Friday, October 17, 2014

5 comments Gregg Easterbrook Thinks the Scoring Increase in College Football That Isn't Happening This Year Might Make Football Boring Because Concussions, Tension, Defense and Other Things

Gregg Easterbrook listed the teams he thought would be in the Super Bowl come February, but didn't go quite as far as make his third prediction at which two teams will actually represent the AFC and NFC in the Super Bowl. A third prediction is coming though, it's only a matter of time. Gregg also continued making up reasons why the 49ers can't win games while they continue to win games (which of course Gregg doesn't mention...the 49ers are winning and Gregg is silent, they lose a game and he starts crowing again) and told his readers that turmoil can make a team play better in the long-run or it may not help the team at all in the long run. You know, either way. This week Gregg, after spending the past few years discussing how college and NFL teams are scoring points at a rapid pace and how exciting this is, wonders if high-scoring games in high school are a bad thing and (of course) does his typical criticism of television shows and movies for lacking realism. Oh, and his "Worst play of the season" isn't the inability of Cortland Finnegan to get Davante Adams out of bounds as I predicted. He can't let his readers on to the fact his "undrafted players work harder and are smarter than highly-drafted glory boys" narrative might not totally be true.

The scoreboard is spinning like never before. NFL point production is the highest ever. Baylor and TCU just played the highest scoring game ever between two Top 10 college football teams. In the NCAA, a hard-to-believe 63 college teams scored at least 50 points in the past week's action.
Is this too much of a good thing?

Baseball teams aren't scoring enough runs, football teams are scoring too many points. At this point the only thing that is spinning is my head from trying to figure out whether sportswriters will ever be happy with how many runs or points are scored in a sporting event. If there aren't enough points scored, nobody is interested, if there are too many points scored then it's a bad thing because it ruins the tension of the sport.

Most audiences would rather watch a 38-35 game than a 10-7 contest. But if scoring keeps rising, and football becomes perceived as basketball on grass, will the dramatic tension of the sport be reduced?

Was the Baylor-TCU game unexciting? I think anyone who watched that game (it seems Gregg didn't watch the game) can answer the question there. Dramatic tension won't be reduced if the games are still exciting. A 60-53 game is still exciting because it is close, just like a 10-7 game can be exciting even if there isn't "enough" scoring.

Through Week Six, NFL teams are averaging 23.4 points per game. That's the highest Week 6 number ever.

But as Gregg has pointed out in the past and always seems to forget at beginning of the season, defenses tend to catch up with offense more as the weather grows colder and the season progresses.

FBS college teams are averaging 30.2 points per game, down slightly from the record 30.4 average at the same juncture in 2013.

Scoring was out of control last season and is leveling off this year! Oh no!

The box score looks like some kind of college prank. The 93 points in the Notre Dame-UNC game were most ever at Notre Dame Stadium, which has been hosting football since Herbert Hoover was president.

Hosting Montana State, Cal-Davis had what only a few years ago would have been considered a spectacular day -- 610 offensive yards and five touchdowns. But Cal-Davis lost by 40 points because Montana State spun the scoreboard with a hard-to-believe 11 touchdowns.

But on the flip side, Alabama-Arkansas played a 14-13 game, Clemson-Louisville played a 23-17 game, Oklahoma State-Kansas played a 27-20 game, and Michigan-Penn State played a 18-13 game. That doesn't include the games played between ranked teams which involved the winning team scoring around 30 points. Gregg only mentions the high-scoring games because what fits the point he is trying to prove. College games are high-scoring, but not every game involves a scoring record being broken.

Scoreboards are spinning under the Friday night lights, too. A generation ago, Texas, the center of prep football culture, was home to lots of low-scoring defensive struggles.

I really have no way of proving this pretty generic statement as correct or incorrect, but I would guess this is the result of how football has changed at all levels from a running game to more of a passing game.

High-scoring games actually can be boring; John Carroll 69, Wilmington 0 must have been painful to sit through.

Nope. That's not a high-scoring game, that is a blowout. There is a difference, Gregg. A high-scoring game would involve both teams scoring a lot of points, while a game where only one team scores a lot of points is a blowout and not a high-scoring game. If the score of this game were 69-66 then it wouldn't have painful to sit through and it would have been a high-scoring game.

Higher scores derive in part from quick-snap, no-huddle tactics that increase the number of scrimmage downs. The more snaps, the more chance of injury. Quick-tempo football hasn't existed long enough to determine whether more snaps increase the degree of long-term neurological harm. But there's a worry here.

