Thursday, January 15, 2015

12 comments Gregg Easterbrook Discovers NFL Teams with Great Head Coaches and Great Quarterbacks Often Win More Games; Obviousness Ensues

Gregg was correct last week when he chose the Colts or the Broncos to win the Colts-Broncos AFC Divisional game. So kudos to him for having the foresight to pick both teams. He also brought up his Baptist upbringing in last week's TMQ and continued to use the Authentic Games metric that he himself claims is bullshit. This week Gregg reveals to his readers that teams with better coaches and quarterbacks tend to be more successful teams with stability. Stability with a great coach and a great quarterback is the key to success. Apparently this is something that Gregg feels some people may not know. So NFL teams should hire a good coach and find a great quarterback. THAT is the key to playoff success. Why haven't teams looked to do this in the past?

Not only will Sunday be the fourth straight AFC title appearance for New England but it also will be the 12th consecutive AFC championship featuring the Patriots, Steelers, Colts or Broncos. Of the 24 entrants to the AFC title game in those dozen years, 18 were the Patriots, Steelers, Colts or Broncos. Only three other AFC teams have made a title appearance during the period, while nine of the AFC's clubs, the bulk of the conference, have not reached the title game at all. 

LO-fucking-L! Gregg is about to use the Colts as an example of a team who have used stability in their coaching staff and quarterback to win games and make the playoffs. Two weeks ago here is what he wrote about the Colts:

Since 1978 the Browns, Colts and Raiders have combined for 33 instances of head-coach turnover, and also mainly struggled in that period. The team with the least coaching turnover since 1978 is the Steelers, two new head coaches. And hey, look, three Super Bowl rings during the period.

I pointed out at the time that the Colts had more winning seasons than losing seasons in that time. It turns out Gregg agrees and this week uses the Colts as an example of a team who has had coaching stability. In a span of two weeks, the Colts have gone from a team with a lot of head coaching turnover to a team with stability in Gregg's mind. As I always say, he is completely willing to mislead and lie to his readers in order to prove a point he wants to prove. Facts are malleable and reality can be distorted to make Gregg seem smarter. So which is it? Are the Colts a team with a lot of head coaching turnover since 1978 or are they a team with a lot of stability which has resulted in many playoff appearances? It can't be both, Gregg. He has such little respect for his audience that he thinks they will forget how he contradicts himself and misleads them. Sadly, some of his readers still think Gregg preaches the truth.

Of course sports franchises go through up and down cycles. But the domination of recent AFC Championship Games by four teams shows that stability matters more in football than may be appreciated.

Except the Colts aren't a stable team when that point of view better fits Gregg's agenda. What a farce. I can't figure out why ESPN allows Gregg to mislead his readers on a weekly basis in TMQ. Gregg has no beliefs, simply information he will distort to prove the point he wants to prove at that very moment.

Title games sprinkled throughout that period have included Colts-Jets, Patriots-Ravens (twice), Steelers-Ravens, Steelers-Jets, Steelers-Broncos and Patriots-Chargers. That's four clubs dominating, three making token appearances and nine (Buffalo, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Houston, Jacksonville, Kansas City, Miami, Oakland and Tennessee) absent. There is more diversity in NFC title contests of late, but also the same tendency of a few clubs seizing many spots while others are absent. During the period the Eagles, 49ers, Packers and Seahawks have made the championship tilt three times each while the Buccaneers, Cowboys, Lions, Rams and R*dsk*ns have been unaccounted for.

The lesson Gregg thinks he's teaching his readers, a lesson that is blindingly obvious, is that teams with a great quarterback and head coach are going to win more games. No shit. Stability is caused by teams choosing great quarterbacks and head coaches? You don't say.

In the past dozen years New England has had the same coach (Bill Belichick) and same starting quarterback (Tom Brady) the entire time. Pittsburgh has had two head coaches (Bill Cowher and Mike Tomlin) and the same starting quarterback since 2004 (Ben Roethlisberger). Indianapolis has had three head coaches (Tony Dungy, Jim Caldwell, Chuck Pagano) and two quarterbacks (Peyton Manning, Andrew Luck). Denver has had three head coaches (Mike Shanahan, Josh McDaniels and John Fox, plus a one-month fill-in), and five quarterbacks (Jake Plummer, Jay Cutler, Kyle Orton, Tim Tebow and Peyton Manning). Stability at head coach and quarterback -- it's the NFL gold standard.

