Thursday, October 30, 2014

9 comments Gregg Easterbrook Outright Lies In TMQ About Something Rex Ryan Said

Gregg Easterbrook pointed out all of the teams that weren't going to make the playoffs after Week 7 in last week's TMQ. He also indicated that a team with a 7% chance of making the playoffs should be worried, while a team with a 6% chance of making the playoffs probably should be excited about their chances. This stuff never ends with Gregg. Let's see how he will ignore that the Cardinals and the Redskins won games this weekend through blitzing the opposing team. Spoiler alert: He sort of ignores it, but simply dismisses blitzing is a defensive tactic that can win football games. In the face of evidence that disproves your hypothesis, ignore such evidence. That's not Gregg's mantra, but probably should be. This week, Gregg still harps on academics being factored into the college football playoff and does all the same annoying shit with second-guessing teams and leaving out information that he does every week in TMQ. I would say there is about 35% more lying and misleading this week.

Today, the new College Football Playoff selection committee releases its first rankings, a hint at the four power schools that will square off in the inaugural football factory elimination tourney. Records, schedule strength, quality of victory and even quality of defeat will be debated.

What if graduation rates were considered, too?

Then it would be stupid because the College Football Playoff (am I supposed to capitalize it?) only deals with how teams perform on the field and not in the classroom. What if schools ranked academically by "US World Report" and other publications ranked the school based on their academic criteria, but also how good that school is at football? Would that make sense?

In August, ESPN introduced ESPN Grade, a new way to think about college football rankings. 

"A new way" meaning "A stupid way" of thinking about college football rankings because it only factors in the schools in the Top 25 and weighs football results more than it weighs academic results. If ESPN Grade were a true blend of academics and football then it would have a 50-50 mix of academics and football. But of course, it doesn't. Therefore, uselessness is the result.

Here's what would happen if ESPN Grade were applied to the CFP: Right now, the top four seeds, in order, would be Notre Dame, Alabama, Georgia and Auburn.

So the SEC would have three teams along with an independent school. I can't imagine how this would be a problem. Plus, this ESPN Grade result would result in a four team playoff that has teams who are ranked 1, 4, 11, and 14 in academics among the Top 25 teams. I think that alone shows the uselessness of ESPN Grade. What about the two teams who are 11th and 14th in academics? ESPN Grade claims to reward schools with great academics, except it doesn't. Like the good ESPN boy that Gregg is, he will continue to force ESPN Grade down the throats of his readers.

The CFP's initial No. 1 seems likely to be Mississippi State, which is first in the major, victories-only polls. Factoring in the classroom causes Mississippi State to plummet, given that its football graduation rate is an unimpressive 59 percent, 21st among the Top 25 colleges. Florida State plummets, too, with an embarrassing 58 percent football graduation rate, which is 23rd of 25. Ole Miss plummets as well, with a 55 percent football graduation rate, 24th of 25.

As much as I love academics, it still makes no sense to base a football poll on a team's graduation rate. In Fairy Tale Land, where Gregg thinks college football is played, it makes sense, but not in the real world. Plus, ESPN Grade leaves out the academic standing of every team not in the Top 25. So ESPN Grade doesn't even measure the majority of Division-I football teams' success in the classroom and on the field as a comparison to Notre Dame, Alabama, Georgia and Auburn.

Suppose Mississippi State or Florida State go on to win the first big playoff title. A champion that graduates barely more than half its football players would be terrible for the sport, to say nothing of the young men not receiving degrees.

I guess if you as a sports fan are under the impression that the best college football team should also be the best college football team who is also the best at academics, it would be terrible for the sport. Otherwise, nope, Florida State won last year and college football still manages to survive. Go figure. It's almost like most sports fans realize the college football playoff (or BCS at the time) isn't intended to measure a team's ability in the classroom, as well as that team's ability on the field.

In contrast, an inaugural CFP championship by Notre Dame, Alabama, Georgia or Auburn would reflect well on collegiate athletics, as these schools combine success on game day with success on commencement day.

Because a college that is 14th among 25 teams in academics would be a great source of pride for the NCAA. This team has a graduation rate that is in the middle of a 25 team subset! What an accomplishment. 

But the core purpose of college is education. Providing sports entertainment, a secondary mission, gains legitimacy only through results on commencement day. Unless you'd prefer the big conferences become semipro leagues that have nothing to do with universities -- with the lore and excitement of college traditions instantly lost -- you need to care about graduation rates.

Umm...Gregg, the big conferences ARE semipro leagues that have very little to do with the universities, while the lore and excitement of college traditions have not been lost. So, that's a pretty fucking weak argument you are furthering.

All universities say they educate their athletes. The ones that do a better job should be rewarded in the rankings.

Yes, in Fairy Tale Land they should. In the real world, where the intent is to win football games and bring in revenue to the school, the job is to win football games and make sure the students stay eligible to play sports. It's a sad world, I know.

On a related point, the University of North Carolina scandal just keeps getting worse. According to a new report, for 18 years, the Chapel Hill school offered "paper" courses that handed out an average 3.62 GPA (that means the average grade was an A) to about 3,100 students, about half of whom were NCAA athletes.

This past winter, when CNN reported a University of North Carolina instructor warned about continuing extremely poor academics in Chapel Hill sports, new chancellor Carol Folt, says they could not verify the information.

Yes, that is what she said, but Gregg is leaving out the second part of that. Carol Folt said (and you can read what she said in the link Gregg provides and didn't apparently read):

In an open letter emailed to university students, faculty and employees Thursday, chancellor Carol Folt said she takes Willingham's allegations "very seriously." But the chancellor said the school has been "unable to reconcile these claims with either our own facts or with the data currently being cited as the source for the claims."

I'm not in the business of defending UNC for a variety of reasons, but Carol Folt was simply indicating they couldn't verify the information because they questioned the source and how the information Willingham provided matched the facts she (Folt) had. It's not that she was too stupid to verify the information, it was just a matter of this information not reconciling with other information she had.

The new scandal is not about athletic eligibility -- it runs much deeper than that, going to paper courses and fake grades for a broad range of students. The University of North Carolina has in recent years attempted to portray itself as among the "public Ivies." The latest report calls into question whether the University of North Carolina should even retain its accreditation. Thousands of students in fake classes would embarrass even a sleazy online school.

I don't know, I've seen some sleazy online schools that do shady crap than this.

People at the top of institutions often justify their high pay and perks -- Folt earns a taxpayer-subsidized $520,000 a year -- by saying the buck stops with them. Then, when something goes wrong, they claim they were not responsible and should not face accountability. There will be no consequences?

To be fair, Folt was in her first academic year replacing Holden Thorp as president of UNC-CH. So it's not like there wasn't accountability, because Thorp left due to the fallout from these academic issues. Gregg tries to muddy the water a little bit in an effort to make it look like there was not accountability, when there may not be accountability throughout upper management, but UNC already had a president leave due to these academic allegations. So there was accountability and Folt's time to be accountable has started.

Looks like character education is not on the curriculum at Chapel Hill.

Zing! Good one Gregg!

In other sports news, the NBA tips off Tuesday night. Tuesday Morning Quarterback believes basketball is 1 percent as interesting as football, so I annually devote 1 percent of my column inches to the hoops sport. See some NBA comments below.

Despite the fact Gregg thinks the NBA is 1% as interesting as football, he still thinks he has 100% knowledge about the NBA and doesn't hold back criticism of the NBA as if he holds an in-depth knowledge of the sport of basketball. Fake it so others don't know you aren't that smart. 

Stats Of The Week No. 3: The Detroit "at" Atlanta game in London aired live at 6:30 a.m. on the West Coast and 3:30 a.m. in Honolulu.

Time zones are fun. 

Stats Of The Week No. 6: The Bengals are on an 12-0-1 regular-season home streak and an 0-3 postseason home streak.

Yes, the Bengals still haven't won a home playoff game. One would expect this to change at some point when the NFL playoffs roll around, but to quote this statistic every week prior to the next NFL playoff game taking place seems unnecessary.

Great News -- Jerry Jones Embarrassed in Prime Time: Were the Cowboys that overconfident or did Colt McCoy acquire superpowers by returning to Texas and drinking its water? Three things are certain from the "Monday Night Football" mega-upset: First, as TMQ has noted before, "Colt McCoy" is the best football name ever. Second, Robert Griffin III wore a heavy ski cap indoors.

Under Gregg's theory that the coach or cheerleader who dresses with the least amount of clothing wins the game, doesn't this mean that the Redskins should have lost to the Cowboys? This would also mean Gregg's theory is horseshit, but we all know Gregg's theories could never be horseshit. Never.

The Potomac Drainage Basin Indigenous Persons figured to face constant running plays, what with Washington having a mediocre run defense and Dallas boasting the league's first-ranked rushing offense. Running plays are especially effective at home, because they ramp up crowd energy.

This is a 100% fact and not at all an opinion. Passing plays actually bore the home crowd. That's also a fact and not an opinion. Gregg holds so much knowledge that may seem to the amateur as an opinion, but is indeed a fact.

Washington gambled by big-blitzing on third down, and the gamble paid off with two sacks of Tony Romo by safety Brandon Meriweather: one knocking Romo out of the contest for a while, the other causing a fourth-quarter fumble.

Stop me before I blitz again! Big blitzing doesn't work and a good quarterback can easily beat a big blitz. Isn't that what Gregg tells his readers? Well, apparently not. I do like how Gregg just acknowledges the Redskins blitzed a lot and managed to win the game using this tactic, yet Gregg will criticize another defensive coordinator for blitzing a lot in other instances, and claim this is what caused his team to lose the game. Then from there, Gregg will attempt to make it seem like playing a base, boring defense like the Seahawks run is the best defense to run in order to win games. Then my head will explode.

McCoy scored a touchdown on a designed quarterback draw at the goal line -- this common Texas prep school play must have made him feel right at home.

Yes, this quarterback draw at the goal line is a common Texas prep school play, but also a common play in the NFL with a quarterback who is mobile. Heck, the Panthers beat the Packers 15 years ago on a quarterback draw by Steve Beuerlein from the five yard line. So it's a common Texas prep school play, but also a common football play.

