Thursday, November 14, 2013

6 comments The Dallas Cowboys Lost This Past Weekend So Gregg Easterbrook Decides There's Something Fatally Wrong with Them

This week in TMQ, Gregg Easterbrook wonders why the Cowboys are so terrible and if they could even beat the Baylor Bears this year (spoiler alert: yes, yes they could and quite easily in fact), "Christmas Creep" returns for one week against the want and need of the entire world for this to disappear forever, and then Gregg spends about 60% of TMQ talking about non-football related issues. Thankfully Gregg doesn't criticize any television shows in this week's TMQ. I guess the "Christmas Creep" section of TMQ serves as the annoying part of the column for this week's TMQ. If Gregg had his way, no retailers would advertise Christmas sales until the day before Christmas. Gregg has a fundamental misunderstanding of why retailers advertise their Christmas sales so far in advance of Christmas. For being an economist, it's kind of funny that Gregg can't understand the basic principle of a business maximizing revenue.

Let's not beat around the bush -- right now, if there were a championship of Texas, could the Dallas Cowboys defeat the Baylor Bears?

Yes they could and it wouldn't even be a close game. The Cowboys would beat Baylor by at least 40 points. Next stupid question please.

Rarely has an NFL division leader looked as awful as the Boys looked against New Orleans on Sunday night. One reason was the Saints played well, and another reason was Dallas has numerous injuries. But a lot of pro teams play well, and in the NFL everybody has injuries. The Boys looked uniquely bad.

It almost looked like a team that has struggled on defense played on the road against a team that has an excellent offense and has shown themselves to play even more excellent offense when at home.

Dallas allowed 625 offensive yards, 49 points and an NFL-record 40 first downs. Texas is the center of America's football culture, yet its highest-profile team plays like a group of high schoolers on defense.

Great point. Why don't the Cowboys just draft every good player that went to a Texas college or high school? Because that seems logical, smart and easy to do.

New Orleans leading 21-10, the Saints were on the Dallas 28 with 13 seconds remaining before intermission, holding one timeout. Since New Orleans is already in field goal range, the Saints are close to certain to try for the end zone.

In Gregg's mind I guess this makes sense. The Saints are already in field goal range, so why not force a pass to the end zone to see if they can commit a turnover or cause Brees to get sacked putting them out of field goal range?

Yet Dallas lined up with nine of its 11 defenders on or close to the line of scrimmage. Darren Sproles took a simple screen pass and, behind downfield blocks by Jahri Evans and Brian De La Puente, legged out a touchdown. 

I hate to break it to Gregg, but a screen pass isn't "trying for the end zone." Though I admire his ability to try and criticize the Cowboys based on an offensive strategy the Saints are sure to attempt, but didn't actually attempt, because it's a novel approach to writing. Gregg's criticism of the Cowboys defense is based on them not properly defending an offensive strategy the Saints didn't even attempt. Very ballsy. He criticizes the Cowboys for not protecting the end zone, though the Saints didn't score by throwing to the end zone, but by throwing a screen pass.

Maybe it was running up the score for Drew Brees to throw deep at the start of the fourth quarter, his team already leading 35-17. But Jerry Jones and his players boast so much, then play so poorly, it's impossible to feel sympathy.

The Cowboys boast so much? What the hell is Gregg talking about? I think there is an NFL that happens only in Gregg's mind where facts are replaced by his generalizations and because the 1990's Cowboys team was brash then Gregg just assumes every Cowboys team over the past 20 years has been brash. Gregg Easterbrook is very adept at making lazy generalizations about teams and players. Just think about how he criticizes highly-drafted players for being lazy and too focused on themselves. His writing seems to be based entirely on generalizations and stereotypes at times. Need another example? Here you go.

Tony Romo, paid about as much as Super Bowl winners Tom Brady and Joe Flacco, does hit lots of passes but often vanishes in the clutch.

