Monday, October 5, 2015

0 comments Phil Mushnick Is Tired of These Showboats and Knows David Cone Agrees With Him On This Even Though He Says He Doesn't

Phil Mushnick is the crankiest of cranky-pant sportswriters. He hates everything. Well, he doesn't hate how things used to be back when athletes didn't show off (you know, show off in a way like pointing to centerfield when he was predicting he would hit a home run), didn't say things for attention (you know, like predict a Super Bowl victory while lounging at the pool), and certainly weren't me-first athletes like today's athlete is. Phil Mushnick misses those days that most certainly never actually occurred. Now it's just athletes out for themselves and the media looking to pander to these athletes. This just infuriates Phil. Much like everything outside of the existence of oxygen infuriates Phil. Mushnick knows David Cone agrees about how showboating is ruining sports, despite Cone actually saying that he does not agree. It's just "The Man" forcing Cone to say these things and that's why he doesn't agree with Phil, not because he really doesn't agree the modern athlete is too much of a showboat. After all, sports ARE NOT intended to be entertainment, so Phil doesn't know where these athletes get off trying to be entertaining.

In the discourse of a week, how much of what we’re told to believe by experts is not even believed by the experts?

42.35%. That's how much we are told to believe on the air by experts is not actually believed by these experts. Well actually, these experts don't actually tell us to believe these things they don't believe, but they simply don't spend most of a game's broadcast ignoring the game in favor of railing against showboating in sports. Phil Mushnick takes this to mean these experts LOVE showboating, because they do their job, which is to call the game and not interject personal opinions on the downfall of sports civility into the broadcast at every possible chance. 

John Madden, off air, claimed to dislike all the chest-pounding and trash-talking. He said he didn’t like show-offs. Who does?

It depends on your definition of a "show-off." I'd also like to add that John Madden coached the Raiders back when they were the hard-hitting and personality-driven Raiders teams, so the fact he claims to not like trash-talking and chest-pounding is kind of ironic given the teams Madden coached. Jack Tatum fucking paralyzed Darryl Stingley during a preseason game. But again, let's forget all this and paint John Madden as a guy who prefers straight-laced players. I like myths. 

Yet on the air, over forced laughs, he said he loved the biggest all-about-me guys — Deion Sanders and Randy Moss, for two — as great entertainers.

Because that's what they are, entertainers. It's sports. Sports are supposed to be fun and entertaining, not boring. I realize the fact sports are supposed to be entertaining causes Phil Mushnick to stare disapprovingly over the top of his glasses and shake his head. 

Of course, Madden’s big-selling video games were — still are — loaded with excessively brutal images and showboating, a primary come-on as seen in commercials and on the packaging. Madden made an added fortune encouraging the young to believe what he doesn’t believe.

I'm pretty sure John Madden never came out on telecasts and said he loved showboating and how players talk trash all the time. Also, Madden wasn't deeply involved with the "Madden" football games to where he probably has a clue what sort of in-depth imagery the game is showing. And one more thing, it's a fucking video game. Brutal images and showboating? It's a video game that is supposed to be fun. Put the pitchforks back to wherever the hell you got them from.

Friday, the Yanks were down, 5-0, in the first, when Alex Rodriguez took an inside first pitch that was called a strike. On YES, Rodriguez was seen questioning the umpire. Also on YES, Paul O’Neill said this about that:

A-Rod was questioning the umpire? What a terrible display of showboating from A-Rod to question the umpire. No old-school baseball player would EVER question an umpire's decision-making ability. These young kids (A-Rod is 40 years old) just don't know the respect that previous generations who absolutely refused to question the umpire knew.

(Phil Mushnick goes outside to get his paper and shakes his fist at the neighborhood kids who once again are playing near the curb, which is where his flowers are planted. Such a "me-first" attitude on these kids. Back in Phil's day, kids would stay as far away from flowers as possible, but these days because of video games, kids think it's perfectly fine to stand in close proximity to flowers.)

“That’s the count I don’t think umpires understand. Strike one or ball one changes the whole at bat.”

OK, but what was O’Neill suggesting? Umps should call the first pitch differently from all others?

I think it is very clear what O'Neill was suggesting. He's suggesting that the umpires pay great attention to making sure the call on the first pitch is the correct one. O'Neill isn't suggesting the umps call the first pitch differently, but wants them to pay extra special attention to making sure the call is correct on the first pitch. It would be nice if the home plate umpire would pay special attention to every pitch, but O'Neill was simply observing the first pitch sets up how the rest of the at-bat may go. There is a reason pitching coaches love their pitchers to throw first pitch strikes. I understand though. I understand Phil's job is to bitch about sports and not actually understand the sport he is bitching about. 

Wouldn’t he prefer that umpires “understand” all pitches the same — as balls or strikes?

Yes, he would. He was simply observing the first pitch is very important because it decides the direction of an at-bat in some ways and an umpire needs to be sure he doesn't miss a call on the first pitch. That's all. 

In the fourth, the Jays’ Edwin Encarnacion homered to make it 8-1. Instead of quickly circling the bases, he took his time, extending his right arm as if a bird were perched on it. “Walk-the-parrot” is the latest in ESPN-rewarded check-me-out attention-grabs.

I remember the time (okay, I don't remember it, but I remember the story about it) Babe Ruth pointed to center field and predicted he would hit a home run in the World Series. ESPN wasn't around, so why did Ruth do this? Of course, this isn't showboating, it's just a fun story about a great baseball player. 

“Does that bother you, Coney?” O’Neill asked David Cone.

And it likely bothered O’Neill, or he wouldn’t have asked.

Or it didn't bother O'Neill as an ex-hitter and he wondered if an ex-pitcher was also not bothered by Encarnacion's "parrot" walk. Phil Mushnick just makes the assumption that O'Neill was bothered because he asked the question of whether someone else was bothered. This is a potentially incorrect assumption. Perhaps O'Neill just wanted the perspective of an ex-pitcher on Encarnacion's walk.

But Phil Mushnick doesn't think like this. He assumes a conclusion and then fits his argument to fit that conclusion, even if the conclusion takes more assumptions to fit into the argument. Obviously O'Neill was bothered because he asked the question, obviously David Cone is bothered because Phil Mushnick wants him to be bothered and obviously when Cone says he isn't bothered then he is simply kowtowing to the corporate gods who he owes his broadcasting career to. So David Cone's opinion isn't his real opinion and Phil Mushnick knows this because he wants Cone's real opinion to agree with what he's writing in this column. Because any fan of the Braves knows the corporate gods who hand out broadcasting jobs would not immediately fire announcers who appear stodgy and behind the times. Joe Simpson and Chip Caray are so modern and allow their thoughts to be determined by what is currently popular. Mushnick is working under the assumption YES doesn't want their announcers sounding behind the times, while anyone who watches a baseball game on television and hears the announcers talk know this isn't true.

What we know personally and professionally about Cone is he must hate it; hate it as a former pitcher, a dad, a sportsman and a right-headed human.

The opinion Cone espouses on television to thousands watching and listening must not be his real opinion because it's not what Phil Mushnick wants David Cone to believe. Cone's own opinion isn't his real opinion. "The Man" is just keeping Cone down and Mushnick knows this is true because he wants it to be true so his opinion on showboating can be held as the correct opinion and not the opinion of an old man who needlessly complains about entertainment being too entertaining. 

But he couldn’t or wouldn’t say it for fear of condemnation as out-of-touch with an anything-goes, bereft-of-sport sports world, so he took the modern media path and pandered to it, blessed wrong as right:

Because, again, baseball announcers are never saying anything that seems out-of-touch during a baseball broadcast. This never happens. I like how Phil creates his own reality where even those things that others say which may seem to disagree with a position Phil holds are not truly the opinion that person holds. It's all because "The Man" is going to keep them down and prevent any deviation from the modern media path. That's the only real explanation for why a person affiliated with sports would disagree with Phil's opinion. "The Man" is forcing them to hold an opinion they don't agree with. You know sort of the same thing, except using the opposing point of view, that Phil Mushnick does by insisting those who don't agree with him must really agree with him. He forces his opinion on others and won't allow anyone with a different opinion from him to hold that opinion.

