver, the worst Pats team of my lifetime — and they churned out a whopping NINE Clock Games. NINE! If anyone can beat nine, by all means, lemme know.

Only Bill could seem to take such great pride in his favorite NFL team being so terrible, but the 2010 Carolina Panthers had eight Clock Games. I can't believe I'm actually playing this stupid game.

Bears (-2.5) over STEELERS

I know it's a Kitchen Sink game for the Steelers — they lose this one and they might as well Play Dead For Ted, trade Roethlisberger to the Vikings or Cardinals and blow everything up.

Oh man, so many questions based on this stupid sentence.

1. Why in the hell would the Steelers trade Roethlisberger once they have gone 0-3? He's only 31 years old, I'm not sure it is time to just randomly give up on him because he doesn't have a great offensive line, running game and the defense is underachieving.

2. Why would the Vikings trade for Roethlisberger? They seem happy with Christian Ponder.

3. Why would the Cardinals trade for Roethlisberger? They just traded for Carson Palmer.

4. Every NFL team can't draft Teddy Bridgewater. So far Bill has the Jaguars, Browns and Steelers all trying to get Bridgewater. They can't all draft him.

5. Seriously, why would the Steelers trade the best player on their team simply because the season has started off rough?

6. What could the Steelers reasonably expect in return for Roethlisberger that would make it worth their time to trade him? A first and third round pick? Is that worth getting back in return and starting over because the season started off 0-3? I'm not sure.

You're right, they'll never do that. 

Because it seems like a major overreaction to starting the season off 0-3, as well as a move that won't fix the Steelers problems, but only exacerbate their problems.

But if they blow Sunday night, they're screwed. You know what's not helping? Their utter inability to block, run the ball or call a decent sequence of offensive plays. The Steelers stink.

It's shocking what a leaky offensive line and no running game does to hurt an NFL team's chances of winning games.

And I kept fighting off the urge to say, "I think the Bears are legitimately good" until Jaws lavished praise on them on Thursday's PTI as Wilbon beamed like a proud dad. If they have the Jaws Seal of Approval, I'm in.

This is the same Jaws that stated on PTI the Ravens would be a better team than they were last year, the Broncos weren't a better team than last year, and he expects the Broncos to make it to the Super Bowl. So...there's that too.

This Week: 1-0
Last Week: 7-8-1
Season: 14-17-2

I messed up my record last week and mistakenly gave myself an extra win for Week 1. We fixed.

"We fixed." Don't you mean "We fixed it."? Maybe the "it" will be added once Bill corrects this new grammatical error. 

Thursday, September 26, 2013

6 comments Gregg Easterbrook Violently Flails His Body Off the San Francisco 49ers Bandwagon

Gregg Easterbrook is jumping off the 49ers bandwagon as quickly as humanly possible this week in TMQ. After all, they lost in Week 2 to the team with the toughest home crowd to play in front of, the Seattle Seahawks, and lost at home to the best team in the AFC South so the 49ers must suck now. Of course, rather than chalk up the 49ers struggles to anything that makes sense in regard to the 49ers personnel or what exactly is going wrong on the defensive side of the ball, Gregg simply states the 49ers are losing football games because the read option isn't working and executes his masterful use of hindsight to state the 49ers should have kept Alex Smith.

Psssssttttttttttt. That's the sound of the air leaking out of the 49ers' balloon.

They are 1-2 after three games and have played three teams that made the playoffs last year! It's time to panic!

Not only did Andrew Luck defeat his former college coach, Jim Harbaugh, but also Harbaugh's former college assistant Pep Hamilton, now offensive coordinator at Indianapolis, composed a game plan that looked an awful lot like the Stanford offense.

And because NFL offenses aren't complex at all, Jim Harbaugh should have seen the offense looked like his Stanford offense and then immediately produced a magical game plan that prevented the Colts from executing their offensive effectively.

Since taking the field for the Super Bowl, San Francisco is 1-3.

But they haven't lost a game to a team that didn't make the playoffs in 2012 since the Super Bowl though. I can cherry-pick data too.

Colts leading 13-7 in the third quarter, on first down Colin Kaepernick was dropped for a loss trying to run the zone read. A second down rush was stuffed. On third-and-13, veteran wide receiver Anquan Boldin made the rookie error of pulling up his pattern short of the first-down marker.

Two weeks ago Anquan Boldin was a heralded unwanted player in Gregg's world, but now that Boldin has come back down to Earth he is just another highly-paid glory boy to Gregg. It's interesting how Gregg's opinion changes depending on the outcome of a game or two.

Now it's fourth-and-4 on the Indianapolis 45 -- and Harbaugh/West sends in the punt unit! An offense that gained 468 yards in the Super Bowl punts on fourth-and-4 in opposition territory while trailing in the second half at home.

What does the yardage the 49ers gained in last year's Super Bowl have anything to do with whether they could pick up a first down on fourth-and-4 against the Indianapolis Colts during the 2013 season? The 49ers aren't playing the Ravens and the yardage they gained in the Super Bowl has nothing to do with whether they could pick up a fourth-and-4 in September 2013 against the Colts.

Then there's the matter of the naked quarterback.

Gregg still seems very sexually confused by having seen Colin Kaepernick pose in ESPN's Body Issue and can't seem to talk about Kaepernick without talking about Kaepernick getting naked.

At Kansas City, Alex Smith, sent packing to grant Kaepernick the San Francisco job, has four touchdowns, no interceptions and a 92.1 rating. Discounting for the 2012 San Francisco-St. Louis tie in which both played, since the beginning of last season, Smith is 9-2 as a starter, Kaepernick is 8-5. 

And Colin Kaepernick has one Super Bowl appearance as a starting quarterback while Alex Smith has zero Super Bowl appearances as a starting quarterback. Gregg acknowledges in this TMQ that Kaepernick was three yards away from winning the Super Bowl, so it's not like he hasn't shown himself capable of winning games as a starting quarterback. The NFL has adjusted to him, he will adjust to what defensive coordinators are doing.

Kaepernick is talented, but his emergence was tied to NFL defenders not knowing how to handle the zone read. Now they do, as Robert Griffin III has found.

Of course Robert Griffin is injured and can't run effectively, which sort of diminishes his ability to run the zone read effectively. Perhaps Griffin will more effectively run the zone read once he is fully healthy.

If the zone read recedes into the collector's case as just a flavor of the month, teams will go back to emphasizing the kind of tried-and-true passing tactics epitomized by Tom Brady, the Manning brothers, Drew Brees -- and Alex Smith. By season's end, will Niners faithful be wishing their team had kept Smith?

Maybe. It's not like Colin Kaepernick has shown he can't throw the football very well. What Gregg doesn't know is that NFL defenses aren't as basic as he believes them to be and NFL defenses have adjusted to Kaepernick, so Kaepernick will have to adjust to how he is being defended. And so it goes on like that.

In other football news, the ghosts of the Portsmouth Spartans are smiling. The Spartans defeated the old Boston R*dsk*ns at Boston in 1933; then the Spartans were renamed the Detroit Lions and beat the R*dsk*ns in Boston in 1935;

We know you are typing "Redskins" you d-psh-t.

Sweet Play of the Week No. 1: Trailing favored Atlanta 23-20, Miami reached second-and-goal on the Falcons 1 with 40 seconds remaining. The Genetically Engineered Surimi came out with a heavy power set; then the tailback went in motion wide left, making the defense expect the fullback up the middle;

Why in the hell would the defense expect a fullback run up the middle because the tailback went in motion wide left? Couldn't the tailback have easily caught a screen pass or it had been another type of passing play? I'm consistently confused as to how Gregg reaches some of the conclusions he reaches when describing a play an NFL team runs.

Ryan Tannehill play-faked to the fullback then threw to backup tight end Dion Sims, touchdown. TMQ's law of short yardage holds: Do a little dance if you want to gain that yard.

