Thursday, October 23, 2014

7 comments Fresh Off Listing the Super Bowl Contenders After Week 5, Gregg Easterbrook States Some NFL Teams Won't Make the Playoffs After Week 7

Two weeks ago, Gregg Easterbrook tried to determine which teams will represent the AFC and NFC in the Super Bowl next year. Seattle was one of those teams he thought was a contender to be the NFC representative in the Super Bowl. Two weeks later, Gregg writes that the Seahawks' chances of repeating as Super Bowl champs are minuscule. Well, they didn't last long as contenders did they? Of course, with the NFL season still only seven weeks old it's still too early to say which teams will or won't be in the Super Bowl. But again, Gregg doesn't care if it's too early to pronounce the Seahawks as not having a good chance to repeat as Super Bowl champs. He has nothing else to write about, so he makes do by having a knee-jerk reaction to the Seahawks losing two games in a row only two weeks after making knee-jerk reactions to the first five weeks of the NFL season.

And yes, as I predicted in MMQB (and no, I didn't read TMQ until after I posted MMQB), Gregg Easterbrook does say the Percy Harvin deal to the Jets is more proof mega-trades do not work. No word on whether the Vikings feel the same way about the trade that got rid of Harvin for three draft choices.

Suppose you knew nothing about NFL teams except their records and that Week 7 just concluded. Who should be counted out, and who counted in?

Trick question. No team should be counted out and no team should be counted in because it's Week 7.

Examination of season results since the 12-team playoff format was instituted in 1990 finds these things: A team with a below-.500 record after Week 7 has only an 8 percent chance of reaching the playoffs. Teams that are undefeated at this juncture stand a 93 percent chance of appearing in the postseason. Teams with one loss are 88 percent likely to make the playoffs. Teams with two losses have a 67 percent chance of a postseason invitation card.

What do these numbers, compiled with assistance from Elias Sports Bureau and ESPN's Stats & Information, suggest?

They suggest that NFL teams should try to win as many games as possible. It's a revolutionary line of thought.

Second, there's no undefeated team this season, so that magical-sounding 93 percent postseason likelihood goes unclaimed this season. More's the pity, since an undefeated team after Week 7 has a 28 percent chance of a Super Bowl win.

The one-loss club has a very favorable 29 percent chance of reaching the Super Bowl. But supporters of these clubs should not get too excited about hoisting the Lombardi. Only 7 percent of teams with a single loss after Week 7 have gone on to win the Super Bowl.

Fourth, Baltimore, Detroit, Green Bay, Indianapolis, New England and San Diego all are looking good. Two defeats means 67 percent chance of reaching the playoffs and a 6 percent chance of winning the Super Bowl.

Gregg manages to not only mislead his audience from time-to-time, but he frames things in a manner which only goes to serve him and his intentions. So teams with one loss shouldn't get excited because only 7% of these teams with one loss after Week 7 have gone on to win the Super Bowl. But teams with two defeats are "looking good" because that means they have a 6% chance of winning the Super Bowl! In Gregg's world, a 7% chance of something isn't as good as a 6% chance of something. Gregg thinks if there is a 7% chance of rain you better bring an umbrella with you, while if there is a 6% chance of rain then there's no need for an umbrella.

It's all in what Gregg wants to prove. He frames his argument based entirely on the point he wants to make in an effort to confuse his audience into believing what he has to say is correct.

As for the defending champion Seahawks, at 3-3 after Week 7, they hold only a 38 percent chance of reaching the playoffs this season and just a 1 percent chance of repeating as champions.

Miniscule! These odds are miniscule! Of course, the odds increase every single week the Seahawks win another football game and they have played a pretty tough schedule so far this year. Consideration of things like this are not a part of Gregg's analysis though.

Seven of 17 weeks played might not sound like much, but history suggests many dies are already cast. Julius Caesar said "the die is cast" when he ordered his army across the Rubicon River in 49 B.C. The Roman civil war still had to take place, but Caesar felt he knew what would happen.

Great analogy, Gregg. 7 of 17 weeks being played is exactly like Caesar's army crossing the Rubicon River almost 2100 years ago. Exactly the same.

Ten more NFL weeks are to be played, but there's a pretty good chance we already know most of the answers as to whom to count in and whom to count out.

Is there? Is this a factual statement? Quoting Caesar and referencing a civil war from almost 2100 years ago isn't proof that "the die is cast" after Week 7 of the NFL season. The Kansas City Chiefs were undefeated last year at this time and Dallas was leading the NFC East. Things can change.