“Nowadays, it’s a different game. Buck Showalter had an interesting comment about it: Modern ballplayers are responsible for this, about governing their play. If they’re OK with it, he’s OK with it. …

David Cone thinks baseball players should police themselves, which is definitely an old-school mentality. Perhaps "The Man" allows Cone to say some old-school things, but admitting he doesn't like showboating crosses the line. Or maybe, Phil Mushnick is wrong and David Cone's opinion really is his opinion. 

“Some of it has been good for the game. The old days of keeping your head down and not showing anyone up — that’s a thing of the past. And in some ways, that’s a good thing. You still want to respect the game, but there’s a fine line there and you know when you cross it.

Oh yeah, this is a totally modern point of view. Look at David Cone sticking hard to the party line. He's talking about respecting the game and there being a line you don't cross in terms of celebrating. It sounds pretty much like Cone believes the old-school way of players policing themselves and a player not celebrating too much, except that can't be true, because "The Man" has Cone under his thumb and is forcing Cone to not agree with Phil Mushnick on whether Edwin Encarnacion's "parrot" celebration is too much showboating. It's a huge conspiracy.

“If you hit a home run into the upper deck and you want to ‘walk the parrot,’ go ahead, walk the parrot. … It’s definitely a more lenient attitude toward the display of emotions, which for, the younger generation is a good thing.”

Against every wish Phil Mushnick has, times change. Players display more emotions this day in age than they used to (or maybe they do, I'm not even sure this is true), so David Cone has come to terms with this and realizes it's not bad for the game. Of course, Phil Mushnick secretly thinks David Cone is lying. Or does he? Now, showing thorough senility, Phil manages to argue with the opinion that he doesn't truly believe David Cone holds. So Phil thinks Cone doesn't like celebrations like "walk the parrot," but then argues with Cone over an opinion he doesn't believe Cone really holds. 

Really? Immodesty — often rehearsed and planned — is a good thing?

Cone didn't say anything about "immodesty" and therein lies the issue. Phil thinks it is immodest to celebrate a home run with a "walk the parrot" celebration, but Cone sees it as just a part of the game that is acceptable as long as the players find it acceptable. Phil can label this "immodesty," but that doesn't mean it's true. 

The most conspicuous rewards such “natural enthusiasm” reaps are brawls, personal fouls and striking home-run poses — posing doubles and into singles.

Well, there are no personal fouls in baseball. Even in basketball, personal fouls are a part of the game and not always as a result of a player showboating. Also, baseball brawls were around well before Edwin Encarnacion started strutting around the bases like a parrot. So what was the reason for baseball brawls back in the good old days when athletes were modest and never celebrated? You know, those days that never existed which Phil clings so tightly to. Brawls happened then, but supposedly players didn't showboat. I wonder how Phil explains this. 

Forgive me, but I don’t believe a word of what Cone or Showalter said; I believe that they believe that it stinks, that showboating has no tangible or next-generation upside, leaving our sports in further decay.

I don't need to forgive you for being senile and trying to force your point of view on others. I realize that you realize your argument sucks and so you need to make many assumptions in order to even churn out 250 words on a topic. Regardless of your opinion on showboating, pretending someone agrees with you because you so desperately want them to is pathetic. In fact, just assuming people agree with your opinion is immodest isn't it?

Friday, October 2, 2015

3 comments Gregg Easterbrook Continues to Write "N.F.L." In An Attempt to Passively-Aggressively Annoy Me

Gregg Easterbrook complained in last week's TMQ that NFL coaches play it too safe. He went on what will end up probably being his weekly complaint about how teams should start going for the two-point conversion more often. To a certain extent, I don't disagree totally. I wonder if some coaches don't go for two more often because they don't want to burn goal line plays that could otherwise get them six points in the form of a touchdown versus two points on a two-point conversion. It's just a guess, obviously. This week Gregg talks about how NFL announcers are suckers for NFL management, continues to write "NFL" as "N.F.L." in an obvious attempt to troll me, and still insists on writing unfunny skits involving the 4th Down Bot.

The good news for Gregg is this is the second straight week TMQ has appeared without a correction at the bottom. I'm sure that's probably because the "Times" just doesn't feel like correcting everything Gregg says that may be marginally correct. They've already given up. Maybe Gregg renegotiated in his contract that he wouldn't get paid to write TMQ as long as the "Times" didn't publicly correct him. Not being seen as wrong is more important than anything else.

Football aficionados, and advanced life forms like The Upshot’s 4th Down Bot, endlessly marvel at N.F.L. coaches who order punts on fourth-and-short.

If you follow that link, you see that 4th Down Bot also agreed with many of the decisions to punt where Gregg claims the team should have gone for it. I think it's hilarious that Gregg uses the 4th Down Bot as a way of keeping coaches honest, when there are plenty of 4th-and-short punts that the Bot claims were good decisions. As he is prone to do, Gregg simply provides a link and doesn't do the work required to see if the link he is providing actually proves the point he thinks it proves. It's not Gregg's job to provide links that support his opinion when he claims that link supports his opinion. That's what an editor is for. 

Gregg talks about the same shit every single week. Every week he talks about how coaches are too conservative, offenses play at a fast pace, mentions concussions, and then discusses how the offenses are so far ahead of the defense and could this be a trend? Every year the defenses seem to catch up eventually. But yes, NFL head coaches are too conservative.

Possession of the ball is far more important to victory than field position.

As a overly-general rule, this is probably very correct. If one team has the football, then it's harder for the other team to score. That is, unless the team with the football has Matt Schaub has it's starting quarterback. But yes, possessing the football is very important, but field position is also very important. In terms of whether a team punts the ball or not, I'm not sure this statement is true as a hard-and-fast rule. If the Seahawks are facing the Bears (as they were this weekend) with Jimmy Clausen as the Bears quarterback, then field position is very important to the Seahawks because they trust their defense to shut down the Bears' offense. There's no point in giving the Bears a short field and making it easy on them to score. So while possession of the ball is important in this situation, also not giving the Bears a chance to score easy points when they would conceivably otherwise struggle to score is also important. So there are situations where possession of the ball is important, but the risk of not possessing the ball is less important than giving the opposing team bad field position.

Fourth-and-short tries are about 60 percent likely to succeed in maintaining possession. Yet coaches order punts, essentially awarding the opponent a turnover.

It's not exactly awarding the opponent a turnover because the opponent doesn't usually get great field position after a punt. That's the entire purpose of a punt. If there were a turnover then the opponent would get better field position than if that opponent had to field a least in theory. I argue with Gregg's assertion that punting the football is awarding the opponent a turnover.

From this article Gregg linked:

Going for it on 4th-and-short has had a 62.7% success rate over the last three years.

Notice that Mike Tanier (who wrote the article) says "4th-and-short tries" are about 60% likely to succeed in maintaining possession. Gregg doesn't really specify whether punting only these circumstances is awarding the opponent a turnover or just overall punting is like awarding the opponent with a turnover. I will say this...I have no doubt Gregg is going to bring up this 62.7% success rate on fourth down tries that are not fourth-and-short, as if this statistics applies to all fourth down tries. I have no doubt he will do this. 

And why Gregg linked this article:

A large percentage of fourth-down conversions take place in what Gregg Easterbrook used to call "The Maroon Zone": the region between the opponent's 40 and 20 yard lines. This makes sense, of course: that is the region of unappealing 55-yard field goal attempts and punts which will only net a few yards of field position.