The NFL gold standard, but in the case of the Colts they are the gold standard that has also had a lot of coaching turnover. I know Gregg is desperately trying to prove a point, but stability goes with winning games. Coaches and quarterbacks that win games provide stability, so most teams aren't going to change that which is working. I hope Gregg isn't trying to prove that if teams would simply not fire their head coach or replace their quarterback then that would lead to success. Because that's a faulty assumption. The stability is partially caused by winning and the winning is partially caused by stability with a great quarterback and great head coach. A team that doesn't win games isn't going to have stability and no amount of wishing and hoping without firing the head coach or replacing the quarterback will make that team win games. Stability is great. Hoping for stability and getting the same negative results is not great.

This year 10 of the 12 teams to reach the postseason fielded secure-starter quarterbacks who have been with the club their entire careers. The only exceptions were Ryan Lindley, an emergency fill-in at Arizona, and Peyton Manning at Denver, where after arriving as a free agent he became a secure starter.

Gregg Easterbrook says NFL teams should try to draft a franchise quarterback. Why haven't NFL teams thought of doing this before?

Of the 20 NFL teams that missed this year's playoffs, only six fielded secure starters who had been with the club their entire careers: Atlanta, Jacksonville, Jersey/A, Miami, Santa Clara and San Diego. The other 14 that missed the playoffs fielded gents not obtained in the draft or changed starters midstream or both

As I always ask when some idiot tries to bring a similar point up, so if these teams didn't change starters midstream or drafted a quarterback does that mean that team would have success and make the playoffs? Not necessarily? Right, which means the key to success has nothing to do with changing starters midstream, but choosing the right starter in the first place. Stability has to do with choosing the correct quarterback and coach. It doesn't have anything to do with choosing a coach or quarterback and not firing or replacing that person if the quarterback or head coach has proven to not be good at his job.

Some teams change quarterbacks because of injury or paucity of talent, but head coach indecision and mood swings can be as much a factor. Some teams change head coaches because of retirement or poor performance, but ownership indecision or mood swings can be as much a factor.

They want to win, so they choose a quarterback they think can win games as opposed to sticking with the quarterback they have who won't win them games. It's like saying the best way to have stability in a marriage is to choose a girlfriend and then don't dump her.

The lesson on head coaches is clear -- stand by your man.

Says the writer who criticizes the head coach of losing teams every week for being bad at their job. Standing by the head coach isn't going to lead success if the head coach isn't the right guy for the job.

The lesson on quarterbacks is clear -- make someone Da Man, then don't waffle.

Gregg is seriously suggesting an NFL team keep their starter no matter how bad that quarterback performs or how many games he loses? Gregg really thinks eventually this dedication to the quarterback will pay off? Like all of a sudden Jake Locker is going to become a great NFL quarterback. Just give Christian Ponder two or three years worth of starts, then the playoffs will be the next stop for the Vikings (okay, the Vikings did make the playoffs during Ponder's rookie season). Gregg is completely ignorant of locker room dynamics obviously. A coach can't trot the same losing quarterback out on the field every week without losing some guys in the locker room.

Season in, season out a small number of NFL franchises understand these principles, and dominate the postseason invitations. Season in, season out, at other franchises head coaches and quarterbacks ride the carousel. Enjoy the Colts-Patriots championship pairing. You'll see it again.

It wasn't about standing by their head coach for the Patriots or Colts, it was about choosing the right quarterback and head coach in the first place. This is a shockingly basic concept. Stability comes with choosing the right quarterback and/or head coach. It doesn't always come with sticking by the head coach and quarterback a team currently has. Why is this hard for Gregg to understand?

Of course if Oregon and Ohio State players graduate, they receive a college diploma in exchange for their athletic efforts, and a bachelor's degree adds about $1 million to lifetime earnings. So college football players who graduate are rewarded when they wear a funny robe and walk to "Pomp and Circumstance." How many actually take this walk? See the final 2014 ESPN Grade below.

I'd rather consult a chart covered in feces for my information about which college football teams are the best on the field and in the classroom. A feces covered chart would have as much meaning to me as ESPN Grade does.

Stats Of The Week No. 4: The Broncos opened their season by defeating the Colts at home and closed their season by losing to the Colts at home.

You know next week Gregg is going to have a stat that says:

"The Seahawks opened their season by defeating the Packers at home and closed their season by losing to/winning against the Packers."

Gregg is very predictable in this way.

Sweet Play Of The Week: Underdog Colts leading the Broncos 14-10 in Denver in the third quarter, the visitors faced third-and-16 on the Broncs' 40. Home teams always surge late -- 

Always. There are no exceptions.

The Colts sent out five receivers, as they did for much of the game since the Indy offensive line was performing so well. "Tight end" Coby Fleener -- really a tall wide receiver, like Jimmy Graham -- was flexed in a trips right. He ran a short stop-and-go; the defense bit. The stop fake "sold" because a few yards would have put the visitors into high-altitude field goal range.

