Friday, February 6, 2015

10 comments Gregg Easterbrook Tells the Patriots' Defense That They are the Real MVP

Gregg Easterbrook told us last week that special teams aren't as important as offense or defense in the Super Bowl, unless it turns out that special teams are as important as offense or defense, in which case a special teams play can turn a game around. Gregg also said to be on the lookout for a pick six, because whichever team got a pick six would win the game. Neither team got a pick six in this year's Super Bowl. This week Gregg tells his readers how defense won the Super Bowl for the Patriots and announces the non-QB non-RB NFL MVP. This is the last TMQ until draft time. Try not to cry too much about missing Gregg until then.

For the second consecutive year, a dominant, smothering defense prevailed in the Super Bowl, proving that in this era of quick-snap scoreboard-spinning tactics, defense still trumps offense.

The Patriots' defense gave up 396 yards on 53 plays and the Seahawks' defense gave up 377 yards on 72 plays. New England averaged 365.5 yards of offense per game this year and Seattle averaged 375.8 yards of offense per game this year. So which team had the smothering defense again? It seems like neither team really had a smothering defense, but the Seahawks outgained the Patriots by 19 yards on 19 fewer plays. Anyway, who am I to get in the way of a narrative that Gregg Easterbrook cares to push? It doesn't matter to Gregg if what he is pushing is factual or not, it's his reality based on how he cares to see that reality. Fact or fiction doesn't apply. Only information that proves what Gregg wants to prove should apply.

Last year, it was the Seattle Seahawks' defense. This year, the New England Patriots' defense. Tom Brady's exploits and records inevitably draw the headlines. Defense is what brought the Patriots their latest Lombardi.

On the last play of the game, this was true. Otherwise, it was Tom Brady and the offense that came back from a 10 point deficit (with some help from the defense obviously) in the fourth quarter. Again, Gregg wants to paint this as a huge, stifling defense effort by the Patriots when it wasn't that at all.

TMQ's Law of Comebacks holds: Defense starts comebacks, offense stops them. This diktat was on display in the Patriots' Super Bowl comeback.

This isn't the Law of Comebacks, but the Law of Common Sense. A comeback can't start until the defense stops the opposing team from scoring points. It's hard to make up a deficit and come back if your team's defense can't stop the opposing team from scoring. This is common sense and nothing else.

Not only did New England's defense seal the deal by stopping Seattle at the goal line with 20 seconds remaining, but it also started the comeback. From the point at which Seattle took a two-score lead late in the third quarter, its possession results were: punt, punt, punt, interception.

Of course the defense started the comeback. The Patriots can't start to come back until the defense stops the Seahawks from scoring. Still, the Patriots' defense wasn't really smothering. They gave up 396 yards on the game.

Not only did New England's defense win the Super Bowl but it also got the Patriots to the Super Bowl. New England had to stage a divisional-round comeback versus Baltimore. Patriots down 28-14 early in the second half, the defense allowed just three points for the reminder of that contest.

I'm not sure anyone is claiming the Patriots' defense was terrible, but to call it "smothering" and "dominant" while comparing the Patriots' defensive performance to that of the Seahawks in the Super Bowl the previous year against the Broncos is simply incorrect. The Patriots defense played fairly well, but they weren't really dominant throughout the game. 

In fact the most important stat of the 2014 NFL season may be this one, regarding New England's defense: The Patriots did not allow a fourth-quarter touchdown in their final nine games. Teams that don't let opponents score in the fourth quarter are teams that win trophies.

Little known fact there. The best teams are the ones that don't let their opponent score points for 25% of the game for almost half the season.

Many aspects came together for the Patriots' defense to shine down the stretch -- great athletic performances from Jamie Collins, Rob Ninkovich and Devin McCourty; the arrivals of Darrelle Revis and Brandon Browner; players nobody else wanted, including Alan Branch

I think Gregg means "unwanted, but highly-drafted bust 2nd round pick" Alan Branch. Has Branch made the transition from a bust 2nd round pick simply because he was unwanted and played well for the Patriots? So Gregg won't refer to him as a bust, unless he needs to of course, because Branch is considered "unwanted," and rightfully so.

Officially, New England plays a 3-4 front, but Ninkovich can be anything from a 4-3 down defensive end to dropping deep into coverage. Sometimes a nickel back lines up as middle linebacker. (Brady may be so obsessed with shouting out the identity of the opposition middle linebacker presnap because, in practice, he never knows who the middle linebacker will be.)

Or it's because nearly every experienced quarterback will identify the Mike because that helps his offensive line set up their blocking assignments. But sure, Brady is obsessed with the identify of the Mike because he never knows in practice who that person will be, and not because experienced quarterbacks identify the Mike for blocking purposes.

Defense won the Super Bowl for the second consecutive season -- and this time it was a defense that wasn't on anyone's radar.

Yes, in a Super Bowl between the Seahawks and Patriots who would have guessed the Patriots' defense would have won the Super Bowl? Considering there were only two defenses playing in the Super Bowl, it is rather shocking to hear the Patriots' defense wasn't on ANYONE'S radar. I expected the Ravens' defense to win the Super Bowl for the Patriots, but it turned out the Patriots' defense that helped them win the game.

