Friday, September 25, 2015

4 comments The Long National Nightmare Has Returned

You may recall that Gregg Easterbrook was let go by ESPN, which means his TMQ had no home. I figured it would find a home, but when TMQ's new home was linked in the comments of a different post, I couldn't help but laugh. TMQ is now at "The New York Times." It's part of "The Upshot" section online at the "Times." It's interesting that Gregg has partnered with this specific newspaper because he used to run a list of hilarious (to him) retractions the "Times" had to make over the past year in his TMQ that appeared on ESPN. I've shown multiple, multiple, multiple times that Gregg contradicts himself and this move is no exception. One month he is mocking the "Times" for it's inaccuracies and the next month he's collecting a paycheck from them. Life comes at you fast. And what is even more hilarious is that in Gregg's first TMQ, there is a correction at the bottom. Yes, Gregg can no longer go in and make covert corrections to his factual inaccuracies, but they will be noted at the bottom of the page. In this TMQ it reads:

Correction: September 15, 2015
An earlier version of this article misstated that Eagles Coach Chip Kelly called running back LeSean McCoy “jingle-footed.” Kelly said in 2008 that he does not like “jingle-footed” running backs, but that was not a reference to McCoy.

Oh no, does this mean TMQ is going to have to be factually correct and Gregg can't just assert shit without any real factual backing? Of course not, but he will see what he can get away with I'm sure. One month Gregg is mocking the corrections in the "Times" and the next month he is the one having a correction to his TMQ that appears in the "Times." Life is funny sometimes, but this irony will simply be ignored by Gregg and he'll just continue to pretend his shit don't stinks as he second-guesses the decisions made by NFL coaches and players that he doesn't even understand in the first place.

Sorry I'm a week late on this TMQ, but I'm trying to catch up. This is TMQ from Week 1. I didn't even know it existed until a few days after it posted. Also, TMQ is much shorter now. It seems he was told to bloviate less. And also also, the picture that runs beside TMQ features Gregg from what looks like about 20 years ago. Couldn't they find a more modern picture? Why not just run a baby picture of Gregg beside the column?

What did Eli Manning know and when did he know it? This seems to be the question as the New York Giants — the last time you will see that name in this column —

Oh no, more cutesy nicknames for the Giants. Please stop.

face the aftermath of their botched outing at Dallas, the team’s worst epic fail since the 2010 contest in which they allowed the Eagles to score four touchdowns in the final seven minutes to overcome a seemingly bulletproof 31-10 mid-fourth-quarter advantage.

Let me guess, the Giants punted on fourth-and-one and this told the team that Tom Coughlin didn't really want to win the game?

The Giants’ faithful are rending their garments and gnashing their teeth over the team’s nutty pass attempt on third-and-goal at the Dallas one-yard line with 1 minute 43 seconds remaining and a 3-point edge on Sunday night. Had the Giants run, either they would have scored, almost certainly icing the contest, or would have kept the clock remorselessly advancing toward double-naughts.

It's not long before we get the first "almost certainly" assumption that Gregg will make in order to further his point. I've discussed this play in MMQB Review, so I won't do it again, but Gregg continuously talks about how NFL head coaches aren't aggressive enough. He thinks if NFL head coaches are more aggressive then it tells their team he is super-serious about winning the game, which motivates his team to play better. But alas, when Tom Coughlin is very aggressive and shows confidence in his team to win a game by making an aggressive play call and it fails, Gregg is all like, "Why did you do that? How stupid!"

Nothing has changed. Gregg has no beliefs and will always base his criticism on the outcome of a play and not on any certain belief that he has espoused previously. His contentions are always correct, unless they don't work in reality, in which case he pretends he never advocated for that contention and proceeds with his criticism.

But what did Eli know and when did he know it? Bill Pennington reports that Manning told tailback Rashad Jennings not to score on the snap before the fateful incompletion.