Did any sportscaster or sportswriter mention Florida State's atrocious 58 percent football graduation rate? In the larger scheme of things, that matters far more than whether Winston was paid to sign autographs. The trivial issue got extensive attention; the educational issue was ignored.

The sportscasters are calling a football game. They are not going to discuss a school's graduation rate. That's just how it is. One wouldn't expect the sportscasters to discuss the graduation rate since they are covering a football game. The reason the trivial issue got extensive attention is because it could potentially affect Winston's eligibility to play in the football game the sportscasters are being paid to cover.

There is no academic greatness in the Florida State football program -- not even mediocrity. Students as a whole at Florida State graduate at a 75 percent rate. The football players get special tutoring, up to five years to complete their credits and don't pay tuition. For students as a whole, running out of money is the primary barrier to graduation.

Is running out of money the primary barrier to graduation? Does Gregg have facts to support this contention? I will say from my perspective I don't find this to be true, unless he is counting students who simply can't afford a school and are forced to transfer. That's not "running out of money" but simply not making a sound financial decision to choose to attend a school he/she can't afford. If Gregg didn't have a history of lying or making up opinions he perceives as facts then I suppose I could trust his making this statement as being the truth. Unfortunately, Gregg enjoys lying, so I'm not sure he isn't just spouting information that isn't factual in order to make his point seem factual.

Even adjusting for the handful who depart early for the NFL, the Seminoles' football graduation rate ought to embarrass alums, boosters and the school's board of trustees. "Academic greatness" -- what hogwash.

As I am prone to asking, would these students be attending college at all if they didn't get this scholarship? Not that it excuses the FSU graduation rate, but it's an important question to ask and consider when having this discussion. Naturally, Gregg doesn't consider this question. Too much gray (grey?) area in there for him.

Stats Of The Week No. 1: Russell Wilson became the first person in NFL annals to throw for at least 300 yards and rush for at least 100 yards in the same game -- and the Seahawks lost.

It's almost like football is a team game. But that couldn't be true, could it?

Sweet Plays Of The Week: The Rams leading the defending champion Seahawks 14-3, Seattle lined up to punt. Scouts know Seattle punter Jon Ryan usually booms to the left or right sideline.

Which honestly, is what a lot of punters try to do since that narrows the field for the opposing punt returner to field the kick and run with the football. Anyway, carry on...

Running downfield with their backs to the ball, Seattle coverage guys watch the reactions of the receiving team to determine where the kick is going.

Which is a much better option than not running down the field and stopping to see the football in the air and try to determine which way the kick is going. Usually NFL special teams squads prefer to actually run and cover the return rather than pause and look to the sky for a moment or two.

Les Mouflons lined up Tavon Austin as the return man at the center of the field and Stedman Bailey to jam a gunner on the punter's left. As the punt boomed, Austin ran toward the right sideline, looking up into the air as if the punt were traveling that way. Austin's blockers came with him. This caused the Seattle coverage team to head toward Austin, who looked up, up -- but there was nothing there because the punt was headed to the opposite sideline.

What a great play by this highly-drafted glory boy! I'm surprised Gregg failed to mention that this first round pick made a great play to deceive the Seahawks kicking unit, especially since in August Gregg was criticizing the Rams (and Austin) for having first round picks on the roster who haven't made a positive impact on the team. Well, I'm not actually surprised of course. It's just sad that Gregg still gets to write TMQ and leave out information when he feels it's convenient to leave this information out.

Now St. Louis lead 28-26 and faced fourth-and-3 at its own 18 with three minutes remaining. Punting was the "safe" tactic, though it would give the Seattle offense, which had come alive in the fourth quarter, three minutes to reach position for the winning field goal. 

St. Louis faced basically the same situation New England faced five years ago when Bill Belichick went for it on fourth-and-2 from the Patriots' 28 at Indianapolis, in the endgame with the Colts' offense hot. Belichick's decision to go for it was correct, the play just failed. Jeff Fisher made the same calculation and the play worked, leaving the defending champions reeling at 3-3.

It wasn't really the "same calculation" since there was no indication that Bill Belichick was considering either a fake punt or going for it on fourth down. It seems Belichick considered punting the football or going for it on fourth down. Jeff Fisher clearly thought about a fake punt attempt, which I don't think is anything that was on the table for Belichick five years ago. So it's the same situation, but I think the coaches didn't make the same calculation.

