Cincinnati’s comeback against two-time Super Bowl entrant Seattle may prove the Bengals’ 2015 signature victory.
The Bengals probably really hope this isn't their signature victory of the season. It's Week 5 and they have a lot of important games to be played. And remember a couple of weeks ago when Gregg said this:
In a FanDuel television ad, a man — viewers have no idea whether he’s an actor — says to the camera, “Every single week I can win money on Fan Duel!” Can is quite a fudge word: Statements of this nature would not pass scrutiny in breakfast-cereal advertising.
Think about that when reading TMQ and reading all the declarative statements that Gregg tries to make using the word "may" or "could." This may or may not be the Bengals signature victory. Be sure to pay attention to TMQ until the end of the Bengals season when Gregg will either brag he was correct or ignore he said this entirely.
The sports world praised the Cincinnati offense for scoring: “Dalton Leads Frenetic Comeback” read the Washington Post print edition headline. But the key to the comeback was the Cincinnati defense.
An iron law of the gridiron: Defense starts comebacks, offense stops them.
Everyone who reads this blog is smart. If you weren't smart, you wouldn't read what I write (ego alert). I don't have to explain the sheer stupidity of Gregg passing off this "iron law" to his readers as if it means something. It's impossible for a team to come back in a game if the other team continues scoring points. If not impossible, it's very, very hard. So yes, this is common sense and not a law. The fact Gregg constantly parrots this saying over and over shows how needy he is for fresh material in TMQ.
Of course the trailing team must post more points, but Step 1 of any comeback is to prevent the leading team from widening the margin.
No fucking shit? Are you sure about this? Are you sure if a team is down 34-10 then they need to stop the other team from scoring more points before they can make a comeback? Does this also mean before I can lose weight I have to stop eating 5000 calories a day? I need clarification.
Seattle led, 24-7, at the beginning of the fourth quarter. Seahawks possession results from then on: punt, punt, punt, punt, punt. Strong defense by Cincinnati created the circumstance in which the offense could reassert itself.
Yes, they stopped the Seahawks from scoring. Defense will always start the comeback, because a comeback can't actually begin until the opposing team stops scoring points. Please stop and think about how obvious this is.
Defense starts comebacks, offense stops them.
Continuing to write this over and over does not make it more insightful nor will it distract anyone from just how obvious this statement is.
Consider January’s N.F.C. title game, Green Bay at Seattle. The Packers attained a 22-7 lead in the fourth quarter. Green Bay possession results from then on: punt, punt, field goal. From the juncture of the 22-7 lead, Green Bay gained just three first downs.
And if the Packers had three touchdowns on these three possessions then the Seahawks could not have come back and won the game. This isn't a law, it's common sense.
Then two weeks later at the Super Bowl, Seattle led New England, 24-14, at the start of fourth quarter. Seahawks possession results from then till the double-whistle: three-and-out, three-and-out, interception. Defense sparked the New England rebound.
Because if the defense didn't spark the comeback and continued to give up points, it doesn't matter what the offense does. How many times have announcers said, "The defense has to make a stop here if Team X wants a chance to win this game"? Saying defense starts comebacks is not insightful. It's common sense.
In the greatest comeback ever, the old Houston Oilers led the Buffalo Bills, 35-3, in the third quarter of a 1993 playoff game. The Bills put up a passel of touchdowns, but as important was that for the remainder of the contest, Houston scored just 3 points. Defense led the comeback.
It also helped that the offense put up 35 points in the second half. Without all those points, the defense could give up zero points in the second half and the Bills still would have lost. It's almost like a good offense and good defense go hand-in-hand or something.
On the flip side, offense stops comebacks.
Oh my fucking goodness...yes, if one team scores 21 straight points and is down 3 points, but the other team scores a touchdown, then the comeback will be temporarily stopped. This is shockingly obvious and I'm not sure why Gregg's editor doesn't yell in his ear that his insight is actually just common sense.
If way behind, focus on stopping the other side from advancing the ball. If way ahead, score again to ice the contest.
My head just exploded. Why does Gregg exist as a person writing TMQ? Why? So he is wasting his and our time telling us that if a team is losing, they want to stop the opposing team from scoring more points, while if a team is way ahead they should continue to try and score points. This is what he is doing. Apparently he thinks that TMQ readers need to be notified that NFL defenses should want to stop the other team from scoring and NFL offenses should want to try and score points. This is not news. It's not even close to news. It's obviousness wrapped up in the disguise of insight.