Now that the field lights are turned off, the film rooms are dark and the cheerleaders have put their miniskirts away in very small drawers,

It still sounds shady and slightly pervy when you talk about cheerleaders in their miniskirts.

Americans will turn their gaze to other sports. But what are "sports"? See below.

Yes, what are sports? Get excited for the discussion about whether ping-pong or gaming are sports. These are the tough questions that only Gregg Easterbrook dares to handle in TMQ.

In other sports news, who produces better NFL teams -- red states or blue states? See Tuesday Morning Quarterback's annual State Standings below.

The annual State Standings that are mostly just a list of each NFL team's record separated by what state that team is located in. I can't wait for Gregg to start annual the City Standings next year.

Stats Of The Super Bowl No. 5: Taking into account trades, in the 2014 draft, 10 first-round selections were invested in quarterbacks and receivers. No first-round drafted quarterback or receiver was on a Super Bowl roster.

Of the 12 teams that were in the NFL Playoffs, 8 of those teams' starting quarterback was drafted in the 1st round. 1 was drafted in the 2nd round, 1 drafted in the 3rd round, 1 drafted in the 6th round and 1 was undrafted.

Of the 12 teams that were in the NFL Playoffs, 6 of those teams drafted their best wide receiver in the first round, 1 drafted their best wide receiver in the 2nd round, 2 were drafted in the 3rd round, 1 drafted their best wide receiver in the 6th round, 1 drafted their best wide receiver in the 7th round and 1 had their best wide receiver as undrafted.

So basically, Gregg has a point in terms of the quarterbacks and receivers in the Super Bowl, but when taking a larger sample size it shows that the best quarterbacks and wide receivers in the playoffs were drafted in the 1st round. But why would Gregg use a larger sample size that may disprove the point he wants to make? It's not like he wants to be honest with his readers.

Sweet Play Of The Super Bowl: Reaching the Seattle 4-yard line in the fourth quarter, New England threw a "pivot" to Julian Edelman, who misplayed the ball, incompletion. 

It's hard to play the ball correctly when you are concussed and all.

Leading 24-14 near the end of the third quarter, Seattle reached third-and-2 on the New England 47. The Seahawks have the league's No. 1 rushing attack and best power back, Marshawn Lynch.

Lynch is a first round draft pick by the way.

There seems no chance the Patriots could have prevented Lynch from gaining two yards on consecutive rushes. Instead Seattle lines up empty backfield, taking a Lynch run out of the equation, and throws incomplete. The clock stops and the chains don't move. 

But why would the Seahawks go for it on fourth down in this situation? I like to be aggressive, but the Seahawks defense had shut the Patriots out from scoring in the third quarter and the Seahawks have one of the best punters in the NFL. Why not pin the Patriots deep rather than go for it on fourth down (if the third down try fails) and hope Lynch converts or otherwise give the Patriots good field position? So I don't think the Seahawks would have two tries to get these two yards with Lynch. They would have one try on third down and then punting would be their best move.

Leading 28-24, with a minute left in the 2014 season, New England had defending champion Seattle facing second-and-goal on the 1-yard line, holding a timeout, possessing the league's No. 1 running attack. Three was sufficient clock for Marshawn Lynch to stage three power rushes, and it's difficult to believe any defense could stuff three straight Lynch rushes when only a single yard was needed. New England's Super Bowl-clinching interception was sweet. It was doubly sweet that undrafted who-dat Malcolm Butler made the interception. It was triply sweet that during the Super Bowl, Butler also had three passes defensed -- the best such number in a contest that featured star defensive backs Darrelle Revis, Richard Sherman, Earl Thomas and Kam Chancellor.

Ah Gregg, it's entirely possible that Malcolm Butler had three passes defensed because the Seahawks weren't afraid to throw the football in his direction. Passes defensed can be a function of the offense throwing the ball in the cornerback's direction because they don't think he is very good. There is a reason that Richard Sherman, Darrelle Revis and other top corners don't always lead the league in passes defensed, and that's because teams will avoid them completely or be careful when throwing in their direction. So yes, Butler had an impressive game, but three passes defensed just means the Seahawks could have been targeting him.

Triply sour was the pass wasn't a play fake! Seattle made no attempt to draw the defense toward Lynch. Malcolm Butler, who intercepted, could jump the route because he knew from the snap the down was not a run.

Butler was in man coverage, so the second the ball was snapped he was responsible for one of the stacked receivers on the right side of the offensive line. Butler jumped the route because he saw it was a pass, but even if the Seahawks had used play-action then it only would have served to pull Butler closer to the line of scrimmage right into the path of where Lockette was running his route. If Butler fell for the play fake, he's running towards the line of scrimmage to stop Lynch from scoring and right in the path of the pass anyway.

Ricardo Lockette and Jermaine Kearse were in a "stack" on the right. On a quick combo move, the ball always goes to the second who cuts beneath the first man, who sets a pick. Between no play fake and Lockette being the second guy in a combo, Butler knew the call was a slant to Lockette -- so he jumped the route and won the Super Bowl.