The Persons broke an 0-8 streak (and 0-9 road streak) against NFC East teams. Now, sure-to-be-former head coach Jay Gruden faces yet another dilemma -- bring back RG III, or let the third-stringer play? Don't be surprised if Gruden sides with McCoy. A Griffin comeback would be a media circus, while Gruden can take credit for having the foresight to sign the unwanted McCoy last spring.

Or Gruden could choose to start Colt McCoy because McCoy has played well as the Redskins' starter and won a road game against the Cowboys. But no, I'm sure the decision to start McCoy will be based primarily on satisfying Gruden's ego and need to feel smart. It won't have anything to do with the fact McCoy has played well for the Redskins.

Sweet Play Of The Week: With the Steelers leading Indianapolis 28-10, Pittsburgh had first-and-10 on the Colts 47. Colts defensive end Arthur Jones got free on a spin move and lunged at Ben Roethlisberger's feet. Roethlisberger stumbled, and Jones seemed likely to pull the Pittsburgh quarterback down. Then undrafted Steelers guard Ramon Foster jumped atop Jones and immobilized him.

Foster makes a great play, Gregg mentions his draft position.

Freed, Roethlisberger threw a 47-yard touchdown pass to Antonio Brown.

Ben Roethlisberger throws a 47-yard touchdown pass and his draft position isn't mentioned at all. Neither is that fact that Antonio Brown, a highly-paid glory boy, caught the touchdown pass. This is how Gregg works. He assumes his readers are stupid and lazy, so he can mislead them and leave out information that fits his agenda.

When Roethlisberger was drafted out of Miami of Ohio, the book on him was he was a terrific leader but lacked finesse as a passer. One reason for this view is Roethlisberger looks like a linebacker and plays a tough-guy style -- when he's sacked, he barely seems aware of it. Now Roethlisberger has two Super Bowl rings, and on Sunday, he became the only quarterback in NFL annals to throw for 500-plus yards on more than one occasion.

But what round was he drafted in again?

Roethlisberger will never get into Brett Favre or Peyton Manning territory for career passing yards.

I'm still thinking about undrafted Steelers guard Ramon Foster, so what rounds were Favre and Manning drafted in again?

Sour Play Of The Week: With Baltimore leading 24-20, the Nevermores had host Cincinnati facing third-and-10 on its own 20 with 3:48 remaining. All the visitors needed was an incompletion. Knowing Cincinnati needed to throw deep, surely Baltimore wouldn't safety blitz! But free safety Darian Stewart blitzed, and it was a 53-yard completion to Mohamed Sanu, who went straight to the area the free safety vacated for a key down in the Cincinnati comeback victory.

Doesn't Gregg mean undrafted free safety Darian Stewart? Oh that's right, Stewart didn't make a good play so his draft position is irrelevant in Gregg's mind.

Playing at home, the Panthers never trailed the defending champions until there were 47 seconds remaining, and they left the field losers. Sour. Down 13-9, the Cats faced fourth-and-25 on their own 8 with 26 seconds showing. Essentially, this was fourth-and-99. When Cam Newton threw short incomplete, the home crowd booed lustily.

Newton didn't really "throw short," he threw a screen pass that didn't get to the intended receiver because he was about to be trucked by a defensive lineman for the third play in a row.

It turns out Super Bowl MVP quarterback Joe Flacco faced a nearly identical fourth-and-99 situation on his final snap at Cincinnati and also threw a futile short pass. But Flacco wasn't at home, so he did not hear boos.

You can't find this type of analysis anywhere else.

Reader Joshua Thrailkill of North Carolina noted the Panthers fielded four undrafted offensive linemen. But in the NFL, every team must deal with injuries.

Nope, I think what Joshua may have been pointing out is that Gregg goes on and on and on and on about undrafted free agents and how they work so hard, only care about the team and are preferable to "me-first" glory boys, but the Panthers have a pitiful offensive line nearly made up entirely of undrafted free agents. Because Gregg lacks self-awareness, he is unable to see that Joshua very well could be pointing out the fallacy of Gregg's assertions in TMQ. In this case, the assertion is that undrafted players are often preferable to highly-drafted players. It's better to be blind to his assertions being incorrect and keep making the same assertions over and over rather than Gregg subjugate his ego to admit his theory is horseshit and based entirely on assumptions and cherry-picked information that ignores evidence contrary to his assumptions.

"The 100" is teen angst goes to outer space. The title refers to 100 teenagers who descend to Earth from an enormous space station where a remnant of humanity has spent the past century in terrible conditions while waiting for radiation to fade after a nuclear apocalypse. In the series pilot, aboard the enormous space station, we see teens, and we see their parents -- but no children. How could there be 100 teenagers if there are no babies, toddlers or tweens?

Because it is a fictional television show. That's how.

On "The 100" it's the middle of the 22nd century, yet everyone speaks southern California English using present-day slang. One hundred sixty-five years into the future, people say, "Game over, man."

This is a pretty stupid criticism for two specific reasons:

1. If a television show invented it's own language and slang then Gregg would criticize the show for not using realistic language.

2. If a television show invented it's own language and slang then the viewers would have some difficulty relating and understanding what is being said by the characters. There are television shows that create their own language, but include subtitles and the entirety of the show isn't this new language (I'm thinking "Game of Thrones"). So for "The 100" to create new slang (The Shins will change your life), would involve the viewers in 2014 understanding slang used by every character from 150 years in the future. I'm not sure that's a good way to draw viewers.

In the Will Smith interplanetary ego vehicle "After Earth," it's 1,000 years into the future, and language is exactly the same as today. Characters say "I'm good to go" and "We need this ASAP."

Because it's preferable to use language nobody watching the movie understands. Makes sense.

Contrast that with the literary science fiction novel "Riddley Walker," which is set centuries after a global nuclear war pushed humanity back into the iron age. Author Russell Hoban invented an elaborate future dialect. For instance, the ancients (us) are referred to as the "Puter Leat" -- the computer elite. Surely, if there is ever a Hollywood version of "Riddley Walker," future slang will disappear and characters will say, "Sup, dog?"

See Gregg is so stupid, he doesn't understand that if there was a Hollywood version of "Riddley Walker" then slang like "Sup, dog?" would make sense. Gregg is advocating Hollywood update slang in movies or television shows that take place in the future, but then he sarcastically states "Sup, dog?" would appear in a Hollywood version of "Riddley Walker." Well, "Riddley Walker" was written in 1980, so using future slang from 2014 in a movie about the future is EXACTLY what Gregg is encouraging Hollywood to do, yet he sarcastically states this is what Hollywood do, as if the movie version should use slang from 1980. The idea of using slang from 1980 is against what Gregg wants Hollywood to do in terms of updating language based on "future slang" that would be used in movies and television shows about the future.

Chicago mayor Rahm Emanuel admitted the city deliberately shortened yellow lights. The goal was more ticket revenue -- some $8 million from 77,000 automated tickets that would not have been issued had yellow lights been set to the federally recommended, three-second minimum. 

In order to fund public-sector pensions, cities and states increasingly stoop to any means to reach into citizens' pockets.

I do agree with Gregg on this issue, but that's what parking tickets, speeding tickets, and various other penalties are, an attempt to reach into citizens' pockets. I own a car. I have paid for my car entirely, yet I have to pay a tax to my local government on the value of my car. Why do I have to pay the tax? I own the car entirely and the city is supposed to receive revenue from me because I have the audacity to own a vehicle? It's an attempt to reach into my pocket and take money. I don't advocate shortened yellow lights, but this is one of the small examples of government reaching in the pockets of citizens. Every year people who have the audacity to own a car have to pay to get the car inspected. To drive a car, a person is forced to get it inspected and there is a charge for this too. It's just weird Gregg uses shortened yellow lights as an example of government overreach when there are plenty of other more egregious examples (at least in my opinion).

Automated red-light cameras are springing up in many places -- though if set to short yellow, they render the roads dangerous by causing drivers to slam on the brakes. Colorado's legalization of marijuana was inspired partly by the state's desire to tax sales. If betting on sports becomes legal -- being disputed right now in New Jersey -- the reason might be government's desire to tax this underground economy.

Yep, welcome to what some people realized a decade ago.

In effect, there were four turnovers, as Green Bay failed on a fourth-and-inches near midfield while the margin was close. Officials on the field initially signaled first down; a challenge changed the spot to fourth-and-inches.

Then the Packers, inspired by their coach's decision to go for it on fourth down and show a real need to win the game, were so motivated they rallied and beat the Saints at home, right? Wait, that didn't happen like Gregg will claim happens when a coach goes for it on fourth down? I don't understand how Gregg's "Go for it on fourth down and it will inspire your team to win the game" theory could ever be wrong.

The NFL Is More Interesting Than The NBA: Many sports enthusiasts prefer basketball to football. But even for those who do, there's a reason the NFL is more interesting: More football teams than basketball teams start the season with a chance.

There are 30 NBA teams. 53% of these teams make the playoffs.
There are 32 NFL teams. 37.5% of these teams make the playoffs.

I'm not entirely sure Gregg understands what he is writing isn't true. Either that or he just likes to outright lie. More NBA teams have a chance of making the playoffs at the beginning of the season as compared to the chance NFL teams have of making the playoffs. Therefore more NBA teams have a chance of winning the NBA title than NFL teams have a chance of winning the Super Bowl. This is true statistically at the beginning of the season at least. Carry on...

NBA teams play so many games followed by a postseason based on the "best of" series concept that by the end, the top team almost always wins the title, thereby washing out the effects of luck. By contrast, the NFL plays only 16 games followed by a postseason knockout round. There's room for variability based on luck or degree of effort.

The fact there is less room for variability in the NBA doesn't mean more NFL teams start the season with a chance to make the playoffs or win the title. Perhaps practically this is true, but statistically it is not. I'm not sure if Gregg is just dumb or trying to be willfully stupid to push his own agenda or not. Regardless of the odds an NBA team has of winning a playoff series, more NBA teams have a chance to win the title simply because a greater percentage of NBA teams qualify for the playoffs.

In turn, small NBA rosters can mean one smart trade or draft selection improves the team dramatically. Large NFL rosters take longer to build because they have more moving parts.