Obviously this wasn't a third down-and-short play because teams only go long or go short on third down according to Gregg. At least he claims that is what defenses should expect.

Now it's Green Bay leading 26-21 with 4:42 remaining, Dallas facing fourth-and-2 on the Packers' 32. The scoreboard margin, down-and-distance and cold weather make going for it a better call than a long field goal attempt. Dallas goes for it -- after taking Murray off the field! Not only is he not present to run, the Packers know his absence means they don't have to defend a run.

But Gregg, the Cowboys were averaging 7.4 yards per pass on the day and Romo only had three incompletions up to that point. Because the Cowboys threw the ball in this situation they surely would have gotten the first down and won the game.

Whoever is right about this call -- Dallas would have been better off to rush, convert and continue to milk the clock, aiming for a touchdown that would leave Green Bay no time to reply. Doubly sour.

And obviously Dallas would have converted if they ran the ball. I'm sure Gregg would argue the Cowboys had over 5 yards per carry on the day, but when pointing this out and not understanding the situation is different in fourth-and-short, Gregg would fail to mention the Cowboys were averaging over 7 yards per pass play with only three incompletions up to that point in the game.

There's no rule there must be five offensive linemen on the field, only that there must be five ineligible players on the line of scrimmage, known as ineligible to the defense. New England complied. Offensive linemen could place themselves all along the line of scrimmage -- they do sometimes at Oregon, and in this standard Emory & Henry alignment. There's no rule saying the ball must be snapped by a guy at the center; it can be snapped by anyone on the line of scrimmage. Five huge guys bunched in the middle is a custom, not a rule. Sour that Baltimore didn't know this -- and especially sour that, confronted with a very unusual formation, the Ravens didn't simply call time.

Gregg is all about calling timeout once a team sees a formation they don't understand. If I faced a Gregg Easterbrook-coached team then I would simply start every drive off with a formation his defense hasn't seen and then watch his team blow all three timeouts early in the first and second half. Or I may just do three weird formations in a row and watch Gregg's team blow all timeouts on one drive.

After the touchdown that followed the trick formation, Baltimore went three-and-out. New England called a wide receiver pass with Julian Edelman, a quarterback in college, lobbing a 51-strike to an uncovered man. In the past three seasons, New England has been running an ungodly number of hitch screens: the play began by looking like a hitch screen, drawing up the secondary. Sweet.

I'm sure Gregg thinks New England had been calling those hitch screens for three years simply so they could use this one play in a playoff game.

Do zebras reduce enforcement of defensive pass interference during the postseason? That's long been a conspiracy theory about the NFL. Certainly, there have been games in which too much defensive holding, illegal contact and pass interference by the home team were allowed. One was the 2003 AFC Championship Game, Indianapolis at New England.

I don't really know if that was defensive holding, illegal contact and pass interference in this game because the NFL changed the rules after the game in order to tighten up what defenses could do to receivers. My understanding was that the Patriots were playing within the rules and that's why the NFL decided to tighten up the rules about pass interference, illegal contact and defensive holding in the secondary. So I'm not sure I would call what the Patriots did as illegal any more than they took those rules to the very edge of what was allowable.

During the run-up to this season's Indianapolis at New England title contest, you're sure to hear about the uncalled pass interference instances in that game.

You mean we are sure to hear about it because you just brought it up?

Football is a team sport. The Denver front office performed poorly in spending on big names whose careers were headed downward, rather than fresh legs. Did DeMarcus Ware play in this game?

Yes, he had four tackles in the game, while Aqib Talib had four tackles and one pass defensed and T.J. Ward had two tackles and two passes defensed.

John Fox performed poorly, hyper-conservative as always -- more on that in a minute.

8-7 in the playoffs for his career with two Super Bowl appearances and three Conference Championship appearances. Yeah, he's terrible.

Skilled quarterbacks want to be big-blitzed; Manning for years has wanted to be big-blitzed. On Sunday, he threw poorly on third-and-long. On one third down, Manning could have jogged for a first down and instead threw the ball out of bounds.

Well, if the reports are to be believed, it's hard to jog for a first down with a torn quad. Who cares if that was true or not? Manning should still jog for the first down, no matter whether he isn't mobile in the first place, 38 years old or has a torn quad.

Any team can have an off-game, but for all the hype, Denver has looked awful in its past two postseason outings. One can't help thinking the constant emphasis on shining the spotlight on Peyton is a cause.

That HAS to be the cause. Denver looking awful in their last two postseason outings couldn't be easily explained by them having to play very good teams in the playoffs or having faced one of the best defenses over the past two decades in last year's Super Bowl. To attribute the Broncos' performance to the quality of their competition would be ridiculous and misguided.

