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)


Anonymous said...

"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."

Let us not forget - let us never forget - that Gregg, just a short month ago, was advocating for Green Bay using Vince Young to spell Aaron Rodgers during games, to "give defenses something else to gameplan for." This is Gregg's foresight for you; just a month ago he couldn't get enough zone read, to the point he wanted to take Aaron Rodgers off the field. Now it's just a flavor of the month.

Notice also that that sentence starts with "if." What kind of analysis starts with "if?" Anyone can play the "if" game. See, Gregg doesn't want to actually SAY the zone read is a flavor of the month because that would be putting his neck on the line...but IF it is, teams are going to wish they had tried-and-true pocket passers (as if they ever went out of style; all these QBs Gregg thinks are runners are actually really good passers). IF something bad happens, teams are going to wish they had something else. Stand back folks, this is blistering analysis.

Bengoodfella said...

Anon, that is true. I'm ashamed I forgot that. He wanted to pull Aaron Rodgers off the field so Vince Young could give the defenses a new look. Now the zone read is a flavor of the month. He's so irritating.

You nailed it. Gregg doesn't want to say anything that can be held against him or would show him to be wrong. Heaven knows if he is right then he will take credit for be correct and ignore the "if" part of the sentence.

He has no analysis, it's just things he makes up at the moment and then will eventually forget he said when proven wrong.

JJJJShabado said...

[b]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.[/b]

I know I'm beating a dead horse, but unwanted Crezdon Butler, a 5th round pick who was cut at the end of Training Camp by the Bills and is on his fifth NFL team couldn't stop a high 2nd round pick.

I wish they would replace Gregg with Bill Barnwell. I really enjoy his Thank You for Not Coaching series. It has many similar ideas as TMQ, but it is presented a lot better in terms of tone and facts. The worst thing you can do for the analytics movement is to make things absolute. Rarely is anything black and white. That's Gregg's problem.

Bengoodfella said...

JJ, you are right about that. Things are rarely black and white, but Gregg says Activity A occurred because Person A didn't do what he should have done when there is often more to it than that.

I'm not a huge Barnwell fan, but often he brings out some good points. He's hit or miss for me.

Snarf said...

How does he weasel his way back on the 49ers bandwagon now?

Bengoodfella said...

Well, he did write a lot of "maybe's" and "if's" so I'm guessing he talks about the 49ers making some offensive change (simplistic change of course) and it turns out that Kaepernick is a great QB. We'll see how Smith does on Sunday, but I'm guessing we will get "it turns out maybe the 49ers knew what they were doing trading Smith."

Gregg isn't ballsy enough to say "49ers should have stayed with Smith," he said "it may turn out the 49ers should have kept Smith." Nothing definitive stated, so he feels smart.