The tailback motioned out of the backfield and the fullback didn't get the football. Neither player did a little dance with the football. In fact, the "dance" made it seem to the Falcons defense like the play was going to be a pass instead of a run since the tailback motioned out of the backfield.

Sweet Play of the Week No. 2: Arizona leading New Orleans 7-0, the Saints lined up trips right with speedster Darren Sproles widest, tight end Jimmy Graham closest and the recently recycled Robert Meachem in the middle.

I hope Gregg's overly-technical use of football terms didn't confuse you as he described the formation of this play.

That's not all that was sour for Minnesota. The Vikings allowed a 34-yard run from a punt formation. When the Cleveland field goal unit broke the huddle at the Minnesota 11, the Vikings ignored Cameron splitting wide; the holder threw him a touchdown pass. The play was well-designed, with Cameron splitting toward the Cleveland sideline. If he'd been near the Minnesota sideline, Vikings personnel would have pointed at him. 

The play was well-designed, yes, but it wouldn't have made sense for the play to be designed for Cameron to split towards the Vikings sidelines since the intent of having him go towards the Browns sidelines was for the Vikings to believe he was headed back to the bench. It probably wouldn't have tricked the Vikings if Jordan Cameron had pretended to be heading back to the Vikings bench. So basically, Gregg doesn't have to state the obvious that the play was well-designed because Cameron pretended to head back to the Browns bench. That's like saying a play-action fake was well-designed because the running back pretended to have the football.

The host Flaming Thumbtacks trailing 17-13 with 21 seconds remaining, Tennessee faced third-and-10 on the San Diego 34, out of timeouts. Touchdown pass to rookie Justin Hunter, Tennessee wins -- Hunter's first NFL reception, making the play doubly sweet.

The Titans reached third-and-6: two incompletions would have ended the contest. San Diego ran an all-out safety blitz, 11 yard catch to sustain Tennessee's hopes. Did Bolts coaches learn their lesson? On the winning snap, San Diego again ran an all-out safety blitz, which left Hunter single-covered into the end zone. Sour defense.

The blitz left Justin Hunter single-covered and this is a bad thing or bad defense? As Gregg just stated, Hunter had zero NFL receptions so I'm not sure doubling him would have made a lot of sense due to him not being perceived as warranting double coverage. So Gregg is suggesting that the Chargers not blitz and double cover a Titans receiver who has zero career receptions? I would love to see Gregg Easterbrook coach one game in the NFL, just to watch the absolute disaster that would ensue. What a joke.

Green Bay leading 30-27 at Cincinnati, the Packers faced fourth-and-inches on the Bengals 30 with four minutes remaining. Conversion puts Green Bay in the driver's seat, and the Packers were having a rare good day on the ground, with 182 yards rushing to that point. Third-string running back Johnathan Franklin fumbled, and Cincinnati returned the ball for the winning points. Plays don't get more sweet-and-sour.

It certainly sounds like the Packers should not have gone for it on fourth down and punted the football back to the Bengals. I wrote "Game Over" in my notebook when I saw the Packers were going for it on fourth down, and verily, the Packers never led again in the game.

Current action series "Revolution," "Defiance," "The Walking Dead" and "Falling Skies" all have same basic situation: a ragtag group of survivalists wanders a post-apocalyptic landscape armed with those special guns that never run out of ammunition.

On "The Walking Dead" a big deal has been made about the group of having to go into town for food, supplies and even ammunition.

Then Gregg continues to criticize television shows for not being realistic enough. It's the same shit he does every week in TMQ.

In last season's finale, the good guys reached the underground control center for the run-amok government experiment that caused the 15-year blackout. Once in the command room they punched a couple buttons and immediately the entire globe lit up, power coming back on everywhere. But electricity isn't just floating in the air. Even if whatever was "sucking up electricity" were eliminated, it would take weeks or months to restart power plants.

So I'm guessing Gregg wanted to see three weeks of episodes dedicated to the survivors hanging around in the control room talking while they waited for the power to come back on. Now that is riveting television!

At what point will Gregg stop acting like an idiot and understand that television is supposed to be entertaining and doesn't accurately reflect reality? Probably never.

The underground control center is a masterwork of action-movie clich├ęs. Hundreds of feet below the surface, it is the size of a small city. Such a complex would require thousands of workers many years to complete, yet no one knew the complex was there. The facility contains a supercollider, which would have cost billions of dollars, yet Congress and the White House knew nothing about the project. 

There are projects that are put in the United States budget annually which have funding but Congress doesn't necessarily know the exact purpose this money is going to fund. I would give examples, but you know, I don't know what these projects are either. I'm pretty sure they are there though.

Because much of the book is critical, I also wanted a positive example. Your columnist spent most of the 2011 season with the Virginia Tech football team, a season that culminated in a BCS bowl game. Virginia Tech has big-time football in perspective -- 20 consecutive winning seasons coupled to a football graduation rate of 77 percent, versus 55 percent for Division I as a whole. Perhaps you think, "That's because Virginia Tech has Frank Beamer, a decent human being. Decent human beings are in short supply in coaching."

This is the part of TMQ where Gregg pimps his new book in the hopes that we would buy it. Notice how part of the book is Gregg being embedded with one of the football factory schools that he rails against in TMQ. I guess football factory schools are bad unless they are kind enough to offer Gregg access to their program.

Beamer is a factor -- but so is the way the Virginia Tech football experience is structured.

I can see the effect the Virginia Tech football experience had on Mike Vick and Marcus Vick as well and how Beamer helped shape DeAngelo Hall into the football player he is today.

Stop Me Before I Blitz Again! Carolina leading 10-0 with 19 seconds remaining before intermission, the Panthers faced third-and-12 on the Jersey/A 16. Carolina lacked a timeout. This dictated the pass had to go into the end zone; anything stopped on the field of play might not allow time for the field goal unit to attempt a kick. The situation also dictated that a sack did not matter; the Cats would still be in field goal range, with the clock rather than the yard line their problem.

Oh, so Carolina had time to get sacked and then trot the field goal team on the field, but didn't have time to complete a pass and then have the field goal team trot out onto the field? Sure, that doesn't make sense considering the Panthers were on the Giants 16-yard line. If you can figure out how Carolina had time to take a sack and get the field goal kicker out on the field, but didn't have time to complete an 8-yard pass and then get the kicker on the field then you are a smarter person to me. What Gregg really is doing is manipulating reality into order to make the Giants blitz look more egregious than it really was by acting like a sack would still allow Carolina to get a field goal off when this may not be true. Gregg loves to mislead his readers and the stupid ones believe what he says without first investigating whether Gregg is full of shit or not.

Trailing Detroit by 10 points, the Potomac Drainage Basin Indigenous Persons faced fourth-and-goal on the Lions 3 with 1:40 remaining, holding three time outs. Washington needs to score twice. The "safe" move is to take a field goal here, which is what Mike Shanahan did; the game ended with Washington at midfield.

But taking the field goal is the "safe" move, so Shanahan did. Had he gone for the touchdown, he would have been blamed by sportstalk for the loss. Doing the "safe" thing shifted blame to his players.

No, Mike Shanahan knew his team had to recover an onside kick to win the game anyway, so he took the three points he would need and hoped the Redskins could recover an onside kick. It was the safe move, but also was the smart move since it was a two-possession game and the Redskins had to recover an onside kick anyway. The game ended with Washington at midfield and they couldn't have hit a field goal from that spot on the field regardless. Why not take the three points rather than go for it on fourth down and score zero points? The touchdown is important, but it was still a two possession game either way. The safe decision was the smart decision.

The Words "Game Over:" Readers fairly have asked how they can know I write the words "game over" in my notebook when I believe a head coach has just made a fatal error.