In mid-October at Denver, Broncos management stopped the game so everyone could dance about a Manning record. From that juncture on, the Broncos failed to defeat a team that made the playoffs. Don't trifle with the football gods!

The Broncos only played two more teams in the regular season (after this mid-October game against the 49ers) that ended up making the playoffs  and both games were on the road. It's not an excuse of course, but it bears mentioning.

As for Fox, with the Broncs down 21-10 in the fourth quarter, he sent in the field goal unit on fourth-and-4 from the Indianapolis 23. That was the do-or-die moment. Denver would not cross midfield again until seconds remained.

There is no point in criticizing John Fox with being conservative. The word "conservative" and "John Fox" are synonymous. This is a guy who had Manning sit on the football at the end of a playoff game and play for overtime rather than try to have Manning get in field goal range with a timeout remaining to win the game. One of Fox's favorite sayings is, "A punt is not a bad play." There's no point in criticizing Fox for being conservative, that's all he knows.

Waiver-wire acquisition Daniel Herron had a fine game, including a touchdown run on a classic one-back counter, while Trent Richardson was a healthy scratch and at this point officially is a bust. But if Indianapolis had traded a No. 1 draft choice for Herron and gotten Richardson on waivers, touts would say that was canny management.

I am still not 100% sure who "touts" are, but Daniel Herron comes from a football factory. Gregg fails to mention this of course.

About all that Indianapolis big blitzing on third-and-long -- it worked against the aging Manning. It will not work against Tom Brady.


Sure, blitzing worked well against Peyton Manning, but Gregg is going to be eager to point out if blitzing doesn't work against Tom Brady. Then Gregg will point out how playing a straight four man rush like the Seahawks do certainly would have won the game for the Colts, but they instead relied on big blitzing, which doesn't work against good quarterbacks unless you want to consider how it worked the week before against Peyton Manning.

Language Watch: When did "may I have" become "can I get"? When did "tornados" become "tornadic activity"? Isn't a "true freshman" the same thing as a "freshman"?

No, because a college athlete can be a "redshirt freshman" and therefore still considered a freshman, yet have already been in college for one season.

The final ESPN Grade for this college football season found Ohio State No. 1 and TCU No. 2 -- the Buckeyes ahead on the field, the Horned Frogs ahead in the classroom. UCLA and Boise State took major leaps in ESPN Grade, Florida State fell slightly and Mississippi State fell significantly.

Why on Earth would TCU, UCLA, Boise State and Ohio State jump ahead so much when all they did was win a football game? Probably for the same reason Florida State and Mississippi State fell as far as they did. There was no new grade information available, but these teams won or lost their bowl game and ESPN Grade is heavily weighted towards on the field performance. This is true no matter how much Gregg wants to pretend that ESPN Grade is a good measure of on and off the field performance. If a team's AP and Coaches Poll ranking after one loss causes a team's ranking in ESPN Grade to go up or down significantly when there is no new grade information available, then maybe the metric isn't as balanced as Gregg claims it is.

TCU finished 12-1 with an 83 percent football graduation rate. Boise State finished 12-2 with an 85 percent football grad rate. Alabama finished 12-2 with an 80 percent football graduation rate. Duke finished 9-4 with a 92 percent football grad rate. Notre Dame finished 8-5 with a 94 percent football grad rate. Don't tell me academics and big-time football success can't go hand-in-hand because that statement simply is not true.

They can go hand-in-hand, but ESPN Grade isn't the metric to be used to show how they go hand-in-hand. If ESPN Grade is so great then I would like to have Gregg explain to me how Duke with a 92% graduation rate isn't in the Top 25 of ESPN Grade. Notre Dame isn't present either with a 94% graduation rate. Why is that? Because these teams are good football teams, but not in the Top 25 so they don't even get to be a part of ESPN Grade.

Last week at a conference in Texas, academics asserted the GSR,

Gun shot residue?

a number ginned up by NCAA headquarters, is misinformation. Any scholarship player who departs from a college in good standing -- which can mean as little as carrying the credit loan of a part-time student while not being expelled -- is counted by the GSR as having received a diploma. Obviously, that's phony. Next year, ESPN Grade will switch to the more rigorous Federal Graduation Rate. A note to the Power Five: Starting next season, it's on.

But it's only "on" for teams who are in the Top 25. If Duke graduates 100% of their players and go 8-4, but don't end up in the Top 25, then they don't get to be a part of ESPN Grade.