It must have pleased Gregg to no end that this article on why it's bad to punt on fourth down in certain situations quoted him on "The Maroon Zone." It's probably a highlight of Gregg's career while writing TMQ. Let's be honest though. Mike Tanier probably won't link or quote much of what else is written in TMQ. 

It’s not that coaches don’t know the math — rather, it seems they don’t want to be criticized. If a coach does the expected and sends out the punt unit on fourth down, and then his team goes on to lose, players are blamed for the defeat.

Right, but if a fourth down attempt doesn't work then the blame can also reside with the players. The thinking about going for it on fourth down is changing, so going for it isn't seen as the huge risk it used to be seen as. Accordingly, if a coach has the guts to go for it on fourth down then the players can still get the blame if they don't execute the play well enough to convert, miss a block or do one of many other things that can cause a play to fail.

What's funny is that Gregg will say the following in this TMQ:

Before the game, Chip Kelly responded to criticism of the Eagles’ 0-2 start by saying “we need to execute.” In coach-speak that means, “Everything about my strategy and personnel management is perfect; the players are to blame for not doing what I tell them.”

So Gregg explains that the coach gets the blame when a fourth down conversion doesn't work (and indicates coaches should not be blamed for being aggressive like this), but then blames the coach when a play doesn't work. So he is the very person that talks about blaming the coach on a fourth down conversion if the execution by the players is poor. Gregg doesn't want to blame the coach when he goes for it on fourth down, but then blames the coach for the play's failure if the coach blames the poor execution for the play's failure. So basically, NFL head coaches don't go for it on fourth down because Gregg Easterbrook will blame them for the play's failure. 

If the coach orders a conversion attempt that fails, the coach is blamed for subsequent defeat.

Sort of like how you blame the coach when he claims his team's execution wasn't very good in a defeat? Actually, not sort of like that, but exactly like that. You do this. 

Trailing, 20-0, late in the third quarter at Seattle, the Bears reached fourth-and-inches at midfield. Chicago Coach John Fox faced this option: try for a first down or concede the game. When the punt team trotted out, the CBS booth denizen Phil Simms said: “I agree with the decision. I think I would punt it here and just go ahead and see if your defense can make a play.”

In other words, shift blame to the players, in this case the defenders.

In other words, Phil Simms is stupid and he should not be listened to. Don't use something Phil Simms says as an example of how announcers shift blame to the players and not the coaches. Punting there was a really, really conservative decision. It was a John Fox-type decision. This is the same guy who kneeled the ball down in the playoffs rather than trust Peyton Manning to get the Broncos in field goal range with less than a minute left in the regulation and the Broncos holding a timeout. This was not a good decision to punt against the Seahawks and there is no reason for Phil Simms to defend this punt.

Washington at Jersey/A on Thursday night, the visitors, mired in a three-season slump, faced fourth-and-inches. The CBS play-by-play voice Jim Nantz declared, “Now the Redskins have to punt.”

Eagles at Jets scoreless, Jersey/B was stopped inches shy of a first. “It’s a three-and-out for the Jets,” the Fox announcer Kevin Burkhardt said cheerily, seeming never to contemplate the possibility of going for it.

Here is a good example of where I don't believe Gregg understands that which he is criticizing. Jim Nantz and Kevin Burkhardt are probably not actually advocating for the Redskins and Jets to punt, but are doing their job and telling the viewer what is happening. They are calling the game. After the failed third down attempt, they see the punting unit for the Redskins/Jets go on the field and then say, "The Jets/Redskins will now have to punt." I don't think Nantz and Burkhardt are saying, "Here is my opinion that the best tactic for the Jets/Redskins is to punt," but they are doing their job and acknowledging what is happening on the field. Gregg never thinks that perhaps both announcers are simply doing their job, but instead, he thinks they are giving their opinion. I think he is mistaken or is so rabid to prove his point that Nantz/Burkhardt are trying to shift blame to the defenders that he isn't thinking. 

Because network booth crews interpret the football universe for the mainstream fan, if broadcasters criticized timid punting tactics, coaches would be embarrassed. But coaches know there is almost no chance this will occur.

I don't think network booth crews really interpret the football universe for the mainstream fan. Maybe they do, and if they did, then isn't this an explanation that supports how Nantz/Burkhardt were simply describing the action of a team choosing to punt and not necessarily advocating that as a course of action?

And also, there is no reason to think NFL head coaches count on broadcasters not criticizing them and that is why they continue to punt in situations where they may be better off going for it on fourth down. I don't think NFL head coaches really give a shit what network announcers say.

Network announcers side psychologically with management. The booth guys scoff at dropped passes or missed tackles, criticizing labor, but back up tactical decisions, validating management.

This doesn't at all explain why ex-players like Phil Simms side with management. Why would an analyst who is an ex-player suddenly start siding with management just because he's in the broadcast booth? Wouldn't these ex-players naturally side with players, since they were players at one time?

San Diego at Minnesota scoreless, the Chargers faced fourth-and-inches in Vikings territory. As the punt team trotted out, the CBS announcers Ian Eagle and Dan Fouts said not a critical word. “Knowing Mike McCoy, he wants to play a field position game,” Fouts observed,

He is an ex-player. Why would he psychologically side with management? This makes not of sense.

Sweet Play of the Week. Atlanta at Dallas in the fourth quarter, the visitors faced third-and-goal. Julio Jones lined up as a slotback on the left. At the snap, Atlanta play-faked. Jones ran a pattern behind the line of scrimmage — covered up by his own offensive linemen — then was open in the right flat for a touchdown, and the Falcons never looked back. During the contest, Jones had 12 receptions for 164 yards, ran pretty much every pass pattern in the book, and for grins once lined up as fullback.

Is this the same Julio Jones who is a "diva" and is personally responsible for the Falcons' poor record since he joined the team? Or is this the same Julio Jones who wasn't worth the mega-trade it took to acquire his rights? I get confused, because Gregg spoke so poorly of Jones at one point and now he's no longer speaking of Jones poorly. So there must be another Julio Jones who the Falcons traded up in the draft to acquire. I bet that Julio Jones still sucks really badly. 

Sour Play of the Week. Denver leading, 7-6, with 13 seconds remaining till intermission, the Broncos faced fourth down on the Lions’ 45. There’s little incentive to big-blitz since even a successful blitz would give the hosts possession at midfield with only a few seconds remaining. Whatever Detroit does, it must not allow a touchdown.

Or a first down to where the Broncos get in field goal range. You know, that's probably slightly important too.

Here is what is absolutely more important than anything else. Not lying. That's very important. The Lions brought five guys at Manning and dropped the rest into coverage. Watch that video, there's no "big-blitz" present here.

It’s a blitz! Seven Detroit defenders crowd the line of scrimmage, leaving just one safety “high” and Demaryius Thomas, Denver’s best receiver, single-covered deep. Touchdown and the Broncos never looked back. Before the play, the Lions had taken a timeout in order to come up with this disastrous defensive call. Sour.

Seven players crowded the line of scrimmage, but the Lions then dropped six guys into man coverage with a safety over the top. The Broncos had one timeout left, so they easily could have gotten into field goal range. It was decent coverage by Darius Slay. He just got out-jumped. More importantly, not lying is the most important takeaway here. Gregg describes the play like the Lions brought seven defenders at Manning, describing it as a "big-blitz" and never mentioning the Lions dropped five of the seven players at the line into coverage. Gregg is good at misleading his readers. It's what he does. 

