Thursday, November 20, 2014

5 comments Gregg Easterbrook Remembers His Preseason Analysis That Never Actually Occurred Regarding Why The Seattle Seahawks Wouldn't Make the Playoffs

Gregg Easterbrook figured out the NFL's playoff seeding issue in last week's TMQ, as well as didn't understand the use of decimal points and typically left out an undrafted player's draft position when he made a bad play on the field. This week Gregg discusses the increase in flags called on defensive players, updates his Authentic Game standings (as I update my non-Authentic Games standings), and uses hindsight and deception to explain why he thought he Seahawks wouldn't make the playoffs.

I love the consistency of TMQ. Every week it's consistently awful. It's like a cold, wet blanket I can hold on to every Tuesday afternoon during the NFL season.

Green Bay and New England have outscored opponents by more than 100 points. Touchdown passes are lighting up the night sky. Seven NFL quarterbacks already have at least 20 touchdown passes -- 20 years ago, only eight reached this mark on the entire season. Scoreboards are spinning as never before

There are only so many times that Gregg can re-phrase "Current NFL teams have great offenses and rules have opened up these offenses" before he's essentially just saying the same shit week after week.

Is the reason better athletes on offense -- or is the reason more penalties?

The major reason is probably neither of these. It has more to do with more protection for quarterbacks and rule changes that favor offenses. Gregg is about to further the idea that NFL offenses are scoring more points because of more penalties against the defense. Not surprisingly, he chooses to do this while providing very little data to support his conclusion. The data he does use compares the NFL today to the NFL a decade ago. Yes, the game has changed in the last decade. It's another example of Gregg saying, "Here's a conclusion I have reached that I haven't researched that well, so go ahead and totally buy my conclusion as reasonable because I write for and I wouldn't lie would I?"

I wouldn't doubt that part of the increase in scoring is a result of more penalties. Absolutely, but the root cause isn't the increased penalties, but the rule changes favoring the offense. Gregg doesn't really get to the root cause, which is the rule changes which have resulted in more penalties. It's not just more penalties that are the problem. It would also help if Gregg used data from the last 2-3 years using the rule changes protecting the quarterback and receiver as a constant, while showing how increased penalties have led to a further increase in offensive scoring. Yes, scoring is up from 10 years ago due to rule changes, but what caused scoring in the NFL to be up from even two years ago?

Peter King showed in MMQB this week that flags per game are increased, but only by one flag and 6.2 yards per game. So the reason for more offensive scoring IS due to more penalties being called. It's the rule changes that cause these penalties. It's been a slow increase and not as dramatic for the 2014 season as expected (at least from what Peter and even I expected).

It's well known that defensive holding flags have increased this season -- blame the Seattle secondary for that. But there's a 10-year trend toward more flags against the defensive secondary. These trends translate into more first downs and fewer punts. Result? More scoring drives.

Part of what Gregg won't acknowledge is that defensive holding seems to be called in place of defensive pass interference. So part of the increase in defensive holding (0.845 calls per game this year from 0.678 calls per game last year) is also seen in the decrease in defensive pass interference calls (0.857 calls per game this year from 0.925 calls per game last year). There definitely has been an increase in defensive holding being called, but there is also a decrease in defensive pass interference being called.

By the way, there is an increase in offensive pass interference calls too. There are 0.391 offensive pass interference calls per game this year compared to 0.247 offensive pass interference calls per game last year. Gregg has a point, but the offense is also getting more interference calls against them. Offensive holding is also up to 2.453 calls per game this year with 2.199 calls per game last year. Again, these aren't numbers that Gregg wants to acknowledge because it might go to hurt the point he wants to prove.

I'm not doubting that there are more flags being thrown and that the rule changes have caused NFL offenses to score more points, but there is an increase in offensive holding and offensive pass interference, with a decrease in defensive pass interference and an increase in defensive holding. I would say there is some equaling out possibly going on here.

Considering only accepted penalties, so far there have been 137 defensive pass interference walk-offs this season, compared to 110 at the same point in the season a decade ago. That's a 25 percent increase. There have also been 137 accepted defensive holding penalties, compared to 99 at this juncture a decade ago. That's a 38 percent increase.

Defensive pass interference means a chunk of yardage, and both fouls provide an automatic first down. A decade ago at this point in the season, there had been 568 first downs by penalty. This season it's 652, a 15 percent increase. More first downs means fewer punts. A decade ago, 1,581 punts had been launched at this juncture. This season it's down to 1,468.