Other than having seen the data that shows Romo is more clutch than lazy sportswriters give him credit for, I think I could better accept this lazy generalization if Romo had not led the Cowboys to a comeback victory just the week before the Cowboys played the Saints.

Jason Garrett, the head coach, is a Princeton graduate, so why is the Cowboys' football IQ so low?

Probably due to the same reason you are an economist and you aren't capable of understanding why a retailer would try to maximize profit. Or probably due to the fact the entire Cowboys roster didn't go to Princeton, so they don't have the same educational background (and smarts) that Garrett does.

Owner Jerry Jones spends money lavishly, seemingly always in salary-cap trouble, so why don't the Boys have depth?

Because they haven't entirely drafted well. This was an easy answer and didn't require a rhetorical question at all. The Cowboys haven't drafted the best in recent seasons, they have had constant injuries to the receivers and the running backs, plus the fact the Cowboys are always in salary-cap trouble can explain why they may not have the money to spend on depth.

And then there was the sight of defensive coordinators Rob Ryan on the New Orleans sideline. He was sent packing by Jones after last season, scapegoated for another year of the Boys not making the playoffs.

Well, that and Ryan's defense was 14th in yards per game allowed during both of his seasons as the Cowboys defensive coordinator, as well as 16th and 23rd in points allowed. Sometimes that's not good enough to keep your job as the defensive coordinator.

Hey, remember last year when Gregg criticized Rob Ryan for being too blitz happy and often featured the Cowboys defense in the "Stop Me Before I Blitz Again" portion of TMQ? Well now Gregg thinks Rob Ryan was scapegoated. It's amazing how Ryan's success in New Orleans has changed Gregg's opinion of him.

Here's a disturbing thought: Since three of the Boys' remaining games are against NFC East foes who are themselves struggling, could the Cowboys of 2013 become the worst team ever to win its division?

The 2010 Seahawks that went 7-9 in their division, then beat the Saints in the playoffs, would like to argue this point.

In other football news, Cincinnati, visiting Baltimore, tried on fourth-and-1 during regulation, then again on fourth-and-2 in overtime at the Baltimore 33. Neither attempt succeeded. (See more on fourth-down stats below.) Yet the Bengals' Marvin Lewis did not try on the best fourth-down situation in football -- going for two to win with the clock expired.

How stupid of Marvin Lewis to see the Bengals had failed on two previous fourth-and-short plays during the game and then deciding to kick the extra point rather than go for the two-point conversion to win the game. It's almost like Lewis noticed his team couldn't pick up the first down and adjusted his decisions accordingly. How stupid of him.

Line up for a PAT kick, then fake it and go for two! Succeed, and the game ends with Cincinnati victorious.

Because I'm sure the Ravens wouldn't have defended against a fake extra point attempt rather than try to block the extra point attempt, which succeeds 99% of the time anyway. If the Bengals go for two and fail, then they lose the game. I'm all in favor of playing to win, but I'm also in favor of making the smart move as opposed to outsmarting yourself.

Are the odds of a deuce better than 50-50? Historically, half of NFL deuce tries succeed -- last season it was 47 percent. But that stat mainly reflects expected tries. Surprise deuce attempts from kicking formation almost always succeed.

Notice the use of statistics to show that half of NFL two-point conversions work, then notice a shocking lack of statistics to support his point that surprise two-point conversion attempts from kicking formation almost always succeed. The reason there are no statistics to accompany this claim is because Gregg doesn't have statistics. He's making a claim and then showing no evidence his claim is true. It's often called "lying" and then hoping he can get away with it.

The Bengals needed 2 yards to win and wouldn't go for it. Then in overtime, needing 2 yards merely to sustain a possession, they did.

Again, there can be no hard-and-fast rules when it comes to football strategy. All strategy is situation specific. Obviously Gregg is incapable of understanding this.

As for the NFC's defending champs, San Francisco has failed to score 10 points on three occasions. Nobody's falling for the zone-read play-fake anymore: Colin Kaepernick looks panicky in the pocket.