Last week, yours truly predicted a divisional round home team sweep. As Elon Musk said after his rocket crashed into the Atlantic: Close, but no cigar. I did add last week, "If there's to be a visitor victory in the divisional round, the Broncos seem most vulnerable."

Gregg predicted that both of the outcomes could occur and I wrote:  

The funny part is I just know Gregg is going to take credit for whatever happens in the Colts-Broncos game. He'll be sure to crow about how right he was either way, notwithstanding the fact he essentially predicted that both possible outcomes could occur, so he really predicted nothing.

Verily, I am not in fact correct, it's just that Gregg is that predictable.

Indianapolis arrived at Denver with a better Authentic Games number than the Broncos, so my nonscientific metric seemed to know what others did not. The nonscientific metric continues to forecast a Seattle-New England Super Bowl, which has been the TMQ gut feeling since early December.

This was the gut feeling since December, not including the two other Super Bowl predictions that Gregg had made before and after that time. If he guesses enough time, he's certain to get a prediction correct. My Non-Authentic Games metric predicted a Packers and Patriots Super Bowl, so I'll be sure to take credit for that if/when it happens.

Phase Two of the annual NFL coach-firing festival is the scapegoating of assistant coaches, who are fired to shift blame from the head coach. Jacksonville and Jersey/A are among clubs that fired coordinators; the head coach had no idea -- just none at all -- that the coordinators weren't performing!

That's not what it means at all. The head coach did have an idea the coordinator wasn't performing and that's why the coordinator got fired. I don't even understand this criticism. Why would Gregg say sarcastically the head coach didn't know the coordinator wasn't performing? I don't think either Tom Coughlin or Gus Bradley are claiming they didn't know their assistant coach wasn't performing, they are in fact stating they DO KNOW that assistant coach wasn't performing by firing them. Gregg kills me.

Last week, Browns' offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan parted ways with Cleveland, scapegoated for the Brian Hoyer-Johnny Manziel mess. Coach Mike Pettine couldn't possibly have had anything to do with the quarterback situation!

I'm pretty sure it was reported that Shanahan resigned rather than was fired. Who cares about facts or any type of non-black or white issues when Gregg has a point to prove?

As TMQ noted at several junctures when the Broncos were spinning scoreboards last season, rhythm-based passing offenses tend to peter out in the postseason as defensive intensity cranks up -- a warning sign for the Patriots, should they face Seattle in the Super Bowl.

The Seahawks just shouldn't blitz because that's part of the short road to ruin.

Did the reversal prove a conspiracy against Jerry Jones? Jones would like to think so!

Jerry Jones actually took the call well.

Tactics note: With Green Bay facing third-and-3 with 2:36 remaining and Dallas holding two timeouts, the Cowboys lined up in a rush defense, as a clock-moving run made total sense. But third-and-3 is a passing down for the Packers' offense -- completion and first down.

I would simply like for Gregg to get his position on these third and fourth down plays straight. He thinks the Cowboys should have rushed on fourth-and-2 with the game on the line, but doesn't think the Cowboys should have expected the Packers to run the ball on third-and-3. This despite the fact the Packers ran the ball for 4 yards per carry on the day and had an even higher average if Aaron Rodgers' kneel-downs weren't included. so why should one team run the ball on fourth-and-2, but not expect an opposing team to rush on third-and-3?

The Packers had run on third-and-3 in the second quarter and gained 6 yards.

The Packers had run on third-and-1 in the third quarter and gained 1 yard.

But yeah, the Packers did throw a lot on third down. They had shown earlier in the game on a third-and-3 they would run the ball and running the football here would have run the clock to the two minute warning. I would think the Cowboys would have to be alert for a run in this situation.

In the Lord of the Rings movies and their endless spinoffs, everybody's fighting over a magical ring. In "Guardians of the Galaxy" -- No. 1 movie of 2014 by U.S. gross -- everybody's fighting over a magical stone. Finding and possessing a small mystical object is the MacGuffin of many box-office smash flicks. OK, they are movies. But how many times in the real world has a single small object controlled the fates of millions?

You mean other than in any situation where nuclear warfare is involved? Or do you mean any of the other doomsday scenarios where water being poisoned or a virus being unleashed could cause an epidemic that would affect millions of people?

New England Snaps Ravens Postseason Mini-Curse: It's not often an NFL team wins a playoff contest despite being outrushed by 122 yards at home. That's what happened at New England. Adjusting for sacks and scrambles, Flying Elvii coaches called 56 passes and 10 rushes. Knowing that in big games the Ravens sell out to stop the run -- they'd held Pittsburgh to 68 yards rushing on its own field the week before -- Bill Belichick eliminated the middleman and didn't even try to run.