Sweet ‘n’ Sour Play of the Week. At Oregon, Utah ran a punt return trick play that had everyone looking at the wrong guy. Expecting Oregon to punt toward the sideline — whether teams should always deliberately punt out of bounds will be the subject of a future Tuesday Morning Quarterback — the Utes put two returners back. One looked up into the sky as if the ball were sailing to him. That drew the coverage team toward Guy #1, who was careful not to fake a fair catch: Once a fair catch is signaled, no receiver may advance. Actually the ball was sailing toward Guy #2 on the opposite sideline, who fielded the punt and ran 69 yards untouched for a touchdown.

This was a very well-executed play. If the play were poorly-executed then Gregg would ask why the coach blames his players for the poor execution and then say the coach is blame-shifting fault to the players for calling the execution poor. I've established this as a true. So in this case of a well-executed play, using the same logic, does this mean the coach is to be rewarded for calling such a well-executed play and the players don't get credit? So do the players get credit in this situation where if this play didn't work then Gregg would blame the coach? If the coach is to blame for a poorly-executed play, wouldn't the coach then get credit for a well-executed play? Gregg can't have it both ways. He can't solely blame the coach for a team's failures on a play and then credit only the players for a play's success.

Sour was that Guy #2 was on the Oregon side, close enough for Ducks coaches to reach out and touch him. Oregon coaches should have been pointing at Guy #2 and shouting warnings. Yet Guy #2 was most of the way to the end zone before the Oregon sideline realized who had the ball.

Oregon coaches may not have been watching the ball in the air and were instead watching their players on punt coverage. So if they weren't watching the ball, it's because they were watching the action on the field. As Gregg himself often says, much of the important action takes place away from the ball, so that's all the Oregon coaches were doing, watching the action away from the ball. Of course, now Gregg criticizes them for doing what he claims they should be doing, watching the action away from the ball.

Also, it's entirely possible the coaches were yelling and the players just couldn't hear them. It's not like the players in punt coverage can look at the bench as they are running down the field nor is it very quiet on a football field where the players can hear individual voices yelling at them necessarily. I think it's hilarious Gregg expects the Oregon punt coverage team to be looking at the Oregon bench during punt coverage. If an Oregon player WAS watching the bench on this play, then Gregg would criticize this player for not paying attention to the action on the field. As always, Gregg doesn't care if he contracts himself and only thinks a team should use a strategy that ends up working. Hindsight criticism is all Gregg can offer.

Did Bill Belichick Stage the PSIcheated Scandal to Get Brady Fired Up? New England’s possession results in hosting Jacksonville: Touchdown, field goal, field goal, touchdown, field goal, touchdown, touchdown, touchdown, touchdown, kneels to end game.

But what was Tom Brady doing still on the field with New England ahead, 44-10, in the fourth quarter?

I'm sure Gregg has some theory that the football gods will punish the Patriots for running up the score in this game. As soon as the Patriots have a more difficult schedule and lose a game or two, this theory of Gregg's will pop up. Just wait. 

The Football Gods Chortled No. 1. While their new Santa Clara field was under construction, the 49ers were 41-14-1 with a Super Bowl appearance. Since abandoning San Francisco, the 49ers are 9-10.

The 49ers have also had a lot of internal team turmoil and the loss of important players since playing at the new Santa Clara field. I guess that's just too much of a reasonable explanation for their 9-10 record since "abandoning" San Francisco. It's too obvious of an explanation that is too football-based. 

Quarterback Matt Cassel is now with his third N.F.L. team in six months. The Buffalo Bills rented Cassel for the summer — at least they got their damage deposit back, netting a late-round draft selection in two Cassel transactions. Dallas issues his jersey now. One of T.M.Q.’s laws is that all quarterbacks suddenly become more talented when they stand behind a good offensive line. Dallas has one of the league’s best offensive lines, and if Cassel plays, he suddenly he may become more talented.

BREAKING NEWS: An NFL team's offensive line is important. If a football team has a good offensive line then it helps that team's quarterback play better.

So yes, if Matt Cassel has to play for the Cowboys, then playing behind a really good offensive line may help him play better.

Kelly jumped to the N.F.L. in 2013 thinking his Blur Offense, unstoppable in the college ranks, would be unstoppable in the pros. Steve Spurrier jumped to the N.F.L. in 2002 thinking his Fun ‘n’ Gun offense would be unstoppable in the pros. Both found that after an initial period of adjustment, N.F.L. defensive coordinators became adept at shutting their attacks down.

So does this mean there won't be a TMQ about how the Blur Offense is taking over the NFL? Or will that TMQ come about once the Eagles turn their season around and Gregg pretends he didn't just write that NFL defensive coordinators are adept at shutting the Blur Offenses's attack down? 

Bot Meets Pontiff. Last week Pope Francis visited the United States. Between meetings with rich and poor, he squeezed in some time for automatons. Here’s how it went.

4th Down Bot: Holiness, Washington has punted twice on fourth-and-inches this season, and lost both games.

Francis: I urgently appeal, then, for a new dialogue about how we are shaping the future of our planet.
4th Down Bot: What’s your reaction when you hear the biggest sport in the world’s most important country uses a racially insensitive term for the name of the team in the nation’s capital?

Francis: The Earth, our home, is beginning to look more and more like an immense pile of filth.

Son of a bitch, this isn't funny or clever at all. It's a fake conversation that serves absolutely no point other than to kill space in an already shortened TMQ. Why include this? At least TRY to be somewhat creative. I guess when Gregg has to be out of his comfort zone of misleading his readers then he struggles for material. 

Oh Snap! When writing T.M.Q., I wear a wristband with a list of topics. If a rapid change of topics is required, I flip the wristband open to review audibles.

On my wristband was an item about how some college team was likely to break the 100-snaps barrier this season.

Again, not funny, not clever. Why does this joke exist? 

Because the clock does not stop for first downs in the N.F.L., fewer snaps are inevitable. More important, N.F.L. teams use thick, complicated playbooks: Calling the plays requires time. In the zone read era, college football play-calling is veering toward simplistic — many offenses boil down to run left, run right, pass short, pass long. N.F.L. coaches are beginning to grumble that collegians are arriving as good players at a really fast pace, but unfamiliar with learning a playbook.

Gregg with his inside sources in the NFL knows that NFL coaches are grumbling that collegians are arriving unprepared to deal with learning a playbook. This is different from how it used to be when collegians arrived in the NFL unfamiliar with learning a playbook. So nothing has really changed. In fact, considering the NFL is taking on more and more college concepts and play designs, I think current collegians may be slightly more prepared to learn an NFL playbook than they used to be. 

Branding note: In almost every corner of its website, the college is no longer Texas Christian University; it’s just T.C.U.

In another example of "Gregg Easterbrook provides a link and doesn't read the article he is linking," there are multiple mentions of "Texas Christian University" on that page Gregg linked. Be professional enough to actually read the fucking articles you are linking. Is that just too much to ask? 

Seeking an Internet-address brand, T.C.U. has followed the lead of KFC, which no longer stands for Kentucky Fried Chicken; it’s just a company named KFC; of BP, which no longer stands for British Petroleum; it’s just a company called BP;

It's been almost two decades since they changed their name to BP and it's because they merged with Amoco, which is an American company. So they didn't change their name to BP because of wanting an Internet-address brand, but because they were literally no longer a British Petroleum company. 

Contemporary short-attention-span names like KFC are not abbreviations, because the letters don’t stand for anything: We live in an age when not standing for anything is seen as a plus.

Texas Christian University still is the long form of "TCU." 

What should be the term for a string of letters that appears to be an abbreviation yet is not? Tweet your suggestions to @EasterbrookG. I’ll quote the cleverest ones next week.

I'll be sure to send the suggestion of "GFY" to Gregg. It is an abbreviation of sorts and means "Go Fuck Yourself." It's a handy way to shorten the phrase. 

BOLO of the Week. All units, all units, be on the lookout for the Detroit Lions, who, stretching back to last season, have lost five straight. Suspects are described as more interested in boasting than performing.