Oh no! The 49ers lost again, so the read-option is dead again. I am sure the read-option will be a useful football strategy the next time the 49ers win a game or Gregg will just choose not to mention the read-option worked and focus instead on it the next time the 49ers lose, at which point he will once again declare nobody is falling for the read-option anymore.

If the quarterback thing doesn't work out for him, he can always fall back on nude modeling.

This sounds more like a wish of Gregg's as opposed to a comment on career backup options for Colin Kaepernick.

When Carolina, leading 10-9 at San Francisco, punted on fourth-and-2 on the Niners 41 with five minutes remaining, it seemed the visitors were tempting fate. But the Panthers downed the ball at the 1. Soon the favorites were facing fourth-and-long, backs to their own end zone.

Using Easterbrookian logic, the Panthers should have lost the game because they weren't bold and Ron Rivera wasn't telling his team he was playing to win the game. He was also telling his defense that he trusted them to stop the 49ers, and verily, despite the fact Rivera punted on fourth-and-short the Panthers won the game because the Panthers defense stopped the 49ers offense. I bet Gregg wrote "game over" in a notebook after Carolina punted.

Denver leading 21-6, the Broncos lined up in the trendy pistol look, with a tailback and receiver Demaryius Thomas around Peyton Manning. Thomas went in motion left, forming a trips left. Manning faked a handoff right, then very quickly threw a bubble screen left to Thomas, who went 34 yards for an untouched touchdown with offensive linemen Chris Clark, Zane Beadles and Louis Vasquez all more than 10 yards downfield.

Hopefully they weren't downfield before Manning threw the football, because otherwise that would be considered a penalty.

Now it's Buffalo at Pittsburgh, Bills again facing third-and-goal on the 1. This time the quarterback is oft-injured E.J. Manuel, who hadn't played in a month. Rather than run and run again if unsuccessful, Bills coaches called a pass, incomplete, then sent in the field goal unit. The coaches' saying is: Sometimes it's OK to make a mistake; it's never OK to repeat a mistake.

And of course the Steelers know that the Bills threw the ball in this situation last week and if Doug Marrone had taken Gregg's advice the Steelers would be fully prepared for the Bills to run the ball twice, which would allow them to call run blitzes. Football is situational and a team can learn from its mistakes while also not becoming predictable.

Sweet 'N' Sour Play: Baltimore leading 17-10, Cincinnati lined up for a Hail Mary from midfield with two seconds showing. The clock expired as the ball was in flight. Fourth down, knock it down -- defenders should never try to catch a fourth-down pass, let alone a game-ending heave-ho. Baltimore's James Ihedigbo, in position to spike the ball to the ground and end the contest, inexplicably flipped it into the air, keeping the pass alive. A.J. Green caught it for the Bengals' touchdown. Sweet for the visitors, very sour for the defending Super Bowl champions.

Doesn't Gregg mean undrafted, unwanted, hard-working James Ihedigbo inexplicably flipped the ball into the air and highly-drafted, glory boy, me-first A.J. Green caught it for the touchdown? You know if a highly-drafted player had made a stupid play like hitting the ball into the air then Gregg would comment on that player's draft position.

TMQ in the News: Here I am as subject of an hour-long interview by Brian Lamb on CSPAN.

If you recall, last week I noted that Gregg Easterbrook claimed on Twitter that TMQ was his alter ego and he acted like the column isn't necessarily indicative of what he thinks or says at times. Yet here, he pushes one of his media appearances while referring to himself in the first person, which clearly shows it is Gregg Easterbrook writing TMQ and TMQ isn't an alter ego.

This column contends that corruption in government is a larger problem than commonly understood -- that a reason expenditures at the federal, state and local levels keep smashing records, yet schools and bridges don't get built, is that a significant fraction of what government spends is not just wasted, it is stolen.

BREAKING NEWS: The government is corrupt. More on this explosive story that Gregg Easterbrook has just noticed and everyone else knew at 11pm. 