"There's no proof my assertion is correct, but let's pretend my assertion is correct because I have to pump out a weekly column and this week's topic in rotation is a discussion about concussions combined with a topic of quick scoring by football teams. Next week's topic is just going to be about concussions, followed by a topic on how the zone-read is dead, and then another discussion of high-scoring football games."

If hitting long touchdown passes becomes perceived as easy -- whether owing to tactics or rule changes intended to promote scoring -- the dynamism of the sport might be diluted.

If you notice, Gregg lacks focus on exactly why high-scoring games are bad. He's shotgunning reasons and hopes that eventually one of his explanations will hit the mark. High-scoring games are bad because of concussions. No wait, they are bad because high-scoring games are boring. No, that's not it. High-scoring games are bad because the sport may not be as exciting with too much scoring. Wait, what about high-scoring games being bad because fans will miss all the defense teams play? Nevermind, high-scoring games are bad because it dilutes NFL records. Yeah, that could be the reason.

At some point, Gregg will be able to look back and see that maybe one of these reasons he has mentioned turned out to be correct and he will be so proud of himself for correctly guessing why high-scoring games are so bad. 

The best football game your columnist has ever attended, and perhaps the best ever played, was the 2008 Super Bowl between the Giants and Patriots. That contest ended 17-14. Every yard was struggled over, and every play was electric. Each of the four touchdowns was exciting. What if instead there'd been nine or 10 touchdowns?

If the game was still close, then yes, the game would still have been exciting.

In good manners news, Brett Favre has been saying nice things about the likelihood Peyton Manning will break Favre's record for most touchdown passes in a career. Sports etiquette dictates that record-holders pretend to be cheering for those who may leap-frog their names in the record books. For instance three years ago as Manning, Tom Brady and Drew Brees all were assaulting Dan Marino's decades-old record for passing yards in a season, Marino politely said he was rooting for them.

Hey look, five great quarterbacks are being discussed. Four of them are either first or second round picks. Interesting how that works.

Tuesday Morning Quarterback thinks record-holders should root against their competition. Two years ago when Adrian Peterson drew close to surpassing Eric Dickerson's single-season rushing record, Dickerson said he hoped that Peterson would not. It worked! Peterson was stopped eight yards shy. If Favre truly wishes his record broken, that's one thing. Odds are he does not. So be honest!

Great, I'm glad time has been taken to discuss whether athletes should be polite or not when one of his record is about to be broken.

Stats Of The Week No. 3: Quarterbacks Cam Newton and Andy Dalton, 2011 high draft choices who faced off at Cincinnati, are a combined 60-44-2 in the regular season and 0-4 in the postseason.

I think Gregg means they faced off "in" Cincinnati. And no, neither quarterback won a playoff game this past weekend, so they will continue to be losers who can't win a playoff game. By the way, Matt Ryan is 1-4 in the playoffs. He lost his first three playoff games before winning one. It's not really relevant, but goes to show even good quarterbacks lose playoff games.

Stats Of The Week No. 6: Even after defeating Pittsburgh, the Browns are on a 4-25 streak versus the Steelers.

What? You mean that victory this past weekend didn't count as 22 victories? So this means the Browns still have a losing record against the Steelers "even after" beating Pittsburgh this past weekend? And here I thought that record would be flipped around to where the Browns have a winning record against the Steelers after one victory.

Dallas scored to take a 27-23 lead with 3:16 remaining at Seattle, where the defending champions entered on a 19-1 run. The Seattle crowd was roaring at military-afterburner decibels. In the Bluish Men Group's previous home game, Russell Wilson ruled this situation, marching his charges the length of the field for a touchdown to win in overtime. Instead against Dallas, the defending champions went short gain, incompletion, incompletion, incompletion, Dallas ball. No mega blitzes, no funky fronts, just tight coverage -- like the Seattle defense played last season. 

Blitzing has never won games for an NFL team. The only way to win in the NFL is to not blitz or show any wacky defensive fronts. It's why a Dick LeBeau-led defense has never won a Super Bowl and no team has won a Super Bowl by blitzing.

Now the Packers are on the Miami 4 with six ticks remaining, out of time outs. Green Bay lines up with 6-4 tight end Andrew Quarless, who's spent most of the contest as an inline blocker, split out far to the right. Weakside linebacker Philip Wheeler, who is not accustomed to being one-on-one in space, trotted over to cover him.

Philip Wheeler is not used to being one-on-one in space. Sure, whatever. In fact, he's never played linebacker before. In reality, he was a fan pulled from the stands for this very play. The honest truth is that Philip Wheeler is a 10 year old boy from Afghanistan who hasn't ever seen a football before. 