They can't. But don't worry, Gregg Tweets out one time he wrote "Game Over" and that should take care of every time he has claimed to write "Game Over" in TMQ, right? Maybe for others, but not for me. I know he's been wrong more than once, but he always talks about writing "Game Over" as being this infallible moment when the game has absolutely been lost for one team because they didn't go for it on fourth down or do something else Gregg insists they should have done.

Thursday night there was a live test on Twitter. In the North Carolina State versus Clemson contest, the Wolfpack faced fourth-and-2 on the Tigers' 40 in the first quarter. When head coach Dave Doeren sent in the punt unit, TMQ wrote the words "game over" in his notebook -- and immediately tweeted that fact. Yea, verily, it came to pass that North Carolina State lost.

At least Gregg did publicly state "Game Over" one time. Still, because I am who I am, I want to mention he chose to write "Game Over" in a game between the #3 team in the country (Clemson) and an unranked team (N.C. State). So it's not like he was going out on a limb by saying the game was over at this point since there was such a talent difference in either team. I give him credit for putting a "Game Over" out there, but I'd like to see him do it in the first quarter of a game when the matchup isn't so lopsided.

Was this a reasonable test of my game-over theory? Clemson was the favorite; then again, TMQ declared game-over with 3:36 remaining in the first quarter of a close game. The obvious next step would be to do a weekly live Twitter test. Complication: at some point I'd be sure to be wrong.

Exactly, which is why claiming "Team X should not have punted in this specific situation and this is what caused them to lose the game and I knew Team X would lose the game because I wrote 'Game Over' in notebook" is such a crock of shit statement to make. Gregg is trying to make not going for it on fourth down as THE KEY to why a certain team lost a game when he knows (and admits as much here) this isn't true. Gregg is attempting to attribute the outcome of a game to not going for it on fourth down when the outcome isn't necessarily directly attributable to the decision to go for it on fourth down.

The fact Gregg knows he would be wrong at some point proves that his attempts to always attribute a team not going for it on fourth down to that team losing is a case of him trying to mislead his readers as to why a team lost.

Buck-Buck-Brawkkkkkk: TMQ tracks willingness to go for it on fourth down: doing so is often not a "huge gamble," as broadcasters say, but the percentage move. St. Louis went for it six times against the Cowboys, converting thrice, and was clobbered: Les Mouflons were so outclassed it didn't seem to matter what tactics they used. Tennessee took a field goal from the San Diego 2, yet went on to victory. Both these outcomes contradicted TMQ dogma.

Which is why it is stupid to criticize coaches for not going for it on fourth down and then attempting to directly attribute this to why that coach's team lost. I'm all for teams going for it on fourth down, but it doesn't feel very attributable to say "Team X didn't go for it on fourth down, so verily they lost the game" as if these events are always going to be directly related to each other.

The rest of Sunday's fourth-and-short results upheld TMQ dogma. City of Tampa punted in the fourth quarter when trailing 23-3 at New England. Who cares if it was fourth-and-9? The punt ran up the white flag.

I think Gregg is missing the point. The point I am making isn't to say teams should not go for it on fourth down, but the point I am making is that while going for it on fourth down makes sense a lot of times, teams don't necessarily lose because they didn't go for it on fourth down. That's how Gregg presents the information to his readers. Team X didn't for it on fourth down so the result of the game wasn't in their favor.

Untouched Touchdown of the Week: Underdog Colts leading 13-7 late at San Francisco, the Lucky Charms faced third-and-3 on the Niners 6. Andrew Luck faked the handoff and kept the ball on a naked bootleg, walking into the end zone untouched. Naked boot defeats naked quarterback!

See, I told you Gregg was obsessed with Colin Kaepernick posing nude for ESPN's Body Issue.

The Chiefs punted thrice on fourth-and-short, which normally should have doomed them, but a 5-0 turnover advantage swamps all other leading indicators.

I really need a list of rules from Gregg on when a team not going for it on fourth down dooms them to defeat or won't matter in the outcome of the game. I'm guessing the rules would be entirely dependent on the outcome of a game and therefore Gregg could not give me any rules because the only rule he follows is that he will know whether a team should have gone for it on fourth down or not after the game is over.

In my AFC preview, I noted of the new Cleveland management team, "Rob Chudzinski at coach and Michael Lombardi at general manager traded away fourth- and fifth-round picks to bank extra selections for 2014. Strong teams bank draft choices; for a weak team to bank draft choices is a head-scratcher." Scratch your heads anew over last week's decision by Chudzinski and Lombardi to trade the team's young star, Trent Richardson, to Indianapolis in order to bank another pick for April 2014. 

I still think calling Trent Richardson "a star" is overstating the case a bit. The Browns got a first round pick in exchange for a running back. That's not a bad return in my opinion.

Perhaps the trade is simply an effort by Chudzinski and Lombardi to line up excuses in advance. The previous coach and general manager, Pat Shurmur and Tom Heckert, used the third overall choice of 2012 on Richardson, trading additional picks to get that selection. Chudzinski and Lombardi in effect are saying the previous guys blew the 2012 draft.

Not entirely. Chudzinski and Lombardi are saying a running back who has Trent Richardson's style of running doesn't fit the offense they are trying to run. Not every trade or cut made by a team is a personal affront to the player and the previous regime. Sometimes a player just doesn't fit what the new regime is trying to do.

If the Browns do well this season, Chudzinski and Lombardi look like geniuses for overcoming a handicap. If the Browns fold, well, what did you expect, the previous management blew the third choice of the 2012 draft.

No, if the Browns fail then Chud and Lombardi are still going to be held responsible for the moves they have made that helped the Browns to continue be a floundering team. It's not like Jimmy Haslem will decide not to fire Lombardi and Chud if they show themselves to be not up to the task of turning the Browns around simply because they claim the previous regime blew a draft pick.

Ohio State 76, Florida A&M 0. Miami of Florida 77, Savannah State 7. Washington 56, Idaho State 0. Virginia 49, VMI 0. Florida State 54, Bethune-Cookman 6. Bowling Green 48, Murray State 7. Northwestern 35, Maine 21. What do these games have in common? All involved a lower-division cupcake hired to provide an automatic blowout victory on the field of the hosts.

TMQ's law of blowouts is that when a football team wins by more than 50 points the victor, not the vanquished, should feel embarrassed. Alumni of Ohio State or the University of Miami -- you should feel mortified.

Florida A&M and Savannah State got paid, while Miami and Ohio State got a win. It is a matter of opinion if these games even being scheduled is embarrassing or not, but winning by more than 50 points isn't embarrassing.

In the Browns at Vikings collision, when Cleveland muffed a punt, a Minnesota defender scooped up the ball and ran to the end zone. The home crowd roared because it thought a touchdown was scored. But a muffed punt cannot be advanced; officials rightly ruled Minnesota ball at the Cleveland 26. Vikings' coach Leslie Frazer threw a challenge flag. But the play cannot be challenged as all such plays automatically are reviewed. Officials called unsportsmanlike conduct against Frazier, moving the spot back to the Cleveland 41. Minnesota settled for a field goal on the possession. The referee later acknowledged an offseason rule change meant the Vikings should have been assessed a timeout, but not penalized.

Gregg rightfully criticizes Leslie Frazier for not knowing he can't challenge this play, but has no criticism for Bill Leavy and his officiating crew. This is the second big mistake made by Leavy's crew in the last three weeks. More embarrassing than Frazier not knowing you can't challenge the advancement of a muffed punt is the fact the officials took away 15 yards from the Vikings when they should have taken away a timeout. Neither party knew the rules, except one party's job was to enforce the rules they are supposed to know.

Frazier is a highly paid NFL head coach who has 22 assistants, and neither he nor anyone around him on the Vikings' sideline knew a muff cannot be advanced, or that a muff ruling cannot be challenged. Leslie Frazier, you are guilty of the single worst play of the season -- so far.