I never knew in big games the Ravens sell out to stop the run. I would think they had different tactics depending on the opponent they were playing, but apparently the Ravens always sell out to stop the run in big games. I learn so many facts and bullshit designed as a fact in TMQ.

Disclaimer Of The Week: Reader Rachel Weinstein of Ann Arbor, Michigan, reported a Swiffer TV ad said at the bottom in fine print that it features "real" people

It's very obvious this disclaimer is meant to point out these people featured in the commercial are not actors. I don't even know why this merits a mention. It's so very, very obvious what "real" people means.

There's nothing wrong with high pay. What's wrong is when the high pay for college football coaches is combined with rising debt for college students (football income might be used to reduce tuition),

Not if boosters give money specifically to be used for athletics. I guess Gregg wants us to pretend we live in a world where boosters will hand over millions of dollars and not give a shit how the school uses it. So the money given to Harbaugh probably partly came from boosters, who want the money used for athletics, not used to cut tuition.

The Football Gods Promised an Investigation: A TMQ law holds: Cold Coach = Victory. On a cold day at New England, Bill Belichick was heavily bundled up, including ski beanie and hoodie; John Harbaugh wore a baseball cap. The Patriots won. On a cold day at Green Bay, Jason Garrett looked smart in a varsity jacket, hatless; Mike McCarthy was heavily bundled up. The Packers won. During the offseason, I will journey alone to a distant mountaintop -- OK, a distant parking lot -- and seek clarification from the football gods.

No need to seek clarification from anyone on this. You make shit up and that's why the half-ass rules you create don't always apply.

Carolina committed numerous gaffes, so Seattle should not feel good about how tight the game was until midway through the fourth quarter. Twice while the contest was close, Carolina receivers dropped well-thrown third-down passes; had those passes been held, the outcome might have been different.

Had the Panthers not allowed the Seahawks to gain a yard for the entire game the outcome could have been different too. Or the outcome may have been different if the Seahawks benched Russell Wilson and played without a quarterback for the entire game, instead choosing to just kneel the ball down. All three of these things didn't happen, so it doesn't matter how the outcome "might" have been different.

On the zone blitz that created the touchdown for Seattle's 24-10 lead, a bungled coverage left the entire offensive right, both short and deep, defended only by cornerback Melvin White and a backpedaling defensive linemen. And how did that work out? It would have been difficult not to score against such a badly blown coverage.

This might lead one to believe this is why it is called a "blown" coverage, no?

Except on two bad reads that led to interceptions, Cam Newton played like a franchise quarterback -- maybe he's finally showing his potential.

Newton played as well as, if not better, than most of the other quarterbacks who played in Seattle than this year, but let's hold our horses. He was responsible for three turnovers in the game. Even though two weren't necessarily directly his fault, one was a long pass that served as a punt. Here's what Gregg said earlier in this TMQ about Andrew Luck throwing a pass that served as a punt:

Tactics note: With the Colts ahead 14-7 and 1:37 remaining before intermission, Luck heave-hoed an ill-advised long pass that was picked off for a 37-yard change of field position. In this situation, it's common to hear "a long interception is as good as a punt," which is what the CBS announcers said. But nobody punts on third down!

So yeah, that wasn't just a bad read, but a bad pass. 

In Praise of Positive Coaching: TMQ's Law of Positive Coaching holds: The coach who screams is wasting everyone's time, including his own.

Quarterbacks should yell at their coach to show leadership, while coaches shouldn't yell at the players to show leadership. Got it.

The best case for football at the high school and college levels is it teaches boys to become men within a framework of self-discipline and teamwork, adding a little fun as well. Screamer-type coaches who are bullies at heart just teach boys to be bullies and don't confer any valuable life lessons.

But Gregg Easterbrook thinks Andy Dalton should show more leadership by yelling at Marvin Lewis when he doesn't like the choice to punt on fourth down. Is that showing self-discipline and teamwork?

NBA Race To The Bottom Heats Up: In recent days, the Celtics traded Jeff Green and Brandan Wright in separate deals for two first-round draft selections, salary cap space, a guy with an expiring contract who can be waived five seconds after the season ends and another guy who is expected to be traded again momentarily, if not stopped when arriving at Logan International Airport and told to go back to the gate and fly somewhere else. These deals not only ensure the Celtics won't accidentally win games but also mean it took Boston less than a month to get rid of one of the players (Wright) the Celtics had pretended to trade Rajon Rondo for.

Gregg so terribly fails to see how finances work in the NBA it's almost not even worth trying to explain them to him. The Celtics did not want Wright, they only traded for him because the salary cap numbers matched up for them to trade Rondo for draft picks. The same thing goes for Jameer Nelson. As Danny Ainge says, players can't always be traded, but draft picks are always a commodity. The point wasn't to acquire players, but to acquire picks which can be used to draft players or trade for other better players in the future.