While true in part, there are always exceptions. It's how the Colts can go from 2-14 to making the playoffs in a calendar year.

The result of these factors is every NBA season begins with a handful of teams holding a realistic shot at the title, compared to many teams that have no chance at all. The numerous NBA teams that are goin' nowhere know who they are from the start of the season. Every NFL season begins with a larger number of teams that might win the Super Bowl and a relatively smaller number with no shot.

This argument doesn't make sense in the context of Gregg's argument above on how the smaller NBA rosters mean a team can improve dramatically in one season. If the NBA has smaller rosters and a team can be improved through one draft pick or trade, then doesn't that mean there is more variability in the NBA standings, which means there are more teams who can make one smart move and be an NBA title contender? If large NFL rosters take longer to build (and remember this is me dissecting Gregg's argument, not what I think), then doesn't that mean there are NFL teams who don't have a shot to win the Super Bowl at the beginning of the season because they have more moving parts and require more players to improve the team's chances of winning games?

So Gregg's argument about the increased variability in an NBA team's success doesn't necessarily make sense in the context of his assertion more NBA teams start the season knowing they don't have a shot at the title, because an NBA team can make fewer moves that result in that team going up or down in the standings. Gregg's conclusion seems to be correct, but I'm not sure how he reached his conclusion is accurate.

That there's more variability in the NFL than the NBA is shown by the fact that in the past 15 years, 10 NFL teams have won the Super Bowl, while six NBA clubs have monopolized that league's titles. Twelve of the past 15 NBA titles have been won by the Lakers, Spurs and Heat; the equivalent figure is seven of the past 15 NFL titles have been won by the Patriots, Giants and Steelers. Also note that 15 of the 48 Super Bowl winners failed to make the next postseason, while just two of 68 NBA champions (the 1998 Chicago Bulls and the 1969 Boston Celtics) failed to reach the next year's postseason.

This is accurate. This also goes against Gregg's assertion that one smart trade or draft selection can improve a team dramatically. If that were totally true, then wouldn't there be more volatility in which teams win the NBA title? The truth is Gregg isn't entirely wrong, but it's the fewer moving parts, along with the ability of one player to have a large impact, that allows NBA teams to stay in title contention from year-to-year. Gregg talks about how NBA teams have dramatic improvement from year-to-year, due to the addition of one player, but this doesn't happen too often. It's hard to find a Kevin Durant or LeBron James in the NBA. My basic point is Gregg isn't wrong, but he argues there is a lot of variability in the record of an NBA team based on the addition of one player to a roster, but logically this would be an argument for greater volatility in terms of which teams can win an NBA title. Yet, he is arguing the opposite.

The Charlotte Hornets -- 14 years removed from their latest playoff series victory -- have a chairman, a vice chairman, a "president, chief operating officer & alternate governor," a general manager, an assistant general manager, two executive vice presidents, three senior vice presidents and six regular vice presidents. That's 16 senior executives for 18 players. 

This is a great example of Gregg Easterbrook outright lying or misleading his readers. The Charlotte Hornets haven't existed since the 2001-2002 season, when they last won a playoff series. The New Orleans Hornets did win a playoff series in 2007-2008, but the reason the Charlotte Hornets haven't won a playoff series in 14 years is because they haven't existed in 14 years. The Charlotte Hornets moved to New Orleans, then moved back to Charlotte for the 2014-2015 season. So the team actually has won a playoff series as the Charlotte Hornets three of the last five seasons they existed as the Charlotte Hornets. But to mention this would submarine Gregg's point of "Look at all these people required to manage a failing team!" Dishonesty at all costs.

No wonder the Hornets are so terrible!

Yep, they made the playoffs last year as the Charlotte Bobcats. Make up your mind. Are the Charlotte Hornets the New Orleans Hornets (now Pelicans) who have won a playoff series in the last 14 years or are the Charlotte Hornets the Charlotte Bobcats who aren't terrible and made the playoffs last year?

So what do you think? Do you think Gregg is just so uninformed about the NBA he thinks the Charlotte Hornets have been in Charlotte all of these years or do you think he is just misleading his readers as to the success of the Charlotte Hornets over the past 14 seasons? The Charlotte Bobcats are a completely different team from the Charlotte Hornets that won a playoff series 14 years ago. So comparing the Hornets last playoff victory from 14 years ago is misleading, because the Bobcats (now Hornets) haven't won a playoff series, but have only existed since the 2004-2005 season. The 2004-2005 season wasn't 14 years ago. Gregg can't seem to figure out which Charlotte Hornets team he wants to talk about, yet still manages to be wrong either way. Quite the accomplishment. It's a very clumsy and misleading point Gregg is attempting to make.

Then, with Philadelphia leading 20-17, the hosts faced third-and-5 on their 25 with 1:33 remaining. Arizona could've tried to nickel-and-dime into field goal position for overtime, but playing to win apparently made more sense. That meant big chunks of yards. Yet at the snap, the deepest Philadelphia safety, Nate Allen, was 8 yards off the line of scrimmage

Oh Gregg...NFL teams can not read minds and don't have the benefit of hindsight that you have. The Eagles didn't know the Cardinals would try to gain a big chunk of yardage. They wanted to stop the Cardinals from throwing short, but Bruce Arians called a great play that went against what the Eagles thought the Cardinals would do. That's all. It was a good play call and the Eagles' defense did the right thing to anticipate a shorter pass, rather than a 75-yard bomb.

Safeties are coached to "keep everything in front of you" in situations such as this. Brown got behind all Eagles with apparent ease.

This is true, but the Eagles also didn't want to give up an easy reception in front of them to where the Cardinals could convert a third down into a first down.

The game would conclude with Arizona calling a big blitz on six of Philadelphia's final 13 snaps, including a seven-man blitz with 1 second remaining and the Eagles on the host's 16. It worked this time. But if Arizona continues to big-blitz so much, the chickens -- or the cactus wrens, considering indigenous birds of the Grand Canyon State -- might come home to roost.

Yes, stop blitzing or one time it may not work! That one time it doesn't work, no matter how many times it has worked, Gregg will point out when blitzing doesn't work. Why? Because that's how Gregg works. He feels free to point out the one time a blitz is ineffective, while ignoring or just warning they won't be effective 100% of the time (which is incredibly obvious).

'Tis Better To Have Rushed And Lost Than Never To Have Rushed At All: Detroit played it ultra-conservative in London, where the Tories rule. Jim Caldwell kicked down 21-0 and twice kicked on fourth-and-short inside the Atlanta 5-yard line.

And because his team saw that Jim Caldwell wasn't trying to win the game, they ended up losing. Right? Wait, that didn't happen? It's like Week 8 in the NFL was just a series of Gregg's theories and assertions being totally wrong. What a wonderful world it is.

So Atlanta's penalty effectively created a timeout for Detroit. Then, on third-and-10 with 1:50 remaining, the Falcons threw incomplete, which stopped the clock. Considering the Lions would kick the winning field goal as time expired, had Atlanta simply knelt on these two downs, the Falcons likely would have prevailed.

Yes, this is "likely" based on Gregg's own assumption that not shockingly supports his contention. It's also "likely" that Gregg assumes too much.

Flaming Thumbtacks Go Down In Flames: In my preseason AFC Preview, I warned the Titans season might devolve to "Zach Mettenberger handing off to Bishop Sankey." And verily, it came to pass. Final: Houston 30, Tennessee 16.

Is relying on rookies to win games in place of ineffective veterans really "devolving"? Sankey was a 2nd round pick and if Mettenberger is ready to play then there's no harm in putting him on the field.

On Sunday, quarterbacks Geno Smith and Michael Vick combined for a 17 rating. After the game, Rex Ryan, who in the preseason implied he was "one of the best of all time" as a coach, told Ben Shpigel, "Why we're not playing better, I don't know." An all-time great should know! 

I don't remember Rex Ryan implying he is "one of the best of all time" as a coach. I do remember him saying he was NOT one of the best of all time as a coach. Here are Ryan's quotes in question and you can clearly see Gregg's lies at work. 

Ryan clarified that he’s not claiming he’s Vince Lombardi.

“I’m not saying that I’m the best or whatever . . . or the best of all time,” Ryan said. “I just know that I’m the best that I can be. I know that I’m willing to do the work. I may have limitations. I get that. But nobody’s going to convince me that they’re more passionate about their job than I am . . . and that they’re more passionate about their organization than me.”

Maybe Gregg Easterbrook is functionally illiterate, or Ryan was using new slang that Hollywood created, but the way that reads to me as a person who can read words in English and has an education beyond the 6th grade is that Rex Ryan was saying he is NOT the best of all time. I can see how Gregg got confused though when Rex said specifically,

"I'm not saying that I'm the best or whatever...or the best of all time." 

This is a confusing sentence structure for someone who wants to lie to his readers and mislead them into believing Rex Ryan said something he in fact did not say. Notice how Gregg provides a link to Ryan's quote about how he doesn't know why the Jets aren't playing better, but he doesn't provide a link to Ryan implying he is one of the all time best coaches. That's because Gregg knows he is lying and doesn't want his readers to know that he is deceiving them.

Thus, Cleveland surrendered a first-round draft pick and three decent players for a second-round draft pick and Euro-stashed gents who are long shots to bounce a ball in the NBA. But Cleveland got rid of Jack's and Zeller's contracts, which could not have happened without Boston supplying its $10 million trade exemption. The Cavs ended up holding extra cap space, which they (and nobody else at that juncture) knew was the final piece of the puzzle to sign LeBron James.

Really Gregg? No one knew? Here is a search for "Tyler Zeller trade to Celtics LeBron James." Doing the work that Gregg refused to do in order to pretend his assertion was correct, one can see it was assumed this trade helped free cap space for LeBron James. So "nobody else at that juncture" knew the trade freed up money for LeBron to sign with Cleveland is just an outright lie.

Tactical Use Of Cheer Babes: With City of Tampa leading Minnesota 13-10, the Vikings had the ball on their 23 at the two-minute warning. The host's cheerleaders ran onto the field, lined up almost in the Vikings' huddle and began to shake their booties in hopes of distracting the visitors.