In state government, the Securities Exchange Commission has accused the state of Illinois of pension bond fraud. The S.E.C. has charged the former head of the California state pension fund with fraud. Members of the New York Senate have been arrested on bribery charges. The lieutenant governor of Florida resigned over involvement with a fake charity.

I'm glad Gregg is around to give us specific examples of corruption that was already assumed. Gregg seems to be good at providing examples when it comes to other topics he writes about in TMQ, so why can't he provide specific examples of the Cowboys boasting and the percentage on which surprise two-point conversions are successful? It could be because he tends to make things up when he is discussing football and prefers to just make lazy generalizations instead of actually providing real evidence his NFL-related contentions are true.

With offensive line problems before the controversy began, the Dolphins faced the added loss of starters Jonathan Martin and Richie Incognito. On the safety that was among the most dramatic two-point plays in the sport's annals -- runner tackled 5 yards deep in the end zone, almost as he was receiving the handoff -- emergency guard Nate Garner did not block anyone. Garner simply stood up and looked bewildered as Tampa linebacker Lavonte David crashed untouched through the center of the Dolphins' offensive line.

Wow, is that what happened? Funny, because I got a Tweet with a picture attached that showed this safety. The Tweet stated I might want to keep the picture handy when reading TMQ.

What's interesting is the red arrow shows Nate Garner clearly blocking Gerald McCoy on the play and Pouncey making his way to the second level to block the linebacker. So yet again, Gregg Easterbrook is clearly lying to his readers when he says Nate Garner did not block anyone. Nate Garner, as seen by that screenshot, very clearly blocked someone. I don't know why I would expect Gregg to not lie, given the fact he tries to mislead his readers every single week.

The Bucs opened the scoring with one of the sweetest plays of the year, a third-and-goal touchdown pass to offensive tackle Donald Penn. Fielding six offensive linemen for a power-rush play is a football meme started three years ago at Stanford;

Putting six offensive linemen in the game for a power rush was started WAY before Stanford started doing it three years ago. In fact, the Jets had one of the best comebacks in NFL history on "Monday Night Football" where they used six offensive linemen on the goal line to fake a run and then set up a pass to an offensive lineman. This was the year 2000 when this occurred. So unless Gregg thinks it is 2002, he is making shit up again.

The Bucs lined up unbalanced right, with the extra lineman right of the center. That left Penn exactly where he would normally be, at the left tackle spot. Except he wasn't the left tackle, he was the left end! Tampa's seven on the line of scrimmage looked like this:


To the defenders, it seemed Penn was what he always was, and they ignored the umpire's declaration that No. 70 reported eligible, since on goal-line plays the extra offensive lineman often reports eligible. Unbalancing the line distracted defenders from realizing Penn had become a tight end.

Penn had not actually become a tight end. He was still an offensive tackle and the defense didn't ignore the umpire's declaration he was eligible, they just assumed because Penn was an offensive lineman then he wouldn't be the primary receiver on the play. It was a well-designed play.

Penn faked a block for one second, stepped across the goal line and turned around, uncovered. Sweet! And he's TMQ's kinda guy, an undrafted free agent who has made the Pro Bowl.

There goes Gregg mentioning a player's draft position when he makes a good play and conveniently leaving it off when an undrafted player makes a bad play.

Reader Luis Murray of Mexico City reports that on Nov. 4, standing before a Christmas tree and nativity scene, Venezuelan president Nicolas Maduro declared "early Christmas," announcing two-thirds of the country's traditional year-end bonus to workers would be paid in mid-November. In Venezuela, Christmas Creep is official government policy!

Either that or the bonuses were given prior to Christmas so that when families do Christmas shopping they can actually afford the gifts they are purchasing for their children. But for Gregg, logic takes a backseat to cutesy bullshit about "Christmas Creep." It makes sense to give Christmas bonuses so that money can be spent towards purchasing Christmas presents.