Sweet Record-Tying Play: Peyton Manning's 509th touchdown pass, to Demaryius Thomas, set the NFL career record and sent Thunder the steed, ridden by Ann Judge-Wegener, cantering across the field at Denver.

I think Gregg means #1 overall pick Peyton Manning threw his 509th touchdown pass, to Demaryius Thomas, who is also a highly-drafted glory boy. Well, Gregg doesn't mean that, but if Thomas and Manning weren't first round picks and were undrafted or lowly drafted players then I know Gregg would have immediately brought this fact up.

The Saints' defense was torched again, unable to hold a 23-10 lead with the Lions facing third-and-14 deep in their own territory with just under four minutes remaining. When Detroit's Golden Tate outjumped New Orleans corner Corey White for a catch and then started up the sideline, White barely bothered to jog after him, making no attempt to run him down.

Those 5th round picks are always so lazy. If only they exerted as much effort as 2nd round picks like Golden Tate exert on a given play.

Now New Orleans leads 23-17 and has the Lions facing fourth-and-5 near the two-minute warning. Incompletion, but Saints safety Rafael Bush is called for holding -- automatic first down, and Detroit wins points three snaps later.

You mean undrafted, hard-working Rafael Bush? Sorry, I will stop now...probably not, but I will try to stop. I'll see how it goes. It's too much fun to point out when Gregg calls out a lowly-drafted player but doesn't mention the player's draft status. He loves to point out a player is lowly-drafted when he makes a good play during a game.

The Saints have invested heavily in the past two offseasons in defensive backs -- first-round choice Kenny Vaccaro, mega-contract for free agent Jairus Byrd. Yet their pass defense is bottom-quartile, and the Saints have just four takeaways despite playing a gambling style.

Jairus Boyd is out for the season, by the way. So he really hasn't had a ton to do with the Saints defense playing poorly over the past couple of games. I'm sure Gregg isn't aware of this.

Minnesota leading 16-10, the Vikes had the Bills facing fourth-and-20 with 1:27 remaining. Minnesota seemed surprised when the Bills, holding time outs, didn't call one and rather ran to the line to quick-snap, 24-yard pass, first down. Some incompletions and penalties later, the Bills faced second-and-20 on the Minnesota 30 with 25 seconds remaining, now out of timeouts. Twenty-eight-yard completion to the undrafted Chris Hogan,

See? All of a sudden draft status is something very important that Gregg must mention when an undrafted player does something good.

spike, then winning touchdown pass to Sammy Watkins with one tick remaining.

I think Gregg means the winning touchdown pass to highly-drafted, acquired in a mega-trade Sammy Watkins. Right? Oh wait, if Gregg acknowledged both of these little facts then the reality that highly-drafted players aren't useless and mega-trades sometimes do work would be known to his readers. It's more important for Gregg to leave out pertinent facts in order to mislead his readers into believing his point of view and assertions are correct.

As cool weather arrives and leaves begin to fall, cheer-babe professionalism becomes a factor.
Professionalism in this context means skin or at least skin-tight; scantily attired cheerleaders propitiate the football gods.

Kickoff temperature in Maryland was 55 degrees with a gusty breeze, and the Potomac Drainage Basin Indigenous Persons cheerleaders came out in two-piece, bikini-beach numbers. This professionalism inspired the faltering Persons to a last-second win

This is still creepy, but mostly I enjoy how Gregg argues that NFL teams are exploiting cheerleaders by not paying them enough money (which is true). Gregg doesn't mind exploiting NFL cheerleaders with pictures in TMQ of them in their cheerleading outfits, while he argues the less clothing these cheerleaders wear the better the team they cheer for will perform.

Three Touchdowns in 73 Seconds, That's All? Pittsburgh roared back versus Houston by scoring three touchdowns in 73 seconds. That's pretty flashy but not unprecedented.

Consider Gregg unimpressed.

Now Pittsburgh has possession on the Houston 3. Wide receiver Antonio Brown takes a pitch running right. It looks like an end-around, an odd call at the goal line. But Brown -- a college walk-on who received no scholarship offers -- 

A 6th round pick did something good! Time to mention how he was "unwanted" coming out of high school.