Sweet-N-Sour Bonus: Before the touchdown play, Green Bay rushed to the line seemingly to spike to stop the clock. Instead Rodgers threw a 12-yard completion to position the Packers at the 4. Announcers said Rodgers faked a spike, as Dan Marino famously once did. But Rodgers did not -- he simply took the snap and hesitated an instant.

Gregg, he did make a downward motion like he was spiking the ball. He didn't fake the spike, but Rodgers clearly wanted to make it seem like he would be spiking the football.

Having the offensive linemen not move was a sweet variation on the expected spike. Sour: on the not-faked-spike play, Green Bay receiver Davante Adams was hemmed in at the 4 by Miami defensive backs Cortland Finnegan and Jamar Taylor. Instead of dragging him down on the field of play, which almost certainly would have ended the game, they shoved Adams out-of-bounds, stopping the clock.

Do you like how Gregg dragged the second round pick Jamar Taylor into the discussion just so the blame wouldn't all be on the 7th round pick Cortland Finnegan? If Gregg watched the game or replay, which he undoubtedly did not, he would see this mistake was all on Finnegan. Jamar Taylor had no chance to keep Adams in bounds. In fact, if he had tried to keep Adams in bounds then Adams would have walked into the end zone.

Gregg leaves out the draft position of each player because he doesn't want to say a first and second round pick caught a hard-working 7th round pick unaware. Rest assured, if the roles were reversed and a 7th round pick threw the ball to an undrafted free agent who was tackled by a 2nd round pick, the draft position of these players would be mentioned by Gregg.

Recently, an international team of astronomers recorded an extremely strong, brief radio signal that appeared to emanate from another galaxy. To travel such distance, the signal must be more than a million years old -- from a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away.

"Exactly what may be causing such radio bursts represents a major new enigma for astrophysicists," McGill University said. As TMQ has noted about gamma-ray bursts from deep space, scientists assume any unexplained interstellar phenomena are natural in origin. Why assume that? Gamma-ray bursts may be the muzzle flashes of doomsday weapons built by other civilizations. Perhaps the extremely strong radio burst was cosmic social networking bouncing off an intergalactic cell tower.

Gregg Easterbrook is the same guy who complains when a television show uses a battleship that was retired a decade ago and treats it as if it were still an active battleship. His speculation for the cause of gamma-ray bursts are doomsday weapons built by other civilizations. Surely, if a movie portrayed a gamma-ray burst as a doomsday weapon built by other civilizations then Gregg would spend 500 words explaining how this is stupid and unrealistic.

Why Certain Teams Have Lost Nine Straight: Trailing 16-14, Jacksonville had possession on the Flaming Thumbtacks' 37 with 12 seconds remaining, out of time outs. At third-and-2, rather than try a quick sideline pass to improve field position -- 12 seconds is sufficient clock for that -- Gus Bradley sent in the field goal unit to attempt from 55 yards. Needless to say, no points.

As I wrote in MMQB this week, Gus Bradley would have to potentially rely on two rookies to run a play and get out of bounds with 12 seconds remaining. It's a judgment call, not a bad decision. Jacksonville very easily could have tried a pass and Bortles could have gotten sacked or the receiver didn't get out of bounds on a pass play. If that had happened then Gregg would have criticized Bradley for not kicking the field goal.

New England leading 23-14 early in the fourth quarter, the Flying Elvii faced third-and-12 on the Buffalo 18. Presnap, the Buffalo secondary was confused -- players were pointing at each other and shouting. Nickle safety Duke Williams turned his back to the opponents in order to argue with a teammate. Word to the wise: do not turn your back on Tom Brady. He immediately signaled for the snap and threw an easy touchdown pass to the man Williams should have guarded, turning a tight contest into a walkover. 

This is something that Gregg consistently does which annoys me. He says Williams should have been "guarding" his man. This isn't basketball where defenses run man-to-man defense most of the time (except for that ninny Jim Boeheim of course). It's football where a secondary runs zone coverage, man coverage and even a mix of both. Jim Schwartz runs a shell Cover-2 a lot of times, so there isn't necessarily a man that Duke Williams was "guarding." It doesn't make this play by Williams any smarter, but simply points out a fallacy Gregg consistently believes that each member of the secondary has a player they are supposed to "guard," as if a secondary is only playing man coverage at all times.