But in movies, the manly man brings down enemies without bullets. Check the ending of the 1955 flick "Davy Crockett: King of the Wild Frontier." In the final scene at the Alamo, Fess Parker kills Mexican after Mexican by striking them with the butt of his rifle as the movie fades out.

I can't believe a movie made in 1955 would be unrealistic in this way. Unfathomable.

Sure seems as though there is a sudden outburst of fourth-down resolve! But stats show there is not.

So far this season, NFL teams have gone on fourth down 250 times. At the same juncture last season, there had been 240 fourth-down attempts. At the same juncture a decade ago, there had been 261 fourth-down tries.

Okay, but how many opportunities have there been for a team to go for it on fourth down? If NFL teams have gone for it on fourth down 250 times out of 1000 opportunities, while last season there were 240 fourth down attempts on 1050 opportunities then there is an increase in teams going for it on fourth down. So "the stats" are really inconclusive without more "stats" showing us the full picture of the number of opportunities teams have had to go for it on fourth down.

Fourth-down tries are down slightly in the pros, up slightly in big-college games -- but neither level of football shows a dramatic trend. If it seems fourth-down resolve is increasing, the likely explanation is high-profile tries in nationally televised games.

Now remember that Gregg thinks head coaches don't go for it on fourth down because they want to play conservative and not get blamed if his team loses, therefore the blames transfers to his players for not playing well. Yet Gregg thinks the assumption fourth down resolve is increasing is due to high-profile tries in nationally televised games. So if head coaches really didn't want to get blamed for their team losing and wanted to transfer blame, wouldn't the best time to do this be when the most people are watching? In other words, these high-profile tries in nationally televised games may be skewing the opinion of resolve on fourth down, but this doesn't match up with Gregg's assumption that coaches look to avoid blame by not being aggressive on fourth down. If coaches wanted to avoid blame, they would be more conservative when more people are watching, in order to be able to transfer blame to the players.

Then Gregg relays a story about how he tried to mail a package using USPS that wouldn't fit in the slot and his mail carrier wouldn't accept it either, so he chased his mail carrier down and forced him to take the package. While I would I would like to mock Gregg for doing this Peter King-ish sort of thing, I'm not a huge fan of the USPS either. My mail carrier just yesterday nearly ripped my mailbox off my door trying to get a magazine into the mailbox. My bias causes me to not mock Gregg for chasing down a mail carrier and berating him for not taking a package. I do apologize because normally the idea of Gregg Easterbrook berating a mail carrier in order to prove a point would amuse me.

Buck-Buck-Brawkkkkkk: As Florida boomed a punt in Vanderbilt territory, reader Laura Ammons of Jacksonville, Fla., tweeted, "Sounds like it'll be Florida's first lost to Vandy in 22 years." And yea, verily, this came to pass. Who cares if it was fourth-and-31 from the Vanderbilt 38?

I do. I care it was fourth-and-31 from the Vanderbilt 38. The odds of Vanderbilt fumbling, throwing an interception or Florida downing the ball inside the 10-yard line seem higher than the odds of Florida converting a fourth-and-31. So the fact Florida had to go 31 yards to get a first down is very, very relevant as to why they punted.

Florida was behind, be a man! Needless to say the football gods caused the punt to roll into the end zone for a touchback.

The outcome of the punt wasn't good, but the idea behind punting was solid I think.

Later on ESPN, the college football A-team of Rece Davis, Mark May and Lou Holtz was discussing Florida's 4-5 record as if it were some kind of national calamity. Can't we at least pretend Florida's players are students first? In every game, somebody has to lose. Part of the calamity claim was empty seats at Florida's stadium by the third quarter, though the house was packed at kickoff. The University of Miami entered its home game the same day in the top 10, and drew only 49,267 in a stadium that seats 75,000. Declining attendance at college football games has more to do with high-def flat screens and games shown on tablets than lack of enthusiasm for the sport.