I agree Frazier and his staff should know the rules, but isn't the single worst play of the season the officials inability to properly apply the rules by taking away 15 yards from the Vikings in a close game rather than taking away a timeout from the Vikings?

Next Week: The Raiders are incensed that the Jets are getting more penalties.

(crickets chirping)

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

3 comments Jay Mariotti Quickly Jumps on the "Ryan Braun's Apology Wasn't Enough" Train and Takes a Ride

I've written a couple of posts about Ryan Braun as it related to his 2011 positive drug test that was eventually overturned. I wrote Braun should not have his 2011 MVP stripped from him. I covered a Mike Lupica article where he basically accused Bud Selig of overturning the 2011 positive drug test because Braun played for the Brewers. Where's Mike at these days with that veiled accusation now that Selig has hit Braun with a 65 game suspension? All I hear is crickets. So Ryan Braun got busted, got a 65 game suspension and sportswriters everywhere got up in arms about how Braun needed to apologize because of "the kids" and how he cheated everyone with his lies and deception. Then Braun apologized in a public statement that was released. Then, in a shocking turn of events, this still wasn't enough for the sportswriters who originally wanted an apology and now they want more details and a better apology. It's now not sufficient that Braun has apologized in a statement, he needs to do more. Presumably if Braun did more and released the details surrounding his PED use this still wouldn't be enough. Jay Mariotti is one of these writers who finds it is never enough to get the apology that was requested and in a fit of writing brilliance has dubbed Braun "Lyin' Braun," which is clever and creative because his name is Ryan Braun and "Ryan" rhymes with "Lyin'."

It might have helped if he’d rented a hotel ballroom, invited every reporter and TV network in America, stood in front of a microphone and spoke to the people — the fans, the baseball industry, the human mechanism that generates the remaining $127 million still owed him — he so farcically has let down.
But I doubt it.

I think this sums it up best. Sportswriters desperately want an apology, but even that's not going to end up being enough for them. They want blood. They want to see Ryan Braun crawl and beg forgiveness from the fans, and even more importantly, beg forgiveness from the sportswriters who cover Braun. An apology is the first step to the public shaming of Ryan Braun. Braun apologizes, but sportswriters want a better apology. It's a never-ending need to convict Braun for lying and cheating.

If Ryan Braun couldn’t explain in 943 written words what we needed to hear, then he wouldn’t have had the guts to muster the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth in a news conference, where his “apology” should have happened, where we could have looked him in the eyeballs and decided if he was contrite and genuine or simply, as I suspect, full of b.s.

This is the bullshit part of Jay's column (well, it's all bullshit, but I feel like this is the introductory bullshit part of the column). The media doesn't want an apology. They want to be able to serve as the jury as to whether Ryan Braun is truly contrite or not. It's not about the apology, it is about publicly shaming Braun and it is ridiculous. Just accept his apology, which at least Braun made one, and let's all move on. It's not like Braun murdered a member of Jay Mariotti's family, so I don't know why he feels the needs to be the one to stand in judgment of Braun. But any sportswriter who says it is about the apology is most likely lying. The sportswriter doesn't want an apology, he/she wants to look into Braun's eyes and judge Braun's ability to tell the truth about being sorry. I bet if these sportswriters could look into Braun's eyes they would judge that he is indeed not truly sorry.

Oh, he tried hard to make good with his family, his friends, his teammates, the Milwaukee Brewers franchise, the fans, his agents and advisors. “I have disappointed the people closest to me — the ones who fought for me because they truly believed me all along. I kept the truth from everyone. For a long time, I was in denial and convinced myself that I had not done anything wrong,” he wrote in his public letter, which we’ve impatiently awaited since he accepted his 65-game suspension from Major League Baseball.

It's not enough. He's not begging for forgiveness and allowing the media to stand in complete judgment of him while spilling all of the details of his PED use.

And sure, he tried to look like he was beating himself up. As if sitting on an analyst’s couch, he described himself as “self-righteous” and having “a lot of unjustified anger” two years ago while lying

It all depends on your point of view and whether you want to accept Braun's apology. I think that's the key point to be made here. If you want to believe Braun and want to believe he is truly sorry then his apology may not seem sincere, but you believe he is sorry. Of course Braun is probably the most sorriest that he got caught, but that's beside the point. If you don't want to believe Braun and probably aren't ever inclined to believe Braun then this statement won't seem sincere, but seem like a PR move on his part. Of course it was a PR move on his part, but these people probably won't ever believe Braun even if he did make a public apology on television like Tiger Woods did. Even then, I believe these people would only want to judge the sorriness of Braun and still wouldn't think he was truly contrite.

“I’m deeply ashamed,” Ryan Braun said.
Too bad he isn’t deeply forthcoming.

He's apologizing, but he's just not giving enough information. In the words of The Cure, it's never enough. Writers like Mariotti wanted an apology, they got the apology, and now they want details. It's not that they "want" details really, it's they believe themselves to be entitled to details. No story is too sordid and no confession is contrite enough without the proper amount of private details to sell the authenticity of the confession.

Cowardly as it is to hide behind an agency-crafted news release somewhere in southern California, Braun’s biggest strategic error was failing to provide specifics.

I wish Braun had said,

"I'm specifically deeply ashamed."

"I specifically have disappointed a lot of people..."

"I specifically was self-righteous and specifically had a lot of unjustified anger..."

If the five basic questions of what remains of journalism are who, what, when, where and why, I’m not certain he has answered any.

Ryan Braun isn't a journalist so he isn't required to provide the answers to who, what, when, where and why simply because these are the answers that Jay Mariotti wants. These are the questions Jay wants answered, but Braun doesn't have to answer these questions. So suck it.

Was this merely about the short-term use of a cream and lozenge? Or is that, too, a lie?

Do I really believe that Jay Mariotti would believe any answer Ryan Braun gave to this question if Braun had answered this question? No. I think Mariotti still wouldn't believe Braun's answer.

If that’s his only wrongdoing, it wouldn’t seem to have warranted a major coverup attempt that has led to a defamation lawsuit against Braun by a former friend; the smearing of a urine collector who also might want to consider legal action; 

I think the major coverup was to prevent Braun from being found out to have used PED's more than anything else. So in itself, having used PED's does warrant the major coverup.

The words “cream” and “lozenge” soften what anti-PED experts would describe as power and confidence, especially when presented with Braun’s numbers down the stretch that season:

It was a PR statement and "cream" and "lozenge" are often terms used to describe the use of certain PED's.

He won the MVP award and was hailed as one of the great hitters in the game, a future Hall of Famer, blessed with business acumen, good looks, considerable popularity and a power stroke that belied a slender build.

Belied, as in lie.

This is sports journalism at it's finest.

Finest, as in it would be a lie to call this writing the finest.

What we require from Braun now is an explanation. What were the precise names of the banned substances?

Previously an apology was required. Jay Mariotti got the apology and now he wants more details. If Jay Mariotti gets the additional details he feels entitled to, then he will want even more details. It never ends and Mariotti's sense of entitlement to stand in judgment of Braun doesn't end either.

Was he aware at the time that Biogenesis was a well-known marketplace for PEDs,

Yes, he probably was.

with 13 players suspended after MLB’s massive investigation of the clinic and founder Tony Bosch?

No, he probably did not or else he would have chosen to go to another clinic to get his PED's.

Why would he stand there and lie at spring training last year, assailing MLB’s testing system as “absolutely fatally flawed” when he was the one with the fatal flaw?