Last week at Detroit, Buffalo defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz not only was carried off the field, celebrating extravagantly as if he'd just cured cancer or brought peace to the Middle East -- the embarrassing spectacle was staged because Schwartz instructed players to carry him off the field. Reader Jeff Yang of Bethesda, Maryland suggests the football gods punished this effrontery by causing Schwartz's defense to allow 37 points and get no takeaways at home versus the Bills' most important rival.

Two things:

1. Buffalo is not the Patriots' rival. Any suggestion they are is ridiculous.

2. Readers like Jeff Yang are who make Gregg Easterbrook popular, which means I don't like Jeff Yang. Please don't encourage Gregg's stupidity in citing football gods.

Now In Development, X-Men: Cash Cow: "X-Men: Days of Future Past" is out on DVD and home video this week. To watch any sci-fi action movie, one must accept the premise.

To watch any movie or television show, one must accept the premise. Carry on...

In the latest X-flick, audiences were required to accept a premise that included mutant superheroes, time travel and gigantic flying robots built by the Nixon Administration. One also had to accept the premise that nine years from today, in 2023, the Pentagon will possess antigravity technology and indestructible self-aware morphing cyborgs.

To watch a sci-fi action movie, one must not be difficult and understand the term stands for "Science-Fiction." Fiction. Fiction. Not real. Continuing carrying on...

Okay, that's the premise, no more improbable than a James Bond movie or "Veronica Mars" episode, for that matter. Yet within the premise, action should make sense. In the flick, as the world is about to end in 2023, the handful of surviving X-Men realize Armageddon was set in motion by a mistake made on January 27, 1973. Wolverine is sent back in time to correct the mistake. But he's sent back only a few days prior to the event, requiring a furious race to head off disaster. If it was possible to move half a century backward in time, why not send him a bit earlier and make the mission more practical?

Because it would not have made an interesting movie. See, the purpose of a movie is to entertain the audience using tension, comedy, drama, etc. So giving a tighter window to accomplish the mission makes the movie more exciting.

I am sure Gregg Easterbrook would ask, "If a movie had too much tension, is that a bad thing? What if the audience gets bored because there is too much excitement in the movie?"

Then there's Shadowcat. In "X-Men: The Last Stand," set in the year 2006, she is said to be 20 years old. That would make her 37 years old in "Days of Future Past." Ellen Page, who plays the character, was 26 years of age during filming, and clearly is in her 20s, not her late 30s. Maybe she uses time travel to stay young.

Guess what else? Ellen Page isn't even a mutant. In fact, ZERO real mutants are in any of the "X-Men" movies. I can't believe it either. How unrealistic.

This happens constantly on celluloid. In real life, how often do people walk in on their love interests smooching the wrong person?

16 times. It has happened 16 times in real life and has happened one time to me.

Leading 10-0, Chip Kelly lined up little-used reserve tight end James Casey in a flex left; showed screen pass left as Casey dragged to the right "low," close to the defensive line so the safeties wouldn't notice him; 26-yard touchdown. Sweet.

This is not entirely true. James Casey isn't always little-used. He was in for 5% of snaps during Week 4 and 34% during Week 5. It all depends on the week. Casey was in for 17% of the snaps during Week 6.

The Cardinals play stout West Coast Defense but are low-voltage on offense, with just three touchdowns on 15 red zone possessions. On the other hand, they are the sole NFL team that has not thrown an interception. Suddenly their Nov. 2 date at Dallas looks like one of the season's monster games. Don't be surprised if their regular-season finale pairing at Santa Clara is a win-and-you're-in, loser-goes-home contest.

You may not believe this, but Gregg is lying here. This stout West Coast defense that Gregg has previously described as not involving a lot of blitzing? Well, about that...Yep, it turns out the Cardinals turned the game against the Redskins around by disguising seven man fronts and blitzing Kirk Cousins. And of course Gregg won't mention this because he wants his readers to believe blitzing is a strategy that rarely works and playing a stout defense by only rushing four men is the way to win football games. So any evidence that blitzing works will immediately be ignored or simply not discussed by Gregg Easterbrook. He will just hope none of his readers actually look into any of his assertions.

Upping the ante, on "Justified," a bad guy hit by a shotgun shell not only is lifted into the air but also he flies backward across a room. For the shell to convey enough energy for this to happen, the shooter would have to fly an equal distance in the opposite direction. Unless he was using a recoilless rifle, a type of antitank weapon that, despite the name, is a cannon. But the weapon shown was a standard shotgun.

This "Justified" episode aired over six months ago and Gregg is still focused on just how unrealistic this scene was. I have a feeling Gregg writes these scenes down as they happen, probably in the same Selena Gomez Trapper Keeper notebook he keeps his "Game Over" mentions in, so he can write about them in TMQ.