I'm not sure where Gregg is getting his numbers from because he fails to cite his source for this information. I based the information above on the same site where Peter King got his information about penalties on Monday. It shows that when comparing the 2013 season to the first 11 weeks of the 2014 season, there has been more defensive holding called, but more less defensive pass interference called. Gregg is comparing numbers to a decade ago, which is fine, but there have been so many rule changes that have resulted in these penalties in the last decade. The reason for the increase in offense is the rule changes implemented by the NFL, not the penalties called as a result of the rule changes. It may be nit-picking, but also gets to the root cause. It would be helpful if Gregg would compare penalties called over the last 2-3 years with the new rule emphasis on defensive holding for 2014. I think that could better explain how "penalties" have increased offensive scoring during the 2014 season.

And now Gregg Easterbrook, who has pounded the drum for player safety and reducing concussions, thinks the NFL makes too many ticky-tacky calls.

New rules against deliberate helmet-to-helmet contact also help the offense. Sunday at New Orleans, Cincinnati facing third-and-long, A.J. Green ran a stutter-go and beat the cornerback. Saints' safety Rafael Bush was closing but pulled up one step before he would have drilled Green, who made a 38-yard reception that proved the game's decisive down. Five years ago, Bush legally could have laid Green out, which might have broken up the catch. This year, Bush knew that contact with Green's helmet would be an automatic first down whether the catch was made or not. So he pulled up and hoped the pass would be dropped.

That's exactly what reformers want defenders to do in potential helmet-to-helmet situations-- and if reducing helmet-to-helmet contact favors the offense, so be it. Vicious hits on defenseless players are "substantially down," which is good news.

YOU! That's exactly what YOU want defenders to do in potential helmet-to-helmet situations. Gregg loves taking credit for being among those who first claimed the NFL needs to use different helmets to prevent concussions, but when it comes time to reduce contact in the secondary, Gregg thinks the NFL is going too soft, like little pansy boys.

This is typical Gregg Easterbrook. He wants it both ways. He wants to be a reformer, while also criticizing the NFL for rule changes that attempt to reduce concussions and contact in the secondary.

But much of the increase in flags against the secondary comes from what seems like a trend toward ticky-tacky calls, as if there is now an assumption of guilt against pass defenders. 

For God's sake. Now the calls are too "ticky-tacky" for Gregg's taste. He wants to reduce concussions, he wants to criticize the NFL for not taking steps to reduce concussions, but he also wants to criticize the NFL for the rule changes that are intended to make the game safer for a receiver to catch the football without being contacted by a defender. Interesting. Just interesting.

Just as defensive holding was an officials' "point of emphasis" this season, ignoring incidental contact should be next season. At Rule 8, Section 4, Article 4 says: "Beyond the five-yard zone, incidental contact may exist between receiver and defender as long as it does not materially affect or significantly impede the receiver, creating a distinct advantage. Additionally, Rule 8, Section 5, 3 (a) says: If there is any question whether contact is incidental, the ruling shall be no interference."

The zebras need a refresher course in this standard.

Maybe they need a refresher course, but the officials have been told to emphasize this penalty and they are doing so. The rules favor the offense, that's for sure.

Rather than automatic first down, defensive holding should be 10 yards and replay the down, just like offensive holding. 

Maybe, but this would do nothing about the "ticky-tacky" penalties that are called in the secondary against defensive players for incidental contact. If anything, it gives the defensive player incentive to make more illegal contact, which would result in a rise in defensive holding calls, which would result in Gregg Easterbrook complaining about "ticky-tacky" calls. I don't think the increase in defensive holding penalties have ruined the game of football, just as long as these penalties are called consistently against both teams. It also doesn't help that the offensive players know if they act a little bit they can get a defensive holding call from the official.

Stricter enforcement of the pick play by the offense.

This is a sentence fragment which has no meaning to me.

This season on two-man combo patterns, many wide receivers and tight ends look like Fuzzy Thurston pulling on a Green Bay Packers 1960s power sweep. No secondary can cover a receiver who for intents and purposes has a downfield blocker before the pass is released.

I don't disagree. I think the offense gets away with a lot of contact prior to the pass being thrown. I don't know how strictly enforcing the pick play by the offense would really affect the NFL's tilt toward favoring offensive players over defensive players, as offensive coaches would simply teach players the correct way to run a pick play or just not run the play.