Even if Butler knew the ball was going to Lockette, there was no promise that the pass would be going inside and not outside. It is a tribute to Butler that he knew the pass was going inside and a pick wasn't being set for Lockette to run a pattern to the right of the block. Besides, it was just a really good play by Butler even if he knew where Lockette was going to be running.

New York Times Corrections On Fast-Forward: In the past six months the Paper of Record has, according to its corrections page …

Ran an epic 192-word correction about exactly when Gary Hart said "follow me around."

Because, of course, if the New York Times makes a correction then they shouldn't fully explain what the correction is. I'm sure Gregg wouldn't mock the New York Times for making a correction that didn't fully explain what was being corrected. Not at all.

Incorrectly declared the economics minister of France married his elementary school teacher

The Times did make the mistake, but because:

An article on Tuesday about Emmanuel Macron, the new economy minister of France, referred incorrectly to the period during which his wife had been his teacher. It was in high school, not first grade. (In French, “Premiere,” or first grade, refers to high school.)

So that makes sense as to how the mistake could be made.

Became confused about who's on first

It would be nice if Gregg would read the correction that he is making fun of in TMQ. The correction didn't confuse who was on first, but instead stated:

Because of an editing error, an article in some copies on Sunday about the Giants’ 2-1 victory in 18 innings over the Washington Nationals in Game 2 of their National League division series misstated the base Asdrubal Cabrera was on when Anthony Rendon drove him in with a single in the third inning. As the article correctly noted elsewhere, Cabrera was on third, not on second. 

There was never anyone claimed to have been on first base. The mistake was that Cabrera was really on third base, not second base. Gregg should issue a correction for being confused about who isn't on first.

Tuesday Morning Quarterback Non-QB Non-RB NFL MVP: This year's winner is linebacker Bobby Wagner of the Seahawks, who took 47 percent of the reader vote, besting linebacker Rob Ninkovich of the Patriots at 33 percent.

Victory is mine! I did not vote, because I really don't care to vote, but I'm glad the second round pick and soon to be highly-paid glory boy won the Tuesday Morning Quarterback Non-QB Non-RB NFL MVP. Wagner can just be added to the list of first and second round picks who have won this award in the past.

Dan Connolly of the Patriots and Doug Baldwin of the Hawks were the also-rans at 10 percent each, and a good thing in the latter case considering the knuckleheaded penalty Baldwin drew in the Super Bowl.

Well, you know how those undrafted players are. They have talent but just aren't willing to work hard enough to make it like those highly-drafted players are.

Because the words "sports" and "athletics" have such high standing in contemporary society, the sense of what's considered a sport or viewed as an athletic challenge, continually inflates. Most people would call golf a "sport," though golfers rarely break a sweat and have caddies to shoulder the load of their clubs.

Not all golfers have caddies to shoulder the load of their clubs. Professional golfers and others who can afford to pay a caddie will have someone else shoulder the load of their clubs, but most golfers put their clubs on the back of a golf cart or just carry their clubs on the course. It is not correct to assume all golfers have a caddie.

ESPN places the mantle of "Worldwide Leader in Sports" on poker and on spelling bees, which are mentally taxing but entail no physical effort. Table tennis requires great reflexes -- does that make pingpong a sport?

Who cares and why does it matter what is considered a sport and what isn't?

NASCAR, Formula One and other types of car racing are viewed as sports. They are dangerous and physically taxing, but it's the motors, not the drivers, that provide the muscle.

Gregg is about to point out he has been in a race car before. He hasn't been in a race car for three hours in the hot sun. There is a motor on the car, but it is physically taxing to drive a race car at 200 mph for three hours. I don't know if driving a car is a sport, but I do know the drivers need muscle in order to drive a race car for three hours.

(As part of a Super Bowl event, last weekend I drove a McLaren at 120 mph on a racetrack: it was mildly stressful but sure didn't turn me into an athlete.)

Did you do it for three hours? Did you get in the car again the very next day? If not, then you have no clue what you are talking about.

ESPN The Magazine (Published on Earth the Planet) featured a nude pictorial of Funny Car driver Courtney Force, praising her for being able to handle "a 10,000-horsepower machine." That does sound difficult, but is handling a powerful machine a "sport"? If so, then pilots and excavator operators are athletes.

It's completely different and you know it. If you don't know it, then you should know it.

The New York Times covers the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show in the sports section, perhaps because jumping over obstacles makes the dogs athletes? Competitive cheer tournaments have been viewed as a sport for a while; now the American Medical Association considers all cheerleading, including the traditional sideline variety, to be a sport.

Tuesday Morning Quarterback proposes this rule: a "sport" is an activity that produces a winning person or team and that leaves the participants exhausted. Everything else is either recreation or a test of skills.

Okay, then cheerleading is definitely a sport and even a dog show is a sporting event because there is a winner and the dogs definitely look a little tired after being run around the track in the front of the judges. Video gaming could be a sport because there is a winner and the participants can be mentally exhausted after competing. How about there is just no rule for what is a sport because exhaustion can also count for mental exhaustion?

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Is Gregg just obviously trying to waste space in TMQ now? I mean...what?