Because he had been cheating and didn't want anyone to know that MLB's testing system was not fatally flawed and that it had busted him red-handed. If Braun had said, "Man, that MLB testing system sure is pretty good" then I'm guessing it would have been fairly obvious to everyone that Braun knew he got busted and it wouldn't make much sense for him to be appealing the first positive drug test. I realize Jay has the brain of a donkey, but part of Braun being in denial and trying to beat the system had to do with Braun stating the system was no good in order to make himself look more credible. I don't need Braun to explain this to me, I can figure this out for myself.

Why would a gifted and accomplished multi-millionaire risk it all to smear some creme on a sore spot and swallow a lozenge? Forgive me for thinking we’re only reading bits and pieces of the truth, not the entirety.

I'm guessing he did it because he thought it would make him better at baseball. That's my thought about why Braun did it. Again, I'm not sure how much more detail I need.

Based on the language in his statement, Braun is trying to warm-and-fuzzy us. No one is in the mood to read it anymore,

Right, because I don't care about nor do I require an apology. I'm not one of those people who feels like he deserves an apology because a player got busted for using PED's. 

Nowhere in his statement does Braun address the most damning claims about him — that he asked his longtime friend, Ralph Sasson, to investigate and smear Laurenzi Jr. and participate in a prank against two ESPN reporters investigating Braun’s failed test.

Part of the reason Braun didn't comment on this is because any statement he makes could be used in a court of law should Sasson choose to sue Braun. So it actually makes a lot of sense he didn't comment on these claims. More importantly, anyone who expects Braun to publicly comment on these claims is an absolute moron. Just like Jay Mariotti couldn't comment on the claims about his legal issues with his ex-girlfriend, Braun can't comment on his potential legal issues with Ralph Sasson.

Didn't Jay just give us a re-introduction to himself where he says he understood athletes better because of all he had gone through over the past couple of years? Here's his first chance to prove it, by acknowledging Braun wouldn't be advised to comment on a potential legal issue, yet Jay acts like Braun had a responsibility to publicly comment against the (most likely) better advice of his attorney. 

According to ESPN, Braun, who is Jewish, went so far to spread word that Laurenzi Jr. was anti-Semitic. 

All Braun did in the statement was scrape the surface on those issues. “I sincerely apologize to everybody involved in the arbitration process, including the collector, Dino Laurenzi, Jr.,” wrote Braun, who should have devoted more words to Dino.

Again, someone who has been through legal issues recently should understand why Braun didn't comment further. Should Braun get sued, the collector will probably try to use a long, drawn-out public apology against Braun during the court case. Use your head, Mariotti. It doesn't take a genius to understand why Braun would not publicly comment on Dino Laurenzi, Jr. Braun also told friends that Laurenzi was a Cubs fan, which is also an accusation that could merit a lawsuit.

As we’ve seen with Alex Rodriguez in his continuing lone-wolf fight against MLB (not to mention his very superiors with the Yankees), teammates still will rally around a PED-troubled player if he produces on the field. If Braun rakes, the Brewers will take him back, even if Milwaukee fans are disgusted.

We should have known in Braun’s previous statement, after he won a reprieve from the positive test, that he protested a bit too vigorously to be believed.

It doesn't matter if he is believed or not, three independent arbitrators ruled the chain of custody was broken, which meant the positive drug test had to be thrown out. Sure, Braun was lying at the time, but if he really had not been using PED's I imagine Braun would have a vehement defense rather than just meekly deny the claims. If Braun had meekly denied the claims then sportswriters like Jay Mariotti would have stated that Braun was guilty because he didn't deny the claims and failed drug test vigorously enough.

Including his claim that Laurenzi Jr. supposedly is a Cubs fan, which Braun also used in trying to woo Brewers teammates to his side. You might have to go back to Richard Nixon to find a public figure who finagled and stretched like Lyin’ Ryan.

The "Lyin' Ryan" moniker is somehow getting dumber. It rhymes though!

“At that time, I still didn’t want to believe that I had used a banned substance,” Braun tried to explain in his statement. “I think a combination of feeling self-righteous and having a lot of unjustified anger led me to react the way I did. I felt wronged and attacked, but looking back now, I was the one who was wrong. I am beyond embarrassed that I said what I thought I needed to say to defend my clouded vision of reality. I am just starting the process of trying to understand why I responded the way I did, which I continue to regret. There is no excuse for any of this.”

More details! In what ways do you regret it? When you say "wronged" give specific examples. This apology means nothing without expansion on the idea of how Braun's clouded vision of reality. Tell us more, Ryan. Do you believe dinosaurs never existed? Is that a part of your clouded vision of reality? Your apologies mean nothing without a discussion of your beliefs on the existence of dinosaurs. Otherwise, the apology is just empty words. 

He is trying to be the anti-A-Rod, the ‘rowdier who fesses up and apologizes. But all he has done with this statement, I’m afraid, is make me think a 65-game ban wasn’t tough enough. 

Yes, that's right, by apologizing like the media wanted him to do this has resulted in idiot sportswriters suggesting because Braun apologized he should get a stiffer sentence. I imagine if Braun had offered up more details in his statement then Jay would have stated the details were so terrible that Braun should get a 265-game ban. You can sort of see why Braun didn't go into further detail. This further detail would only further outrage the sportswriting media (the same ones who insisted Braun should apologize) into suggesting Braun deserves a longer ban. Sometimes more details are not required.

It seems Lyin’ Ryan Braun copped a plea from the commissioner so he can return and collect his $127 million.

When he does show his face next spring, his nose might be longer than his bat.

Like Pinocchio!

Also, is stating that Braun's nose could be longer than his bat a slur against Braun because he is Jewish? I always figured Mariotti for an anti-Semite.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

6 comments MMQB Review: It's the Annual "It's So Crazy the NFL Isn't Predictable" MMQB Edition

Peter King struggled a bit again when trying to give us perspective on a baseball player's career in last week's MMQB. He talked about Johnny Manziel (or "Johnny Dawg Pound" as Peter stated it) and told us that Manziel is not loved by NFL scouts but he very well could go in the first round of the NFL Draft, whenever Manziel enters the NFL Draft. Peter also made it clear that the Seahawks have a big homefield advantage and it's too early to say anything definitively, but if the Seahawks win homefield advantage over the 49ers (since apparently they are the only two NFC teams who could have the best record in the NFC) then they may make it to the Super Bowl. This week Peter talks about Aldon Smith (since you know, there were no NFL games played this weekend this becomes the most important story of the past week), talks about how strange the NFL is because conventional wisdom isn't playing out this season, and tells us he thought the Browns were tanking. 

“You never pick up where you left off from one year to the next,’’ Bill Parcells used to say. (Maybe he still says it, for all I know.) Don’t the NFC playoff teams from last year know it. Those six teams are 6-12 this morning.

That is the 2013 season after 47 games.

For the first season ever, the NFL is unpredictable. I wonder if this will be a trend?

Every year Peter King writes at least one MMQB where he mentions what a wild and wacky NFL season it has been. At some point, the fact the NFL is wild and wacky makes it somewhat predictable, no?

I’ll take Startling Stats for $800, Alex.

I'll take Jokes from the Mid-90's for $1000, Alex.

San Francisco is supposed to define defense. The Niners have allowed 84 points through three weeks. New Orleans (last in team defense last year) and Indianapolis (26th last year), combined, have allowed 86 points.

It's not like the 49ers have played the Packers, Colts, or Seahawks or anything. It's not like all three of those teams made the playoffs last year. It's not like the Saints have played the Buccaneers, Falcons and Cardinals. It's not like two of those teams aren't very good. So great point.

Those guys making the commercials—how are they doing? Robert Griffin III is the 20th-rated passer in football, and, scrambling in the pocket Sunday, was caught from behind by a Detroit defensive lineman. Colin Kaepernick is 25th. Right behind Bay-mate Terrelle Pryor. And 12 slots below Alex Smith.