And a fabulous suggestion from reader Zac Maodus of Fort Lauderdale, Florida:

When Gregg says it is a fabulous suggestion, you know it isn't a fabulous suggestion.

"If defensive pass interference results in automatic first down, shouldn't offensive pass interference result in an automatic fourth down?"

Um, no it should not. Maybe a loss of down, but not an automatic fourth down. The assumption behind a defensive pass interference call is that if a defensive player had not interfered then the offense would have gotten a first down. There is no assumption that if an offensive player had not interfered then his team would have had to punt on fourth down. If it's first-and-10 and an offensive player pushes off, then it simply would have been an incomplete pass (or interception) had he had not interfered, so it should be first down plus a penalty, or even second down plus a penalty. There's no real reason the offensive pass interference should result in an automatic fourth down, as a fourth down wouldn't always be the direct result of there being offensive pass interference. The offense gets an automatic first down in the case of defensive pass interference because the assumption is the offense would have gained a first down had the defensive pass interference not occurred.

So this was a terrible idea from Zac in Florida and he is probably to blame for many of Florida's troubles when it comes to voting for political office.

That rule change would discourage pick plays and pushing off by offensive receivers, swinging the pendulum toward officiating parity between offense and defense.

No, it's a stupid rule.

The NFL's goofy playoff formula is marching toward its worst outcome since 2008, when 8-8 San Diego hosted a postseason party, but 11-5 New England wasn't invited to the playoffs. 

And the Chargers beat a 12-4 Colts team in the playoffs that year. Carry on, while ignoring information that may be contradictory to what point you want to prove.

Unless you think its worst outcome was 2010, when 7-9 Seattle hosted 11-5 New Orleans, while two 10-6 clubs did not reach the postseason.

And the Seahawks beat the Saints during that postseason. Again, Gregg has a point about seeding, but he also ignores information contradictory to the point he wants to prove. If he acknowledges in both of his examples the 8-8 and 7-9 teams won their home playoff game over a favored opponent with a better record, it could submarine his point that the NFL needs new playoff seeding because it rewards bad teams in bad divisions.

Since NFL players are adults who are well-compensated for knowingly assuming risks, why should anyone care if they become addicted to narcotics? Because, as in head injury and weight gain, the NFL is setting a terrible example for society. Prescription drug overdoses now cause more deaths than street-drug overdoses, and 72 percent of the deaths are from opioid painkillers. The United States is in the midst of a painkiller-abuse epidemic. Having NFL players popping painkillers -- and then performing with abandon, as if football doesn't hurt -- sends the wrong message. That taxpayers subsidize this wrong message should be seen as an outrage.

Consider me outraged and not at all surprised. Though there are many other things I subsidize as a taxpayer that outrages me more than pain-killer abuse by adults which leads to a bad example for "the kids." 

Stats Of The Week No. 3: Ryan Mallett threw his first touchdown pass in his four-year career.

This is probably one of the most pointless facts that Gregg has conveyed over the years. Mallett was a backup quarterback (or third-string quarterback) to Tom Brady for four years. I wouldn't expect him to have thrown a touchdown pass. 

Leading 24-20, Kansas City had the defending-champion Seahawks facing second-and-goal on the Chiefs' 4 with eight minutes remaining. A completed pass produced no gain; the Chiefs held Marshawn Lynch to 2 yards; on fourth-and-goal from the 2, incompletion. Now it's under four minutes, same score, and the Bluish Men Group faces fourth-and-1 in Kansas City territory. Lynch up the middle -- no misdirection, just a dive -- stuffed, Chiefs' ball.

Obviously if the Seahawks had "done a little dance" or used misdirection they would have gotten the first down. The same Chiefs defense that got penetration to stuff the run in this situation couldn't have gotten penetration to stop Lynch in the backfield if the Seahawks used misdirection.

Jordy Nelson running a "go" up the right sideline, with no safety help, was the play that killed Chicago the previous week. Now Nelson runs a "go" up the right sideline, touchdown and the rout is on. Sweet for home fans who have the simple common sense to wear plastic cheese on their heads. For the Eagles, they'd just spent a week watching film of this play torching the Bears and then allowed exactly what the Bears had allowed -- and to boot, no safety in sight. Sour.