Buck-Buck-Brawkkkkkk No. 2: Vikings trailing 17-0 in the fourth quarter, coach Mike Zimmer sent the punt unit in on fourth-and-1. Just to prove it was no fluke, still trailing 17-0 with less than five minutes remaining, Zimmer sent the field goal unit in.

Yeah, it sounds like a chicken move, but this was a three possession game with five minutes remaining anyway. At some point the Vikings had to kick a field goal. I won't defend Zimmer's decision to not go for it on fourth down earlier in the fourth quarter though.

Last week, when the Supreme Court declined to hear petitions from those seeking to prevent Indiana, Oklahoma, Utah, Virginia and Wisconsin from legalizing gay marriage, conservative Sen. Ted Cruz called this "judicial activism at its worst." Federal courts don't interfere with state autonomy -- that's "judicial activism?"

I missed this the first two times I read this column until it was pointed out to me on Twitter. I didn't pass the bar, but I know a little bit. I know that federal courts do interfere with state autonomy. I know that part of the purpose of the federal courts (and the Supreme Court) is to strike down any laws they see as unconstitutional, which obviously would include state laws that interfere with federal laws. So federal courts do interfere with state autonomy. If Nevada states that a person must have a driver's license and be of the Christian faith in order to vote in statewide and local elections, then a federal court can hear an appeal or case based on the violation of religious freedom. So yes, federal courts interfere with state autonomy all the time as long as it is a federal law that is being challenged. This seems like quite the lie from Gregg Easterbrook, especially from someone whose brother is a judge. 

Usually, conservatives praise states' rights -- but when Indiana, Oklahoma, Utah, Virginia and Wisconsin decided to recognize gay unions (civil marriage has always originated at the state or local, not federal, level), conservatives went ballistic. Why don't those unelected federal judges step in!

Actually, conservatives also would try and get a statewide referendum to change the state constitution specifically stating marriage as between a man and a woman. That happened too.

But Gregg, why would conservatives want an unelected federal judge to step in when everyone knows that federal courts don't interfere with state autonomy? A federal court would NEVER step in on the issue of state autonomy to recognize gay unions, mostly because federal courts just let states do whatever they want. Right?

Liberals are just as bad. Normally, the song they sing is "think globally, act locally." But when local sentiment in Alaska favors a copper-and-gold mine, liberals demand the EPA invoke federal power to block the project.

What a nice way of saying normally liberals "think globally, act locally" and pretty much stereotyping millions of people as all having one specific belief. Welcome to Gregg Easterbrook's America, where there is no nuance and all liberals think one thing and all conservatives think another.

Success of the latest Hillary Clinton tome raises again this question: Why do Americans spend so much money on "books" that are "by" politicians -- whether Clinton or Rick Perry or Leon Panetta or any other -- when most such volumes consist of self-flattery and statements of the obvious?
Maybe for the same reason people choose to buy your books. Just because they want to.

The cover of Panetta's new book says "with Jim Newton." By contrast, Perry campaigned for the 2012 Republican presidential nomination by pretending to be the author of "Fed Up," which was actually written by Chip Roy. Sheryl Sandberg of Facebook travels about claiming to be an accomplished author, when Nell Scovell actually wrote "Lean In." Scovell is noted on the book's title page but not on the cover, which warrants to the buyer that Sandberg is the author.

Clinton claims to be the author of three best sellers, none of which lists actual authors on the cover or the title page. In fact if Clinton had written "Living History," that in itself would have been a scandal since she was at the time a United States senator and would have had to neglect her duties to research and compose a 592-page book.

This is as opposed to Gregg Easterbrook who writes TMQ himself, but doesn't want to neglect his other duties, so he doesn't do much research on all of the claims and assertions he makes in the weekly football column.

One of the worst things about important people is insatiable ego. By pretending to be authors, politicians and executives place ego gratification above honesty. They devalue real writing in the process.

Yes, placing ego gratification over honestly. Now who should have kept Davante Adams in bounds again? Cortland Finnegan or Jamar Taylor? Does harping on something like how an NFL team won a game without blitzing, while not mentioning another NFL team won a game by blitzing count as being honest? Or is that just a case of intentionally leaving something out that hurts a narrative and wouldn't count as dishonesty?

Needless to say, Hollywood celebs use ghostwriters -- but celebs are airheads and no one expects their books to be anything other than brightly packaged junk. Readers reasonably expect integrity in books presented to the public as "by" a former secretary of state or "by" a former secretary of the Treasury.