Quick, bury these guys for underachieving! It kills me how guys like Peter act like Robert Griffin and Colin Kaepernick have 30+ NFL starts under their belt and any struggles they may have is complete unexpected. The NFL adjusts and quarterbacks have to adjust as well. This happens to every young NFL quarterback.

Offensive rookie of the year? This morning, it’s Chicago guard Kyle Long. The human sack machine, Jay Cutler, has been sacked three times in three games.

Well, if Kyle Long is blocking for Jay Cutler at all five offensive line positions and is personally responsible for Cutler only being sacked three times in three games then he certainly should be Offensive Rookie of the Year. Peter has an obsession with the Long family. When Chris Long was drafted he was enamored with him and it seems Peter has quickly become enamored with Kyle Long. Also, what happened to Tavon Austin? Wasn't he the most undefendable wide receiver in the history of the NFL around mid-August?

Strange days indeed. On to the news of a particularly newsy Week 3.

Of course there were NFL games this past weekend too, but apparently these games didn't interest Peter enough to write about them since he only mentions the Week 3 games around the middle of Page 2 of MMQB and then gets around to the important business of briefly interviewing David Shaw.

Jim Harbaugh is a meteor in the coaching sky. A star.

This is how Peter starts off a discussion of Aldon Smith's DUI. Interesting way of starting the discussion. Peter would not dare criticize a well-liked NFL head coach for fear of that head coach being mad at him and deny Peter access to the team he may eventually want, so he has to tickle Harbaugh's ass with a feather before talking about Aldon Smith.

He and his team will recover from the events of the weekend; they’re  just too good, too talented. But the world will be watching this Aldon Smith rehab to see if Smith, and the 49ers, are seriously going to address a career-threatening problem, because there have to be legitimate questions about it after Smith played a full game Sunday.

Apparently he has a substance abuse problem and is taking an indefinite leave of absence to take care of this issue. It seems Smith has a career-threatening substance abuse problem. Of course it wasn't career-threatening enough for Smith to not play on Sunday, but he did take a leave of absence after the game. This isn't related to the performance-related leave of absence Aldon Smith took last year when Justin Smith was injured.

When the police arrived, he blew a .15 on the breathalyzer test, almost double the legal limit in California. Keep in mind, he was supposed to be at the team facility for meetings and practice within the hour, and he obviously would have been in no condition to be there.

I refuse to believe an NFL player would use alcohol or drugs prior to practicing with his team. This is unheard of and I refuse to believe this could ever happen.

Last season, a Niners special-teams player, Demarcus Dobbs, was arrested early on a Friday morning and charged with DUI and marijuana possession. The team left him home from a trip to play St. Louis that weekend, meaning Dobbs didn’t play. But Smith is not Demarcus Dobbs. Smith is one of the best defensive players in football, and different rules apply to great players than to marginal ones.

This is absolutely true, but I like how Peter just sort of accepts this as being a true fact and doesn't really have qualms with different players being treated differently. I wonder if he would be so accepting of this double standard if a different head coach applied this double standard to his players? After all, it was Peter who just this past summer criticized the Detroit Lions organization for not knowing about Titus Young's issues prior to drafting him. I guess the Lions deserve criticism for drafting Titus Young, but the application of a double standard when done by Jim Harbaugh is just a fact of NFL life that Peter accepts.

I reported last night on NBC’s Football Night in America that Smith would be entering an in-patient facility to deal with his problems—Smith has been arrested twice for DUI in the last 20 months, and he was stabbed at a house party in 2012, and sued from incidents at that party.

This is Aldon Smith's third year in the NFL. He has been arrested twice and stabbed once. Titus Young was arrested three times while in the NFL (though he did have trouble with teammates in college and in the NFL) and earlier this summer here is what Peter wrote about Young,

1. I think the logical question for the Ford family to ask its Lions personnel department this morning (if it hasn't already been asked six or eight times) is: How on God's green earth did you let Titus Young pass through our checking system and grade out high enough to be the 44th overall pick in 2011?
2. I think other teams have the same skeletons, and potential skeletons, in their closets. But to me, the Lions are different. They'd blown so many receiver picks over the years -- granted, in the Millen administration, not Martin Mayhew's -- and you can't go drafting scared. But Young missed much of his second season at Boise State for fighting a teammate. I liked the pick at the time, because he filled a major need to take pressure off Calvin Johnson. Young, if well-adjusted, would have been a great asset to Detroit. But I couldn't know what the Lions knew then; when you pick a player 44th overall, you've done significant work on him, and you should know of the problems that could surface later on. Character problems, maturity issues. Those are flaws we in the media can't know nearly as well as the teams. The Lions, I'm betting, knew what a risk Young might be.

I'm guessing the difference in Young and Smith (at least in Peter's mind) is the Lions should have known about Young's inability to stay out of trouble, while Smith's troubles are all new. Still, I would think if Peter is going to start criticizing NFL teams for drafting players that later get in trouble while playing in the NFL, shouldn't he be critical of the 49ers for drafting Aldon Smith? Either way it doesn't matter, but Peter plays favorites and he feels free to blame the Lions for not knowing what a risk Titus Young was, but since Aldon Smith got in no trouble prior to entering the NFL, that's the reason why Peter doesn't criticize the 49ers for even drafting him. Seems to me like Peter goes after low-hanging fruit and doesn't want to criticize the great Baalke and Harbaugh, at least it feels that way a little bit. 

And again, there’s no right answer here.” Maybe not—but unless this is a long, serious and intensive rehab process, the 49ers will look like users, and Smith will look like a pawn. We’ll be watching to see if Smith, and the 49ers, take this as seriously as they claimed they would Sunday night.

I would not have played Smith Sunday were it my decision. I wouldn’t have abandoned him and let him go off to get in more trouble than he already was in. He would have been with the team all weekend—at Saturday meetings, on the sideline Sunday—but there are some things that are just more important than playing in a football game. If it sends the wrong message to sit a guy and pay him $230,000, so be it. I just don’t think it’s right to let him play.

Peter bases his criticism of the 49ers on allowing Smith to play Sunday more than he bases any criticism on whether the 49ers personnel department should have known about Smith's troubles before drafting him. I'm guessing Peter bases his lack of criticism of the 49ers personnel department on two factors:

1. Smith appeared to be clean in college and not have substance abuse problems. Though, as Peter himself said when discussing Titus Young, the NFL teams drafting these players know what a risk the players are better than the media does.

2. The 49ers have a recent history of drafting well, so Peter gives them a pass for drafting a guy who has gotten into some legal trouble. It's Peter's own version of a double standard where he gives more leeway to personnel mistakes from teams who draft well.

One other thing: The next big issue on Roger Goodell’s agenda—and on DeMaurice Smith’s as well—has to be tougher penalties on DUIs. This isn’t a partisan issue. It’s potentially a life-and-death one, for the drivers and the innocents in their way.

Yeah, punish the players harder. That will fix the issue.

The Colts traded a first-round pick for Richardson, the third overall pick in the 2012 draft. On Sunday, the 250th overall pick in the 2007 draft, Ahmad Bradshaw, was Indy’s best back, rushing 19 times for 95 yards in a 27-7 upset win at San Francisco.

I still think the best place to find a franchise running back is in the first round of the draft, but I thought trading a first round pick for Richardson was a bit of an overpay. I don't see Richardson as a first round talent running back. He might be to the Colts though.

In 2011, the Heckert/Holmgren group traded the sixth pick in a very strong top of the first round (Von Miller, A.J. Green, Julio Jones, Aldon Smith, Patrick Peterson, J.J. Watt) to Atlanta for two first-rounders, a second-rounder and two fourths. What they got in return:

It wasn't a lot. I'll sum it up quickly.

Essentially, the bounty of picks the Browns received for the one the Falcons on Julio Jones resulted in one player likely to be an average to above-average starter: Phil Taylor, who plays about 60 percent of the defensive snaps. And it cost Cleveland the equivalent of Justin Houston to move up to get Taylor.