I know "what did Eli know and when did he know it?" sounds interesting and cutesy, but it's not really pertinent to this situation.

At work is what Isaac Asimov called “psychohistory.” In the 2012 Super Bowl, Eli told the Giants’ Ahmad Bradshaw not to score in a somewhat similar situation, to keep the clock moving. Bradshaw couldn’t resist, and scored anyway.

In a similar situation in the Super Bowl, Eli was right because the decision worked out for him, but in this similar case Eli was wrong, because the decision didn't work out for him. That's how it works in Gregg's world. Whatever worked was the correct decision.

Two years ago, when Peyton Manning’s Broncos were at Dallas in a somewhat similar situation, the Broncos deliberately did not score, to keep the clock moving. During family holiday dinners, the brothers may swap tales about how Peyton got this situation right and Eli got it wrong.

Then Eli and Peyton swap tales about how it's harder for Eli to hold his hand steady with the weight of two Super Bowl rings on his fingers, while Peyton only has one Super Bowl ring holding him down.

Except on Sunday night in the endgame at Dallas, a touchdown would have put the Giants ahead by 10 with less than two minutes remaining and with the Boys out of timeouts. There wasn’t any need for elaborate game theory. Just run the ball into the end zone and the Giants win.

And there is no way the Cowboys could have scored with no timeouts left, even though they did score a touchdown with no timeouts left, and then get the onside kick and tie the game with a field goal. Yes, it wasn't the best decision on the part of the Giants and Eli Manning, but the Giants chose to be aggressive. Not to mention, there is no guarantee Jennings would have scored a touchdown. It's not like he dove to the ground at the goal line and tried to prevent himself from scoring like Bradshaw did in the Super Bowl. So who knows if Jennings would have scored and the Giants tried to show faith in their offense (which always leads to victories!) and pass the ball to secure the victory. It didn't work, therefore Gregg criticizes them. If it had worked, Gregg would have written about how this aggressive play call showed faith in the offense, which led the Giants to victory.

Note the 74-word lead says the fiasco at the goal line “seems” to be the question about the Giants-Dallas contest. Maybe it’s not. Thrice in the second half, the Giants used too-conservative tactics and kicked on fourth-and-short. Just to prove it was no fluke, Jersey/A (see explanation below) also punted in Dallas territory.

So the Giants lost because they kicked on fourth-and-short, but they wouldn't have lost the game if they had just run for a touchdown and gone up 10 points? So the punting on fourth-and-short is why the Giants lost the game, unless it ends up not being the reason they lost the game. The Giants weren't aggressive enough, which cost them a victory, but then they were too aggressive, which also cost them a victory. Whatever works, that's what the Giants should have done.

Had the Giants gone for it on fourth-and-goal from the Dallas 1 with 1:37 remaining and the Cowboys out of timeouts, they either would have scored a touchdown to sign-and-seal the victory, or would have pinned the hosts on their 1. As it was, Coughlin did the “safe” thing and took the field goal, meaning a 6-point lead that Dallas could overcome with a touchdown.

Yeah, but didn't Coughlin's insistence on doing the not "safe" thing by throwing the ball on third down inspire his team to play well and let the Giants know he was serious about winning the game? Using Gregg's prior contention that coaches who go for it on fourth down inspire their team to victory, shouldn't the Giants offense have converted the third down because they knew Coughlin wasn't trying to be safe? Fortune favors the bold and it's bold to pass on third down when doing the "safe" thing and running out the clock can win the game. Gregg thinks the Giants were too "safe" on fourth down and then they weren't "safe" enough on third down. It's all very confusing.

Consistently, N.F.L. coaches make the “safe” choice and lose. Atlanta leading, 26-24, with 2:37 remaining in the “Monday Night Football” opener, the Eagles faced fourth-and-1 on the Falcons’ 26. Philadelphia’s Blur Offense had gotten hot in the second half: On their previous three possessions, the Eagles went touchdown, touchdown, touchdown. For the night, they averaged 5.9 yards gained per snap.