The Celtics now hold at least 11 first-round picks in the next four drafts (possibly 12, depending on fine print) plus extra second-round selections. They will be horrible -- soon Boston fans might dream of the club's 12-22 record on the day Green trade was reported -- but can vaguely promise better days ahead, though in many years there is no clear relationship between high draft choices and basketball success. 

There is a pretty clear relationship between high draft choices who are chosen well by teams and success. Look at the Heat with Wade, the Cavs with LeBron, the Thunder with Westbrook and Durant, the Wizards with John Wall and Brad Beal, the Pelicans with Anthony Davis, and the Bulls with Noah and Rose. High draft picks can catapult a team into contention. It's just like an NFL team choosing a quarterback and a head coach. The team has to choose wisely if they want to achieve success.

(Anthony Bennett, the No. 1 overall choice of 2013, has two career starts with a 4.9 scoring average.)

Tim Duncan has multiple NBA titles, as do Shaquille O'Neal and LeBron James. This doesn't include the No. 1 overall picks who won a single title or were very, very good players but never won a title.

As TMQ notes, getting rid of players is the essence of the NBA general manager's art. But because two-thirds of the NBA's teams know when the season begins that they have no chance whatsoever of winning the title, offloading players in order to tank is getting out of hand. Looks like the storied Celtics franchise has no intention of conceding the NBA's worst record to the Knicks, 76ers or Timberwolves. Philadelphia -- you gonna let this pass? Get rid of some more players!

It's not about tanking, it's about getting as many draft picks during the season as opposed to being good enough to have a Top 15 pick, but not good enough to make the playoffs. The Celtics and 76ers have decided to really suck in order to maximize their chances at Jahlil Okafor or whoever they want in the June NBA Draft.

Next Week: If Peyton Manning hangs up his cleats, who will Gatorade, Sony, Oreos, Sprint, Nationwide, DirecTV, Papa John's, MasterCard and Buick turn to for paid endorsements?

If I had to guess, probably not Andrew Luck. 


Chris said...

After having grown quite fond of reading you rip TMQ a new one every week I really have to shudder at the thought of people using Gregg Easterbrook for financial advice. Having see how he does with NFL, NBA, and life in general I can't imagine what kind of immutable laws or metrics he comes up with for economics.

Chris said...

"Of the 20 NFL teams that missed this year's playoffs, only six fielded secure starters who had been with the club their entire careers: Atlanta, Jacksonville, Jersey/A, Miami, Santa Clara and San Diego. The other 14 that missed the playoffs fielded gents not obtained in the draft or changed starters midstream or both"

But they were undrafted so they must have worked harder than glory boys to miss the playoffs right Gregg?

Chris said...

Me again. I remember an old TMQ where Gregg once again decided to pontificate about the NBA and said about the Wizards moves in the draft and free agency "It doesn't matter what the Wizards do." Funny how you don't hear a single thing out of him now that they had a good run in the playoffs last year and are a pretty solid team so far this year.

Anonymous said...

Oh man, I love when Greg talks about the NBA. As bad as he is with Football, he has NO IDEA how the NBA works. He must be just trolling, right? "Two-thirds of the NBA's teams know when the season begins they have no chance whatsoever of winning the title?" Granted, this is a more wide-open year than most, but there are definitely over 10 teams that believe they have a chance at the title. And even if that isn't true most years, does he believe 20 teams tank their seasons every year? That would get ugly fast.

I think in a past TMQ he said something along the lines of "basketball is 10% as interesting as football". I would love to have him expound on that one for a bit. Today he gives us "though in many years there is no clear relationship between high draft choices and basketball success" and "getting rid of players is the essence of the NBA general manager's art". That's certainly what every NBA GM tries to do, get rid of players!

Why is he even talking about basketball? He sounds so snotty and sanctimonious (as a lot of analysts do) when they take a stab at sports outside their domain. Maybe he's trying to dissuade us from following other sports and focus on football, so we read his columns even more? What a dope.

Snarf said...

I love how he includes the Broncos in the group of teams dominating the AFC championship, but they've only been in it twice over the past 12 years (2013 and 2005 seasons). Meanwhile Baltimore, who made "token appearances," has been in three times. Actually, Gregg could have left Denver out entirely as those two appearances were against Pittsburgh and NE.

Bengoodfella said...

Chris, his advice is probably, "Just spend money. The economy always comes around. The TMQ Law of Money says to spend money on the right things and you will be rewarded. Also, the economy turns around when two straight months have more than two inches of rainfall."