Gregg hates how the NFL exploits these people he calls "cheer babes."

This Year's Human Development Report: Football columns are not likely to be your best source of global development news.

Or in the case of TMQ, a football column is not likely to be the best source of NFL news.

Luckily, Tom Brady Has A Bye Week In Which To Do Some Modeling: When the Flying Elvii struggled at home versus Oakland then were blown out at Kansas City, sports pundits were asking if the New England golden age were over.

Ah yes, more dishonesty. Gregg refers to "sports pundits" as a group and doesn't mention his part.

Is The Sun Setting On Tom Brady? A week ago before their home crowd, the Patriots barely outlasted the woeful Raiders. Monday night they were ground up into burger meat -- "Of course we're speaking in the figurative sense," as Weird Al would say -- by the Chiefs. Is New England's Brady-Belichick Golden Age drawing to a close?

Brady was openly frustrated throughout the contest. Every star athlete must deal with nationally televised defeat -- just ask LeBron James -- but rarely has Brady lost badly. His life with the Flying Elvii has been all news conferences, endorsements, championship rings and supermodels, 'til last night, when the Patriots looked like the Raiders East.

Gregg hates it when "sports pundits" do things like this. Of course, he isn't honest enough to mention he is the one asking if the "golden age" of Brady-Belichick was over, because that would require he admit he was wrong and made a knee-jerk reaction to a Patriots' loss. It's amazing to me how much Gregg misleads his readers and how he leaves important pieces of information out in order to protect his own ego.

Since that juncture, the Patriots have won four straight.

I can't wait for January when Gregg writes "sports pundits" said the Seahawks could miss the playoffs this year, while ignoring he is that "sports pundit" and he wrote this conclusion the Seahawks won't make the playoffs just last week.

Next Week: Will AIG issue credit-default swap insurance on NBA salary-cap trades?

I wish someone at ESPN would stop allowing Gregg to write TMQ. Or just maybe stop him from misleading his readers and only including information that makes him look correct, while leaving out information that shows when he is wrong. 

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

12 comments MMQB Review: J.J. Watt: NFL Off-the-Field Behavior Police Edition

Peter King had quite a few thoughts on Percy Harvin in last week's MMQB. He was fine with the Jets giving Harvin a shot at $6 million-plus for the season, because it's only a one year deal and then they can just get rid of Harvin with no cost to them. I mean that's a good point, but what about Peter's whipping boy, Josh Freeman? This also reminds me the Raiders are paying Matt Schaub $8 million this year to sit the bench. Where is Peter's outrage over this like he was outraged over the Vikings paying Freeman $2 million to sit the bench last year? I'm beating the hell out of that horse and promise to stop soon. Peter also discussed Peyton Manning breaking records and had some semi-nonsensical MLB free agency ideas. This week Peter talks about Ben Roethlisberger's record-setting day, asks Russell Wilson if he is indeed "black enough," reveals Dallas has lost the top spot in the Fine Fifteen without having played a game since last week (as of Monday, when Peter wrote MMQB), and reassures his readers he does love the train in the Northeast corridor. Whew, that's a load off my mind.

There was a time when the 4,000-yard passing season was special. In 2005, there were two of them—Tom Brady and Trent Green. In this pyrotechnic season in the NFL, 13 quarterbacks are on pace to throw for 4,000 yards.

The game is changing before our eyes. It has changed.

A few weeks ago I thought Peter allowed Bill Simmons to ghost write MMQB and this week it seems he is allowing Gregg Easterbrook to ghost write MMQB. NFL teams are scoring a lot of points and throwing for a lot of yardage. This isn't really news anymore.

On Sunday, for the first time in NFL history, four players threw for 400 yards or more on the same day. Tom Brady threw as many incompletions, five, as touchdown passes. Ben Roethlisberger and Andrew Luck combined for 922 yards. The day, really, belonged to Roethlisberger. He has transitioned to a brand new wide-receiving corps in the last four years, all chosen in the middle to late rounds (Antonio Brown, Markus Wheaton, Martavis Bryant), and you can see how his comfort level increases with them weekly.

Well, he is a really good quarterback and the Steelers have traditionally (Linus Sweed aside) drafted good wide receivers for their offensive system. Good quarterback and good coaching makes good wide receivers. It's almost like there is a plan.

The Steelers have been alive since 1933,

They are an NFL team that has no beating heart and exists only as a business. They are not alive. Would Peter say that Microsoft has been "alive" for however many years? Would Peter refer to any other business or company as being "alive"? Probably not, and other companies also have human employees working for them just like the Steelers do.

We often forget Roethlisberger when we speak of the great passers in the game.

That's right, Peter was wrong so "we" forget about Roethlisberger when speaking of the great passers in the game. "We" are so stupid when "we" do things like this in the national NFL column "we" write every week.

He’s fearless in and out of the pocket, can make every throw, will always have a chip on his shoulder about being overlooked in the Brady-Manning-Rodgers-Brees conversation of the greats, and produces no matter who’s out on the flank for him.

Honestly, I think part of the reason for this is Roethlisberger's past issues that have resulted in this happening. Plus, he plays the quarterback position different from these other four guys, so he's not seen as being exactly the same by "us."

Pittsburgh has been looking for a bookend for Brown, and they may have found one. Or two. Bryant—a raw 6-4 kid from Clemson who played in the shadow of Sammy Watkins—and Wheaton had been non-factors much of the year until last week, but they combined for 10 catches, 139 yards and three touchdowns against the Colts. Brown is 26, Bryant 22 and Wheaton 23. They’re the future, and the future is now in a division that doesn’t have a dominant team.

Doesn't this feel like the typical Peter King overreaction to a fantastic game by an NFL team? Last week Peter didn't even have Pittsburgh in his Fine Fifteen, yet this week after a great game against the Colts he's talking about how the Steelers have a great receiving group for the future and could win the AFC North. Peter does this every week in MMQB. Whatever happens during that past weekend in the NFL, he overreacts to it. What was once a struggling Steelers team is now a team with one of the great passers in the game and two bookend receivers for Antonio Brown. The overreaction from week-to-week is always fun to read.

As was their quarterback. “A.B. [Brown] would say some things to me in the huddle about the kind of day I was having,” Roethlisberger said, “but I don’t know my stats. I never do. I’ve never been a stat guy. I’m just trying to make plays to help us win.”

Peter eats up this "humble quarterback who doesn't care about stats" shit, while Peter fawns and marvels over the statistics that quarterback has put up. The more humble a player tries to appear, the more Peter eats it up. Peter would retire and become the personal assistant for an NFL player who kneels before Peter and says he isn't very good at football, just wants his team to win, and he has no idea he even plays in the NFL because he doesn't own a television, a cell phone, nor has running water in his house, because all he cares about his playing football.

“Was this the best day you’ve ever had in the NFL, personally?” I asked.
“If you’re a numbers guy—and I’m not—I guess you’d say yes. But I still see two or three plays I left out on the field that bug me a little bit. I can make more plays.”

(Ben Roethlisberger) "I don't know my stats. I never do."

(Peter King) "Let's talk about those stats you don't know. Is this the best day you have had in the NFL, while keeping in mind you have won two Super Bowls which is probably something I should have thought of before asking the question but I won't because I don't give a fuck about asking questions and just want you to provide me with a quote to run in MMQB."

(Ben Roethlisberger) "If you base it on those stats I don't know, yes, this was my best day."

“Why does it have to stop here?” Roethlisberger said he told the team afterward. “Why can’t we keep doing this?”

If I were an asshole who brought up past events that play no part in who Ben Roethlisberger is today then I would re-write this sentence as:

“Why does it have to stop here?” Roethlisberger said he told the girl in the bathroom with him. “Why can’t we keep doing this?”

But I won't do that, because I have family members who are Steelers fans and they are mean to me when I'm mean to them.

In a very strange Week 8, all things seem possible, particularly when you’ve got a great quarterback. Pittsburgh does, and he’s not going to let us ever forget it.

Yes, "we" know what a great quarterback Ben Roethlisberger is now that Peter has informed "us." If only "we" knew prior to Peter informing us of Roethlisberger's greatness. It just sucks that when Peter is wrong or not aware of something, "we" are all wrong or not aware of something.

John Brown has no business doing what he’s doing right now.

No business. None at all. Remember, Peter King has won awards for this type of writing. It's a low bar to clear apparently.

What an absolutely perfect match Brown is with Bruce Arians and his daring ways. Sunday was the first time America got to see it on the national stage, and it lifted the surprising Cardinals to a two-game lead over San Francisco and Seattle in the NFC West at the season’s midway point.

"We" didn't know the Cardinals would be this good! Peter didn't know, so "we" didn't know either.

I’ve told the story of Keim dealing the 20th pick in the draft to New Orleans for the 27th and 91st picks, selecting safety Deone Bucannon at 27 and hoping, praying that Brown would last until the 91st pick.

And because God not only cares about sports, but cares about sports so much that he paid special attention to the Cardinals' prayers being answered in order to help their team win more games, he granted this prayer.

“I remember telling them I’m a very hard worker,” Brown recalled Sunday night. “I told them, ‘I’ll get there and from the first day I’ll follow Larry [Fitzgerald] around and learn everything I have to learn to be a good player.’ I was convinced I could do it. It’s football. And I love football.”

It's pretty impressive, but are there wide receivers who meet with NFL teams and say, "Nah, I'm a lazy jerk who doesn't think he has anything else to learn. I'm not really going to work hard and will probably coast on the talent I perceive that I have. I don't even know who Larry Fitzgerald is." Are there players coming out of college who say this to NFL teams?

Clearly, Philadelphia wouldn’t have expected Palmer to go for it all there; the Eagles would be expecting Palmer to be thinking first down, and just move the sticks.

But that has never been Arians’ way.
“We had three [receivers] at eight yards for the first down,” Arians said later, “but when there’s a touchdown involved in the play, never pass it up. Don’t play scared; play smart.”

Mike Shula says, what about that play we ran a few plays ago? Should we run that one again? If not, which of the 7 plays that I like to run should we run in this situation?

And Palmer, who has learned to take shots even when logic tells him not to, threw a high-arcing bomb way downfield.