Perhaps the expectations should be lowered then. Politicians routinely aren't the most honest people around.

Geithner postscript: It might be weasel behavior for him to make the rounds of TV talk shows, presenting himself as the author of a book he didn't write. But Geithner is one of the good guys in the bizarre AIG trial, testifying the purpose of the tough terms imposed on that company in 2008 was to discourage other firms from replicating AIG's behavior.

So because Geithner was a good guy in that situation, it's okay with Gregg if he pretends to have written a book that he didn't actually write? I guess that is supposed to be my takeaway here.

College Football's Monster Weekend: There were so many monster contests in big-college football Saturday that not even BMOC could take them all in. Here are some notes from channel-hopping:

But some of the games were high-scoring, which means they were inevitably boring because all the tension was out of the game. I learn so much reading TMQ.

Sportscasters noted Texas lost the Red River game despite an edge of 250 offensive yards. But Oklahoma had a big edge in return yardage, which is just as important.

This is #analysis.

Oregon leading 8-3, facing third-and-10 on the UCLA 21. Oregon lined up trips left and unbalanced right. At the snap, the right tackle pulled left while the tailback counterstepped left to create misdirection. Then the play became a screen right with three offensive linemen hustling downfield -- untouched for a touchdown. It was after this play UCLA coach Jim Mora (Mora the Younger to this column) got into a heated sideline argument with his defensive coordinator. Surely the Bruins had never seen a trips on one side with an unbalanced line on the other side and should have called timeout.

This is another annoying feature of TMQ. Gregg always wants a coach to call timeout the second something confusing happens on the field. A head coach can't call timeout every time a different offensive alignment is shown by the opposing team or it looks like there may be confusion among his team. Each team only has three timeouts per half.

UCLA ran the trick play in which a back walks toward his sideline as if he's leaving the game, gesturing wildly at his coaches as if angry that he's been yanked -- but actually is a man in motion who stops just before going out of bounds and gets the pass. The Bruins gained only 12 yards with this action. Pretending to leave the game -- or the similar "this is the wrong ball" trick play often seen in high school -- shouldn't be legal. It's cheesy.

Yeah, well encouraging players to "do a little dance" to gain a first down on fourth down is cheesy too, but it doesn't stop Gregg from claiming that's the only way to get a first down on fourth-and-short.

Mississippi State leading Auburn 21-0, ran a fake punt from its own 28, resulting in a shaggy looking turnover. Auburn had lined up in a "safe" set, expecting a fake. Now with possession, Auburn reached third-and-goal at the 5. The Tigers ran a tight end end-around trick-play pass -- the tight end had lined up off the line of scrimmage -- that never stood a chance, then settled for a field goal. Gus Malzahn can draw up plays with the best of 'em, but sometimes, gets too cute for his own good.

Mississippi State, leading 28-20 in the early fourth quarter, goes for it on fourth-and-8 from the Auburn 26 and converts. The drive concluded with a field goal anyway, but the call set an aggressive tone for the final stage of the game.

Going for it on fourth down sets an aggressive tone for the game, while attempting a fake punt is getting "too cute" and obviously shouldn't be construed as trying to set an aggressive tone. As always, it's the result of the play that determines for Gregg Easterbrook what the correct play call was in the situation. As long as Gregg knows the outcome, he can tell you if the play call was correct or not.

Leading 58-44 at Baylor, TCU took possession at 10:39 of the fourth quarter and, rather than huddle up to grind the clock, stayed in its super-quick-snap tempo. Rather than run to grind the clock, TCU attempted three passes in six downs, two falling incomplete, which was like giving Baylor two free timeouts. The Horned Frogs punted back after burning just 2:39. This sequence would have been the worst coaching moment of the weekend had it not paled before ...

TCU got the ball back leading 58-51 with 6:39 remaining. Once again, the Horned Frogs used quick-snap rather than clock-killer tactics, and then the possession included: incompletion, quick-snap rush, incompletion, punt. TCU handed Baylor two more free timeouts, then handed back the ball after using up just 58 seconds. Baylor's winning field goal split the uprights as the clock expired. This possession was arguably the worst college football series of all time.

I understand Gregg's criticism, but TCU had scored 58 points using their quick-snap tactics. Is it really smart to back away from those tactics late in the game? Obviously the outcome of the game showed that TCU should have burned more clock, but if TCU scores any more points on this drive using the same tactics that got them 58 points early in the fourth quarter then Gregg wouldn't be criticizing the quick-snap tactics.