The Patriots have won six straight versus Indianapolis. The last four meetings were blowouts, the Flying Elvii outscoring the Colts, 189-73. Andrew Luck is 0-4 versus New England, 37-16 versus all other teams. His shoulder hurting, Luck may or may not dress. Knowing who’s coming may tempt him to take an extra week off.
It may tempt him to take another week off or it may not tempt him to take another week off. Luck may or may not play. Speaking of comebacks, come back next week when Gregg criticizes other people for writing sentences that contain fudge words.
The primary reason the Patriots are dominating the Colts is that New England is the better team.
"The primary reason the Yankees have won so many World Series is because they have better players and were better than the teams they were playing."
"The primary reason John Lennon hasn't put out any new material since 1980 is that he is dead."
This must be the "incredibly obvious statements" version of TMQ.
In two meetings with Indianapolis last season, discounting kneel-downs, New England rushed a total of 80 times, a high number for the New England offense, and threw short 53 times and long 12 times. Forty percent of Patriots’ passes were short to Tom Brady’s right. If in Sunday’s date at Indianapolis, New England rushes more than usual and throws short right repeatedly, expect the Colts to act surprised.
Or they can just act like it's not easy to just stop a team from running the ball out of sheer will. There is a difference in knowing a team is running the football and actually being able to stop that team from running the football.
Besides, what does Gregg want the Colts to do? If the Patriots split Gronkowski wide then he has to be double-covered, right? Gregg writes all the time how a team needs to cover a tight end split wide with two defenders, so it's not like the Colts can stack the box against the Patriots.
This is another great example of Gregg making rules and assertions that he eventually contradicts. Whatever ends up working for a team is the strategy that team should have used, while if a strategy didn't work then that team should not have used it. All of Gregg's criticisms are based entirely on outcomes. He wants the Colts to focus on stopping the run and throws to the right, all while double-covering Gronkowski if/when he is split out wide. He doesn't think about how these two positions can contradict each other, because all he cares about is seeing what didn't work for the Colts and independently suggesting a solution in a vacuum.
On “Monday Night Football,” an awful lot, in terms of action and of football logic, was packed into the final five seconds.
And if anyone knows anything about football logic, it's Gregg Easterbrook.
The host Chargers leading by 3, Pittsburgh completed a pass to the San Diego 1, five seconds showing. First, San Diego safety Jahleel Addae delivered a vicious helmet-to-helmet hit on Steelers tight end Heath Miller, and officials flagged him for unnecessary roughness.
I think what Gregg means is that undrafted, hard-working free agent Jahleel Addae made a mental error when delivering a hit on highly-paid glory boy first round pick Heath Miller. Or is it that their draft positions aren't relevant because knowledge of the draft position of these two players doesn't go to prove a point that Gregg wants to prove?
Second, rather than kick a field goal and proceed to overtime, the Steelers went for the win — and using a run. In the pass-wacky contemporary N.F.L., coaches throw too many passes from the 1-yard line — the Seahawks at the Super Bowl, for instance. In the last five seasons, N.F.L. teams scored touchdowns on 54 percent of rushes from the 1, versus on 50 percent of passes.
A 4% difference that is probably significant statistically, but isn't really significant in terms of whether a team will decide to throw or run the football into the end zone. An NFL team, and I know this is shocking because it goes against Gregg's rule of "always run the ball into the end zone," should play to their strengths when trying to score a touchdown from the 1-yard line.
A small difference to be sure — but at the 1, running the ball is playing the percentages.
It is playing the percentages, while ignoring the strengths/weaknesses of the team playing defense and ignoring the strengths/weaknesses of the team on offense. Decisions can't be made in a vacuum using easy to understand rules based on the percentages while ignoring the specific situation on the field. Percentages are great to run the ball until a team with a height advantage at receiver and a weak running game is going up against a team with a strong run defense on the 1-yard line.
Third, Pittsburgh came out with Michael Vick in the huddle — then Vick flanked wide and Le’Veon Bell, a tailback, lined up behind center. Seeing this funky set, San Diego called a timeout. Surely, the Chargers thought, Pittsburgh will now change to a different look.