Here's a BOLO of the Week: Any evidence of humor or insight that can be found in TMQ. Don't bother looking, it's not going to be found. I think we can call off the BOLO and just file a Missing Persons report. 

J.J. Watt Is Very Good at Publicity, Not So Good at Helping His Team Win. After the Moo-Cows defeated the Buccaneers, J.J. Watt thumped his chest as if Houston had just won the Super Bowl. What Houston had just done was beat the worst team of last season.

I don't even know what this means. It's hard for J.J. Watt to win games as a defensive end when his quarterbacks are Brian Hoyer and Ryan Mallett. 

Before the game, Watt thumped his chest about his claim of regularly being triple-teamed. This is hokum. No defensive end has been triple-teamed: not Reggie White, not Bruce Smith and not Watt. An actual triple-team would lead to an instant jailbreak sack as 10 defenders faced eight offensive players.

The Panthers triple-teamed Watt on occasion a few weeks ago. Also, there is this video of Watt being triple-teamed by the Chiefs. So a 10 second Internet search found evidence that Gregg, once again, is talking out of his ass and is too lazy to back up his assertions with actual evidence that supports his assertion. In fact, there is evidence easily-found which directly contradicts the assertion Gregg is making. But again, he gets paid to lie. Nice gig if you can get it. 

The "Times" needs to make a correction to this TMQ that reads: 

"Gregg Easterbrook was incorrect that no defensive end has been tripled-teamed. It can easily be found that J.J. Watt has been triple-teamed. If Gregg wasn't so fucking lazy or fearful his assertions would be proven incorrect he could have easily found this information. He is an embarrassment and we apologize for his existence and constant lying." 

Against the Bucs, mostly Watt was single-blocked by the journeyman Gosder Cherilus. Sometimes Cherilus got a “chip-off” — a running back or tight end bumped Watt before beginning a pass route. Being chipped is like being 1.5-teamed, which is very different from triple-teamed. 

Look at how Gregg classified Cherilus, as a "journeyman." Doesn't Gregg mean that Cherilus is a highly-drafted glory boy? After all, Cherilus was drafted #17 overall in 2008. I guess Cherilus' draft position is irrelevant when it doesn't go to proving any of Gregg's points or he doesn't want to point out that a highly-drafted player performed well. 

Facing the journeyman Cherilus, Watt posted no sacks, one tackle for a loss and three quarterback hurries.

I mean, that's still pretty damn good for a bad day. Not to mention, Watt does get tripled-teamed at times and Cherilus has only played for three NFL teams. I'm not sure if that qualifies him as a "journeyman" or not. Be assured, if Cherilus was undrafted, his draft position would be noted by Gregg. 

Sunday, the Colts visited Tennessee, whom they’d beaten in 12 of the last 13 meetings. Leading, 24-14, and facing fourth-and-goal on the 3, the Flaming Thumbtacks — see name explanation below — had a chance to reverse years of losing psychology versus Indianapolis by going for the coup de grâce. Instead Titans Coach Ken Whisenhunt did the “safe” thing and kicked. Soon the Colts held the lead.

Because he is utterly incompetent, Gregg doesn't know that the 4th Down Bot supported this decision. I'll do the work Gregg refuses to do. It's absolutely hilarious to me that Gregg talks about the 4th Down Bot in his TMQ and has no idea this Bot disagrees with his opinion on whether some of these decisions by NFL head coaches to go for it on fourth down or not were good decisions. It's so typical Gregg Easterbrook that he either (a) doesn't know what he's providing a link to or (b) provides the link and simply doesn't give a shit if the link backs up his own assertion or not. 

T.M.Q. Lexicon Note. This column calls the Houston franchise the Moo Cows in recognition of its lovely cow-inspired logo. As for the Titans, check their helmets.

There is no reason to explain this as if anyone really cares. 

Single Worst Play of the Season — So Far. Desperate to avoid an 0-3 start, the Ravens had just pulled ahead, 17-14, against Cincinnati. Bengals on their 20, Andy Dalton threw long to A.J. Green against a soft Cover 2. It should be impossible to get open deep against a soft Cover 2, but Green did, catching a strike and motoring downfield.

Halfway to the goal line, Green was hemmed in by defenders, and seemed likely to be tackled. Ravens safety Kendrick Lewis, trailing closely, quit on the play, slowing to a jog. Green broke the tackles and continued for an 80-yard touchdown. Lewis started running again, but it was too late to catch up. And now Baltimore is 0-3.

Matt emailed me about this (he said it as well as I could), saying: 

Kendrick Lewis slows down because it looked like two other players have the tackle. Had he kept running and they made the tackle, he would have run into the play and disrupted it. Then Gregggggg would be killing him for not being aware and ruining the tackle. What a dick. 

Yep. Notice how Gregg fails to mention that A.J. Green is a highly-paid glory boy as well. If Green had gotten tackled by Kendrick Lewis then Gregg would be talking about how a lowly-drafted (5th round pick), unwanted/journeyman (he's played for three teams, which obviously means the Texans and Chiefs were wrong to not want him because he hypothetically made one good play) player took down a highly-paid glory boy who is too busy cashing the checks from his recent contract extension to work hard and avoid tackles. Alas, Lewis did not tackle Green because he thought two other players had him and Gregg's narrative turns around completely with no mention of either player's draft position. 

N.F.L. players spend the entire year preparing for a small number of games, then quit on the action as if they’re bored. Kendrick Lewis, you are guilty of the Single Worst Play of the Season — so far.

These are the types of things that happen when you rely on a fifth round pick to play well against highly-drafted glory boys like Andy Dalton and A.J. Green. 

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

6 comments MMQB Review: Andy Dalton Is Totally Different Now Because He's Playing Well in the Regular Season Edition

Peter King declared the Philadelphia Eagles as being in trouble in last week's MMQB. He also stated that he doesn't think the Seahawks are in trouble. Of course, the Seahawks have Kam Chancellor back now, which helps their defense. Peter was also somewhat surprised the NFC East was a crazy division, even though it is generally a pretty crazy division every year. This week Peter talks about the boring week of NFL action, gets the "Patriots are going undefeated, maybe" train going fairly early before the Patriots even get close to the meat of their schedule, and talks about how this Andy Dalton who is playing well in the regular season is different from the other Andy Dalton from past years who played well in the regular season and then looked bad in the playoffs. The template is following a similar template from previous season, so I'm confused as to why this Dalton may be different. Isn't the real question about Dalton getting answered in the postseason?

This morning, we can see how a few more pieces fit into the 2015 NFL jigsaw puzzle. This wasn’t a particularly good weekend of pro football, and TVs across America must have clicked off with the three late-afternoon games being decided by 40, 27 and 26 points. (Average margin of victory on Sunday: 14.9 points.) 

The NFL does this shit from time-to-time during the season. It's not that they schedule bad games later in the day, but they schedule just three or so games later in the day to where there isn't a lot of interest if a few of the games are blowouts.

But every week we find out a little more about where the year’s headed.

A larger sample size gives a better indication of what conclusions can be reached about the sample? You have to be kidding me this is true.

The Bengals are in fabulous shape in the AFC North. At 3-0 after a crushing 28-24 win at 0-3 Baltimore on Sunday, Cincinnati is set up nicely for the fifth playoff appearance in Andy Dalton’s five years. “I’m as comfortable playing this game as I’ve ever been,” Dalton said from Baltimore. A 121.0 passer rating would seem to back him up. 

I pretend Peter is reading that first sentence in the voice of Tim Gunn and it makes my enjoyment of this passage increase two-fold. Peter has been really tough on Andy Dalton over the past few years. Dalton has been pretty good in the regular season, so the question arises when it comes to the playoffs. That's been the question for Dalton, if he can show up in the playoffs. Before Peter changes his narrative, he may want to consider what his narrative is first.