Yes, the Eagles should have played two safeties over the top for the entire game simply so they could have stopped the Packers from successfully running this one play. Forget whatever else their defensive game plan was, they needed to always make sure a safety was over Jordy Nelson the entire game to prevent this very play from happening. It's not like the Packers have other good receivers or anything.

Benjamin Freed notes Maryland cut support of the fine arts in order to funnel subsidies to "House of Cards." Rather than fund local nonprofits producing music and theater -- a public-purpose case can be made for that -- Maryland subsidizes big-commercial efforts by Netflix, which ought to pay its own way. And it's not going out on a limb to suppose that Kevin Spacey or other Hollywood grandees involved in the show have said, "Why don't politicians do more to support the arts?"

Gregg is assuming that actors like Kevin Spacey are capable of their very own thought or any type of in-depth thinking which would allow them to be self-aware enough to notice that the tax credits their series received came at the expense of supporting the arts. Considering actors are a group of people who essentially pretend to be someone else for money and have all of the words they need to say handed to them, actors aren't always the most self-aware or in-depth thinkers.

There's a reason Scientology has used actors as their recruiting tool for the cult. It's not because actors are just really nice people who like to think for themselves.

Running the APR formula, we find that if all players are present at practice and have at least a 1.9 GPA (or whatever the school sets as a minimum standard), the APR is 1000. One thousand is a perfect score on the APR scale. To the NCAA, a C-minus is perfection! What gets a football program to 935? If all 85 players are living in dorms and coming to practice, and 74 have a GPA of at least C-minus, while 11 are flunking out, the result is an APR of 935. This sort of thing is why the NCAA likes the mysterious APR rather than the easily understood graduation rate.

While I understand Gregg's point, in my experience many football athletes don't necessarily live on-campus in a dorm. Some are required to live in a dorm, while others live in off-campus housing.

PC Watch: My children are graduates of the Montgomery County, Maryland, public school system, which annually proves that public schools can provide excellent education and do so in a cost-effective manner. Ovetta Wiggins of the Washington Post: "Montgomery County Public Schools regularly rates among the top-performing districts in Maryland and spends $12,649 per student, according to a new study of the 2011-12 school year, far less than the public school system in the District of Columbia, which spent $15,743 per student but ranks poorly nationwide."

Great point, Gregg! Why doesn't every parent send their child to an upper-middle class high school where they receive a great education in a cost-effective manner? Every parent should love their child enough to send their child to a great public school.

The Authentic Games standings are refreshed as the NFC South is exiled and prior games versus New Orleans removed from consideration. Kansas City rockets to the second position, while San Diego -- pasted at Miami, then taken to the final snap by the woeful Raiders -- verges on Authentic elimination.

Again, it's a constantly changing metric that can produce a new result every week. What could go wrong?

This week Gregg's Super Bowl prediction is Arizona and Kansas City, which is different from his prediction over the last two weeks. This is what happens when teams move in and out of being "authentic" in Gregg's metric. A team that might have played five "authentic" teams last week could now have only played three "authentic" teams and been moved down in the metric. Regardless of whether that team won or not, they get moved down in the metric because of circumstances out of their control. One week a team may be "authentic," the next week that team may not be "authentic," though they could end up being "authentic" again the following week.

Can the Rams really be an Authentic team even with an overall losing record? They've defeated both of last season's Super Bowl entrants, Seattle and Denver, which sounds pretty Authentic, so they're in for the moment. 

They have also lost to the Vikings, but I guess that doesn't matter.

Down the stretch, the defending champions play five of six versus Arizona, Philadelphia and Santa Clara. Even if the Niners are themselves on the verge of fade-out, there is no love lost between them and the Seahawks, so the home-and-home contests should be hotly contested. In the preseason, your columnist said Seattle not only was a long shot to repeat, but that the Hawks were a long shot to reach the playoffs.

Of course, the Seahawks would reach the playoffs under Gregg's new playoff seeding metric, but he wants us to ignore that his new playoff seeding metric would result in his prediction the Seahawks won't make the playoffs being incorrect.

This week in my Non-Authentic Games standings, which are based on which teams won by the largest margin in each conference over the past weekend, I am predicting the two Super Bowl participants will be Green Bay and New England. So far my metric has predicted the Super Bowl participants will be,

Packers and Broncos
Saints and Dolphins

and now the Packers and the Patriots. Hey, the metric has picked the Packers twice so it must be working, right?