If this were Bill Simmons, he would then follow this up with an email from a pathetic Cleveland Browns fan bemoaning how bad the team is.

This is what happens when regimes value players differently. The new Browns don’t want the power back that Richardson is; these Browns want a shiftier, faster back.

Actually Rob Chudzinski doesn't want a running back. He wants to throw the football 50 times per game and never actually use the running back. As Carolina's offensive coordinator last year he had a shifty, faster back in DeAngelo Williams, a shifty power back in Jonathan Stewart and a power back in Mike Tolbert. Cam Newton led the team in rushing last year by the way. Chudzinski doesn't know what he wants in a running back because he doesn't plan on running the football.

“Continuity is invaluable,’’ Banner said Saturday. “But continuity for its own sake is not the ultimate solution. I don’t want a free pass. If in three or four years we aren’t positioned to win … I should have to deal with the consequences.’’ I’m not sitting here lobbying for Banner and Lombardi to stay if they blow these picks. But any smart football person would tell you a draft can’t be judged for two years at least, and three more prudently.

Fortunately, Mike Lombardi is a self-proclaimed genius, so the Browns should win back-to-back Super Bowls in no time.

Sunday’s game in San Francisco was a perfect illustration why GM Ryan Grigson made this deal. Offensive coordinator Pep Hamilton wants to be able to be a power running team. Not all the time, but when it suits his style. And watching the Colts grind out the win against what was supposed to be one of the best run defenses in football, you see why Richardson was important. The Colts entered the fourth quarter with a 13-7 lead. They ran the ball on 15 of 20 (non-penalized) snaps in the quarter. They held it for 10:51 of the 15-minute quarter. And they outscored the Niners 14-0 in the quarter. So what if it was more Ahmad Bradshaw than Richardson?

In one game this isn't a big deal, but if Ahmad Bradshaw is outplaying Trent Richardson over the entire season then "so what?" turns into the Colts trading a first round pick for a running back who is the second-best running back on the roster.

I don't hate the trade for Richardson or anything, but trading a first round pick for a running back just seems like something that will be considered ill-advised if the Colts don't end up with Richardson as their starting running back over the next three years.

Then Peter has three notes about the Week 3 NFL games and moves on to a quick interview with David Shaw.

A 34-second discussion with highly respected Stanford head coach David Shaw, about his NFL desires:

Me: “You tempted by the NFL?”

Shaw: “Nope.”


Me: “No guarantees in the NFL. The grass isn’t always greener.”

Shaw: “When teams reached out to me last year, I said, ‘Okay, you tell me which NFL city is better than Palo Alto. And then explain that to my wife.’ ‘’

I'm sure your wife will have no problem finding somewhere nice to live once she is sitting on a nice, big pile of cash that an NFL team would offer Shaw to be their head coach. I always love the "wife excuse" used by head coaches on all coaching levels. As if a coach's wife is going to turn down her husband's salary being doubled simply because she likes living in a certain city.

Fine Fifteen

A list of randomly placed NFL teams from 1 to 15.

1. Denver (2-0). Just when you thought the season was setting up to be a nice little stroll to AFC home-field advantage, here are the 15 autumn days that will try John Fox’s soul: Nov. 17, Kansas City at home … Nov. 24, at New England … Dec. 1, at Kansas City.

It's very shocking to hear there the Broncos aren't just going to cruise to homefield advantage in the AFC. I thought for sure after two games the Broncos had homefield advantage locked up.

3. New Orleans (3-0). Saints started 0-3 last year. Allowed 40, 35 and 27 points. Saints 3-0 this year. Allowed 17, 14 and seven points. Rob Ryan for mayor.

It's the perfect Rob Ryan job. Lower expectations, become middle of the pack and then he is seen as a genius. Two years from now when the Saints are 20th in the NFL in total defense he won't be such a genius of course.

4. Chicago (3-0). Took the air out of Heinz Field in about 15 minutes. How about this: It’s Sept. 23, and the Bears have a two-game lead on the Packers in the NFC North.

How about this: It's September 23.

9. Baltimore (2-1). No Ray Rice with the explosive Texans coming to town, and the Ravens win by 21. That’s a big win for a team with a lot of new parts. And good contributions by newbies Daryl Smith and Tandon Doss (he’s sort of a newbie).

Oh, so the Ravens got a contribution from one of the players they acquired with the money they saved by trading Anquan Boldin and Tandon Doss got to play a larger part in the Ravens offense due to Anquan Boldin's absence? It's almost like the Ravens front office knows what they are doing.

12. Dallas (2-1). The Cowboys are the class of the NFC East by default—though they played well in embarrassing the Rams. DeMarco Murray needs to stay healthy, or the over-reliance on Tony Romo will hurt their chances of playing deep into January.

Oh, so you mean a team's starting running back is important to that team's playoff chances? What a shocking revelation! And here I thought if Marshawn Lynch got hurt it wouldn't affect the Seahawks at all.

15. (tie) Tennessee (2-1). Sunday was the first day I have watched the Jake Locker Titans and said: I can see this guy being a good quarterback for a long time.

Wait, what? Peter King hasn't watched the Titans play with Jake Locker as their quarterback? This has to be untrue. Locker started 11 games for the Titans last year and 3 games this year and this is the first time Peter has seen him play? This has to be sportswriting malpractice. There's no excuse to report on the NFL and have not seen one of the 32 quarterbacks in the NFL play when he has started 13 games already in the NFL. Peter didn't even DVR one game and watch Locker play? How is this even possible?

Offensive Players of the Week

Brian Hoyer, QB, Cleveland. Roll this one around in your head: The third-string quarterback for Cleveland won a road game over a 2012 playoff team and had a 30-of-54 performance in a stunning post-Trent-trade victory. (I understand the three interceptions are big minuses, but drive after drive Hoyer showed he belonged on this stage.) No way he can be yanked out of the starting job now.

Notice Hoyer threw 54 passes. Chudzinski had no issue with the Browns trading his best running back because he has no interest in Norv Turner calling running plays.

Ahmad Bradshaw, RB, Indianapolis. You saw the will of a very good running back in the fourth quarter at San Francisco. Bradshaw, who had to hear for three days before the game that the Colts finally got a franchise back to shore up a weak position, came out and bled the clock in the fourth quarter like Emmitt Smith. He ran it 11 times for 62 yards when everyone in the stadium knew the run was coming—and when coach Chuck Pagano had Trent Richardson next to him on the bench for much of the quarter. For the day, Bradshaw ran 19 times for 95 yards in a win no one saw coming.

I'm not even sure why they played the game since it was just assumed the Colts would lose to the 49ers. Why did the Colts even travel to play the game they just figured they were going to lose anyway?

“I believe the safest pick in the draft—beyond Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin III—is Alabama running back Trent Richardson. He’s a blue-chip player and has all the skills to quickly establish himself as a top-five player at his position. Forget the nonsense about not taking backs early—everyone would love the chance to get this guy.”

—Mike Lombardi, current Cleveland GM and former columnist and NFL Network analyst, writing on on April 23, 2012, three days before Richardson was picked third overall in the draft by the Browns.

Yeah, but in fairness to Mike Lombardi, he didn't know he would be the GM of the Browns a year later so therefore he should be able to say anything he wants as a columnist and analyst without having to actually believe it or follow through on his words once he got a GM job.

I have scores—hundreds, probably—of quotes from my past that are blush-inducing, and very wrong, and which I wish I’d never written or said. But I can’t imagine one Lombardi would like to have back more from his days in the media than this one.

Oh, but Peter it is all a part of Mike Lombardi's master plan. After all, the Super Bowl trophy is named after him.