It also has to do with the fact the Hurricanes haven't drawn fans very well over this past year too. So this isn't a problem that has occurred just this past weekend.

At any rate, can't we at least pretend that the players at Florida, and at other football factory schools, are there first to learn, only second to win games?

Considering Mark May, Rece Davis and Lou Holtz have been hired to talk about football, then no, their job is to discuss the game and not discuss the Florida players' grades in Chemistry class. I'm fine with a college athlete's grades being discussed or a discussion of academics in college athletes, but I'm not fine with Mark May and Lou Holtz leading that discussion when it isn't their job to do so and they don't seem capable of leading a discussion of this type.

Pro football ratings are fantastic but have been flat for several years, while college football ratings continue to climb, and may pass NFL numbers.

Or these ratings may not pass NFL ratings. I hate it when Gregg says something "might" happen. Yes, pretty much anything could happen.

With 125 universities playing at the big-deal FBS level, each week of the college season offers lots of pairings between winning teams. With 32 clubs in the NFL, winner-versus-winner pairings are much more rare. In Week 9, Chicago at Green Bay was the sole pairing of NFL teams with winning records. This week, three of the 14 contests were winner-versus-winner pairings. Three of 14 is pretty good by NFL standards, and might be about the same as the winner-versus-winner likelihood in college. But because of its size, the FBS generates more winner-versus-winner events, allowing CBS, Fox and ESPN to present full slates of important games, while many NFL pairings are woofers.

I wonder if Gregg will compare the ratings of bowl games to the ratings of NFL playoff games to see if college football ratings "might" pass NFL numbers? Gregg is right, college football has more options for the viewer that could feature teams with winning records. Of course, many of these teams in major conferences have winning records due to playing (what Gregg calls) "cupcake" teams at the beginning of the season, which skews their record as being better than what it will be after several weeks of conference play. So basically, these "cupcake" schools that Gregg complains major conference football teams schedule have something to do with two college football teams with winning records facing off against each other, which has something to do with good ratings for a game between two winning teams, which leads to Gregg's conclusion college football ratings "might" climb past NFL ratings. Now can Gregg see why teams schedule those "cupcake" teams?

Another NFL Coach Receives the Kiss of Death: Mike Smith is "not going anywhere," the Falcons general manager says. So Smith is finished. Though, the statement could prove literally true if Smith is fired and receives no other offer.

So Gregg Easterbrook is saying that Mike Smith will be fired because the Falcons general manager said Smith wouldn't be fired. Smith has never had a losing record as the Falcons coach and has made the playoffs four of the five years he has been the Falcons coach. Gregg leaves these little facts out when saying Smith will be fired (of course without actually saying Smith will be fired and risking the chance of being wrong). The Falcons have had a tough year with injuries to the offense and the defense not playing as well as hoped. Smith won't be fired. I'll believe it when I see it happen. 

Next Week: Could there be four scoring plays in three seconds?

No, there won't be. Next week I want to see Gregg decide if the Chiefs or the Broncos are the best team in the AFC. If the Broncos beat the Chiefs then Peyton Manning will have won a big game and Gregg Easterbrook will completely forget just a few weeks ago he introduced the "Peyton Paradox" which said Manning can't win big games. As usual, when Gregg is wrong about something he says will/won't happen he just ignores how wrong he was and will not mention that topic until he is right again. The Broncos may beat the Chiefs, but if the Broncos lose the Super Bowl then Gregg will say the "Peyton Paradox" was in effect and Manning can't win big games.


Snarf said...

Dallas allowed 625 offensive yards, 49 points and an NFL-record 40 first downs. Texas is the center of America's football culture, yet its highest-profile team plays like a group of high schoolers on defense.

Didn't Greggggggggggg just deem the Pacific Northwest the center of all things football?

Snarf said...

Reader Luis Murray of Mexico City reports that on Nov. 4, standing before a Christmas tree and nativity scene, Venezuelan president Nicolas Maduro declared "early Christmas," announcing two-thirds of the country's traditional year-end bonus to workers would be paid in mid-November. In Venezuela, Christmas Creep is official government policy!