Kickoff, Houston possession on its 20, trailing 17-13 with 1:03 before intermission. Pittsburgh is down to one timeout, so the Texans could kneel. But Houston has three timeouts, so trying to reach field goal range is a good tactic here. A Ryan Fitzpatrick pass is tipped, intercepted and returned to the Houston 2. The PA system should have struck up Fight Fiercely Harvard!

Okay, I can't stop. Gregg doesn't mention that Ryan Fitzpatrick was a 7th round pick, while only mentioning Fitzpatrick went to Harvard.

The Houston defense looks discombobulated coming back out onto the field. Presnap, Pittsburgh shifts tailback Le'Veon Bell far wide to the right, outside the wide receiver. There is only one Houston defensive back on that side -- a classic busted coverage. Call timeout! Call timeout! Houston does not call timeout, and Roethlisberger throws an uncontested lob to Bell.

What a heads-up pass and catch by these two highly-drafted players! Okay, I think I am done now with mentioning where players Gregg lauds are drafted. Well, I'm done until Gregg baits me into not being done again. 

So then Gregg goes on a rant about the potential of advanced civilizations outside of the planet Earth and writes things like,

Of course, it could be that other worlds don't wish to make contact; presumably an advanced civilization could disguise its existence. It could be there is no way around the light-speed barrier, rendering interstellar travel highly impractical. But that would not necessarily rule out one-way trips in suspended animation. One-way ships traveling below the speed of light could colonize vast regions of the Milky Way in a few million years, which is a lot of time to us but not much to the cosmos. 

It could be that once civilizations become technological, they rapidly destroy themselves. It could be -- this your columnist finds most tantalizing -- that the technological phase of civilizations (building rockets and telescopes) is very brief compared to the evolutionary phase, then is followed by a beyond-technology phase in which physical structures mean little. In that case, even if there's a lot of life in the Milky Way, the odds would be against two relatively nearby planets both being in the technological phase at the same moment.

So Gregg is speculating about two different civilizations on relatively nearby planets both being in the same technological phase at the same moment. He is also speculating whether advanced civilizations are making one-way trips in suspended animation. But of course he is outraged when a television show like "Revolution" dare to not accurately portray the result of a world-wide power outage or when "24" doesn't accurately show the flow of traffic in London. That's totally unacceptable and Gregg expects these television shows to deal in reality, but he's perfectly okay with a long-winded discussion about whether advanced civilizations (that may not exist and there is no proof of their existence) outside of planet Earth would be in the same technological phase at the same moment. That's dealing in the same facts that "24" dare not touch in their portrayal of London traffic.

The new book "Our Mathematical Universe," by MIT physicist Max Tegmark, supposes that as humanity begins to explore nearby star systems, we should hope to find only lifeless worlds. Why? If we don't find any sign of other life, Tegmark supposes, that could mean we are not fated to destroy ourselves -- others didn't destroy themselves because there weren't any others. By contrast, finding the radioactive ruins of once-great civilizations would be a depressing message about the human prospect.

Or it could mean we are still fated to destroy ourselves and there's just not another civilization we have found that proves this to be true.

HMS Pinafore Comes To Baseball The World Series throws out the first ball tonight, creating a moment to mention that pro baseball clubs are becoming as overstaffed as pro football organizations. Excluding sales, marketing, clerical and stadium operations staff, the Houston Astros have a chairman, a president, five senior vice presidents, six vice presidents, a general manager, an assistant general manager, many managers, five special assistants, four senior directors (including a senior director of risk management), 21 directors (including a director of decision sciences), two assistant directors, 21 coordinators, eight coaches, five specialists, a senior technical architect, a head athletic trainer, an assistant athletic trainer, three administrators, three team physicians, a team chiropractor and a massage therapist.


R-E-L-A-X: Green Bay started the season sputtering but now has scored on 25 of 27 red zone trips. Early against Carolina, the Packers had first-and-10 on their 41. Aaron Rodgers play faked, Panthers corner Antoine Cason bit on a stutter-go, Jordy Nelson made the catch and faked Roman Harper out of his athletic socks on the way to a 59-yard touchdown. The Carolina defense seemed unconcerned with Nelson, though he entered the contest as the league's No. 1 receiver.

Yes, the Panthers were definitely unconcerned with Nelson. It's not that they couldn't cover him or they were worried about Randall Cobb on the other side of the field or Eddie Lacy running the football so they couldn't dedicate their entire defense to covering one receiver, but they just didn't give a shit about Jordan Nelson. Absolutely. That's a reasonable explanation, as opposed to simply saying the Panthers lacked the talent to cover Nelson.