One reason I was skeptical about Seattle's chances was free-agency losses on the defensive line, and now defensive tackle Brandon Mebane is out for the season, too.

Except Gregg never actually wrote this reasoning down in his column, but instead is using hindsight to make believe there was some real analysis into his prediction the Seahawks wouldn't make the playoffs. Gregg based his prediction on this statement:

The 2013 NFL season ended with the Seattle Seahawks crushing Denver in the Super Bowl. But will they even reach the playoffs this season?

Recent precedent says no. The two prior Super Bowl victors, the Ravens and Giants, failed to reach the postseason the following year. Those two clubs were a combined 17-15 in the seasons following their confetti shower after the final contest. Fifteen of the 48 Super Bowl winners -- nearly a third of those to hoist the Lombardi Trophy -- didn't make the playoffs the next year.

He based his reasoning on "precedent" and not any real on-the-field analysis that he had done. In fact, only once in that column do the words "defensive line" appear and that was in reference to the Lions. But now Gregg wants to mislead his readers into believing he isn't simply using hindsight based on seeing the Seahawks play 10 games. He's reaching a conclusion based on seeing how the Seahawks have played during the 2014 season and then tries to go back and pretend that conclusion is the same one he reached in August when that's not true at all. The ballsy part of it is that Gregg links the column where he mentions nothing about the Seahawks defensive line, because he knows his readers will believe him and not check to see if he is lying, which he is.

Here is what Gregg wrote about the Seahawks in the column he linked:

Seattle: In Super Bowl matchups of No. 1 offense versus No. 1 defense, defense is now 5-1. The Super Bowl story might as well have been Seattle Defense 9, Denver Broncos 8, given that the Bluish Men Group's defense not only contained the Broncos' record-setting offense, but the Seahawks' defense also outscored the Denver offense.

Playing a conventional, position-oriented defense in 2013, rarely blitzing -- in the Super Bowl, Seattle blitzed six times on 64 Denver snaps, well below the league average of 20 percent blitz -- the Seahawks not only allowed the fewest points in the league, but they also allowed just 131 second half points in 19 games. That's seven points allowed per second half, a stat every bit as hard to believe as Denver's 2013 offense numbers. Seattle also led the league in takeaways with 39.

It's a passing league, and Seattle stops the pass, with its 172 passing-yards allowed average the league's best, plus 12 more interceptions than touchdown passes allowed. Yet somehow the Seahawks won this passing league without throwing well themselves -- Seattle's 26th rank in passing yards was the lowest ever for a Super Bowl victor. That said, the Seahawks did finish the regular season with 27 passing touchdowns, better than pass-wacky Atlanta, Green Bay and New England.

Defenses that choked up to stop Pete Carroll's power runs paid the price when Russell Wilson threw over them. Run, run, run then play-fake and throw deep is a venerable football tactic. Wilson's 28 victories in his first two seasons are the most ever for an NFL quarterback. Seattle not only has won three straight at home versus rival San Francisco, but it has also outscored the Niners 84-33 in those contests. Seattle's challenge is to win in San Francisco, where the Niners are on a 5-0 streak versus the Hawks.

As usual, if I'm being polite, I will say Gregg is misleading his readers. If I'm being honest, he's lying and claiming that he stated something he really didn't state. I'm proud of him for lying and then being so gutsy to not worry about someone easily being able to research his lie. Gregg was skeptical because of a reason that he didn't actually state. Sure, I believe that.

Santa Clara is struggling -- 32 sacks allowed, ye gods -- but remains in the Authentic Games Index out of respect for three straight NFC title game appearances.

The Crabtree Curse strikes again!

Unified Field Theory Of Creep: Your columnist likes Starbucks' Thanksgiving blend and always picks up a couple of pounds in whole bean around this time of year. Apparently, I waited way too long. Reader Joe Hodanich of Bethesda, Maryland, reported on Nov. 12: "I couldn't get Thanksgiving blend today at my Starbucks, which has already switched to Christmas blend -- 15 days before Thanksgiving."

That's one Starbucks out of the thousands that there are. The Thanksgiving blend was on shelves when I visited Starbucks earlier this week.

Song I'm Blaring: That thing where you can't stop playing the same song: I can't stop playing this new song.

(Bengoodfella immediately removes this song from his iPod...he's angry he even had the song now and even angrier the lead singer looks like a hipster Johnny Manziel)

Many readers, including Anand Iyer of San Francisco, have been protesting my use of "Santa Clara 49ers," including by asking why I don't refer to the Arlington Cowboys and the Orchard Park Bills.