But again, passing on third down isn't "safe" and I don't know why Gregg doesn't address this. Well, I do. He wants to complain NFL coaches are too conservative while also criticizing an NFL coach for making a decision that wasn't safe but didn't end up working out for his team.

Instead Kelly sent out the place-kicker, who missed. “Safe” fourth-down tactics meant defeat.

But "safe" third down tactics mean victory. 

Next week, The Upshot’s 4th Down Bot returns — buzz, whir, clank — from vacation at a robot resort on the dark side of the moon. Tuesday Morning Quarterback will delve into the deep-seated psychohistorical reasons that coaches send out kickers on fourth-and-short.

Imagine how much MLB sportswriters would hate it if there was a machine that determined whether a manager's lineup was optimal or he made the correct decision during a game. Their heads would spin, followed by 100 "Baseball is played people, not robots" columns that most certainly would end up on this blog. Murray Chass and Jerry Green would be responsible for about 75 of these articles. 

Sweet Play of the Week. Thanks to “safe” tactics by the Giants, Dallas had hope when reaching the Jersey/A 11 with 13 seconds remaining.

The Cowboys set a trips (three-receiver set) left with the reliable Jason Witten as a flexed tight end. Witten “got off the line,” evading an attempted jam, then ran a simple curl to catch the winning touchdown pass. Sweet!

Yes, Witten "got off the line" which means I have no idea why "got off the line" is in italics in this situation. I don't know why I ask these types of questions anyway. 

In the Super Bowl, the Flying Elvii (see explanation below) split tall tight end Rob Gronkowski wide to the right, almost along the sideline. The Seahawks’ secondary was confused — a linebacker went over to cover Gronkowski, while no safety shaded to that side. Seeing his defense confused, why didn’t Pete Carroll call time out? Touchdown pass and emphatic spike.

This is an example of where Gregg has a total misunderstanding of how defenses work. The call by Dan Quinn may not have involved doubling Gronkowski or providing safety help over the top. Earl Thomas or Kam Chancellor can't just decide on their own that they don't give a shit what the defense call was and they are going to double whichever receiver they feel like they should be doubling on a specific play. Maybe Carroll didn't call timeout because he didn't think the defense was confused. He thought he had a linebacker on a tight end and figured that was the play call Dan Quinn made in that situation.

Gregg Easterbrook is under the impression that a defensive player can just do whatever the fuck he wants to do on a play.

(Defensive player) "Oh, Julio Jones is lined up in the slot? I'll just not play Cover-1 on this defensive play and provide help over the top to the corner."

(Another defensive player) "There's Rob Gronkowski over on the right side of the field. Sure, I'm supposed to be covering the running back out of the backfield...but I think the linebacker is going to need some help. I'll probably ignore the defensive play call and shade Gronkowski's way." 

Sweet ‘n’ Sour Play of the Week. Trailing, 31-24, with 59 seconds remaining in regulation, St. Louis had the ball on the Seattle 39. St. Louis lines up with a trips right, tight end Lance Kendricks flexed wide left, doing a Gronkowski imitation.

Generally, I'm betting that Lance Kendricks does a really crappy impression of Rob Gronkowski. You know, based on each player's production over his career. 

On the down, Seattle was in Cover 1, meaning just one safety deep — though the Seahawks knew the Rams had to reach the end zone.

The Seahawks trust their corners and the rest of the secondary to cover guys in man coverage on certain plays. So the safety often plays centerfield and when that safety is Kam Chancellor there tends to be few things that go wrong. So I don't know if Gregg thinks the Seahawks should have played Cover-2 or some other defense in this situation, but they trust their secondary enough to only have one safety deep. It's what had made the defense so good in the past that they are able to do this. 

The lone deep safety shaded toward the trips side, meaning strong safety Dion Bailey had single coverage — no help — versus Kendricks.