Batman, Iron Man, the X-Men, Captain America -- they've sold lots of movie tickets. How long till they have their own Broadway musicals? Spiderman got a musical that ran on Broadway for more than two years. "Flashdance," "Dirty Dancing," "The Bodyguard," "Elf" and other movie-based musicals have been to or hope to reach Broadway or the West End. Imagine the numbers list from a Batman musical:

"Gotham After Dark" -- overture
"Beneath My Cape" -- Bruce Wayne, Alfred
"When the Signal Shines" -- Batman (solo)
"In the Hideout Where I Lurk" -- Penguin, dancing henchmen
"Take Your Mask Off for Me" -- Rachel, Vicki, Selina and chorus girls
"First We Banter" -- Batman, Penguin
"Curses He Foiled Me Again" -- cast

Again, ???????????????????????????????????

Is this punishment for criticizing Gregg's criticism concerning the lack of realism in movies and television shows? Is Gregg trying to punish his readers in some way by coming up with original, not funny material so they come back to him begging for criticism concerning the lack of realism in movies and television shows? It's not working for me, but wow, Gregg is wasting space in TMQ with some really bizarre, non-funny material.

But, I have tricked you all. OF COURSE Gregg is going to criticize fictional television shows and movies in the last TMQ for the next few months.

Of course television shows have ridiculous plots. But shouldn't the physical aspects make sense? Such as, say, the distance between locations be realistic? Recently on "NCIS: Los Angeles," the heroes traveled from Los Angeles to Tunisia and back in about 15 minutes.

No, because nobody wants to watch them on a plane for several hours making small talk and sleeping.

On "The Flash," superhero love interest Iris West arrives with coffee cups in a cardboard shell that she holds sideways -- they don't fall out or, apparently, weigh anything. And Iris's job is running a coffee bar! On "Madam Secretary," the beleaguered assistant enters with the two tall Starbucks that the Secretary of State ordered -- they don't have sleeves yet don't hurt his hand, and he waves them around as he makes a point.

I don't think I understand why these things bother Gregg so much. When I'm watching a television show, I can clearly see when two characters are talking that several takes from several angles are being shown and sometimes the characters whose face the audience can't see isn't having his/her hand move in concert with what that character is supposed to be saying. It's a fictional show, I get over. If Gregg is so bored watching a show that empty coffee cups bore him, maybe he should find more interesting shows to watch.

Then there's television addiction to cell phones. Somehow directors have come to believe it's dramatic to talk on cell phones -- maybe because Hollywood deals are made by shouting into cell phones while stuck in traffic on the I-10. TV mobsters discuss their plans in detail via cell phone,

I'd love to know what generic "TV mobsters" Gregg is watching because on "The Sopranos" it was a very clear plot point that they did not talk on cell phones about plans in detail. I'm sure what this generic show with "TV mobsters" Gregg is talking about via cell phone, but given the fact he isn't being specific about the show when he's ALWAYS specific about shows, I'm sure this "TV mobsters" show exists. 

On NBC "State of Affairs," the imaginary CIA director uses his cell phone to discuss national security information, including operational code names. True, during the David Petraeus scandal, the nation learned that the actual CIA director did not know email accounts can be hacked. But your columnist is guessing not many people in the intelligence community talk about state secrets over cell phones.

Right, you are guessing. This means you could be wrong. I know, I shudder at the thought too.

With 11 minutes remaining, Seattle had a 24-14 lead and New England faced third-and-14 deep in its territory. The Patriots looked as beaten as a good team can look -- and Seattle looked seriously overconfident. New England converts on Brady's favorite pass of 2014, the short crosser to Julian Edelman. How could Seattle not have been expecting this?

It's possible they were expecting it, they just figured they could tackle Edelman before he got the first down.

Now New England faced second-and-11 and converts on a seam route to Rob Gronkowski. A moment later New England faces second-and-10 and again converts on a seam route to Gronkowski. Four times in the fourth quarter, Seattle's storied defense allowed the Patriots to convert long-yardage deficits.

It's almost like the Patriots had a game plan on offense or something. Allowing the opposing offense to score on four long-yardage attempts is how games are lost.

New England's second touchdown of the game came on a 22-yard go route to Gronkowski. He split far wide, covered by weakside linebacker K.J. Wright, no safety nearby. Presnap, your columnist pointed toward Gronkowski and shouted, "That matchup is a touchdown for New England!" (I have witnesses.)

You have witnesses that none of your readers know. How about you hand out some phone numbers and I'll verify that you aren't lying? I would have a few more questions when I talk to these witnesses though.

How did Earl Thomas, the safety on that side, fail to notice? Thomas cheated up as if expecting run.

Thomas may have noticed but the defensive play call may have been to where he wasn't supposed to double or have responsibility for the outside receiver. Defensive players can't just do whatever the hell they want to do and Thomas is famous for being able to seem like he's out of position only to actually be right in position to make a play.

Gronkowski was lined up along the Seattle sideline -- he could have reached out and shaken hands with Seahawks coaches. Why didn't they call timeout?