That's a good point. The undrafted free agents probably would work harder to be great NFL starters. I had forgotten about his Wizards comment. That's how he is. They turned it around and he's suddenly very, very silent. When he's wrong, he just doesn't talk about it.

Anon, the thing about 20 teams knowing they can't win the title, they do know they are trying to make the playoffs or at least build their team up to where they could make the playoffs. Just because they can't win the title doesn't mean they are tanking either.

I have no idea why he is talking about basketball. He doesn't like or understand the sport. He just wants to criticize other sports and needs more sports material for his column, so I'm guessing that's the reason he talks abou tit.

Snarf, I didn't even review the teams he listed as "dominating" the championship games. Gregg is the worst. I still can't believe he said the Colts have coaching stability two weeks after saying they don't.

Slag-King said...

Gregg's criticism of the Cowboys 4th down play is just maddening. Damned if you do, damned if you don't. If coaches only read Gregg's work, man, I'd feel sorry for them for having him second-guess everything they do especially when it is after the fact.

In Dallas at Green Bay, following a penalty, Mike McCarthy had the choice of accepting and giving the Cowboys first-and-20 or declining and giving them second-and-10. McCarthy chose the former; Dallas converted the first down and scored a touchdown on the possession. In Indianapolis at Denver, following a penalty, John Fox had the choice of accepting and giving the Colts second-and-16 or declining and giving them third-and-6. Fox chose the former; Indianapolis converted the first down and scored a touchdown on the possession.

Walking off yardage against the opponent is the "safe" tactic, but most of the time, a good offense would rather have a snap than 10 yards. Coaches given the option of accepting a penalty or the result of the play should ask themselves -- which does my opponent hope I choose? In both these cases, coaches made the choice the opponent hoped for.

He ticked me off when he talked about that taking the flag as if the coaches ought to know the future. In Gregg's world...nobody wins because they all know the future and outcome. What a moron!

Chris said...

On his whole assistant coach scapegoating thing, I seem to remember reading somewhere that the reason Shanahan resigned was because of consistent meddling from Jimmy Haslam in team affairs in general, the Hoyer-Manziel issue being just one small part of that. I don't remember reading of any friction between Shanahan or Pettine at all. Of course what good is factually correct information if it can't be distorted and twisted to fit Gregg's narrative?

Bengoodfella said...

Slag, that is maddening. I completely missed criticizing him about that. How can coaches predict the future about what they should do? They have no idea what will happen, maybe the Colts throw an INT in that situation. That's typical "They should have done what ended up working" crap from Gregg.

Chris, exactly. I think Shanahan left due to some internal issues. I could be wrong, but that was my understanding.

Robert said...

The most infuriating thing about criticism of the Dez Bryant play (and I'm leaving behind if should or should not have been overturned) is that it was a great play call and a good decision. For all of the "Take 2 yards" arguments, the Cowboys got the look they were looking for literally the entire game - a single coverage against Dez.

The Cowboys had been waiting for that look all game and finally got it. Taking that shot - Dez one on one against a middling cornerback is something you take advantage of every time unless you have a completely wide open option.

Bengoodfella said...

Robert, I thought it was an interesting play call in that situation but I would probably take a chance with Dez than I would trying a short pass to Beasley or trying to run the ball (a pass to Witten for the first down would be great too of course). He just didn't come up with the catch. I bet the Cowboys thought they would get that look from the Packers on fourth-and-short and wanted to take advantage if they did. It was a great catch, it really was.

Anonymous said...

"But if Indianapolis had traded a No. 1 draft choice for Herron and gotten Richardson on waivers, touts would say that was canny management."

Who in the hell thinks trading a first round pick for Dan Herron would be a good idea? Herron's a fine player, but this is moronic.

"Dallas goes for it -- after taking Murray off the field! Not only is he not present to run, the Packers know his absence means they don't have to defend a run."

I love the idea that Green Bay KNOWS they don't have to defend the run anymore, even though it's 4th and 2. I'm pretty sure NFL defenses don't give a rat's ass who's in at running back, when it's 4th and 2 you have to be ready for the run. And by the way, Dallas ended up with Dez Bryant one-on-one, so I kinda think Green Bay was playing to stop the run.

"Next Week: If Peyton Manning hangs up his cleats, who will Gatorade, Sony, Oreos, Sprint, Nationwide, DirecTV, Papa John's, MasterCard and Buick turn to for paid endorsements?"

Is there a reason Peyton Manning would have to give up doing commercials if he's retired? I'm pretty sure I see guys like Brett Favre, Terry Bradshaw and Joe Montana still appearing in commercials.