It's Lance fucking Kendricks. Why the hell would the Seahawks need to double him? Jesus Christ, Gregg wants a defense to double every single receiver on the field, as if the defense can trot 20 guys out there at a time. Kendricks has 132 receptions over his five year career. The only reason the Seahawks would double him is if they were trying to be ironic. Really, does Gregg not understand if Lance Kendricks gets doubled then that means other offensive players can score? Does he understand numbers and why a defense shouldn't double every single tight end that lines up on the far right or left side of the line of scrimmage? 

Yet the entire Seattle secondary looked surprised when Kendricks took off deep.

Probably because they didn't know what route he was going to run. Again, it's Lance Kendricks. He's not T.Y. Hilton or another really fast receiver who sees a safety lined up on him and immediately thinks of making a play deep. Kendricks is a tight end. It's very possible he could have run another route that didn't involve going deep. 

BOLO of the Week. All units, all units, Be on the Lookout for the Seattle defense. It disappeared in the fourth quarter of the Super Bowl and has not been seen since. All units, all units, Be on the Lookout for the Detroit Lions’ defense. Ranked second in 2014, Detroit’s defense was torched for 483 yards at San Diego, allowing a fourth-quarter third-and-19 conversion that helped the Bolts ice the contest.

I wonder if Kam Chancellor's absence had anything to do with the Seahawks defense struggling? Probably not, because that would be crazy. Also, the Lions lost much of their defensive line and one of the best defensive linemen in the game to free agency, so it's not that the defense is lost, but that the defense is struggling to replace certain players. Go ahead and send the BOLO, but there is a reasonable explanation for the struggles of the Lions and the Seahawks are still in the middle of the pack on defense without Chancellor. 

Purists may lament the situation, but to fans, roster churn matters not. Football’s Rule of 90/90 holds that 90 percent of the fans have no idea who 90 percent of the players are.

Gregg Easterbrook doesn't know who 90 percent of the players are either. I'm glad Gregg thinks he knows enough to say roster churn matters not. Ask Panthers fans when Steve Smith was released if roster churn matters. Ask Lions fans who lost Ndamukong Suh in free agency how they feel about roster churn. It's very hard to know 90% of the players in a league full of 1696 players, but I'm guessing fans care about roster churn on their own team. Of course, who I am to argue with Gregg? 

So long as a team has a couple of well-known stars, the identities of the wedge guys are irrelevant.

This shows how disconnected Gregg really is from what fans think. Any person who follows his favorite team regularly sees how other fans get excited about wedge guys and the 50th man on the roster who did something great in training camp and could he be the next great tight end for the team? If anything, fans know these wedge guys too well in training camp and put too much faith in these wedge guys to be difference makers. But whatever, Gregg. Whatever. You know more about what fans think while high up on your pedestal.

New England just won the Super Bowl. How many of its starting linemen can you name without peeking at the Web?

Four. I can name four of them. David Andrews, Tre Jackson, Sebastian Vollmer, and Nate Solder. How many can you name, Gregg? Zero? Or just the highly-paid glory boys like Julio Jones who you pretend to know something about? 

Great Moments in Football Management No. 1. On “Monday Night Football,” Julio Jones caught nine passes for 141 yards and two touchdowns — none too shabby. Netting the 2011 Cleveland-Atlanta trade and subsequent transactions, the Browns gave up Jones, one of the N.F.L.’s best players, for Johnny Manziel, one of the N.F.L.’s players.

Wait, what is this? Gregg Easterbrook says Julio Jones is one of the NFL's best players? But the Falcons didn't make the playoffs last year and that is all Jones' fault. I'll let Peter explain better than I can. From his August 2014 TMQ:

Since they took their home field for the NFC title game, the Falcons are 4-13. General manager Thomas Dimitroff gambled the club's future on the 2011 kings' ransom trade for Julio Jones, and the gamble failed. Not only did Atlanta fail to reach the Super Bowl, but Jones also has failed to justify the trade.