How many timeouts does Gregg think NFL teams have? 15? That's his answer to everything. Just call a timeout! You noticed half a second ago that you don't like the defensive alignment? Call a timeout! Don't like the play call the coach sent in because pre-snap it seems like it won't work? Call a timeout!

For the rest of the game, Thomas covered Gronkowski when he split far wide, neutralizing him as a deep threat. So Josh McDaniels shifted Gronkowski inline, where he doesn't normally play much, and used him as a pass blocker for a while.

Gronkowski doesn't play much inline? I will have to ask Patriots fans to confirm this for me. I feel like I've seen him play inline quite a bit when I've watched Patriots games, but I also don't have the vast knowledge about football that Gregg has. It doesn't help that I find Gregg tends to just make things up, so it's hard to believe what he is saying is the truth sometimes.

As for what went wrong for Seattle -- where to start? Yes, the Bluish Men Group lost two defensive starters to injury, but every NFL team must deal with injuries. Neither Thomas nor Kam Chancellor made a big play all night. Richard Sherman did not play aggressively at the line, instead backpedaling or lining up "soft."

I'm sure that has nothing to do with him playing with a busted up elbow. It's hard to play physical and aggressive when you may need Tommy John surgery on your elbow. Also, it's hard to make big plays with a torn MCL.

From the point Seattle took 24-14 lead, Russell Wilson, the most effective running quarterback in professional football, did not carry the ball. During the regular season, Wilson ran for more yards than the leading rushers of 16 teams. To the point that Seattle led 24-14, Wilson was averaging 13 yards per carry. Three times from that juncture on, Wilson handed to Lynch on the zone read when he should have kept the ball and gone outside because the Patriots had no contain man opposite the playside. Had Wilson simply kept the ball and run for 20 yards on any of those three chances, the fourth-quarter dynamic would have been very different.

This is great. Yeah, if Russell Wilson had just kept the ball and run for 20 yards on any of those three chances, the fourth quarter dynamic would have been very different. If Marshawn Lynch had just found a way to avoid every tackler who tried to tackle him on every play during the game, surely the Seahawks would have won. Of course, if Tom Brady had the ability to fly then he could have negated the Seahawks' pass rush on most plays and the fourth-quarter dynamic would have been very different as well. And there were a few plays during the game where Seahawks receivers caught a pass and got tackled. Had the receiver simply avoided being tackled and run for a touchdown on any of these chances, the Seahawks would have won the game.

I can create fake scenarios on what should have happened and how this would have changed the outcome of the game too. It's a fun game.

TMQ's annual state standings judges teams based on where they perform -- the Potomac Drainage Basin Indigenous Persons in Maryland, the Giants in New Jersey and so on. Note that of the traditional prep football hotbed states -- California, Florida, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Texas -- Florida finished second from last, and only one posted a playoff victory. The top two finishers hailed from Massachusetts and Washington, among the most liberal states in the union; professional football's top four finishers hailed from states that voted Democratic in the 2012 presidential election.

Massachusetts 15-4
Washington 14-5
Wisconsin: 13-5
Colorado: 12-5
Indiana: 13-6
Arizona, Michigan: 11-6
Pennsylvania, Texas: 21-12
New York: 9-7
Ohio: 17-15-1
North Carolina: 8-9-1
Missouri: 15-17
Maryland: 15-19
Louisiana, Minnesota: 7-9
California: 20-28
Georgia: 6-10
Illinois: 5-11, New Jersey 10-22
Florida: 13-35
Tennessee: 2-14

There is such a small correlation between states that vote Democratic and that state's football team playing well that I'm embarrassed for Gregg that he even brought this up. Also, the absolute pointlessness of these State Standings is reflected in the fact the two states at the top of his standings are..................the two teams that appeared in the Super Bowl. What? How could that be? So the state with the best record also had the team that appeared in the Super Bowl? That's just amazing. You won't believe this, but the two states with the third and fourth best record are the two states that have the #2 seeds in the AFC and NFC playing in that state. This has to be a coincidence.

The fact Gregg thinks he is actually giving relevant information with his State Standings amuses the shit out of me. It's mostly a restatement of which teams in the NFL had the best record. Get this, the two states with the worst record in the State Standings are also the two states that had the two worst teams in the NFL. It's fun how Gregg finds ways to restate information that is already known and then try to pass it off as new information.

In the run up to the Super Bowl, Marshawn Lynch received a huge amount of attention for insisting he just wanted to be left alone. If he'd actually just wanted to be left alone, he would have gone to the podium, offered a few sports platitudes -- "the Patriots are a fine, fine football team" -- and everyone would have left him alone

For a member of the media, Gregg sure doesn't understand how the media works does he? I very much don't doubt the media would have found fault with Marshawn Lynch no matter what he said at the podium on Media Day. If he had offered boring platitudes then the media would have attacked him for saying nothing of substance and wasting their time. Of course, they allowed their time to be wasted by showing up knowing he wouldn't saying anything, but that's beside the point. 

By making a great show of appearing in very dark glasses and ignoring questions, Lynch drew attention to himself. Which, one presumes, was what he wanted all along.