The Chargers called timeout, just like Gregg always wants a defense to do. This fixed everything, right? The defense called a timeout, as Gregg always suggests they should do in this situation, but that didn't work. What? How could this happen?
After the timeout, the Steelers used reverse psychology and ran exactly the same play — “you must have suspected I would have known” — Bell rushing for the winning touchdown.
So the Chargers called a timeout in order to set up a defense against a different play than the one the Steelers would be running? This is what Gregg wants us to believe? The Chargers saw they didn't have the correct personnel on the field, called timeout, and then called a defensive play based on the Steelers changing their play to another play the Chargers didn't know if they would have the correct personnel to defend? This is Gregg's position.
“Badger! Badger!” Trailing by 24-14, the Bengals reached the Seahawks’ 5 with 3 minutes 41 seconds remaining in regulation. Before starting the cadence, quarterback Andy Dalton shouted “badger!” ardently, while pointing to the far left of the Cincinnati formation, where the Bengals had a trips set of three receivers. In pass-wacky modern football, the defense was expecting a throw:
Another great example of how Gregg can read the minds of an entire defensive unit. It's a shame an NFL team hasn't scooped Gregg up yet to work in their front office, considering he is capable of knowing what an entire defensive unit is thinking on a given play. I would think Gregg's ability to come up with bullshit in order to prove his point would be beneficial to an NFL team.
But Dalton didn’t want the visitors to realize what he was thinking. “Badger! Badger!” was a fake audible. Dalton appeared to be telling the three receivers on the left what he wanted them to do. Then Dalton went straight up the middle to score the touchdown that changed the complexion of the contest.
So let's follow this football logic. Dalton audibled using the word "Badger!" while pointing at his receivers. This made the defense think there was a pass coming. BUT, "Badger!" was a fake audible and Andy Dalton instead ran the original play call, which was a quarterback rush up the middle of the defense. This is what Gregg claims happened.
So we are to believe, because "Badger!" was a fake audible, the original play call from Hue Jackson was a quarterback sneak up the middle. This was the play being called and Dalton fake-audibled using "Badger!" to convince the defense that he was throwing the football. Again, Hue Jackson called a quarterback sneak up the middle. This is the play call Gregg wants us to believe and Dalton wasn't really calling an audible. Gregg doesn't think the original play call was a pass and Dalton saw the middle was open, then called an audible using the word "Badger!," a clever play on words for a quarterback run considering the Bengals were playing the Seahawks and Russell Wilson who played for the Wisconsin Badgers, thereby telling his receivers to run block. Gregg thinks the original play call was a run for Andy Dalton up the middle. That's what he is trying to bullshit his readers into believing.
Sour Play of the Week. Washington leading, 16-12, with 30 seconds remaining in regulation, Atlanta reached first-and-goal on the 6. Defensive ends want sacks — that’s the stat they are rewarded for at contract time. Offensive coordinators exploit defensive ends who gamble for sacks. At the snap, Washington defensive end Ryan Kerrigan sprinted straight up the field to try to sack Matt Ryan, totally giving up his contain.
Ryan Kerrigan is not a defensive end. He is a weakside linebacker. I know, these are just details that should in no way distract from the story. Ignore the facts that are incorrect and just assume the rest of the story is accurate.
Sweet ‘n’ Sour Matched Set of Plays. Game scoreless, Cincinnati had the ball on the Seattle 14. Seahawks strong safety Kam Chancellor lined up over Bengals tight end Tyler Eifert, who was in-line left. Usually the strong safety covers the tight end. When Eifert ran straight up the field to the end zone, Chancellor let him go by, neither jamming him nor attempting to cover him; Chancellor double-teamed a wide receiver going short. Uncovered touchdown for Eifert.
"Usually the strong safety covers the tight end." Sure, whatever works for Gregg to believe, regardless of whether this declarative statement is true or not.
Now it’s the fourth quarter, Seattle with a seemingly secure 24-7 lead. Cincinnati reached the Seattle 10. Same play call — Eifert in-line left, straight up the field — as when the Bengals were in this field position before. Same defense, Chancellor over Eifert. Same result as before: Chancellor ignored the Cincinnati tight end in order to double-team a wide receiver pulling up short. Same result, touchdown.