The Panthers are on the cusp of a lost season. Their defense, second-ranked in 2013, has plummeted to 26.

Fortunately in this "lost season" Carolina plays in a lost division. They are in first place of the NFC South by 1.5 games at this point. "Outrun your friends, not the bear" is the team's 2014 motto.

This new academic study, first reported by "Outside the Lines," finds there is only one chance in seven that a college football player will tell a coach or trainer that he feels concussion symptoms. 

Oh, what a shocking turn of events. You mean athletes will lie about having not having concussion symptoms in order to stay in the game? This is completely new information to me.

The startup Brain Sentry has engineered a simple, cost-effective tool that seems likely to reduce neurological harm from football. Players wear an accelerometer on the outside of the helmet. If the player registers a high-force head impact, the accelerometer begins to flash. Officials signal the player out of the game to be evaluated for concussion symptoms.

I think "cost-effective" is a relative term. Each accelerometer costs $75 each. That's not terribly expensive, but if school systems had to pay for 60 kids on the football team to each get one, that comes to $4,500 for each high school team. Then every high school team in the school district will need these accelerometer on their helmet. It starts to get more expensive then. That's assuming the accelerometer is only put on helmets that students use during the game and not every backup helmet a school may have in storage. It seems the accelerometer can be peeled off and placed on the back of the helmet, but I'm not sure if one can be pulled off one helmet and placed on another helmet. So the cost is approximately $4,500 for 60 kids, or even more than that, depending on whether the accelerometer can be removed from one helmet and placed on another.

This idea is attractive because it's simple and affordable. More complex systems exist, ones that send telemetry to data devices that alert sideline physicians. But there must be a sideline physician, and most high schools don't have one. So are high schools lining up to get Brain Sentry? No, they are shunning it.

If Gregg read that article, then he could see school systems aren't entirely convinced the helmet won't register a false positive or miss a concussion-level impact based on how the high school athlete was hit. Plus, and I think this is a good point, if teams see a player on the opposing team has suffered a few tough hits (which show on the accelerometer) then it could lead to that team trying to hit the player harder in order to get him out of the game. It sounds silly, but crazy shit happens like this. I think it's a great idea to have the accelerometer on a helmet, but Gregg pretends there aren't issues surrounding this product when there are. 

Many high school administrative organizations seem to believe -- wrongly, in the view of legal experts this column has consulted -- that if coaches are aware of concussion symptoms, the school district becomes liable for any harm that later occurs. But if they are blissfully ignorant, they are not liable. Needless to say in this scenario, avoiding litigation cost is more important than protecting health.

Yes, avoiding litigation cost is pretty important since we live in a litigious society and if a coach sends a player out on the field after registering a "19" on the helmet and that high school player suffers from concussion symptoms later, then the school district could face a lawsuit. I'm not saying protecting health isn't important, but parents know the risks of sending their child out to play football, yet that won't stop lawsuits from being filed and school systems don't have the funds (as Gregg has pointed out repeatedly when discussing why he thinks school systems may start to get rid of football programs) to pay for lawsuits.

I'm not playing devil's advocate or thinking high school football coaches should ignore concussion symptoms. It's simply that buying a large amount of these accelerometers and opening up the school system to litigation costs, no matter what experts Gregg has consulted, brings issues into this discussion that Gregg blissfully wants to just push aside. This is the United States, people will sue for anything.

Henry Louis Gates Jr. of Harvard, hoping to "challenge the belief among all too many of our children that the dream to aim for is a sports scholarship or [be] drafted by a professional basketball or football team," shows that African Americans are more likely to be physicians or lawyers than to be engaged in pro sports. Gates finds that in 2012, the most recent year for which statistics are available, "There were more black neurologists (411) and black cardiologists (690) by far than all of the black men playing in the NBA (350)."

I don't even know where to begin with this. First off, there are only 30 NBA teams, so the amount of black men playing in the NBA is limited in that aspect. There are only so many spots available on the 30 NBA teams. Second, one would expect there to be more black neurologists or black cardiologists because playing in the NBA requires a skill set (height, athleticism, years of dedicated hard work to perfecting the craft) that removes some candidates for the NBA from participating. A 5'8" black kid who decides he wants to play in the NBA during his freshman year of college won't make it, while a 5'8" black kid who decides he wants to be a cardiologist during his freshman year of college still has time to pursue that option. The barriers of entry to becoming an NBA player are greater than the barriers of entry to becoming a neurologist or cardiologist.