Jay Cutler, Tony Romo, Drew Brees … and now Roethlisberger. That’s four marquee quarterbacks hurt before the calendar turns to October. You can be sure the Competition Committee will be pushing for more offseason drill work for offensive linemen; players are now restricted from all offseason contact by the 2011 labor agreement. 

Oh sure, nothing gets done until the marquee quarterbacks start getting hurt. And also, I love how Jay Cutler is conveniently a "marquee" quarterback and not a shitty quarterback when it's important to place him in that category to prove a point. Cutler is marquee now. When he is no longer injured, then he will be a trash quarterback again.

The Patriots wake the echoes … of 2007. They’re already using the “U” word in New England. As in “undefeated.” New England went 16-0 in 2007, and advanced to a flawless-looking 3-0 Sunday against Jacksonville. More about that later, but as one of the ’07 team leaders, Rodney Harrison, opined Sunday night: “It’s 2007 all over again. Tom Brady’s playing like he’s 29, 30 years old.”

Man, Peter is jumping on the "Can the Patriots go undefeated" train pretty damn quick this year. Hey, it could very well happen, but it's not even Week 4 yet. How about not hammering readers over the head with this story this early?

Indianapolis is the most fortunate decent team in the league. AFC South standings: T-1. Indianapolis/Jacksonville/Houston/Tennessee (1-2). The Colts, their season on the brink, went from disaster to tied for the division lead exiting September in one afternoon. You wouldn’t think a 35-33 win at Tennessee would make a coach emotional after a game. But Chuck Pagano was.

The Colts were always going to be fine because they play in the AFC South. It's like the NFC South of the AFC, minus having more than one really good quarterback. It's just not a great division right now. The Colts will be fine partly for that reason. Also, Chuck Pagano deserves to keep his job. I'm Team Pagano.

There’s a reason you don’t have to worry about Peyton Manning’s health. The Denver defense is huge. “We just have ball hawks,” safety David Bruton said, a few minutes after making his third huge defensive play of the month, an athletic pick of Matthew Stafford to clinch the 24-12 win over Detroit. Stafford couldn’t breathe against the defensive pressure.

Eh, even if the Broncos defense is awesome I would still worry about the health of Peyton Manning. The Broncos defense is better than I gave it credit for a few weeks ago, but I still think it's good to worry about Peyton Manning's health. I haven't seen Brock Osweiler play yet, so I can't really comment on whether he is any good or not, but I imagine the Broncos don't necessarily want to find out while jockeying for a playoff spot.

The Raiders, usually out of it by now, will actually have a winning record as October dawns. The Raiders (2-1) play on the road next week—and they are actually favored to beat Chicago.

Jimmy Clausen, everyone! He's like Brandon Weeden, just without the skill set and ability to win an NFL game in a pinch.

The quarterback, Derek Carr, is a big reason. “Having a quarterback is everything,” said Charles Woodson from Cleveland.

Okay guys, apparently it's important to have a good quarterback in order to win NFL games. I'm still working to confirm this is true, so I don't want to speculate much more at this point. The best teams usually have really competent quarterbacks.

It’s early-bye time for New England. No team likes the Week 4 bye. This year, only the Patriots and Titans have it. Strange to have a bye before the leaves turn in Foxboro. “Rest, let your muscles chill and do what you have to do to be ready for next game,” Rob Gronkowski said Sunday. Taking stock of this team, you don’t want to make too much of the almost-too-easy win over the Jaguars,

Repeat after me, now it means Peter King will make a bit much of the Patriots' win over the Jaguars. He's not going to go overboard or anything though. He'll just start talking about the Patriots going undefeated when there are still 13 games in the regular season left to be played, plus three games in the postseason. Again, let's keep the reactions normal and not go overboard based on a 3-0 start.

That was a sick team eight years ago. The ’07 Patriots started with 24, 24 and 31-point wins, and didn’t have a game closer than 34-17 (Week 5, Cleveland) in the first half of the season. This year, New England handled Pittsburgh, which made it close in the second half. Ditto Buffalo, and then the Jaguars rout. It’s easy now to say Brady has never been better, but he was: in 2007. In the first three weeks then, the 30-year-old Brady completed 79.5% of his throws with a plus-nine TD-to-pick ratio and a rating of 141.8. This year, he’s completing 72.2%, with a plus-nine and a rating of 119.6. It’s like quibbling over whether driving a Mercedes or a BMW is a smoother ride, but Brady set his all-time standard in 2007. 

Let's not make too much of a home victory over an 0-3 team, but Peter wants his readers to see the parallels between this Patriots team and one of the greatest NFL teams of all-time. Again, he's keeping the discussion in hand and not writing something overly-presumptuous.

New England is likely to be favored in all of its remaining games—save, perhaps, for the Week 12 Sunday-nighter at Denver. 

And who even cares if the Broncos have Peyton Manning healthy or not with that Broncos defense?

Harrison told me over the summer that the league did Brady and the Patriots a huge favor with the long-running investigation into Brady’s honor—he’d be supremely motivated to stick it to the league this year, even more motivated than the hyper-focused player usually is. So far, Harrison’s been spot on.

I think a lot of people knew the Patriots were going to do a "Fuck You" tour of the NFL. But yes, so far after playing three teams that didn't make the playoffs last year Harrison has been spot-on.

And Brady still has one thing to accomplish that he hasn’t yet in his previous 16 pro seasons: winning ‘em all. Going 19-0. You’d be naïve to think he hasn’t thought of that—many times. 

It's fantastic to read that Peter isn't making too much of this victory over the Jaguars. He compares this team to the 2007 Patriots, says the Patriots are favored to win the rest of their games, and mentions that Tom Brady wants to go perfect on the season. It's a very low-key affair.

Think of the environment the Bengals walked into Sunday: Ravens home opener, Ravens at 0-2 in desperate straits knowing a loss would put them three games out in the division after three games, and then the little thing about the Ravens and Bengals not liking each other. And then think of Dalton getting stripped in the fourth quarter, having it returned for a score, and, after being up 14-0, trailing 17-14 with seven minutes left, crowd going nuts. 

I'm really enjoying Peter's somewhat 180 degree turn on Dalton. All Peter wrote about is how the playoffs are where Dalton will be judged, but then when Dalton has a good regular season Peter is all-in on Dalton having turned a corner.

First down, Bengals’ 20. Dalton drops. Green runs a seam route deep up the left side, bracketed by safeties Kendrick Lewis and Will Hill; the left corner, Jimmy Smith, was singled on the outside receiver. Dalton threw a perfect strike 36 yards in the air, between the two safeties, and Green won the race against them and Smith, who came over to try to help. Too late: 80-yard touchdown. But the Ravens came back to take another lead. And here came Dalton again, taking over at his 20 again. “We’re going to need every one of you here,” he said in the huddle. “I trust every one of you to make plays right now.”

The Bengals players were all possibly thinking, "But we aren't sure if we trust you to make plays right now. Wait, it's the regular season? Well then, we trust you. In that playoffs? We are still shaky on that." 

In two drives during the last seven minutes, Dalton drove the Bengals 160 yards for two touchdowns … in a total of one minute and 58 seconds. “I’ve got a lot of confidence in what we’re doing,” Dalton said. “Once you’ve been in a system for a while and you know your receivers, you get a lot more confident, and that’s where I am with these guys right now.”

I will say this for Andy Dalton. He didn't have a lot to work with against the Colts last year in the playoffs and the way the Bengals have invested in offensive weapons for Dalton (Bernard, Hill, Eifert) will start to pay off for them once those players get more experience. So I haven't made excuses for Dalton in the past, but he didn't have a ton to work with in the playoffs last year and Jermaine Gresham wasn't exactly the most reliable of tight ends. 