If TCU had run the ball and tried to kill clock, why do I feel like Gregg would have criticized them for going away from their quick-snap tactics and blame that slowdown strategy for the loss?

TMQ's Law of Comebacks holds: Defense starts comebacks, offense stops them. When the Texans played better defense in the second half, they came back.

Of all of Gregg Easterbrook's ridiculous laws, I think I hate this one the most. It's so obvious that it actually hurts me to explain it. Of course defense starts comebacks, because a team can't actually start coming back until the opposing team is no longer scoring points. It's hard to comeback when the other team keeps scoring. When one team stops the other team from scoring, then yes, they can start coming back. It's so obvious that this law has absolutely no meaning.

I can't believe that the Texans started to come back in the second half when they played better defense. Who would have thought they could start coming back once they stopped the Colts from scoring? 

The Football Gods Chortled: Indianapolis leading 27-14 just before intermission, the Texans lined up to punt. With three seconds left on the clock, the Colts called timeout -- the first known instance of icing the punter.

Or the Colts stopped the clock in the hopes their punt returner got a chance to return it, hopefully for a touchdown.

Do a Little Dance! TMQ's Law of Short Yardage holds: Do a little dance if you want to gain that yard. Green Bay leading 7-0, Miami decided to go for it on fourth-and-goal from the Packers' 1. No shift, no misdirection -- just a handoff straight ahead, stuffed.

I hope Gregg realizes that when a quarterback sneaks for the first down on a fourth-and-goal try there often isn't misdirection or a shift. He probably doesn't care even if he did know this.

The 600 Club: Hosting Liberty, Appalachian State gained 628 yards and lost.

Sad face.

Single Worst Play Of The Season -- So Far: Opening the season 1-3 and looking shaky, the St. Louis Rams were hosting the heavily favored Santa Clara 49ers on "Monday Night Football." The home crowd was raucous. With undrafted unknown Austin Davis performing well at quarterback,

Austin Davis is performing well, so naturally Peter will mention his draft position. Gotta keep that narrative going. By the way, second round pick and highly-paid glory boy Colin Kaepernick was the winning quarterback. He won by using some of the offensive techniques that Gregg stated a year ago may not work in the NFL anymore.

St. Louis coaches did not send a dime onto the field, or even a nickel. Facing a situation in which the long pass was the only threat, St. Louis coaches sent out their standard 4-3-4 with Cover 2. Presnap, middle linebacker James Laurinaitis backed up to position himself as a third safety. Why wasn't there an actual third safety in the game?

Don't question Jeff Fisher.

Across from Niners wideout Brandon Lloyd, corner Janoris Jenkins lined up in press coverage, right in Lloyd's face. What's the point of press coverage when the opposition must go the length of the field in 27 seconds?

To stop the receiver from catching the ball? That seems to be the point to me.

As Lloyd accelerated up the sideline, Jenkins then made the high school mistake of looking into the backfield trying to guess the play, rather than stick to his man.

I can't stand it when Gregg claims a cornerback is staring in the backfield trying to guess the play. It doesn't make sense. Why would a cornerback stare in the backfield when it's clearly a pass? He knows the play, it's a pass. Jenkins didn't stare in the backfield, he bit on a double move and that's how he got beaten.

So let me clear up two things:

1. Brandon Lloyd did not run a stop-and-go as Gregg claims. It was a double move. There is a difference. On a stop-and-go, the receiver actually stops and then runs up the field. On a double move, the receiver will make two moves and hope the cornerback bites on the first one. That is what happened here. Looking at the play, one can clearly see Brandon Lloyd did not stop, he made a move to the inside and then continued running straight. Jenkins bit on the first move and the touchdown was a result. I would think since Gregg writes a football column and loves to throw around football terminology that he would take the time to understand the correct football terminology he should use. Much like asking him to read the links he puts in TMQ, it seems this is too much to ask.

2. Let me re-clear up that Jenkins wasn't trying to guess the play by looking the backfield. He quite obviously bit for the first move on the double move that Brandon Lloyd ran. I wish Gregg would stop writing that cornerbacks "try to guess the play" when they are actually biting on a fake or running zone coverage.

The worst play came from the St. Louis safeties, Rodney McLeod and T.J. McDonald (McLeod was ultimately the goat on this play, completely out of position). At the snap both came forward, as if expecting something super-short. Both were running toward the Santa Clara end of the field as Lloyd was streaking toward the St. Louis end.