I'm just going to try and leave that comment out there since it was considered a compliment to Palmer. Just imagine if "Geno Smith" is inserted in there and then see how quickly this goes from a compliment to a criticism if the play didn't turn out to be a touchdown.

Watching it over his shoulder, Brown gathered it in … just barely, on the tips of both hands. “A Willie Mays catch over his shoulder,” said Arians, even though most of his players would have no idea what he’s talking about. They’re not versed in 1954 World Series history.

Yes, very few people are well-versed in 1954 World Series history like Peter King. I seriously doubt Peter could say who threw the pitch that ended up as a fly ball in Mays' glove without looking it up.

Now for the annual Seattle-at-Carolina game (even though they’re not in the same division) that sets offensive football back to the 1950s.

Then there were the locker-room questions, the ones about Russell Wilson’s leadership, about Marshawn Lynch being on his last legs and not in the team’s 2015 plans, about the hangover from Percy Harvin’s divisive presence. So I touched base with one of the team’s most prominent leaders, safety Earl Thomas, to get an idea of the pulse of the Seahawks.
“I’ve been so much in my zone,” he said, “that I haven’t really followed all that.”

You weren't in your zone when Kelvin Benjamin caught a long pass over you and Richard Sherman two days ago.

That's all I got to give since it was the sole offensive highlight I could point out. Let's move on to the question about whether Russell Wilson is "black enough." The world must know.

I asked him if he’d heard about the Bleacher Report piece that had a teammate saying Wilson wasn’t “black enough,” and about the Chris Mortensen report that Marshawn Lynch wouldn’t be back with the team in 2015.

“I didn’t know those things,” he said. Which puzzled me quite a bit.
“My reaction [to the Wilson story] is that it’s an insult to our race. And Russell is the ultimate competitor. He always works as hard as anyone, and he handles himself with poise. He represents our team and our organization very well. I don’t think there’s any problem with him in our locker room at all.”

For someone who said he didn't know those things, Earl Thomas sure seemed to be right on the nose in response to the Mike Freeman article that he didn't read or know anything about. Earl Thomas must just be really good at guessing what articles are about without actually reading them.

There are also problems down the road. If Lynch understands—and he certainly must have an inkling about it—that the Seahawks weren’t going to pay him the $6.5 million he is due in 2015, never mind a re-done contract, he’s going to be even more enigmatic than normal.

Oh, so I see. Now the story is sports media like Peter King are going to make Marshawn Lynch the bad guy since he liked Percy Harvin and dares to want a contract extension.

Lynch almost cost Seattle the game Sunday. A pass from Wilson went through his hands in the end zone just before the half, and instead of a touchdown, Carolina’s Josh Norman intercepted it. Seattle trailed 6-3 at halftime instead of going up 10-6. It was a stunning miss by the sure-handed Lynch, and Seattle was fortunate to overcome it.

There were like three or four sure touchdowns in that game that were dropped or not caught due to bad passes, but yeah, let's blame Marshawn Lynch for the Seahawks almost losing. Kelvin Benjamin dropped a touchdown in the end zone, Steve Schilling fumbled a snap that led to the Panthers recovering the fumble and Russell Wilson one-hopped a pass (I KNOW! He's not perfect! Who knew?) to a wide open tight end that would have been an easy touchdown. But yeah, let's blame Lynch for almost losing the game for the Seahawks since that's the way the narrative is going.

In the coming weeks, they’ll need Lynch, and it’ll be interesting to see if he throws all of himself into his work knowing his future with the team is very likely a short-term one.

There has to be a bad guy in this story and I guess since Lynch wants a new contract and liked Percy Harvin then he will be proclaimed the bad guy. The foil to Russell Wilson's good guy.

Peter then talks briefly about Brady and Manning facing each other. It's just a story that I've heard plenty about over the years. I'm interested in the game, not the lead up to the game.

The Jets have no choice: They have to start Michael Vick. Geno Smith has lost seven starts in a row. It’s a mercy-yanking—Rex Ryan has to give Vick his shot next Sunday at the Chiefs, and for several Sundays into the future.

Here's a great example of the overreactions from Peter King week-to-week. Two weeks ago in MMQB:

6. I think the best point made about Jets quarterback Geno Smith in the past week came from Jon Gruden, after Smith somehow got the time wrong and missed a meeting the night before the Week 5 31-0 debacle of a loss at San Diego. “You’re playing Philip Rivers, and then Peyton Manning and Tom Brady,” said Gruden, referring to Smith’s foes in Weeks 5-7. “Those guys don’t miss meetings. They run meetings.”

Welp, Smith is no good. He misses meetings and shouldn't (which is true) do this.

Last week in MMQB:

g. Geno Smith going toe to toe with Tom Brady. Smith provided a glimpse of what might be for the Jets. Now he’s got nine games to prove that was legitimate.

Geno Smith had a good game. Maybe he's legitimate and could be a starter for the Jets!

This week it's time to replace Geno Smith. I mention all of this because Peter seems to only react to what Smith has done that previous week and his take depends on what Smith did that week and only that week. Smith had a good game against the Patriots. Is this a sign of the future? One week later Peter wants Smith replaced with Vick.

As one of the nine voters on a subcommittee of the 46-member voting board for the Pro Football Hall of Fame, I wanted to take a few sentences to explain what exactly happened last Wednesday in Washington when we met to select the first two nominees for the Hall in the new Contributors category. We selected former Buffalo, Carolina and Indianapolis GM Bill Polian and Ron Wolf, the longtime Raiders scout, Tampa Bay personnel executive and Green Bay GM.

Polian and Wolf will have to get 80 percent of the vote from the cull group when the Hall voters meet in Arizona to elect the Class of 2015 on Jan. 31, 2015. I love both picks. Franchise architects had always been forgotten before the Contributors category was established earlier this year. As I wrote the other day, Polian built two Super Bowl teams and got an expansion team good in near-record time.

Ah yes, the great Bill Polian that built an expansion franchise for success in record time by signing aging players at the expense of the long-term development of the team, then bailed once he realized shit was going downhill. Definitely a Hall of Fame move. Then he got a promotion, went to the Colts and built that team through the draft. But hey, he did something great one year for an expansion team and that's all that is remembered. Peter King won't ask questions like, "Was Polian's job to build a team that will win now and in the future or was Polian's job to build a team that will win now, get him a chance at a promotion and then use this promotion to bail and leave a mess in his wake?"

I'm fine with Polian being in the Hall of Fame. The whole "built an expansion team in record time" is a tricky issue though. I'm sure a bridge can be built very quickly, but if it breaks after three years should the architect receive an award for building the bridge?

How great was J.J. Watt laying the verbal wood to Tennessee quarterback Zach Mettenberger, after the rookie QB took a few look-at-me selfies? “This is the National Football League, not high school,” said Watt. “Welcome to the show.”

It wasn't great at all you dipshit. Mettenberger took a few selfies with his new haircut and J.J. Watt, who the media absolutely adores, acted immature in mocking those selfies. Mettenberger took selfies, who cares? Of course, this is J.J. Watt, who could NEVER be a hypocrite about taking look-at-me pictures, could he?


Watt doesn't do that.

Because taking selfies is just so immature.

He would NEVER take one.

Mettenberger needs to stop being all "look at me" in pictures. It's not high school and no one wears letterman jackets in the NFL.

But of course Peter is tickled pink that J.J. Watt has appointed himself the guy who is in charge of making sure everyone knows what is the right and wrong thing to do off the football field. The NFL needs Watt as the Off-the-Field Behavior Police. Peter King loves himself some J.J. Watt too much to actually investigate any hypocrisy on Watt's part.

The Fine Fifteen

The Cowboys were #1 last week and had not played as Peter wrote MMQB. So naturally, they were moved out of the #1 spot. I mean, obviously.

1. Denver (6-1). Now comes the tough part of the schedule. Denver has one home game in the next 41 days. Six road, three home the rest of the season, and the first one’s a battle: next Sunday in Foxboro. Brady-Manning XVI (Brady 10, Manning 5) is Sunday in the late-afternoon window, and Manning enters this duel with the best chance to beat Brady in Foxboro in years.
2. Dallas (6-1). Not a lot of time to breathe easy after tonight’s game with Washington. Arizona comes to Texas next Sunday for the game of the week in the NFC.

This is much like how Peter had Kansas City ranked #1 in last year's Fine Fifteen, then moved them to #2 the week they were playing the Broncos because Peter thought the Broncos would win the game. The Chiefs were the best team in the NFL, until Peter decided they weren't because he thought the Broncos could beat the Chiefs head-to-head...which logically would have made the Broncos the #1 team in the Fine Fifteen even if the Chiefs and Broncos weren't playing that week, right?

3. Arizona (6-1). What a story these Cards are becoming. What a story John Brown is. And what a day Todd Bowles had, sending blitzers from everywhere.

Oh boy, how is Gregg Easterbrook going to make it seem like blitzing is a terrible idea this week? I know! He'll just ignore that the Cardinals succeeded by blitzing.

5. Philadelphia (5-2). If the field is 12 inches wider, Jordan Matthews catches that touchdown inbounds on the last play at Arizona and it’s the Eagles who leave the desert dancing.

But the field isn't 12 inches wider, plus he didn't have possession all the way to the ground so it was incomplete anyway.

8. Cincinnati (4-2-1). Not a very impressive win, all in all, but the Ravens can make a team play ugly. What’s good about this win for the Bengals is they’d been playing in quicksand all month (0-2-1) before Sunday, and sweeping the team that looked like the best in the division (23-16 in Week 1, 27-24 Sunday) puts Cincinnati in the driver’s seat to win the AFC North.

Page 1 of this MMQB had the Steelers and Ravens alongside the Ravens in the AFC North race. Now the Bengals are on the driver's seat on page 3 of MMQB. It's the NFL, things change quickly.

13. Seattle (4-3). Know why that game in Charlotte was such an important win for the defending champs? The Week 12 through 16 schedule for the Seahawks: Arizona, at San Francisco, at Philadelphia, San Francisco, at Arizona.

But when the Seahawks end the season at 11-5 will Peter say "we" counted them out? That's all I want to know.