Check out the video at the 1:00 minute mark. Chancellor thought he had help from Cary Williams behind him and he did not double team the wide receiver going short. He was the only Seahawks player covering the Bengals player going short. If he had not covered the Bengals player running a route in front of the zone, and stayed on Eifert, then the Bengals player running short of the end zone could have walked into the end zone after catching a pass.
While the attention goes to the schools that perform in prime time, it’s important to remember just how much college football is played. There are 128 Division I programs (the N.C.A.A. insists on calling Division I the Football Bowl Subdivision though this division now crowns a champion); Division I-AA has 125 member schools (the N.C.A.A. calls this the Football Championship Subdivision, though all subdivisions now have champions); there are 156 Division II football colleges (this is the level at which California of Pennsylvania and Indiana of Pennsylvania play); 241 colleges field Division III football teams; and 87 colleges participate in football through the N.A.I.A., an off-price generic version of the N.C.A.A.
It's always great when Gregg is around to help his readers understand things like this. Last week, Gregg watched out for the unsophisticated people who think FanDuel and DraftKings is an easy way to make fast money, and this week, Gregg is around to let his readers know that there are other football programs in the United States that aren't Division I programs. I know! Some of you may have gone to a college (like I did) that didn't have a Division I football program, but still had no idea that the football program at your school was not Division I. Gregg is here to enlighten you though, so worry no more.
That’s 737 college football teams: considering byes, around 350 college games per autumn weekend.
I think more than 37 teams have a bye during a given week during the season. If the football season is 14 weeks long, then this means only 518 of the 737 teams get a bye during the season. That seems a bit low.
If you haven’t been to a small-college football game lately, try one. The level of play may surprise you, and unless it’s raining, the experience is likely to be pleasing.
Yes, I have tried it a few times before. It was okay, but it was nothing like a football game between two teams that are Division I football teams.
Another reason the Colts appear doomed this coming Sunday: Under Bill Belichick, the Patriots are 46-16 in October.
I hope the Colts win just so Gregg has to talk his way out of essentially saying the Colts have no chance of winning this game. Yes, I'm sure that the Colts are doomed because traditionally Bill Belichick is strong in October. Tradition is what decides the outcome of a football game. Belichick has been with the Patriots for 16 years, so he loses one game every October. What if this is the game the Patriots lose in October?
The Navy announced yet another delay in delivery of the Gerald R. Ford, lead ship in the next class of supercarriers. Once in service, the Ford will join these active supercarriers named for Republican presidents: the George H.W. Bush, the Eisenhower, the Lincoln, the Reagan and the Theodore Roosevelt, plus one supercarrier named for a Democratic president, the Truman. The second ship of the Ford class will be the John Kennedy. Still, that will be six Republican-named supercarriers, two named for Democrats.
There is a clear bias against Democrats when it comes to naming supercarriers after Presidents who were Democrats. Above all else, I think Congress should do an investigation into this.
There’s a destroyer named jointly for Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt. But there’s no supercarrier named for F.D.R. — longest-serving president, chief executive during World War II — and no ship named for that aspiring First Squire, William Jefferson Clinton. Gerald Ford was a fine man but never elected to national office; Clinton was twice chosen president by voters. Yet Ford’s name is on a supercarrier while Clinton’s name is nowhere to be found.
My God, the horror. To make matters worse, Bill Clinton left office 15 years ago and he doesn't have a supercarrier named after him, while Gerald Ford left office 41 years ago and is just now having a supercarrier named after him. I can't believe Clinton doesn't get a supercarrier named after him. WHY MUST THE WILL OF THE AMERICAN PEOPLE BE IGNORED?
BOLOs of the Week. All units, all units, be on the lookout for the Seattle Seahawks’ offensive line. Russell Wilson has been sacked 22 times, on a pace for 70 sacks. (Last season’s worst was 71 sacks allowed by Jacksonville.) Two weeks ago versus Detroit, offensive line malfunctions caused Seattle to face fourth-and-goal from the 33. Sunday, Wilson was sacked on third down before the punt that positioned Cincinnati to force overtime, then sacked again on third down before the punt that positioned Cincinnati to win.