It's amazing how Jones has gone from being a part of a failed trade where he hasn't justified his abilities enough to one of the NFL's best players in the matter of a season. Not to mention, the Falcons had a losing record last year, but Gregg somehow fails to blame Jones for this losing record in 2015 when in 2014 the Falcons losing record proved how Jones failed to justify the picks the Falcons gave up for him. It's almost like Gregg constantly contradicts himself and talks out of his ass.

One year Jones fails to justify the trade the Falcons made to get him, the next year once the Browns have gotten rid of all the players in that trade, Jones has suddenly justified the trade and is one of the NFL's best players. This despite the fact that the Falcons didn't make the playoffs last year, so the reasoning Gregg used to bash Jones is still relevant, except now Gregg realizes how fucking stupid his assertion was and wants to pretend he never wrote anything negative about Jones.

It's not a one time thing either that Gregg bashed Jones. From 2012:

Rookie Julio Jones is playing well, but the king's ransom of draft choices Atlanta gave for him has already resulted in decline of the Falcons' power game.

Or from November 2013:  

The king's ransom in draft choices paid two years ago for Julio Jones led to talent depletion of the Atlanta roster.

You will notice in there that Gregg called Jones a "diva" for some inexplicable reason.

The Falcons might right themselves, but for now, there seems a concern that the Julio Jones trade will explode in their faces. Atlanta gave a king's ransom for Jones, not only depleting its ability to restock other positions but inserting a diva character into a locker room that previously was cohesive.

Or should I point out the TMQ dedicated to why mega-trades (like the one for Jones) don't work?  

Gregg Easterbrook is a contradicting hack and anyone who employs him should be prepared for him to mislead his audience and write things he will later contradict or try to pretend he never wrote. Facts aren't things that Gregg worries about. He passes his opinion off as fact and then tries to pretend it never happened when he contradicts his previous facts.

Great Moments in Football Management No. 2. With Robert Griffin III selling popcorn in the stands and Kirk Cousins looking befuddled on the field, consider: Netting transactions, in the last five years the Washington franchise has invested three No. 1 draft choices, two No. 2s and a No. 4 on quarterbacks, and is in panic mode at quarterback.

Yes, the Redskins traded many of these picks to the Rams for Robert Griffin III, but I don't know if I consider that investing the pick into a quarterback. And also, Gregg has taken great pains to criticize the Rams for this trade as well. It's not like the Rams did much with the picks anyway. I actually don't think the Redskins are in panic mode at quarterback. I think Gruden likes Cousins and McCoy pretty well. 

Maybe It’s Just as Well George Halas Did Not Live to See This. Trailing Green Bay by a touchdown in the fourth quarter, the Bears, playing before a raucous home crowd, reached second-and-goal on the Packers’ 2. On the day, the team rushed for 189 yards. So did Chicago punch the ball in on three tries from the 2? Incompletion, incompletion, incompletion, and I wrote “game over” in my notebook.

There was 7:42 left in the game at that point. I'm glad Gregg felt the need to write "Game Over" in his notebook, though I wonder how many times he erases "Game Over" after he's written it, because the Bears in fact did score another touchdown in the game, so it wasn't totally over after this failed fourth down conversion. 

McCoy, now running for the Bills, has walked his comments back so many times it’s no longer clear exactly what his point is, other than that he dislikes Kelly. Kelly has said he does not like tailbacks who are “jingle-footed,” whatever that means.

Chip Kelly has said this repeatedly. He has said he likes running backs who make one cut and hit the hole, then run downhill. A "jingle-footed" running back is a running back who doesn't hit the hole and then run downhill. It's really not complicated at all to figure out what Kelly means. I like how this is the comment that required a correction to TMQ. Previously, Gregg would have just changed this sentence from referring to LeSean McCoy to referring to all running backs and pretended it never happened, all while criticizing others for making mistakes in their column. Because the "New York Times" publishes corrections, Gregg can't pretend his shit don't stink while pointing out the mistakes of others. I like it. 