Either that or the bonuses were given prior to Christmas so that when families do Christmas shopping they can actually afford the gifts they are purchasing for their children. But for Gregg, logic takes a backseat to cutesy bullshit about "Christmas Creep." It makes sense to give Christmas bonuses so that money can be spent towards purchasing Christmas presents.

And what's with those ass hoes at Christmas in April? Where do they get off with that bullshit...

Don't they know that Christmas doesn't happen until December 25th (maybe the 24th if you want to tempt fate).

Seriously, these people literally are calling it "early Christmas" (didn't read the link)yet are still getting criticized? They are literally acknowledging that this is occurring before the actual time of Christmas, making it not at all interesting that this is happening in advance of Christmas.

Anonymous said...

^^^ That was supposed to say "assholes," but "ass hoes" works just fine.

Koleslaw said...

I've been trying to come up with a good reply to this column but I can't. Greggg is just such a goddamned moron.

Drekkan said...

I think what I hate most about Gregg is that he can sometimes be half-right and then takes it to a massive extreme. It's kinda like Malcolm Gladwell - he takes real analytic work, which has been thoroughly tested, and present it (good) but then goes on from that analytic work to draw a conclusion the study authors didn't examine (bad). This disguises the bullshit he kinda makes up with the actual analytics.

Same with Gregg. Gregg has a good point - generally coaches are far too conservative on the field. There's also a good economic reason for it - it is much easier to blame the coach if the coach appears 'aggressive' and much easier to blame the players if the coach is more traditional. This is inefficient and coaches that adapt will begin winning more games on aggregate.

But then he cocks it up by taking it too far. Consider his Vandy comment. Looking at an EPA/WP formulas, and punting in that situation does nothing to chance the win probability (it's 1% regardless of if the team goes for it, punts, or kicks a field goal). The EPA is actually HIGHEST with a punt (it's negative for both going for it and kicking a field goal). This is a situation where punting makes the most economic sense. But that requires nuance, and Gregg doesn't live for nuance.

It's the same way with innovative football/formations. Gregg is right that often NFL teams are too conservative in their tactics and strategy. High school, college, and the CFL have a lot more experimentation and if some of it is adapted, teams could create efficiencies.

However, he ruins a good point (all to often) by going overboard and making it seem like you have to do nothing but crazy innovative football. This approach also can't work - because the players and speed of play are amped up in the pros in such a way that makes riverboat football inefficient across a full season.

Gregg also suffers from the exact same problem that he attacks other commentators for - outcome bias. Sportscasters always yammer on based on what happened on the play. That doens't matter, the only question is how good was the choice before the play was made. Looking at the Carolina example that Gregg seems to praise - punting significantly hurt Carolina's win probability. Carolina gave up about a full point in expected points added, and dropped about 10% compared to going for it. The only reason Gregg backs their decision is because it worked.

Bengoodfella said...

Snarf, the northwest is the center of the football universe until Gregg decides it's not. I think at this point he is just messing with us about this Christmas Creep stuff. It was called "early Christmas" and Gregg is still criticizing for some reason.

Drekkan, you are right that he can be half-right and then ruin his point. My favorite team has turned their season around (partly) by being aggressive on fourth down. It's a situation specific thing though. The Panthers have good RB's and a tall, powerful QB, so they should go for it on fourth-and-short. I hate hard-and-fast rules and that's where Gregg always annoys me and loses his point.

I 100% agree with you that Gregg is very outcome-based and that's his biggest problem. Whatever strategy a team should have used is apparent after the game. Whatever worked was the right call in Gregg's mind, but there is a right call that isn't outcome-based and is more than likely the best decision based on the probability of success. Gregg doesn't care about that probability though. It's why he can criticize a team one week for a strategy and then praise another team for the opposite strategy that ended up working.