I’d like to see Dalton’s three October tests, all against pressure defenses (Kansas City at home, Seattle at home, at Buffalo), before saying anything definitive about him. But what I saw Sunday, I liked a lot.

It sounds like you are pretty high on him Peter. For good reason, but before the season you were hinting that you aren't even sure Dalton would make it through the whole season without A.J. McCarron replacing him. 

Again: Dalton’s been a good regular-season quarterback (43-23-1, 107 touchdowns, 67 picks), and a maddening postseason one (0-4, one touchdown, six interceptions). Cincinnati won’t love him until that changes. But that can’t change in September, and what Dalton has done in September is all he can do. It’s been plenty good enough.

Excluding nationally televised games, Andy Dalton has usually done in September what he needs to do. Before any conclusions can be reached about Dalton, he would need to perform in the postseason before writers like Peter King get off his ass. 

The city of Pittsburgh sighs.

The injury is a strain of the MCL and a bone bruise. But the ACL is intact. Roethlisberger thought the worst when he left the field, because of the pain. And the Steelers have to feel good that Tomlin banged the drum to get Vick in the building as the backup, because he’s played in the kind of games he’ll have to win beginning Thursday night—against Baltimore, in a rabid-rivalry game at home.

Yes, Mike Vick has played in these types of games. Has he played WELL in these games? That's the real question. Maybe he'll even prepare for the game for a little bit. Steelers fans shouldn't worry because Vick seems to pay attention and prepare for a few weeks, then gets bored with game preparation and starts committing turnovers. By the time Vick gets bored, Roethlisberger will hopefully be back from his injury.

Three questions for… Richie Incognito.

But first, a stat: Through three games, the former Dolphins guard—as mentioned above, Pro Football Focus’s top-rated guard in the NFL—has surrendered one quarterback disruption (either a quarterback sack, hit or pressure). The Dolphins’ starting guards have given up 26.

My sense is Incognito will enjoy that one.

Yeah, in your face Dolphins! That's what you get for getting rid of Richie Incognito after he bullied Jonathan Martin. Incognito got done wrong and now he's getting vengeance by playing well. This is a lesson to the Dolphins that if they don't let their players bully teammates then they will be punished for daring to have some semblance of a backbone.

Through three weeks, NFL teams have missed 14 of the newfangled extra points, after missing 26 in the previous four seasons combined. With the line of scrimmage for the PAT pushed back from the two- to the 15-yard line, it’s obviously not such a gimme anymore. And that’s good. When a play is 99.6% successful, the pertinent question is why they play should exist. I loved what happened Sunday night in the Detroit-Denver game, when Bronco Aqib Talib blocked a Lions extra point, and cornerback Chris Harris picked it up and ran it 52 yards toward the opposite end zone before being tackled by Detroit’s Eric Ebron. If Harris had made it all the way, Denver would have been awarded two points, and a 7-6 Bronco lead would have grown to 9-6. The change was made to add some excitement to a dull play, and while I wouldn’t call a 33-yard extra point kick “exciting,” it certainly makes the point or points after touchdown more interesting than before …

Yes, the extra point is more interesting now. How often is the extra point going to get blocked? Probably not very often, but I guess there is some excitement that could occur and that's a good thing. Peter's love of the new extra point rules is finally justified based solely on this one play. 

Playing without Luke Kuechly (concussion), the Panthers bent on defense, giving Luke McCown-led New Orleans 380 total yards, but didn’t break at the end of a 27-22 win. One of the game’s rising-star corners, Josh Norman, plucked a McCown pass intended for Brandin Cooks out of the sky. “I saw a bone, and I went up and got it,” Norman said. A bone? “Yeah, a bone. The ball. God gave me wings to fly, and I went up and got it. All the guys on this defense can make plays. Do your job. Be in the defense. I’m doing some pretty good stuff. I think we all are.”

God gave Norman wings this year, but he apparently gave Norman a bad attitude and the ability to make mistakes over past seasons. Still, Norman is on a contract drive, so he should be rewarded for trying really hard this one year with a new contract where he wants to get paid like all the other overpaid Top-5 corners in the NFL get overpaid. He has earned the right to be overpaid. 

Then Peter eulogizes Yogi Berra and apparently Peter was neighbors with Berra when Peter lived in Montclair. I'm sure that was a rough period of time for Yogi when Peter followed behind Berra when he walked around in public writing down all of his conversations. I wonder if Peter ever asked Berra if he considered Derek Jeter to be the greatest player in Peter's lifetime (but not really lifetime, because Peter only meant over whatever time span makes him seem less crazy)?

“I don’t care. It’s just a ball.”

—Tom Brady, asked how he felt about Danny Amendola—the receiver of Brady's 400th NFL touchdown Sunday in Foxboro—handing the ball to a fan in the end zone after making the historic catch.

Besides, the ball was probably slightly deflated anyway, and rather than Brady keep the ball and run the risk of the NFL finding out was underinflated by 0.3 PSI, it's better if a fan keeps the keep the ball. We wouldn't want Roger Goodell subpoenaing Brady's cell phone and a blood sample in order to prove he intentionally underinflated the football by a few tenths of a PSI. That would ruin the integrity of the game.  

“I think there’s a little bit of karma coming back to him. Nelson Agholor hasn’t replaced Jeremy Maclin. Jeremy Maclin was a class-act guy. You can’t just replace people like they’re things, you know what I mean? Like they’re toys that you’re tired of playing with because you want something new. So I hope that he loses. I hope he loses every game.”

—Former Jets linebacker and current CBS NFL analyst Bart Scott, on Chip Kelly, to WFAN radio in New York.

Criticizing Bart Scott for these comments is a layup. And not just because Scott doesn't begin to realize how much stiches cost. 

2. Jeremy Maclin left the Eagles to sign a free-agent contract last winter with Kansas City. In 2012, Maclin was the 28th-leading receiver in football, with 69 catches. In 2013, he missed the season with a torn ACL. In 2014, Maclin was the 13th-leading receiver in football, with 85 catches. He signed a five-year, $55-million contract with the Chiefs, which, at the time, was tied for the fourth-richest contract (per season) for a wide receiver in NFL history. Maybe letting Maclin walk for the fourth-richest receiver contract ever will be seen as a dumb decision in the long-term, though I doubt it. Smart teams let good players take exorbitant deals in free agency, and draft good players to replace them. I don’t know if this will work out; it’s obviously a gamble by the Chiefs to pay the money, and a gamble by Kelly to not meet Maclin’s demands. But I’d rather pay Agholor $2.3 million a year for the next four years (his rookie deal) than pay Maclin $11 million.

It's almost like Bart Scott, as an NFL analyst, is shitty at his job doing those things which involve actually analyzing a situation. Scott can't put aside his personal feelings and opinions and analyze a situation from a neutral point of view. Obviously CBS had to sign him to be one of their ridiculous vapid talking heads as soon as Scott retired. It's hard to find analysts who actually suck at analyzing. 

3. Did Baltimore GM Ozzie Newsome “replace people like they’re things” when he let Torrey Smith and Pernell McPhee walk in the off-season, as he does every year? Did John Elway treat tight end Julius Thomas “like a toy” for letting him go to Jacksonville for $9.2 million a year in free agency? Or Jerry Jones, with DeMarco Murray, when Murray got $8 million a year in Philadelphia? No. They made business decisions.

Let's not forget that Bart Scott left the Ravens so that he could pursue a big free agent contract with the Jets. I don't think he thought that Newsome just replaced him without a second thought, but it was a business decision. This is why not every pro athlete that is loquacious should end up working in the media after his career is over. Talking and talking to where you say something smart are two different things.