Super Bowl Flashback. Reaching the New England 1 in the closing seconds of the Super Bowl, all Seattle had to do was hand the ball to Marshawn Lynch and a second Lombardi Trophy was likely.

Yes, it was "likely" because that's the conclusion Gregg wants to reach in order to prove his conclusion. Sure, maybe Lynch would have scored, but is that "likely" Lynch would have scored? Who knows? It's dangerous to just make assumptions like this, but as long as it proves the point Gregg wants to prove he doesn't care.

The folly of Seattle’s final offensive call prevented the sports world from noticing something else: The Seahawks committed pass interference on the play.

Hang with Gregg on this. He says the final offensive call prevented the sports world from noticing the pass interference on the play. So the way Gregg is working this contention is that he noticed pass interference that the rest of the sports world didn't notice. Others were unaware of the pass interference...well, until Gregg decides that's not true. No one noticed, except he needs people to notice the pass interference in the very next sentence. 

Had Seattle scored on the play, millions today would believe that an officiating blunder awarded the wrong team the Lombardi Trophy. Millions would think the 2014 N.F.L. season built up to a conclusion as badly botched by zebras as the ending of the 2012 Fail Mary game,

Millions would believe that an officiating blunder awarded the wrong team the Lombardi Trophy, because they saw the pass interference on the play that Gregg just claimed the sports world didn't see. I guess Gregg is assuming everyone is too stupid to catch those things that he catches, like there was offensive pass interference on the play, because we saw the ball get intercepted. So yes, the millions would wonder about the officiating blunder that Gregg claims the sports world didn't notice. 

Human nature says we pay more attention to what happens than to what doesn’t happen. What did not happen was that the 2014 N.F.L. season — which began with the extreme unpleasantness of the Ray Rice videotape, then proceeded to another Patriots cheating accusation — did not end with Seattle receiving a tainted win because offensive pass interference was not called.

The pass interference no one noticed would taint everything. And also, I'm not sure that would have been pass interference. The Patriots run plays like that themselves and aren't often called for pass interference. Gregg has now created a whole new controversy that doesn't exist and may have never existed. I wonder how many times he'll mention this controversy that never was over this upcoming football season, in between writing a TMQ on concussions, blur offenses and how offenses are far ahead of defenses early in the season? 

Scandal Nickname Note. Aren’t you weary of “____”-Gate? Yours truly contends the ball-inflation hullabaloo should be called PSIcheated.

I'm weary of your nicknames for NFL teams. Hopefully the "Times" will keep TMQ at an abbreviated length and possibly I can look forward to a correction every week in TMQ. God knows if the editors are doing their job, the list Gregg used to make of "Times" corrections will look small compared the list of corrections made on a weekly basis to TMQ.


JBsptfn said...

When I saw your headline of the Long National Nightmare Returning, I was thinking about Simmons and his failbags, not Easterbook.

Anonymous said...

Asimov's Psychohistory can have nothing to do with a single football play, even in theory. As anyone with even a slight familiarity with it should know, Psychohistory was the (imaginary) science used by a group of people in a Galactic Empire to predict the future. It used the average behavior of people in huge groups and was *specifically* stated not to hold to small groups and individuals.

Apparently Greg likes the sound of the word without knowing what it means.

Frank said...

I love it. This is up there with my favorite things about each football season. I love that some morons at the Times gave him a job, just so I can read the weekly evisceration.

Bengoodfella said...

JB, I don't know if Simmons will be writing at HBO or not. I haven't missed him and since I have long posited he doesn't care to write anymore, I would guess he won't be writing. Just a guess.

Three, I think you blew my mind a little bit there. I wonder what a "small" group would be defined as?

Frank, I get behind of late, but will always try to make time for PK and Gregg. I actually like that TMQ is shorter, so hopefully his stupidity will be in smaller amounts.