Denver leading 14-0 in a game when the Broncos were all but certain to score more, Santa Clara faced fourth-and-goal from the Denver 4. Harbaugh/West did the "safe" thing and sent in the field goal unit. The 49ers went on to lose 42-17.

The fact Harbaugh did the safe thing aside, would a touchdown in this situation have made up 25 points? Or does Gregg believe if the 49ers had scored a touchdown in this situation then the 49ers team (and defense) would have been so inspired they would have prevented Peyton Manning and the Broncos from scoring 42 points in the game? Otherwise, Gregg's attempt to tie this fourth down call with the outcome of the game is a fallacy.

Five of the past eight persons elected to the White House had been governors. Presidential voters favor governors -- senators talk, talk, talk while governors actually run things. 

Gregg writes this statement in TMQ and yet he has complained about governors like Chris Christie who travel across the country and the world on the taxpayers dime. It's always hilarious to read idiotic statements like this from Gregg. One week he will point out how governors and senators are stealing taxpayer money by campaigning for office while still in another office, then next week he states that "senators talk, talk, talk, while governors actually run things." Okay, then.

The most recent Democratic presidential candidate who was a white male, liberal, former governor was Bill Clinton, and voters simply could not get enough of him.

The most recent Republican candidate who was a white mail, conservative, former governor was Mitt Romney. Before that, it was George W. Bush. It seems voters didn't always like them as much through the years. Maybe it's just Democrats who Gregg believes like governor Presidential candidates. That sounds like something idiotic he would believe.

O'Malley devoted much of his time in recent years to gallivanting around the county to promote himself, ignoring his home-state duties. This fall, he has been campaigning in Iowa, Florida, New Hampshire and North Carolina at taxpayer expense while blithely disregarding his job. That O'Malley is out of state so much promoting himself might be a reason three big projects under his administration -- an offshore wind farm and trolley lines in Baltimore and Maryland's near-D.C. suburbs -- are years behind schedule and ridiculously over budget.

So many questions about this apparent contradiction. So Presidential voters wouldn't favor the guy who Gregg believes is a dark-horse Presidential candidate? Or is Gregg trying to have it both ways? He wants to present O'Malley as a dark-horse Presidential candidate while stating it may not happen. Also, I thought "governors actually run things"? It sounds like this governor is gallivanting around the United States and only doing "talk, talk, talk." It's almost like the blanket statements Gregg makes are not factually correct all the time.

It seems unlikely O'Malley could have run both Baltimore and the Maryland statehouse without skeletons in his closet.

Gregg thinks O'Malley might get the Democratic nomination unless he doesn't get the Democratic nomination.

Seattle gave first-, third- and seventh-round draft selections to obtain Percy Harvin, had him for less than two seasons, then dealt him to the Jets for a conditional draft choice likely to be in the later rounds. At least they got their damage deposit back!

I figured Gregg would write something like this in response to the Harvin trade.

When the Seahawks made the trade, your columnist opined Harvin "has never had a thousand-yard receiving season ... and complains nonstop." I proposed that wide receiver Cecil Shorts from Division III Mount Union is "a better player than Harvin."

That is the same TMQ where Gregg celebrated the everyman quality of Eric Fisher, who has turned out to be a disappointment as the #1 overall pick. Naturally, Gregg won't be talking about his past predictions that are incorrect.

What's happened since those words were written? Harvin ran a kickoff back for a touchdown in the Super Bowl; including playoffs, he gained a total of 242 yards from scrimmage for Seattle. In the same period, Shorts gained 952 yards from scrimmage for Jacksonville.

Gregg cherry-picks some data here. Not including rushing yardage, which would put Harvin ahead of Shorts, these two players have similar statistics for the 2014 season. I won't defend Harvin, but I feel like this needs to be pointed out.

Raiders Nation is sick of being reminded of all the high draft choices Oakland has blown in recent years or trades for gents long gone. Now here's something else to cause Raiders fans to rend their garments and gnash their teeth. Division-leading Arizona's starting left tackle, Jared Veldheer, was drafted high by Oakland, then let go. One of Arizona's starting linebackers, Matt Shaughnessy (currently on short-term IR), was drafted high by Oakland, then let go. Both are better than players Oakland now fields at their positions.