As most people know, it's not just the offensive line that can be to blame for a quarterback getting sacked. Sometimes a quarterback holds the ball too long, lacks the pocket awareness to get rid of the football, or just moves in the wrong direction and takes a sack. Stafford and Wilson's offensive line may be terrible, but there is an occasion when the quarterback is at fault too. I wouldn't expect Gregg to understand any type of nuance or understand everything isn't black and white.
Adventures in Officiating. Twice in the fourth quarter at Atlanta, the Potomac Drainage Basin Indigenous Persons ran hitch screens to wide receiver Jamison Crowder, once for a long gainer, once for a loss. On both plays, Washington offensive linemen ran downfield before the pass, no flag. Hitch screens — called “bubble” or “smoke” screens depending on the offense — have become so frequent that zebras seem to have lost focus on watching for linemen downfield.
Or the NFL has directed officials to not call a penalty for linemen blocking downfield so strictly in an effort to help offenses score points and generate excitement. In certain situations, the linemen can be downfield, such as when he is blocking a defensive player. I didn't see these plays, but given Gregg's history of not understanding what he's watching, I wouldn't be surprised if these linemen were blocking their man and therefore not subject to a penalty.
Stop Me Before I Blitz Again! Cleveland facing third-and-5 on the Baltimore 18, the Ravens ran a “house” blitz — seven men rushing the passer. Baltimore didn’t need a sack, since Cleveland would have been in field-goal position anyway; what Baltimore needed was an incompletion. Highlight reels are loving the touchdown pass that tight end Gary Barnidge caught with his legs against this ill-advised all-out blitz.
Yes, this "ill-advised blitz" that had McCown throwing a prayer into the air off his back leg to a receiver who had to catch the pass with his ass in order to catch the touchdown. The blitz didn't work because McCown through up a prayer and Barnidge made a miraculous catch. That doesn't seem ill-advised to me. It seems it was a good play call that didn't work due to two great plays by the Browns. But again, Gregg bases his criticism on the outcome, so because the outcome was bad for the Ravens then Gregg thinks it was obviously a wrong play call. This despite the fact the play call had the quarterback throwing up a prayer and the receiver having to make an ass-catch.
I love how Gregg constantly assumes that a team can just rush four players at the quarterback and incompletion will result. Gregg doesn't understand the concept that rushing four players doesn't guarantee an incompletion because the quarterback could have more time to find an open receiver. He writes "what Baltimore needed was an incompletion" while criticizing the blitz, which is an obvious attempt to claim by not blitzing the Ravens would have had a better chance of getting an incompletion. This is not necessarily true.
Tennessee leading Buffalo, 13-7, in the fourth quarter, the Titans had the Bills facing third-and-23. Tennessee didn’t need a sack, just an incompletion. It’s a blitz! Tyrod Taylor runs for the first down and the hosts are not looking too gorgeous.
Hey look! Gregg is lying again! Notice that the Bills rushed four at Taylor with a linebacker as a spy. They did not blitz and Taylor made a fantastic run to get the first down. I don't know why Gregg insists on lying or maybe he just wants the Bills to have blitzed in order to make his point become true. Either way, the Bills rushed four and had a linebacker as a spy. Clearly Gregg is not astute enough to see the difference in a blitzer and a spying linebacker.
The Booth Gods Chortled. Two weeks ago, Tuesday Morning Quarterback noted that network announcers criticize players (labor) but validate coaches (management) even when coaches are plainly wrong. Broncos leading the Raiders, 16-7, with six minutes remaining, Oakland lined up to punt. Down by more than a touchdown with six minutes remaining, why are the Raiders punting? “You have to punt it here and hope your defense can get a couple stops,” the CBS color man Trent Green said.
That's not at all how the play-by-play says this happened. I'm seeing Derek Carr got intercepted for a pick-six with 6:53 left in the game, then on their next possession, the Raiders ended up going for it on a fourth-and-19 that fell short. I don't at all see where the Raiders punted in this situation like Gregg claims the Raiders did. I don't know if I'm wrong or Gregg is making things up. He does have a tendency to make things up.
The Football Gods Winced. Hosting Indianapolis on prime-time television, Houston trailed, 10-0. The Moo Cows always roll over and play dead for the Colts. Houston entered the contest having lost five straight to Indianapolis; all-time, 4-22 versus the Colts. Facing third-and-1, Houston went empty backfield, telling the defense the play was all but certain to be a quarterback sneak.