Jerry Jones' flying saucer is about 19 miles from Dallas and within an area that has long presented itself to the nation as DFW. Ralph Wilson Stadium is about 11 miles from Buffalo and is part of the same county. Levi's Stadium is at least 42 miles from San Francisco and is in a different county; Santa Clara and San Francisco differ sociologically in countless ways. That's why the Santa Clara 49ers but not the Arlington Cowboys or Orchard Park Bills.

I know there was writing here, but this is all I heard as Gregg wrote these sentences.

Coach Will Muschamp was shown the door at Florida for the unimaginable sin of going only 27-20 so far in four seasons. Just two years ago, when the Gators were ranked second, Muschamp was being proclaimed a great coach -- in the past two years, he must have forgotten everything he knew!

Florida's latest football graduation rate is an admirable 81 percent, which puts the Florida program in excellent company -- near academic leaders Notre Dame, Duke, UCLA and TCU.

It also puts Florida right ahead of Gregg Easterbrook's football factory punching bags Alabama, Ohio State, and Georgia. Of course Gregg wants us to ignore that he is essentially complimenting a team he would describe as a "football factory," as well as ignore the fact there are other teams he calls "football factories" with graduation rates right below the graduation rate of the team he is complimenting. He must mislead his audience by leaving out information as much as possible. It's not important that Gregg be intellectually honest, he just must be right and convince others of how right he is. That is all that matters.

Analyzing the Muschamp dismissal, did any sports touts even mention the strong graduation rate -- that is, regard "student-athletes" as actual student-athletes? Maybe Muschamp's error was working to make sure his players were in class rather than spending every second in the weight room or film room.

Yes, maybe that was Muschamp's error. I'll remember this the next time Gregg criticizes the University of Florida for being a "football factory" and not caring about their student-athletes. And again, Muschamp's main priority is winning football games. As the head coach of the football team, that's his job. Just like an English professor wouldn't be fired for the University of Florida football players in his class losing too many football games, Muschamp won't keep his job because his players are graduating. It doesn't make it right, it makes it college sports.

TMQ's prediction of Indianapolis to the Super Bowl is fading fast.

Don't worry Gregg, you update your predictions every week, so next week you may have a better Super Bowl prediction you can brag about.

Meanwhile, has any NFL team ever rebounded as spectacularly as the Patriots?


Once again, Bill Belichick is doing it with guys you've never heard of.

Thanks for telling me who I had heard of. I wasn't sure if I had heard of someone or not until Gregg told me.

Starters included several players most other teams didn't want -- Brandon Browner, Michael Hoomanawanui, Chris Jones. 

Part of the reason the Seahawks didn't want Browner is because they had the cornerback position covered (no pun intended) already and he has been suspended twice for violating the NFL's drug policy. Why would Gregg mention this when there's a good narrative to be told?

In swirling snow at Chicago, Jay Cutler was hit before his arm started forward, losing the ball in an "empty hand" gesture. Three Vikings scrambled for the ball, one falling on it after several bounces. Officials incorrectly ruled incompletion. After a Minnesota challenge, officials ruled fumble but that possession could not be awarded to the Vikings because replay can only award possession if a fumble is recovered "immediately." Huh? Set aside that it was only a couple seconds from when the ball hit to the turf to when a Minnesota player recovered, which sounds fairly immediate. The rulebook says possession may be awarded if "the recovery of a fumble by an opponent or teammate occurs in the action that happens following the fumble." Perhaps there's some reference to immediate recovery in the officiating guidelines the NFL won't disclose. If there's any reference to this concept in the rulebook, I couldn't find it.

I'm guessing the officials determined that the ball bouncing a few times meant the recovery of the fumble by the Vikings didn't occur in the action that happened following the fumble.

Upholding the A.J. Green fourth-quarter touchdown catch that put Cincinnati ahead 27-10 at New Orleans, referee Craig Wrolstad announced, "The receiver's left toe was inbounds." Replay can see a player's toes?

The official can see Green's shoe, which was inbounds, you smartass.