It's really fun to me the lengths that Gregg will go to conceal the truth and mislead his audience. He states "both are better than players Oakland now fields at their positions" using vague terms. Why did he do that? Because Donald Penn is the Raiders left tackle and earlier this year Gregg criticized the Buccaneers for letting Penn go. Gregg stated,

New head coach Lovie Smith cut Pro Bowl tackle Donald Penn without even discussing the situation with him. Penn didn't play particularly well in 2013, but no one on the Buccaneers played particularly well. Going into the past season, a scout might have said Tampa's best players were Darrelle Revis, Josh Freeman, Carl Nicks, Mike Williams and Penn. When Smith arrived, all were unceremoniously shown the door -- four waived, one traded for a late-round draft choice.

See, Gregg doesn't want his readers to know that Veldheer is better than Donald Penn for two reasons. One, Penn was undrafted, and two, earlier in August Gregg criticized the Buccaneers for getting rid of Penn in the offseason by saying he was one of the Buccaneers best players. Gregg wants to mislead his readers into believing the Raiders just have some bum at left tackle, not a player that Gregg has previously stated should not have been released by the Buccaneers due to him being one of the team's best players. Mislead at all costs. Ego comes first. Gregg's readers can't know he is full of shit and misleads them. Therefore, Gregg talks vaguely about the "players Oakland now fields at their positions" in an effort to pretend one of them isn't a player Gregg once thought highly of.

City of Tampa is last in pass defense. Sure is lucky they waived Darrelle Revis!

Gregg will never understand the financial aspect of a team cutting a player. He hates highly-paid glory boys who are all about themselves (Revis has held out twice in his career), unless he decides he doesn't hate these players when it suddenly becomes convenient to do so.

Americans say they despise Washington, D.C., yet can't seem to get enough of primetime shows that glamorize the capital: "West Wing," "First Monday," "Scandal," "Commander in Chief," "House of Cards" among them.

I'm not sure some of these shows glamorize the capital at all. Of course, I would doubt that Gregg has seen these shows and he is probably just assuming they glorify the capital. Assumptions come before knowledge.

Then Gregg gives examples of fictional television pilots that would be true-to-life. Unfortunately, Gregg is trying to be funny and it doesn't work. I will spare you most of the details of reading these pitches for fictional pilots because I don't hate you as much as I hate myself. Here's an example though:

"In My Pajamas." Once, opinion-maker political columnists were WASP males who jotted down rumors at martini lunches. Now political opinions are made by bloggers in pajamas. In the pilot, a sexy, glamorous, political blogger must do investigative journalism about a White House scandal (that is, must surf the Web) while Snapchatting at a Starbucks with this hot guy from her Pilates class. Then -- the Wi-Fi goes down!


Touts have been wondering if former Seahawks defensive coordinator Gus Bradley can turn the Jaguars into Seattle South. Sunday, this seemed possible. The opponent was only the Browns, but Jacksonville held them to six points and 3.6 yards per offensive snap, well below the league average. Cleveland reaching first-and-goal on the Jacksonville 4, the Browns went run stuffed, incompletion, incompletion, field goal. Cleveland reaching second-and-2 on the Jacksonville 25, the Browns went short rush, run stuffed, incompletion. The outcome of this contest did not matter to the standings. But if Bradley's team does evolve into Seattle South, touts might look back on this as the turning point.

Or touts might not look back on this as the turning point. Stay tuned and in a few years Gregg will tell you which is the correct answer. The Jaguars may or may not have had a turning point this past weekend.

'Tis Better To Have Rushed And Lost Than Never To Have Rushed At All: Scoring to pull within 27-25 at New England, the Jets lined up for a deuce try just before the two-minute warning. Jersey/B had come into the contest last-ranked in passing offense but running the ball well. It need 2 yards. To this juncture in the game, the Jets had 218 yards rushing, with a 5.1 yards per carry average. That cannot be an empty backfield set! Incompletion far beyond the receiver's hands, and the hosts hold on to prevail.

While I do agree running the ball may have been a better option, this is a great example of how Gregg misunderstands situational running and how the down and distance has an impact on whether a team can get two yards or not. Simply because the Jets were averaging 5.1 yards per carry on the game doesn't mean they would convert the two-point conversion in this situation.