14. Pittsburgh (5-3). You figure out the team that, in the past four weeks, has lost to Tampa Bay at home, struggled to beat the Jaguars on the road, got routed by the Browns in Cleveland, had the bizarre burst of points to beat Houston at home, and then blew up the Colts (who shut out Cincinnati last week) at Heinz Field on Sunday. You figure it out, because I can’t.

Peter wants us to figure out the Steelers, just like he wants someone else to figure out whether Roger Goodell lied about seeing the videotape of Ray Rice knocking his wife out in an elevator. Peter initially reported on that story and then got called out for bad sourcing, so he'll just give up doing his job regarding that Goodell story. Peter is sure someone else will figure it out at some point.

Offensive Player of the Week
Ben Roethlisberger, quarterback, Pittsburgh. A historic day for the Big One, and not just because he went 40 of 49 for 522 yards—the fourth-most prolific day for a quarterback in the 95-season history of the game—with six touchdowns, no interceptions. Historic, too, for its symmetry. Roethlisberger is now 100-50 in his regular-season professional career.

Yes, the day wasn't historic for Roethlisberger's historic performance, but historic because he now has career symmetry. Now THAT'S true history.

Anthony Barr, outside linebacker, Minnesota. On the first play of overtime in Tampa, Barr stripped fellow rookie Austin Seferian-Jenkins, the Bucs tight end, after a pass reception, recovered the fumble at the Tampa 27-yard line, and rumbled in for the winning touchdown.

Greg Schiano would never have allowed this to happen.

For the game, the precocious linebacker from UCLA had eight tackles, one sack and one pass defensed.

There it is! The word "precocious" makes a return in MMQB after a hibernation of many weeks. Anthony Barr is precocious because he's showing characteristics of a person much older than he really is. He's a rookie and he is tackling opposing players, recovering/creating fumbles, and getting sacks! No other rookie does this. How precocious of him! Peter is surprised Barr even knows what a football looks like.

“Not black enough? I don’t even know what that means. I think I’m an educated male trying to lead this team.”
—Seattle quarterback Russell after the 13-9 victory over Carolina. A Bleacher Report story last week said some veterans on the Seahawks didn’t consider Wilson “black enough.”

This is a good response to the story. I know what "not black enough" means in this frame of reference, so maybe Russell Wilson should get a little more educated about what that means.

“I take my job very seriously, and if I was a rookie quarterback named starter for the first time in the league, I feel like I’d be a little more focused than that. Maybe he’ll learn from it, maybe not.”
—Houston defensive end J.J. Watt, on the perceived pre-game flippancy of first-time starter Zach Mettenberger of the Titans.

Again, while I agree that Mettenberger needs to be more focused on his job, he took a couple pictures and posted them on Twitter. It's not a sin against football and J.J. Watt has plenty of instances on his Twitter account of him interacting and taking silly pictures during the NFL season. So he's a bit of a hypocrite who needs to worry less about looking at the Twitter account of others and more about continuing to dominate the next game. He's not the NFL Off-the-Field Behavior Police and it's not his job to teach other NFL players lessons about how to and not to act when preparing for a game. Don't be a douche.

Of course J.J. Watt fan-boy Peter King loves that Watt is policing other NFL players. Naturally. Peter loves policing how others live their lives as well. Watt is telling other NFL players to be more focused while Watt is cruising the Twitter account of other NFL players and shooting commercials in his spare time.

“Here’s the amazing thing about Peyton Manning: He’s an ascending player at the age of, what, 38 years old? I have never seen a great player on that level ascending at that age.”
—NBC analyst Cris Collinsworth, to me, on Saturday.

I have so much fun with quotes like this. Just insert "Barry Bonds" in there. Insert "Roger Clemens" in there. If a baseball player was ascending at the age of 38 then baseball media would have their pitchforks out ready to declare that player a PED user.

Eddie Vedder, playing a Pearl Jam concert in Milwaukee the other night, wore a Packers No. 10 jersey in honor of the current Packer who wears it—and who was in the middle of the mass of humanity on the floor of the Bradley Center for the show: backup quarterback Matt Flynn.
It’s possible, I suppose, that Vedder thinks Flynn is a Better Man than Aaron Rodgers, more Alive than Clay Matthews, and in Future Days will come off the bench, play like an Animal and lead the Pack Around The Bend to another title.
That’s The End of this horrible note.

Oh God, Peter King is a Pearl Jam fan. Life is ruined for me now.

Mr. Starwood Preferred Member Travel Note of the Week

Raining hard the other day on the East Coast.

That's how you know this story is going to be good. It starts with a weather update.

I had to go to Washington for a Hall of Fame meeting at a hotel right near Reagan Airport. I chose the train. Left New York at 2 p.m. Got a table/desk and worked all the way to Washington. Train was due into the Washington train station at 4:53. It arrived at 4:55. I walked to the Metro stop at Union Station in Washington and, after a change of trains, got to Crystal City and my hotel at 5:35.

The only thing less interesting than seeing pictures of a person's vacation is getting the play-by-play of a person's travel itinerary. No really Peter, how late was the train? Tell us! Your readers care! MMQB is about you, after all.

Meanwhile, a couple of the other voters got weather-delayed coming into town. It was foggy, windy and rainy.
Just another reason to love the train in the Northeast Corridor, which I do.

Until one day two teenagers are on the train reading iPads and commenting to each other loudly, and Peter can't focus because he is too busy staring intently at them, and he feels the need to be the Northeast Train Behavior Police by remarking in MMQB how loud these two teenagers were being. I think Peter King and J.J. Watt should just go around the country telling individuals how they should and should not behave in public.

TMI Tweet of the Week

And because this Tweet was TMI, Peter just has to share it with as many people as possible. I have to say, the thought of Ross Tucker listening to a high school football game in his underwear feels pretty damn creepy to me. Don't Tweet about it or go put some pants on. Otherwise, somebody may get the wrong idea.

Ten Things I Think I Think

1. I think this is what I liked about Week 8:

j. Louis Delmas’ long interception return—the kind of play Detroit never saw enough—for Miami. Brent Grimes also returned an interception for a touchdown in the same game.

But Blake Bortles had a great preseason! He was great in the preseason, there's no way he struggles in the regular season.

m. The rebound of Carolina’s defense, which had allowed 75 points in the previous two games.

It's not like they were playing an offensive juggernaut or anything like that. The Seahawks manage to win games despite having a distinct lack of great offensive weapons. It's fine to give the Panthers' defense credit, but understand the Seahawks aren't exactly trotting out a fantastic offense. They are middle-of-the-pack in yards per game and points per game.

2. I think this is what I didn’t like about Week 8:

What Peter liked about the Lions:

a. Detroit coach Jim Caldwell resting Calvin Johnson and his recovering ankle sprain. Johnson could have played Sunday in London, but he shouldn’t have—not with the bye coming up and the risk of Johnson re-injuring the ankle.

Now what he didn't like: 

d. Whoa: the Lions’ inactives … starting running back (Reggie Bush), franchise receiver (Calvin Johnson), and the top three tight ends (Brandon Pettigrew, Eric Ebron, Joe Fauria).

So I guess Peter likes that Calvin Johnson didn't play, but didn't like that Johnson was inactive? Maybe Peter doesn't like Johnson being too injured to play, but likes that he didn't play?

f. Matthew Stafford missing at least four receivers with low throws Sunday. He was just off his game.

And yet, Stafford wasn't off his game so much that he didn't throw for 325 yards without any of his top three tight ends, his best receiver, and his starting running back. I wonder if Peter thinks that Stafford was off his game because he had very few of his starting offensive weapons available to him? Nah, that couldn't be it.

g. The field at Wembley Stadium, slippery and slipshod, led to a Matthew Stafford interception when the receiver fell down on an incut. “The conditions of this field … were a factor on that interception,” Troy Aikman said, correctly, on FOX.

And despite the only interception he threw not being his fault as well, Peter still thinks Stafford was off. Again, it sounds like there are other factors that contributed to Stafford's performance.

q. How does a defense that reputable give up 37 points in one half of football? To paraphrase Tony Dungy, if Brandon Marshall thought last week was unacceptable, what’s he’s going to think this morning?

Great insight there from Tony Dungy. Maybe he can offer to mentor Brandon Marshall or the entire Chicago Bears defense.

4. I think that Roger Goodell and the Ravens are both wrong, in reference to neither talking to the NFL Players Association’s investigator into the Ray Rice flap (as the Associated Press reported over the weekend). This is supposed to be the most transparent of processes. I think Goodell should have been open with the press about what exactly Ray Rice said to him in the June 16 disciplinary hearing. I think he should be open with the NFL investigator. And I think he should be open with the NFLPA investigation. There should be nothing to hide, from anyone.

Gee Peter, why would Roger Goodell have something to hide though? I can't figure out why. I like Peter taking a hard line against Goodell here, just a couple of months after getting embarrassed by his "sources" who said Goodell saw the videotape and then Peter changing his story once Goodell claimed he had not seen the videotape. I can't figure out why there should be something to hide.

5. I think Shonn Greene channeled his inner Costanza Friday night. And it’s never good to fool around with handicapped parking spots.

Where is J.J. Watt at to teach Greene a lesson about parking in handicapped parking spots? Where's the NFL Off-the-Field Behavior Policeman when he's needed?

6. I think—and I know this is a week old, but I just love the inside-football nature of it, and wanted to share it with you—that the most interesting thing I learned about football in the past few days came from St. Louis punter Johnny Hekker. You recall the Rams’ special-teams-prompted win over Seattle eight days ago, with the Stedman Bailey 90-yard return for touchdown on the misdirection-punt-team play. But the derring-do fake punt with 2:55 left in the game was significantly more risky, and I loved it.

Then Peter spends two more paragraphs marveling over the gutsy play-call and how the Rams coaching staff had the balls to make this call and not give Hekker a lot of time to think about having to throw the football. It's a nice way of recalling a smart play by the Rams while also glossing over the Rams came off a great game against the Seahawks to lay up a turd against the Chiefs. Jeff Fisher taketh, Jeff Fisher taketh away. Peter preferth to focuseth on the gutsy nature of Jeff Fisher and not the fact Fisher took the Rams a step forward last week and then another step back this week.