Arizona leading Detroit 14-6 early in the fourth quarter, the Cardinals tried to pin the visitors deep with a punt. A coverage man stopped the punt at the Detroit 1, held the ball for an instant, then pushed it back up the field; a Detroit player snagged the ball and ran to the Arizona 46. Bruce Arians challenged, and officials brought the spot back to the Detroit 1, saying that because the coverage man had "possessed" the ball, it should have been whistled dead. Had the action of the down been the same except the coverage man was a wide receiver trying to make a reception, zebras surely would have ruled incompletion.

This is not a good comparison because possession on a kickoff and possession on when a wide receiver catches a pass are determined in different ways. Nice try though.

Note that for the late-slot start, Fox had the call for both Philadelphia at Green Bay and Detroit at Arizona and chose to show most of the nation the former contest, though the latter offered the best combined records (15-3) so far this season.

It's almost like networks choose to televise games that will get the best ratings. That would be crazy to do though.

Why Certain Teams Are On A 2-19 Road Streak: Trailing San Diego 13-3 with four minutes remaining, Oakland faced fourth-and-2 on the Bolts 7 -- and took the field goal. Yes, the Raiders needed 10 points, but a field goal can be launched from long distance, while touchdowns require crossing the goal line. Needless to say, Oakland would not get close to the goal line again.

A field goal can be launched from long distance, but if the Raiders don't convert the fourth down here, then they have essentially lost the game. I may have gone for it if I were Tony Sparano, but he took the guaranteed points so it was a one score game.

TMQ had an item about MIT football three years ago and noted the MIT football team has cheerleaders. Here is a proposed MIT cheer: "Our hands are high our feet are low/and into the clouds our IQs go."

Why do this to your readers?

This action is the "pop pass," a standby of high school offenses, a favorite of Tim Tebow when he was at Florida and a play that is fun to watch. Mississippi State -- coached by Dan Mullen, who was Tebow's position coach at Florida -- tried the pop pass Saturday at Alabama, though the ball clanged incomplete. I've never seen it called in the NFL, perhaps because professional coaches don't want people to say, "You're so desperate you're using high school trick plays."

Yeah, I am sure this is true considering Gregg has detailed at-length how NFL teams are using high school plays in the hurry-up offenses they are running. Gregg wants his readers to believe that NFL coaches are stealing offensive plays from high schools that run up-tempo offenses, but NFL coaches are afraid of using high school trick plays.

In NCAA action, leading by two points at Arizona, mega-underdog Washington had first-and-10 near midfield, 1:33 showing, the hosts down to their final timeout. Had Washington knelt three times, the worst case was punting back to Arizona with about 20 seconds remaining. True, such a punt might have been blocked, but the likely result would have been forcing Arizona to go about 50 yards in 20 seconds with no timeouts.

Or, as often happens, the punt block being run back for a touchdown. Gregg shouldn't only use the assumptive scenarios that support his conclusion, yet he does.

Notre Dame faced a nearly identical situation. Leading Northwestern by three points with 1:35 remaining and the Wildcats out of timeouts, the Irish faced second-and-8 on the Northwestern 31. Notre Dame could have knelt twice, then punted into the end zone with about 20 seconds showing. Instead, Notre Dame ran a play, and that's all you need to know.

But "fortune favors the bold," Gregg! Isn't that what you always used to write? If a head coach is bold then he is telling his team he is playing to win the game and they will respond accordingly by winning the game. Isn't that what Gregg has rammed down his readers' throats for the past few years? Now when a team is bold and the play doesn't work, Gregg ignores his own motto and criticizes the team for being bold and playing to win the game. As always, Gregg bases his criticism on the outcome of the play. What a hack.

True, a coach can't be afraid to have his team run plays, but in the last-minute, clock-killer situation, when the defense is close to certain the call will be a rush between the tackles, risk of a fumble rises as defenders all swipe at the ball.

Does the risk of a fumble rise in this situation? Where's the data you have to support this statement? It seems like Gregg is just spouting bullshit again, basing his bullshit on data he doesn't provide and most likely doesn't even have, while using this bullshit data to support the point he wants to prove.

Buck-Buck-Brawkkkkkk No.3: Trailing 14-6 at the end of the third quarter at Arizona, Detroit punted on fourth-and-1 from midfield. You don't need to know anything else.

Actually I do need to know more. Jim Caldwell was trusting his defense to get the ball back to the offense without the Cardinals scoring more points. How many points did the Cardinals have at this point in the game? 14. How many points did the Cardinals end the game with? 14. So Caldwell was trusting his defense in this situation to hold the Lions without points and they did. I may have gone for it personally, but the whole "you don't need to know anything else" comment is dumb. It's important when judging this decision to know how the Lions defense played after the punt. They gave up zero points. Caldwell was playing field position and this decision did not backfire.