Sportsmanship Watch: Division III John Carroll University -- which plays at Don Shula Stadium, named for an alum -- has won its past two games by a combined 149-0. Which John Carroll graduates and boosters ought to feel embarrassed about! Leading Marietta 49-0 in the third quarter Saturday, John Carroll was still throwing; its next two touchdowns were on passes. TMQ's Law of Poor Sportsmanship holds: When a football team wins by more than 50 points, the victor, not the vanquished, should be embarrassed. 

Hey, remember that time Gregg followed the exploits of a high school football team that wouldn't punt during a game (which of course Gregg loved) and I showed examples of that team throwing late in the game? What ever happened to that? This is just my little reminder there is a downside to not punting in a game, which is that the score could be run up on a team's opponent.

Sour Play -- College Bonus: Game tied in the second quarter, Oklahoma had first down on its own 1-yard line. Coaches called a short out pattern -- the type of pass most vulnerable to interception against press coverage. Danzel McDaniel of Kansas State intercepted and ran it back just 5 yards for the touchdown. Oklahoma coaches were willing to make a super-risky call from their own 1 -- yet on the previous possession punted on fourth-and-inches.

Well, the Oklahoma coaches may not have known the defense was going to run press coverage. Or more likely, this isn't a super-risky play call if the quarterback doesn't throw the football to a receiver covered by an opponent in press coverage. A lot of play calls are super-risky if the quarterback insists on making a bad throw into tight coverage. A simple slant against a cornerback 8 yards off the receiver is a risky pass if the outside linebacker has dropped back into zone coverage. The play call can be risky, but the quarterback can also contribute to the risk with a bad decision to throw the football.

Next Week: Would a theme song help the Oakland Raiders?

Nothing, outside of Gregg Easterbrook displaying more honesty and being less willing to mislead his readers, could help TMQ. 


Ericb said...

Has anyone ever challenged Gregg to put his money where his mouth is and assemble a fantasy team made up entirely of undrafted players and play it against a team made up of 1st and 2nd round draftees?

Chris said...

I'm pretty sure Caesar saying the die was cast didn't necessarily mean he already knew he was going to win the battle. I would take that to mean Caesar knew after he had crossed the rubicon there was no turning back.

Chris said...

Also as someone who is from the DC/Metro area I'm not necessarily O'Malley's biggest fan but Gregg is way off base. Yes the duration of power outages in Maryland was a bit outrageous but it's important to point out that the storm that caused this wasn't just a regular thunderstorm it was a derecho, basically a very powerful freak storm that isn't a regular occurrence so it was very hard to plan for. It wasn't like a hurricane where there would have theoretically have been time to prepare.

I can't speak to the wind farms but the streetcar is a whole different beast. I'm sure O'Malley may deserve some of the blame but these streetcars have been very controversial to everyone from the very beginning and O'Malley isn't the sole reason for blame. Mostly it's an expensive proposition that a lot of the voters think is completely unnecessary and more of a hassle than it's worth. I find it a little amazing Gregg doesn't get this since he lives in Maryland.

Bengoodfella said...

Eric, I don't think so. He wouldn't do that anyway. He's not terribly interested in putting his money where his mouth is. He hasn't harped on UDFA as much this year. Doesn't stop me from harping of course.

Chris, that makes more sense. In all honestly, I didn't do any research into why he said it. It makes sense that he would have meant there's no turning back.

It wouldn't surprise me if Gregg was misrepresenting a lot of the details around that situation. Gregg tends to point the blame at the wrong people when it comes to sports, so it doesn't shock me he will do the same concerning politics.

Slag-King said...

but history suggests many dies are already cast. Julius Caesar said "the die is cast"

What Chris said is exactly what Julius Caesar meant. It can also mean that Caesar is hedging all his bet on this skirmish. If he loses, well he's dead. But if he wins, he gains the whole Roman world.

Gregg sure love those pseudo-scientists doesn't he?

and voters simply could not get enough of him

Bill only got less than 25% of population to vote for him in 1996--not exactly a ringing endorsement.

Chris said...

Along the lines of Clinton, what exactly is Gregg getting at when he just randomly mentions that Clinton was liberal and white? From the way Gregg has written, he makes it sound like Clinton got elected despite being white, which I don't understand at all.

Bengoodfella said...

Slag, Gregg surely does love them. Sometimes I wonder if he understands these psedo-scientists. Gregg tends to make his own reality anyway...

Chris, I think he's trying to make that comparison the other way. He's white and liberal like O'Malley, so he thinks O'Malley will have some appeal to voters. Apparently America likes white liberals. Someone should ask Obama about that.