7. I think we should all prepare for a week’s worth of Manning-Brady fodder, for this Sunday marks the 16th game matching the two greats. Peyton Manning is just 5-10 versus Tom Brady, and just 2-7 when the game happens in Foxboro.

Oh yes Peter, "we" should prepare for a week's worth of Manning-Brady fodder. Because Peter is just like his readers in that he can't control what Manning-Brady stuff gets written during the upcoming week. He's just along for the ride and certainly would never contribute to this fodder. I enjoy how Peter writes "we" should prepare for this fodder as if he is in no way responsible for contributing to this discussion of Manning and Brady. Peter has NO CONTROL over what gets written on THE MMQB about Manning and Brady over the upcoming week.

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

a. Peace be with you, Thomas Menino. The former Boston mayor, such a legend in one of the great American cities, is seriously ill with cancer. Everyone who lives in Boston, or has lived there, has a good Menino story, and mine is this: Soon after I moved to Boston in 2009 (lived there for two and a half years), I wrote about how depressing the littering was there. He saw me at a Little League game in my neighborhood, commented on what I’d written and wanted me to know they’d been working on it. Quite a guy.

Thomas Menino did what Peter King told him to do. What a peach of a guy! He followed Peter's directions so well. I'm sure J.J. Watt would approve.

f. I don’t know why he isn’t the manager of the Cubs already. Perfect spot for him. He’s a great thinker, and he’ll be good for National League baseball.

That sounds condescending as hell. What does "good for National League baseball" even mean? The National League hasn't had any issues winning World Series titles lately, but I do understand Peter is an American League snob.

i. Who’d have thought two of the top five candidates for MVP of the postseason (not just the World Series) would be relief pitchers who are not closers—Yusmeiro Petit of the Giants and Kelvin Herrera of the Royals?

"We" certainly didn't think this would happen. Only some guy in Kansas named Fred thought two of the top five candidates for MVP of the postseason (there is no such thing) would be relief pitchers who aren't closers. Of course, Fred from Kansas also likes National League baseball, so he's an idiot.

l. Coffeenerdness: Thanks for your hospitality this fall, Greenwich (Conn.) Starbucks. I’ve done quite a bit of writing there. Good atmosphere.

By "good atmosphere" I assume Peter means "the atmosphere of a coffee shop." 

n. By the way, not all New Yorkers are cowering because of Ebola. In fact, I haven’t met one.

You haven't met a New Yorker? Don't you live in New York?

The Adieu Haiku

The Chicago Bears.
Looking a lot like the Jags.
Somewhere, Halas weeps.

Somewhere whoever is best known for writing haikus, well, he is weeping too. 

Monday, October 27, 2014

3 comments Skip Bayless Knew The Dallas Cowboys Would Win The NFC East This Year Except For When He Said They Would Go 6-10

Skip Bayless is a joke. He's a clown and should have no place in the sporting world with his ridiculous views and junior high debate class antics. He has no point of view or belief outside of whatever point of view or belief he thinks will get him the most attention. He's the 6th grader pulling girls' hair and pretending to fart in class solely for the basis of gaining attention for himself. Unfortunately, Skip is a grown 62-year old man and not in 6th grade. Skip thrives on attention, which means he can often contradict himself when he espouses two opposing viewpoints that both eventually lead to him getting attention. So Skip says the Cowboys are for real, just a few months after saying they were going 6-10. Life as a sportswriter must be fun and easy when you have no determined beliefs and can change your opinion as often as the wind blows.

You may not believe this, but Skip makes the Cowboys' hot start completely about him. I know, it's shocking that Skip brings the focus back on himself. 

Feel free to dismiss me as just another desperate Dallas Cowboys fan again falling for America's Tease.

I will feel free to dismiss you totally as another desperate attention-seeking troll who insists on playing the villain because it beats working hard for a living.

I talked my uncle, a high school football coach, into taking me to my first Cowboys game, at the Cotton Bowl on Nov. 5, 1961, when I was in fourth grade. Quarterback Eddie LeBaron's Cowboys lost to the St. Louis Cardinals 31-17 -- hey, Eddie Football was only 5 feet, 7 inches tall -- but I was hooked for life.

Great story, don't care. This isn't about you, it's about the Dallas Cowboys.

But I did manage to maintain objectivity in writing three books about America's Team -- three inside looks far too revealing for some fans.

What Skip may mean about "far too revealing" is he stated that Barry Switzer claimed Troy Aikman was gay, and Skip found no proof this was true and Aikman denied it, but Bayless included this in his third book on the Cowboys anyway because controversy equals book sales. A whore has to put out and a shill has to shill.

So maybe I'm not writing just with my heart when I say I believe in this Cowboys team more than any since the 1995 Super Bowl champion about which I wrote my last book.

Skip KNOWS the Cowboys are for real this year. He didn't know earlier during the summer, but he totally knows now.

This team is different from the many since then that have inspired predictions (and delusions) of grandeur.

You know how Skip knows this Cowboys team is different? They are winning games. It's a dead giveaway only he can notice.

This team -- if it stays reasonably healthy -- will win the NFC East.

Skip has to put that qualifier on there, just in case the need to backpedal at a furious speed should the need arise.

That's what I predicted on air on the Thursday this NFL season opened. My prediction so stunned and disgusted Stephen A. -- who grew up a Cowboys-hating New York Giants fan -- that he got up and walked off the set babbling about how I had lost my mind.

So dramatic! So scandalous! It's like the "Jerry Springer Show" for sports. Stephen A. had to walk away because Skip's view was so stunning. I'm so dismayed I couldn't view this circus first hand, but will have to settle for not watching it on YouTube.

He had no idea that was coming because I had spent the entire preseason saying this Cowboy team had 6-10 written all over it.

But you knew this team was different. going all-in on the Cowboys winning the NFC East like you knew this would be happen, but your words didn't always back this prediction up. This is what is known as "flip-flopping" and having a contradictory opinion. Skip will get no credit for stating the Cowboys will win the NFC East because he said all preseason the Cowboys would go 6-10. He can't have it both ways. Now if the Cowboys suffer injuries (and I like how Skip throws in the qualifier that the Cowboys have to say "reasonably healthy" as if they hadn't been hit hard by injuries on defense before the season began), Skip can weasel out of this prediction and fall back on his "Dallas Cowboys will go 6-10" prediction. I'm sure there will be a gratuitous mention of Tim Tebow in there somewhere.

So why did I suddenly reverse field and book it that Dallas would go 10-6 and win the division?

Because you are a clown who holds no opinion which doesn't gain attention for yourself and you thought stating the Cowboys would go 10-6 was a good way of self-promotion?

It started two days earlier, during a round of golf, when a friend listened to my rant about how last year's historically bad Cowboy defense (which allowed an NFL-record 40 first downs at New Orleans) could be even worse without Sean Lee, DeMarcus Ware and Jason Hatcher.

Remember, Skip is working under the theory the Cowboys will win the NFC East if they stay reasonably healthy. So naturally, his conclusion the Cowboys will win the NFC East is reached based upon knowing the Cowboys most important defensive player is lost for the season.

My friend's response was so simply profound that I cold-topped my next shot: "You wonder if those guys will finally get so sick and tired of hearing how historically bad they are."

Wait, he was talking while you were putting? Or is Skip being overly-dramatic again like he was when he mentioned Stephen A. walking off the set so stunned by Skip's prediction the Cowboys would win the NFC East? I'm guessing the latter. Either way, this is how Skip Bayless works. Reason goes out the window for the sake of hot sports takes and attention-seeking comments.

Herm said: "Trust me on this: Rod will get them to play hard. If they don't" Herm's famed emotions rose. "... Rod WILL get in their face."

Oh, well I didn't know Rod Marinelli would get in his players' faces. That totally changes my opinion on the Cowboys. If I had known Marinelli would get in his players' faces in the same manner that helped him achieve a 10-38 lifetime heading coaching record in the NFL then I would have predicted the Cowboys to go 16-1. Yes, the Cowboys players would be so motivated by their coach yelling at them they would play an extra game during the season just so they could claim they won 16 games.

For the first time in forever, nobody was picking the Dallas Cowboys to do anything. At least, nobody I knew of...Seriously, you'd have to go back to 1989 and 1990, the first two expansion-like seasons of the Jimmy Johnson/Jerry Jones Cowboys, to find a year in which nobody thought the Cowboys had a chance.

So then Skip Bayless saw a void where he could troll and knew he had to fill that void. He can get attention, not by bashing the Cowboys as he had done all preseason, but predicting them to win the NFC East. Skip was going to differentiate himself by being positive about the Cowboys rather than negative, because that's how he could get attention. He would just ignore that he said they looked like a 6-10 team in the preseason, because who cares?

Leading up to this season, many of their own fans had given up on them. That's why, for the home opener, JerryWorld appeared to reporters to be half-filled with 49ers fans, and why during the home game against Houston, Texans fans made so much noise they forced Tony Romo to resort to a silent count.
At "HOME!"

The Cowboys were 3-1 when they faced the Texans. It seems kind of funny that Skip is using reasoning like Cowboys fans giving up on the team as the reason Texans fans made so much noise.

Perfect: Zero expectations for this Cowboy team.

Yeah, but Skip didn't know that Cowboys fans had given up on the team when he made the 10-6 prediction. That prediction came before the 49ers and Texans games. So he couldn't have known then the fans gave up on them and this wouldn't have affected his prediction. Seems like Skip is working hard to link a narrative to his trolling attempt at getting attention. He's taking information he knows now and tries to pretend he knew it before the season began when he could not have. That is unless Skip Bayless is omniscient or psychic. Obviously he is not. 

When I reminded Stephen A. that if Romo hadn't hurt his back in the big win at Washington, the Cowboys very possibly would've beaten Philadelphia in the 2013 regular-season finale at home and would've gone 6-0 in the division, Stephen A. reminded me they went 8-8. Again.

Well, it is all about you and conversations you have with Stephen A. Smith.

Yet ... even with that historically bad defense, in week 7 last year the Cowboys somehow held Chip Kelly's attack to three points in Philly, winning 17-3. Hmmm. Wasn't last year's near-flawless division record a quiet little building block toward winning this year's East?