Obscure College Score: Augsburg 62, Bethel 61. The Bethel Royals joined The 500 Club by gaining 589 yards and losing; they also joined The 600 Club by scoring at least 60 points and losing. In heavy snow, Bethel went for two and the win in a second overtime and was denied.

Fortune favors the bold!

Last week the Bears won this accolade for failing to have anyone at all cover Jordy Nelson as he streaked deep for a 73-yard touchdown. TMQ blamed a bad defensive call by Bears defensive coordinator Mel Tucker. Now the Chicago Tribune reports that Lance Briggs made the bad call: "I saw something, tried to check out of it and we don't have a check out of that defense." TMQ has been maintaining for a while that a reason for increased scoring is that NCAA and NFL defenses now make so many last-second, pre-snap checks and shifts, they end up only confusing themselves. This is a prime example.

So Gregg was wrong in attributing this mistake to Mel Tucker, but he was right in that Lance Briggs tried to check out of their defense, and wasn't able to. This goes to prove that NFL defenses make too many pre-snap shifts and checks, so Gregg was right based on his theory that I don't recall him having ever espoused in TMQ. As we learned earlier in this TMQ, Gregg would NEVER claim to have made a statement in TMQ that he didn't actually make, would he? Fortunately, Gregg can now smile smugly at himself in the mirror and know he wasn't wrong.

Next Week: Should punting on fourth-and-short in opposition territory be a penalty?

It should be an automatic touchdown for the opposing team in the opinion of some dude from Florida. 


Chris said...

I thought Gregg was done with this Maryland subsidizing House of Cards. O how naive I was. Once again Gregg clearly isn't reading what he linked because what Maryland cut was a special fund for non-profit art organizations. The article itself says that the states's primary art's grant fund is still intact. Gregg does mention the non-profit distinction somewhat but still phrases it as cutting support of the fine arts to make it seem as though all symphony and theater productions will suddenly cease to exist in the state of Maryland.

Also screw Gregg with his C-minus is perfection bullcrap. While I get the basis of what he is saying he is forgetting a simple fact that for some people schooling is difficult. I, for example, have a learning disability and any math and science courses were always very difficult for me. I always worked my hardest but I usually got C's in those classes. I never considered my C grades in Calculus or triginometry to be "perfection" but I was happy just to have passed at all. In a roundabout way this ties back to Gregg's colleges only caring about the football program and not the academics. While in some cases this may be true I think Gregg is leaving out the matter of personal responsibility. A football coach can stress to his players the importance of going to class and succeeding academically but ultimately it is still on the player to actually decide to go to class.

Anonymous said...

New rules against deliberate helmet-to-helmet contact also help the offense. Sunday at New Orleans, Cincinnati facing third-and-long, A.J. Green ran a stutter-go and beat the cornerback. Saints' safety Rafael Bush was closing but pulled up one step before he would have drilled Green, who made a 38-yard reception that proved the game's decisive down. Five years ago, Bush legally could have laid Green out, which might have broken up the catch. This year, Bush knew that contact with Green's helmet would be an automatic first down whether the catch was made or not. So he pulled up and hoped the pass would be dropped.

This is such horse shit. Greggg's premise that the defender only has two options: helmet to helmet hit or no hit at all, is preposterous.

Bengoodfella said...

Chris, I think that's the same article he linked previously too, isn't it? That would the same article he failed to read twice.

Gregg is assuming that everyone who is in college has an easy time getting grades. I bet Gregg would argue that if a football player has a hard time with grades then he should take time away from football to keep his grades up. Probably a good idea, but not always realistic.

Anon, that is something I didn't think of. The defensive player could easily just hit the offensive player without going helmet-to-helmet.

Eric C said...

Can't wait until Gregg explains how his Super Bowl pick just lost to the Raiders. Blah blah blah overlooked the Raiders because they had a high profile matchup coming with the Broncos.

Oh, and it's a shame the football gods didn't punish the Raiders for the most epic post-sack celebration in the history of mankind. Maybe they didn't catch the game.

Bengoodfella said...

Eric, he can't explain it. He'll overlook it or something like that.

The Football Gods do not watch Thursday Night Football.