"All but certain" to be a quarterback sneak. Granted, this was an awful QB sneak, but isn't it entirely possible, especially considering Gregg loves talking about how "pass-wacky" the NFL is, that the Texans were going to throw the ball here instead of running a sneak? Gregg likes to mention how teams go empty backfield on the 1-yard line and throw the ball, so why would it be "certain" the Texans are sneaking the ball here on third-and-1?
Watt was held by the bedraggled Indianapolis offensive line to one QH — quarterback hurry — and two assisted tackles. No full tackle, sack or TFL — tackle for a loss. If you’re going to call out your own teammates, as Watt did after the loss, maybe you should perform first.
Watt has performed at a very high level for some time now. He was getting blocked by multiple Colts players. I'm not a big fan of J.J. Watt's personality, but he can play football, and he would perform better if a couple other defensive players could step up and prevent him from being double-teamed on every down. Again, I don't like Watt's personality, but it's hard to do much when the offense is able to key on you so much and prevent you from getting to the quarterback. Hence, that's why Watt would like the other Texans players to step up.
Other underwhelming Texans include Jadeveon Clowney, first overall choice of the 2014 draft,
J.J. Watt is not underwhelming because he is being double and tripled-team. Stop being stupid.
who was held by the bedraggled Colts line to a QH and a TFL but no sack. When Clowney, who’s been an athletic celebrity since high school, was chosen first that year and Khalil Mack, who received no football-factory recruiting offers out of high school, went fifth, yours truly wrote, “Don’t be surprised if over the next five years,” Mack outperforms Clowney. Hmmm — did not take five years, it’s happened already.
Oh Gregg, you don't even understand that which you write. You didn't write, "Don't be surprised if within the next five years Mack outperforms Clowney." You wrote (all while not putting the quotations around your entire quote), "Don't be surprised if OVER the next five years Mack outperforms Clowney." There is still more than three years left OVER this five year time period for Clowney to outperform Mack. You can't even understand what you are writing and what you meant when you wrote it. How do you even write a weekly NFL column?
Gregg is now attempting to mislead his readers based on something he personally wrote. He's misquoting himself essentially.
As the Lions went down in flames to the Cardinals, Detroit set an N.F.L. record with 70 pass attempts. In the pros, a huge number of pass attempts usually coincides with a blowout loss;
Please write "NFL."
A huge number of pass attempts usually coincides with a loss in the NFL, unless it doesn't, and then Gregg will talk about how the team passed the ball so much and the defense HAD to know that team was going to be passing a lot. So here is a rule that is a rule unless it isn't.
in the N.C.A.A., it may coincide with victory.
Or it may not. Not that Gregg will use fudge words all the time when writing TMQ so that he can eventually weasel out of whatever he wrote.
Boosters in an Uproar Because Priorities Not Misplaced Enough. The University of Maryland fired Coach Randy Edsall for the sin of failing to win enough. Maryland has been attempting to join the ranks of those major universities — including Alabama, Florida State, Ohio State and Oregon — making so much money on sports they don’t even bother to pretend that what’s happening is education. But with meh on-field performance and lots of empty seats, Maryland cleared a mere $6 million profit on football last year, versus $53 million in profit at Alabama and a $38 million profit at Oregon...So out the door Edsall goes.
Gregg does realize some of the money the football program brings in goes to fund other sports at a school, right? Maybe not a ton of money goes towards other sports, but some does. So when Maryland "only" makes $6 million in profits then that is money that can't be used for other sports and is money the university can't use for whatever the hell they want to use it for. And yes, Edsall was hired to win football games, as college football coaches are hired. So when he doesn't win games, he gets fired. If Gregg would stop pretending Division I football schools hire head coaches to help players get good grades in class then he may stop being baffled when a head coach gets fired for not winning enough games. They get paid to win. Sad, but true.
Today’s Promo Code. When commenting on T.M.Q., use promo code DON’T PUNT.
I don't even understand if this is supposed to be funny or what. When commenting on TMQ, go ahead and point out where Gregg intentionally misleads his readers so that he will ignore he does this and continue to write TMQ like his shit don't stink.