Apparently you didn't think so, because you said the Cowboys looked like a 6-10 team during the preseason. Aren't all of these observations simply hindsight on your part? And focusing on one game where the Cowboys defense played badly with Demarcus Ware and Jason Hatcher doesn't explain how the "building block" game involved this same Cowboys defense giving up 31, 49, 31, 45, and 37 points after Week 7. This explanation for the Week 7 game being a "building block" makes not of sense.

I plunged. Eli Manning and Robert Griffin III had struggled through preseason games, and I was sure the Eagles would ultimately miss DeSean Jackson's deep speed, so I predicted the Dallas Cowboys would go 10-6 and win the division "by default."

That was as insanely bold as I could go.

But now that Skip sees he could end up being correct, he's doubling down and explaining why he believed all those things he didn't believe at the time which led to him making his prediction the Cowboys would go 10-6. This wasn't simple trolling on Skip's part, it was him knowing things that either (a) he couldn't know, like Cowboys fans had given up on the team or (b) claiming conclusions that don't make sense, like the Cowboys defense had a "building block" game in Week 7 of last year, while ignoring all the points the defense gave up after that week.

But it happened again, two Sundays later at St. Louis. Murray fumble, Romo pick-six: Rams, 21-0. Final score: Dallas, 34-31.

Last year, Dallas would've lost that game. Last year's Cowboys would've lost to Houston after blowing a 17-7 fourth-quarter lead and finding themselves in overtime. Dallas 20, Houston 17.

This was a resilient Cowboys team, which Skip knew when he made his prediction of the Cowboys winning the NFC East "by default." By the way, the Cowboys were tied with the Eagles for the NFC East lead when Skip wrote this, so they weren't even winning the NFC East as he had predicted and the Eagles do not miss DeSean Jackson's deep speed, as Skip predicted. Skip would rather we focus on his correct predictions though, while ignoring any prediction that may have been off-base a little bit.

This year's Cowboys keep facing down past demons. On a Sunday night last season in New Orleans, they suffered what I called "the biggest humiliation I can ever remember as a Cowboy fan" -- Saints, 49-17. On a Sunday night this season, they led the Saints 24-0 at half on the way to 38-17 retribution. Backbone. Then, at Seattle last Sunday, they basically recreated past nightmares up there -- blocked punt for a TD, fumbled punt, fumbled snap -- and bounced right back to bully the bullies in their backyard 30-23.

It's always fun how the conclusion here can't simply be, "The Cowboys are a good team who are getting a great year rushing the football from DeMarco Murray with a surprisingly good defense," there has to be a narrative running through all of these victories. They got retribution on the Saints, they were getting over past nightmares against the Seahawks. That's the narrative Skip wants to further.

Cowboy glitz has turned back into Cowboy guts. The primary architect of the new resolve: Marinelli, a far better coordinator than he was a head coach in Detroit. Same for play-caller Scott Linehan, who failed as a head coach in St. Louis. Bill Callahan had his moments as a head coach, but he just might be the NFL's best offensive line coach. Head coach Jason Garrett? Shaky play-caller but not a bad buffer between the team and frustrated coach Jerry Jones.

Everything is awesome now! Skip knew the Cowboys would bounce back this season because of these coaches, it's just he didn't know it earlier in the preseason when he thought the Cowboys, with these exact same coaches, looked like a 6-10 team. It turns out one of Skip's trolling attempts has turned out to be correct so far.

Skip is full of shit. He's very much full of shit. He's so full of shit that he's not actually full of shit, but he's just made of shit and it's overtaken his body to where all he is now is shit. Skip claims that the Week 7 game in 2013 was a turning point. Yet, on November 1, 2013 Skip Bayless wrote a column stating "Why Jerry Jones' team won't win." He made the following points (and I'll try to keep my comments to a minimum because you guys are smart enough to see the contradictions in his current position and his position less than a year ago after the "building block" game in Week 7):

That said, I've reached this painful conclusion: I'll be surprised if one of Jerry Jones' teams ever even comes close to winning another Super Bowl.

His Cowboys remain America's Team, in large part, because Cowboys lovers and the many, many Cowboys haters know that just when they start looking like a Super Bowl team, oh my god, did you see that?

The Cowboys fan in me is getting increasingly sick and tired of watching Jerry Jones enable his team to lose without fear. Super nice guys Romo, Jason Garrett, Jason Witten and DeMarcus Ware now lead the league in post-loss patience -- in handling tougher and tougher media questions with shrugging imperturbability -- because they aren't afraid of being held accountable by the owner. 

Who really cares? Jerry is still able to sell the illusion of hope because -- gusher luck! -- his team still leads the NFL's worst division at .500. But it isn't really based on quality. The Cowboys have lost to four over-.500 teams and beaten four under-.500 teams.

The Cowboys were 3-0 in the division at this point. They had their "building block" game that Skip didn't recognize as a "building block" game at the time.

And don't forget that Skip was on the Johnny Manziel train and wanted the Cowboys to trade Tony Romo to draft Manziel.

And this bullshit about the Cowboys winning the NFC East by default because the NFC East isn't strong? Well, that's typical bullshit from Skip because he was singing a different tune in May. From Skip:

“It says that the oddsmakers have little to no respect for next year’s NFC East, because the oddsmakers are saying that only one team in the East is even going to be slightly above .500 when all is said and done,” Bayless said. 

So the Cowboys would win the division "by default" at 10-6? But there's more...

“That would be the Eagles at around 9-7, and yet I think the oddsmakers at this moment … are overestimating Dallas to win eight games and go 8-8 again. I think that’s high. And I think the Redskins at about seven-and-a-half wins — projected — I think that’s low. Right now, if you backed me into a corner, I’m picking the Redskins to win the NFC East.

As if you needed proof that Skip was changing his position on the Cowboys. Remember, the Cowboys had Linehan, Callahan, and Marinelli on the coaching staff at this point. Also, remember that Skip moved the Cowboys up from 6-10 to 10-6 after a bad preseason, but then moved the Redskins down from 8 or more wins because of a bad preseason from Robert Griffin. So the preseason matters to Skip, unless the preseason doesn't matter at all to Skip. It depends on which way he wants to troll.

I think that will really help mold that defensive secondary and I like where they’re headed if RGIII is RGIII, and I believe with all my heart he will bounce completely back. So I have the Redskins winning 10 games next year.”

Smith also predicted the Cowboys will finish in last place and Bayless said he can’t see Dallas winning more than six games.

Boy, this is awkward. 

It's almost like all these things Skip claims he knew which would lead to success for the Cowboys during the 2014 season, the Cowboys having a "building block" game in Week 7 against the Eagles, the Cowboys having a good coaching staff and almost going 6-0 against the NFC East during the 2013, are things he knew prior to making the 6-10 prediction in May prior to the preseason. Yet, Skip still thought the Cowboys would win 6 games in May. That is, until he saw a chance to troll and differentiate himself from everyone else for the sake of gaining attention and claiming the Cowboys would win the NFC East. When it turned out Skip looked smart when the Cowboys started the season 5-1, but OF COURSE he knew the Cowboys would win the NFC East. Look at all these reasons on why his prediction was fact-based and not attention-based! Too bad reality doesn't match up with Skip's claims. Of course Skip isn't interested in reality, he is interested in attention.

Yep, Romo's offense leads the NFL in third-down conversions. Something also is different about Romo this season. Maybe he faced his NFL mortality for the first time. At 34, as he underwent his second back surgery, he had to suffer through owner/general manager Jones' painfully public fascination with Johnny Manziel -- and the regret Jones expressed over not drafting Manziel, sometimes within earshot of Romo.

Yes, Tony Romo is totally different now due to Jerry Jones' painful public fascination with Johnny Manziel. Remember when Jones said:

"If Texans would take Romo for Manziel, I'd do it in a heartbeat. Romo will tease w/ near-greatness then break your heart. Manziel=winner."

Ugh, that is a painful public fascination. I can't believe Jerry Jones said that. Wait, Jerry Jones didn't say that! That was Skip Bayless who said those words.

Maybe Romo is finally worried enough about losing his job that he's no longer treating it with shrugging carelessness.

Romo has a great running game and a defense that is stopping the opponent from scoring, so naturally this means Tony Romo has changed in some way. Narratives, people! Stick to the narratives! It all has to come back to how Romo has changed. Do not focus on how anything around Romo may have changed.

On third-and-8 in overtime against Houston, his spin-away heave was high and far enough that only power leaper Dez Bryant had a shot at coming down with it. And his third-and-20 escape at Seattle -- the NFL's play of the year so far -- was thrown where only Terrance Williams could snag it and toe-tap it in bounds.

Romo, finally matching his talent and toughness with ... maturity?

That's the narrative. Must stick to it. Romo, finally matching his talent with a good offensive line, good defense and an excellent running game? BORING! Let's talk about how Romo is more mature now. That'll get pageviews.

This team WILL last ... if Murray does. This man sets the backbone tone. Yet, while Cowboy great Emmitt Smith was the greatest I ever saw at avoiding injurious contact, Murray keeps attacking as if his offense and defense need his every punishing yard.

His history and logic would dictate that DeMarco Murray will not make it the entire 16 game schedule at this pace. Once/If Murray gets injured then the "It's the same Tony Romo who chokes in the clutch and is careless with the football" stories can start up again with no sense of irony.

Maybe underrated backup Joseph Randle will stay out of trouble long enough to give Murray just enough rest. Maybe the injury gods will smile on him. Maybe this season is just meant to be for the "historically bad defense" and the "accident waiting to happen" that has been Romo.

Maybe, but Skip certainly didn't think this was true prior to or during the preseason. Only when he saw the opportunity to troll and have a controversial hot sports take did he decide that the Cowboys would win the NFC East. For a guy who makes his living voicing his opinion, Skip's opinion should does fail to stay consistent or even seem to be based on the facts he claims his opinion is based upon when changing his opinion. It's always about attention to Skip.

And maybe I'm being set up for the biggest letdown of my Cowboy-loving life.

Maybe, it is after all completely about you. In your mind, it always will be. Skip Bayless is an embarrassment to AARP members everywhere.