Yes, Lynch wanted attention all along. That's why he had to be forced by the NFL to even show up to talk to the media. That's definitely the sign of someone who wants attention.

In 2009, he was suspended by the league for three games. Lynch seemed to expect sports reporters would act like team publicists and change the subject; instead he got abrasive questions. Since then, including last week at Super Bowl media events, he has accused the sports media of printing lies about him: "You all can go make up whatever you're going to make up." I'd venture a guess Lynch actually does not know what the sports media is saying about him because he doesn't read the newspaper.

Again Gregg, that's just a guess you are making. But I'm sure Lynch doesn't read a newspaper because he's an athlete who doesn't look clean-cut, so he's obviously stupid and uneducated. 

The odd thing is that Lynch has a sense of humor, as he displayed in his Skittles parody. If he'd only show that humor at a media conference, the ice would melt. Instead he says things like this from last week, when he was supposed to take questions: "I come to you all's event, you shove cameras and microphones down my throat. I ain't got nothing for you all." Reporters and spectators don't get angry at Lynch when he expects them to attend games:

Gregg is so off-base here it's laughable. Marshawn Lynch doesn't expect reporters to attend games. The media outlet the reporter works for expects these reporters to attend games. Marshawn Lynch doesn't give a crap if reporters attend games or not. Gregg shouldn't act like it's a symbiotic relationship, because it's not. Lynch doesn't need the reporters as much as the reporters need to cover the most popular sport in the United States. Also, Lynch has no issue with spectators because they aren't part of the media and don't ask him dumb questions. Gregg shouldn't act like Lynch is turning against the very fans who support him, because that's not true. Of course, because Gregg is part of the sports media then I'm sure he views turning against reporters as being the same thing as turning against the fans.

When Thurman Thomas couldn't find his helmet at a Super Bowl, then the Bills lost, for a while he was angry at the media because reporters kept bringing this up. One day he walked into a media conference with a basket of miniature helmets that he handed out to reporters, and told a couple jokes about himself. For the rest of his career, Thomas had the sports media eating out of his hand: When it was time to cast Hall of Fame votes, Thomas got a landslide of votes. Somebody in the Seahawks' organization should tell this story to Lynch.

Lynch DOES NOT CARE. Has he not made that clear enough? Add Gregg Easterbrook to the list of self-involved media members who believe it's the privilege of an athlete to be covered by the media, so showering the media with kindness and gifts to tickle their taint and make them giggle is the only way to try and get the positive coverage these athletes so desperately covet. When facing an athlete who doesn't care to talk to the media, the sports media acts like there is something wrong with this athlete and then threaten to pull any neutral coverage until they are treated like the royalty they so obviously believe they deserve to be treated as.

Snowfall totals are notoriously difficult to predict. But last week's sky-is-falling treatment of the approaching northeast blizzard was revealing of political and media cultures.

Perhaps it's better that newscasters and politicians issue exaggerated warnings about weather than for the public to be complacent. But your columnist thinks the underlying dynamic is longing, on the part of the media and political establishments, for bad news. Bad news makes for ratings, and justifies increased government power plus more subsidies.

Or maybe politicians and the media would rather people prepare for the worst and hope for the best. Underplaying a storm's effect on an area can cause the citizens of that area to be in danger if the storm is worst than possible. It's fun to mock weather people for exaggerating a storm, but there is a legitimate public safety need to exaggerate so that citizens are prepared.

In the run up to the first college football national championship, the Washington Post reported Ohio State snaps the ball in "25.72 seconds" and averages "7.03 yards" per play. The difference between "7.03" yards and 7 yards is one inch. The difference between "25.72 seconds" and 26 seconds, multiplied by the Buckeyes' typical snaps per game, works out to 20 seconds over the course of the game.

20 seconds, or you know, the difference in the Seahawks having time to win the Super Bowl or not having time to win the Super Bowl. What's 20 seconds in a football game, other than the potential difference in getting an additional play or two off? How could that be important?

During last spring's NBA playoffs, Indiana had possession out-of-bounds under the Miami basket with 0.1 showing before halftime and scored on an alley-oop tip into the basket. That is, the scorekeeper thought the entire play took less than a tenth of a second.

That same month the Journal reported Stephen Curry "takes about 0.3 seconds to release the ball, which is at least 0.1 seconds faster" than other long-range shooters, while his 3-pointer attempts "average a maximum height of 16.23 feet" versus a league wide trey average of "15.77 feet."

When could 0.1 of a second be important, right Gregg? It's only the difference in an alley-oop or getting a shot blocked by a defender.

In 2012, I refinanced to take advantage of low mortgage rates. My lender's monthly statements says I am paying "3.00000 percent" interest. The same year I purchased an LG flatscreen TV that boasted a typical lifespan of 60,000 hours. That's 55 years at three hours per day. 

Actually, that's 54.79 years.

Recently I bought some chicken marsala at Giant Food, my local supermarket. The instructions said to microwave for "approximately 2 minutes and 22 seconds." Approximately!

From TMQ last week:

Postscript No. 4: Andrew Luck's hand size (pinkie to thumb with fingers spread) is 10 inches, Brady's is 9.4 inches. That's a bigger distinction than it may seem.