“How do you make your team better by trading your best player? … If I’m the coach and someone came in and did that, I’d say, ‘Okay, fire me, or I’m going to quit.’ Or we’re both going to go to the owner and talk about this, and then we’ll see who’s still standing.”

—Mike Holmgren, the former Cleveland club president who oversaw the trade up for, and drafting of, Trent Richardson before the Browns cleaned house after the 2012 season.

You make your team better by acquiring a 1st round pick in exchange for your team's best running back. Also, calling Richardson the Browns best player says a lot more about the Browns as a team than it does about Richardson as a player.

Then Peter talks about Peyton Manning trying to break a record held by Brett Favre. "It's just an obvious attempt to talk about Brett Favre in MMQB," is what I would write if I were a jaded individual.

Mr. Starwood Preferred Member Travel Note of the Week

Found myself in a new hotel, the Residence Inn Fenway, in room-starved Boston Tuesday night (big convention in town) after doing some business for The MMQB during the day in the western suburbs. So of course, staying in a hotel just across Brookline Avenue from Fenway Park, I wanted to attend the game. Before heading over, I had this only-in-Boston moment: On the sidewalk outside the hotel were two small groups: a family of five, with three young boys all in Red Sox gear and caps, ready to walk over to the game. And three men dressed in monks’ robes; two of the monks carried black backpacks with MIT logos. I loved the diversity of the Boston area when I lived there, with so many universities around.

While this specific situation is probably exclusive to, well this specific situation, I'm not sure this is an only-in-Boston moment and a similar scene of diversity can't be seen in other large cities around the United States. I know Peter wants to feel like Boston is special though.

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

a. The blitz pickup by Jamaal Charles. Did you see how he demolished Eagles safety Earl Wolff?

I didn't see it because I've never seen Jamaal Charles play, but I hear he is impressive. My name is Peter King.

h. Chuck Pagano can coach.

He can, can't he? It's almost like he doesn't need a tragedy to occur in order to get his players motivated to play on Sunday.

j. Geno Smith’s intriguing. Makes too many errors, but he also makes two or three throws a game that make you say: This guy’s got a real chance to make it.

So Peter King has seen Geno Smith play or is he just hearing from other people that Geno Smith makes a few impressive throws every game? I ask simply because I still can't believe Peter has not seen Jake Locker play quarterback for the Titans and Locker has been in the NFL for going on three years now. At this point, I don't trust anything Peter says because I am wondering if he actually watches a certain team even once during a season.

m. Ezekiel Ansah caught RG3 from behind Sunday. I think that says a little more about Ansah right now. The guy’s got difference-making speed.

It sounded like earlier in the column Peter was saying the fact Griffin got caught from behind said something about him as a quarterback and Griffin's ability to run after coming back from knee surgery. From earlier in this MMQB:

Robert Griffin III is the 20th-rated passer in football, and, scrambling in the pocket Sunday, was caught from behind by a Detroit defensive lineman.

I think the part where Peter says Griffin getting caught from behind by a defensive end says more about the defensive end should have been included in his initial comment about Griffin getting caught from behind by a Detroit Lions defensive lineman. Not including this comment gives a different perspective on what Griffin getting caught from behind by a defensive end means. What do I know though, I'm not an editor.

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

a. Mike Vick reverting to the turnover-prone Mike Vick.

I think, and I only have evidence given by a decade of seeing Vick play in the NFL, that turnover-prone Mike Vick may be the real Mike Vick.

b. Aldon Smith and Von Miller, top-10 picks in 2011 and big, big stars. Miller is suspended for six weeks. Smith will be out indefinitely. Disconcerting is what it is. Smith and Miller could learn from a player picked No. 11 in that first round, beneath them both: J.J. Watt.

I think we could all learn something from J.J. Watt. He's probably going to be a Senator one day, right beside Robert Griffin. Watt reminds me of a young Lyndon B. Johnson.

d. How is that Dez Bryant red-zone TD catch not offensive pass interference? He pushed the defensive back down, then turned around and caught the pass. Yes, he and Cortland Finnegan both made contact, but Bryant extended both arms and pushed Finnegan down.

(Peter's phone rings and he picks it up) "Hey, it's Peter, what can I do for you?"

(Marvin Demoff) "You answer the phone like a moron...well, actually that makes sense. Anyway, did you see Cortland Finnegan get pushed down?"

(Peter) "That I did see. I was OUTRAGED at the audacity of Dez Bryant. Though that play had little effect on the outcome of the game."

(Marvin Demoff) "Mention that in MMQB. Not asking, telling. Do it."

(Peter) "I would, but you know, it didn't affec---"

(Marvin Demoff) "Are you too stupid to understand what 'Not asking, telling" means? Do it."

(Peter) "Yes sir, I will do that---" (Marvin Demoff hangs up)

h. Year too early on the Rams optimism.

It's not Peter's fault. He just wants to be right about the Rams so badly, but he can't make them a playoff team simply by constantly talking them up as one. It's very disappointing. On a positive note, the Rams had a fantastic draft. Allow Peter to tell you about the Rams fantastic draft and what a great coach Jeff "8-8" Fisher is...

a. Weiss, on taking the settlement instead of fighting the NFL longer: “People say you only got $765 million. I’d rather have that than $1.5 billion 10 years down the road.”


6. I think this is one interesting take on the Trent Richardson trade, from former longtime NFL assistant Mike Westhoff after watching the narrow Week 2 Miami win over Indianapolis: “I think if the Colts had Trent Richardson in that game and could have controlled the clock better against the Dolphins, they’d have won that game.”

Apparently Trent Richardson has turned into Adrian Peterson and no one told me.

8. I think I never thought I would see a Tom Coughlin team look as rag-tag and feeble as these Giants.

It's a shame the Giants did look so badly without any help from the team they played.

9. I think I love the nickname Mike Florio has adopted on the grounds where the Cleveland Browns play: The Factory of Sadness. (Browns fan Mike Polk Jr. dubbed the stadium that in a YouTube clip.)

NBC sports synergy at its best.

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

c. Starting Tulane quarterback Nick Montana’s four-game numbers: 77 of 135 (.570), 919 yards, eight touchdowns, three picks. Son of Joe.

Oh, I thought Peter was referring to Tony's kid.

d. Couldn’t be more surprised about a baseball season. For Boston to clinch the division with nine days left in the regular season … I mean, bizarre. Baseball is such a mysterious game. I liked this quote from Red Sox owner John Henry to Gordon Edes after the Friday night clincher, referring to former manager Terry (Tito) Francona: “Tito used to say if we had nine Dustin Pedroias, we’d be champions. This year, I felt like we had 25.”

If the Red Sox had nine Dustin Pedroias then they would have nine guys who can play second base and no one to pitch for them...that's if I take this comment literally of course.

h. Everyone seems to think The Newsroom will be back for year three.

Thanks for the update. "The Newsroom" does seem like the kind of show that Peter would watch though, doesn't it? Peter is the kind of guy who watched "The West Wing" and "The Office" every week, but hasn't seen an episode of "Breaking Bad" or "Parks and Recreation."

i. In case you didn’t catch Jeff Garlin’s Ten Things I Think on The MMQB the other day, he said his gut feeling is Larry David will get the Curb Your Enthusiasm gang back together for another season—at some point. “I don’t ask,’’ he said.

BREAKING NEWS: There may be another season of "Curb Your Enthusiasm" in the future or maybe not. No one knows for sure.

l. Congrats, Max Scherzer. Took you a long time to get to 20, but that shouldn’t derail your Cy Young.

Peter is also the type of guy who thinks if a pitcher stays at 19 wins too long then this could derail his Cy Young chances. Again, not surprising.

The Adieu Haiku
Yo, Spencer Lanning:
What a day you had v. Vikes.
You sell popcorn too?

Yo, Peter:
The haikus are dumb.
Why not stop?