And notice immediately after announcing that undrafted free agent Austin Davis was playing well, Gregg states that Rodney McLeod was the ultimate goat on the worst play of the game. What Gregg leaves out is that McLeod is an undrafted free agent. It's always interesting to see Gregg mention when a player is an undrafted free agent and when he fails to mention this. It usually comes off as a desperate attempt to shield information from his readers in order for them to believe the narrative he wants to prove about lowly-drafted and undrafted free agents. It never fails, Gregg only mentions a player's draft position if he does something negative and is a highly-drafted player or does something positive and is an undrafted free agent. He rarely mentions draft position when an undrafted free agent does something negative or a highly-drafted player does something positive. He's gotta keep misleading his audience into believing what he says is true. If he can't do it with the truth, just lie a little or hold back the truth, and trust the people are too stupid to catch on.

As Colin Kaepernick released his pass, McLeod, who had responsibility for the side Lloyd was on, simply came to a halt and watched, not attempting to chase the man whose 80-yard touchdown seconds before halftime changed the complexion of the contest.

As second round pick and highly-paid glory boy Kaepernick released the ball, fourth round pick and once highly-paid glory boy Brandon Lloyd beat second round pick Janoris Jenkins and undrafted free agent Rodney McLeod for an 80-yard touchdown.

Afterward, Les Mouflons coach Jeff Fisher made lame excuses about a bad call on a different down. It was a bad call. Don't give me your excuses -- go win the game!

Look, Jeff "8-8" Fisher is working on turning the Rams around. It can't just happen overnight. No NFL team has ever been turned around in 2-3 years. Just give Fisher a contract extension and there will be a winning season in there somewhere for the Rams. Meanwhile, he'll waste the team's time not coaching with urgency and trusting his reputation will continue to buy him time.

Next Week: The annual Tuesday Morning Quarterback Obscure College Game of the Year -- Indiana of Pennsylvania versus California of Pennsylvania at Hepner-Bailey Field at Adamson Stadium in California, Pennsylvania.

I'll be sure not to look forward to it.


Chris said...

Geez you were right. Gregg is an incredibly lazy writer. No wonder he has no problem implying, with absolutely zero evidence, that Marino hated Tom Brady and Drew Brees for breaking his record.

I don't want to sound too harsh against someone I don't actually know other than from his writing but for a guy who loves to act like a pretentious intellectual, is Gregg actually stupid? Or is this some massive troll job? Because how in all honesty can he believe that Eric Dickerson not wanting Adrian Peterson to break his record had any effect on Peterson being 8 yards shy of the record.

Snarf said...

"If that had happened then Gregg would have criticized Bradley for not kicking the field goal."

That would probably be labeled as kicking a field goal that would have almost surely been good.

HH said...

Usually, conservatives praise states' rights -- but when Indiana, Oklahoma, Utah, Virginia and Wisconsin decided to recognize gay unions (civil marriage has always originated at the state or local, not federal, level), conservatives went ballistic. Why don't those unelected federal judges step in!

It's amazing how wrong this is. Indiana, Oklahoma, Utah, Virginia, and Wisconsin did NOT legalize gay marriage - they didn't pass a law, there was no referendum, there was no state approval of gay marriage. What happened was that FEDERAL JUDGES ruled that those states had to recognize gay marriages. (As Ben points out, that's their job.) What some people are doing is appealing those federal court decisions to other federal courts, whose job it is to review lower court rulings.

Gregg is grossly misrepresenting the conflict here: if you're a believer in states' rights, you aren't a hypocrite if you want to appeal a federal court decision to another federal court. This is one of the more serious misrepresentations I've seen Gregg do.

HH said...

The best football game your columnist has ever attended, and perhaps the best ever played, was the 2008 Super Bowl between the Giants and Patriots. That contest ended 17-14. Every yard was struggled over, and every play was electric. Each of the four touchdowns was exciting. What if instead there'd been nine or 10 touchdowns?

Well, the Patriots lost that one 17-14, but they won one earlier in the decade 32-29. (Sorry Ben.) I don't remember that being a bad game.

Anonymous said...

Pretending to leave the game -- or the similar "this is the wrong ball" trick play often seen in high school -- shouldn't be legal. It's cheesy.

I agree, Gregg. Also, teams shouldn't use play action, crossing routes, or double moves. QBs shouldn't pump-fake.

Gregg makes a great point about the blitz; who can forget the greatest defense in NFL history, the 1985 Chicago Bears? Just four down linemen beating their blockers, three linebackers playing their gaps, reading and reacting, and four DBs playing one-on-one man coverage.

If every team did this, they'd all go 15-1 and win the Super Bowl!