That seems like a bigger distinction!

Gregg's anti-hyper-specificity fetish is never not annoying. There are some numbers that are too specific, but Stephen Curry taking a shot 0.1 seconds faster than other long-range shooters is important when factoring in how quick NBA defenders are.

Last summer, your columnist pitched for Katy Perry as the Super Bowl halftime act. The humor value of her show was well worth it -- though, what's left in terms of staging for whomever performs next year? The acoustics at University of Phoenix Stadium were awful, however. From the stands the sound was so bad it was difficult to determine what number Perry was performing.

It's Katy Perry, does it really matter? It's not like she isn't just doing a duet with Auto-Tune anyway.

While TV ratings for the NFL and for NCAA football remain robust, NFL attendance is soft, while big-deal NCAA football attendance has been declining. For those of all age groups, one reason is that HD TVs show football so well, why brave the hassle and endure the expense to attend? But there's an added factor for millennials. Many don't associate attending a football game with dad as a rite of passage of youth.

So Gregg is now making blanket assumptions about how "many" millennials don't associate attending a football game with dad as important. I can't see how making blanket assumptions about a group of 70-80 million people could ever be wrong.

Dad may not be in the picture to begin with. Sure, at Thanksgiving they heard their uncles expounding on devotion to the Giants or Bears or Raiders as family traditions. But the sense of these and other teams as emblematic of the communities they represent is fading, replaced with a sense that the NFL is something the super-rich use to sustain their privileges.

And Gregg knows for a fact this is how many of these 70-80 million people feel. I've always been impressed with Bill Simmons' ability to read the mind of his readers, but Gregg can read the minds and feelings of 70-80 million people and then come to a conclusion about their relationship with their father from these feelings. That's impressive.

And then there's the movement of millennials from television to broadband. Cord-cutting as a fad is giving way to the no-cord generation that has never signed up for television service. They may watch fantasy football stats and highlights on the web. They're a lot less likely to watch the games.

Which explains why the ratings for NFL games are declining so precipitously. No millennials watch games anymore.  

Either Throw A Virgin Into The Volcano Or Fire An Assistant Coach: The latest example is the Packers' scapegoating last week of special teams coach Shawn Slocum, fired because his charges allowed a special teams touchdown then failed to recover an expected onside kick in the NFC championship game. Green Bay special teams indeed performed poorly.

Gregg wouldn't know this because he's too busy making shit up, but the Packers were ranked 32nd in the NFL in special teams this past season. That's out of 32 teams. So maybe, just maybe, the fact Slocum presided over the worst special teams unit in the NFL is the reason he got fired. Maybe Slocum was fired not because of the easy answer that Gregg wants to give based on watching the playoffs, but based on the season-long failure of the Packers to have good special teams play. The more you know, the less you assume, and it's fine to do research before just writing shit down and calling it a day. It's recommended.

It was head coach Mike McCarthy who sent the special teams out four times on four fourth-and-1 situations when Green Bay should have gone for it. The head coach isn't going to fire himself, though.

While those were bad decisions, Slocum wasn't fired because the Mason Crosby kicked field goals on fourth-and-1. Gregg is trying to confuse the issue to push one of his talking points. The special teams coach was fired for his unit's performance throughout the entire year, not because of fourth-and-1 decisions made by Mike McCarthy.

At the end of each season, TMQ recommends meritorious recent books that may not have received sufficient attention. Among them this year:

I wonder how many of these books Gregg has read? He lists 19 non-fiction books and four fiction books. If Gregg recommends books like he provides links to outside articles in TMQ, then I'll be surprised if he's read half of these books and his descriptions of what these books are about are really accurate. Gregg loves to provide links in TMQ that don't say what he believes they say (remember the Jacksonville schools link from earlier in the year?), so I can't help but think his book descriptions may not be accurate either.

Seahawks defensive coordinator Dan Quinn spent parts of the postseason negotiating for the Falcons head coaching job. His defense looked unfocused till the very end versus Green Bay, then looked unfocused for the entire Super Bowl. Was his head in the game or in his next contract?

Earlier in TMQ, Gregg blamed Earl Thomas and other Seattle defenders for allowing long gains to the Patriots. So is Dan Quinn to blame for his defense performing badly at times during the Super Bowl or is it the fault of the Seattle defenders? One minute Gregg is blaming the Seattle players for executing the play call poorly and now he's blaming Dan Quinn for the play call because he's "unfocused."

Exit Stage Left: Tuesday Morning Quarterback folds its tent and steals off into the desert. As usual, I recommend you employ the offseason to engage in spiritual growth. Take long walks. Attend worship services of any faith, even if solely to sharpen your doubt. Appreciate the beauty of nature. Exercise more, eat less. Perform volunteer work. Read, meditate, serve others: Do these things and you will feel justified in racing back to the remote, the swimsuit calendars and the microbrews when the football artificial universe resumes anew in the autumn.

And may Gregg decide that he will stop misleading his readers by providing only the information about players and plays that he finds to be important in order to prove his point. May he find that the points he wants to prove about his ridiculous "laws" and the narratives he wants to push aren't more important than admitting that he tends to just make these things up as he goes along. Also, may ESPN Grade and the Authentic Games Standings go away forever.


Chris said...

"Attend worship services of any faith, if only to sharpen your doubt".

Did Gregg really just advocate that people should ironically attend religious services? I'm pretty sure no one is enough of an asshole to willingly decide to go to say church on sunday and the whole time simply think well this is all bullshit what am I even doing here?

Eric C said...

Regarding Gregg and the weather, it's not like it was only the news media predicting big storms. A number of amateur meteorologists (Weather NJ, Weatherboy Weather) also predicted big storms based on computer models. Specifically, they were based on the European Weather Model, which really oversold this system but was dead on with Sandy, and most agreed with that model. Ironically, the US model was the one outlier that best predicted the storm.

So sometimes you have a model and it just gives you a bad prediction (*cough*authenticgames*cough*).

Frank said...

true Eric - and as a Mass. resident, I can tell you that while we're sick of hearing of snow and I'm sick of regular people talking about it, it's not like I expect the meteorologists on TV to simply make a 12" snowfall out to be no big deal. Gregg is a true moron. I lean libertarian and all but his stretch from "media panic" to government consolidation of power is a bit tin-foil hat for my taste.

Frank said...

Isn't there a rule in the NBA about how if there are 0.3 seconds or less on the clock, the ONLY way they allow you to score is via alley oop - that is, if there is any time on the clock at all, they allow you to try to score via an alley oop but not, say, a 3-pointer? This is from my memory of a Cs/Hornets playoff game from like 22 years ago, Kevin McHale's final game as a Celtic, where I believe this was brought up. He passed it pretty well into Dee Brown, who seemed as though he got fouled, and the C's lost the game on that missed alley oop attempt. Now that they have review of scoring plays maybe it's changed?

Matt D said...

Frank, you're right. This is from the NBA rulebook:

The game clock and shot clock must show :00.3 or more in order for a player to secure
possession of the ball on a rebound or throw-in to attempt a field goal. Instant replay shall be
utilized if the basket is successful on this type of play and the game clock runs to 0:00 or the
shot clock expires on a made basket and the officials are not reasonably certain that the ball
was released prior to the expiration of the shot clock. The only type of field goal which may
be scored if the game clock and shot clock are at :00.2 or :00.1 is a “tip-in” or “high lob.”
A “tip-in” is defined as any action in which the ball is deflected, not controlled, by a
player and then enters the basket ring. This type of action shall be deemed legal if :00.1 or
more remains in a period.
A “high lob” is defined as a pass which is tipped by an offensive player while in midair,
and is followed instantaneously by a field goal attempt. If the reception of the pass and
the subsequent “slam dunk” is immediately adjacent to the basket ring, this type of action
shall be deemed legal if :00.1 or more remains in a period. However, if the “high lob”
attempt is a distance from the basket ring whereby the ball must be controlled in mid-air,
either one-handed or two-handed, a minimum of :00.3 is necessary for a field goal to score if
successful. Instant replay would NOT be used if the play starts with :00.2 or :00.1 on the
game clock or shot clock

Gregg doesn't realize this, because why would he look at the NBA rules?

Plus, it's incredibly stupid for Gregg to say "the entire play" took less than one-tenth of a second. The clock obviously doesn't start until the ball is touched inbounds, and the rules specifically state that type of play is allowed in that amount of time.

Chris said...

Far be it for me to call Gregg a liar but I have some doubts that Gregg drove a McLaren at 120mph. Gregg is not an experienced professional racecar driver and had probably never driven whatever racetrack this was before. If he fucks up and crashes he could be seriously injured or killed and I doubt McLaren would want that kind of publicity or a potential lawsuit from Gregg's family so I would have to believe they told him to keep the speed down somewhat.

Ericb said...

So, are the Football Gods ignoring Ballghazi? Or will there be a curse? Of course one that starts after they've won a Superbowl.

Bengoodfella said...

Chris, I didn't really read that last part apparently. I missed that. I guess he thinks people should sit there and think about how religion is all crap.

Plus, it's better to be overprepared as opposed to underprepared. I know meteorologists tend to overestimate a storm's impact and I think it is too make sure people are over-aware of the storm.

Frank, Matt is right. At 0.3 a player can't even really possess the ball at all. I don't know how they came up with the rule, but Gregg would hate it if he found out there is a specific rule about this.

Chris, my mom and dad WERE IN a race car that traveled that fast quite a few years ago, but they didn't drive it. That does seem to be quite the hazard for an amateur. I don't know if I would say driving a racecar requires athletic skill, but the drivers do have to be in pretty good shape.

Eric, I think the curse will start AFTER the Super Bowl since that's when the Pats will be punished.

Chris said...

It's admittedly a very minot point but it's just very interesting to me that Gregg pontificates about attending religious services to merely support one's supposed theory they are all bullshit on top of his voting stance which would seem to encourage a clueless, uninformed electorate

Bengoodfella said...

Chris, we should continue to elect idiot politicians who misuse public funds, so there's no need to be informed. Get to the bottom of this religion stuff though. That seems to be Gregg's overall message.