It's hard to agree with Peter, but I do agree with him here. Comments like this from Bart Scott is why I don't ever watch NFL pregame shows. I don't need that type of stupidity in my life. I like football, not listening to idiots who think they know what they are talking about discussing football.

The Award Section


Devonta Freeman, running back, Atlanta. The 2014 fourth-round pick from Florida State is supposed to be a complementary back, not a feature back.

I don't know why Freeman was supposed to be a complementary back. I guess it was his height that was the issue or something. I don't know if he was selected just to be a complementary back or anything of the like. 


Josh Norman, cornerback, Carolina. Channeling his inner Odell Beckham Jr., with the Panthers protecting a 27-22 lead over the Saints with 80 seconds left, Norman, a rising-star cornerback,

Peter has mentioned Josh Norman three times in this column and each time he linked the story about Norman being a rising star where he labels Norman "a rising star" with the link. It just so happens to be a MMQB story and it's annoying. We get it. You want us to read the story. You don't have to link the same story over and over and over again.

Just a beautiful play, at the precise time his team had to have it. It was the difference between the Panthers being 3-0 and tied for the AFC South lead,

Yep Peter, the Panthers play in the NFC South, not the AFC South. Though even if their record were 2-1 then that would still be in the lead in the AFC South.

Norman added five tackles. He’s turning into one of the best cornerbacks in the league.

Norman is more motivated than he has ever been because he is a free agent after the season and he wants to get paid. He wants to get paid, so he's motivated. Therefore I hope the Panthers don't back up a Brinks truck and pay him. He's never put together a full season of great cornerback play, but wants to be paid like a Top-5 corner.

The first nine Chicago drives at Seattle ended in punts.

The first nine New England drives against Jacksonville ended in scores.

It's almost like one team started Jimmy Clausen at quarterback against a really good defense and the other team started Tom Brady at quarterback against a not really good defense. 

Yes Peter, we get it. You like the new extra point rule and will do anything in your power to point out other people like it too and think it's the greatest NFL innovation since anonymous sources in the league office that lie to you and give you false information which you report as true, then later apologize for. The new rule is okay. You can lay off giving testimonials and having others give testimonials to the greatness of this new rule.

Mr. Starwood Preferred Member Travel Note of the Week

Police erected 40 miles of barriers in the city, and 818 tons of concrete barriers. The New York Post quoted a law enforcement source as saying security for the visit was like “a POTUS [visit] on steroids.” POTUS, as in President of the United States.
I’ve lived in Manhattan for only four years, but the prep for his visit was superb—like none I’ve seen. Nothing bad was happening to this Pope.

I like how a law enforcement "source" said the visit was like "a POTUS on steroids." Why did this source have to be anonymous or even a source? It can't be said out loud that the Pope's visit has an insane amount of security? Like this is some secret and they want to bait a person trying to kill the Pope into testing the security? Would this source really get in trouble for describing the amount of security around the Pope?

Ten Things I Think I Think

1. I think this is what I liked about Week 3:

Probably nothing, since it was a boring week of football and all. 

a. Tom Brady, joining the 400 touchdown club. I’ll take a bet right now that he hits 500.

I think that is bet that a lot of people would take. It's Week 4 of the NFL season and Brady has averaged 32.5 touchdowns per season since he came back from his knee injury. So if Brady gets 25 more touchdowns this season (which he is on pace to obliterate), then he will only have to play about 2.5 seasons to get to 500 touchdowns. Barring a huge, career-ending injury I do think he will get to 500 touchdowns. 

f. Lone Niner bright spot: the 37-yard punt return by Aussie Jarryd Hayne.

The media loves themselves some Jarryd Hayne. He's from Australia and has never played in the NFL before. Do you know this story? If you don't then you either (a) don't like the NFL, (b) are illiterate and can't read or (c) don't have a Twitter account or don't follow any NFL media members on Twitter or (d) are lying.

It is a great story, don't get me wrong. I've read it and heard it quite a bit.

h. You can’t stop Joseph Randle. You can only hope … aww, you know the rest.

You can only hope he doesn't steal men's underwear and cologne from a department store? 

2. I think this is what I didn’t like about Week 3:

a. That mangy-looking ShopVac vacuuming the field in the Ed Jones Dome after the turf caught on fire.

Yes, there should be a nicer looking ShopVac available in order to vacuum the field, you know, for all the times that the turf catches fire and all.

Look Peter, the Rams are already packing up their shit to move to Los Angeles. The nice ShopVac is in a box somewhere, so they had to go with the uglier one. Sorry it offends your senses, but it's all they had when the other was packed up.

i. Whatever rehab plan Baltimore rookie receiver Breshad Perriman is on. Sixty-one days ago, he tweaked his knee in practice, a tweaking so seemingly minor that John Harbaugh said after practice that day—I was there—about Perriman’s availability: “It could be as early as tomorrow, or a couple of days at the most.” Perriman is practicing. There’s that.

Clearly, the only conclusion that can be drawn by this is that Breshad Perriman is a pussy. Either that or he just doesn't want to play. I know it is frustrating for fans to not see Perriman on the field, but John Harbaugh isn't a doctor and it obviously was more than just a minor tweak or else Perriman would be on the field already. Maybe he should find some of that deer antler spray in Ray Lewis's old locker. 

k. St. Louis tight end Lance Kendricks, with an inexplicable drop, open behind the defense, for what should have been the go-ahead touchdown late in the first half against the Steelers.

An inexplicable drop. I bet the Steelers didn't even double-cover Kendricks when he lined up wide to the left. That's inexplicable too. You ALWAYS double-cover a tight end when he is split out wide. It's an Easterbrookian rule. 

3. I think if I were Todd Bowles, I’d be worried about Darrelle Revis. He’s 30 now. He suffered a strained groin last week, and left Sunday’s game against the Eagles with some hamstring injury. Revis said post-game he was fine, and maybe he is. But this is the cornerstone of the New York secondary, obviously, and if we’re not even to the end of September and he’s got an iffy groin and hamstring, that’s troubling.

I'm sure Revis will miss a good portion of this season, come back and play well next season, and then stage a holdout for more money. So Todd Bowles probably should worry more about the eventual holdout than anything else. 

4. I think if I were the 49ers, I’d be extremely concerned with Colin Kaepernick. His TD-to-Interception ratio in the past 10 games is 8-to-9, and he’s had one 300-yard passing game in that time. “I was 100% responsible,” he said about the embarrassing loss to Arizona on Sunday. Well, 80% maybe. But Kaepernick was awful.

I wouldn't worry about the guy that Ron Jaworski thinks could be the greatest quarterback in NFL history. He will be absolutely fine. The 49ers have simplified the offense or him (though they do have downfield passes in their system which they couldn't do with Alex Smith as the quarterback because he refuses to throw downfield) and everything will be fine. I don't know if I'm being sarcastic or not. Maybe a little bit, but Kaepernick is playing in a new offensive system. Give him some more time. 

5. I think the NFL had better have a good explanation (Ed Hochuli, too) for Cam Newton’s postgame claim Sunday concerning a borderline late hit on him. Newton wanted a personal foul called on the hit but it wasn’t flagged, and he said after the game: “The response I got [from Hochuli] was, ‘Cam, you’re not old enough to get that call.’ I didn’t think you had to have seniority to get a personal foul or anything like that.” I’m sure Hochuli will say (assuming he agrees that this is what he said) that he was joking. But it’s not something to joke about. The league’s got to get on this one this morning.

Shocking no one, the NFL was basically like, "Nah, Newton was lying about that. We believe our official over Newton."

Maybe Newton was lying, but I think it's funny this is all over a late hit that really wasn't a late hit if you ask me. It was very borderline, but clearly if you saw the video then you saw Newton's face after Hochuli said something to him. Maybe instead of saying he wasn't old enough to get the call, he said that Newton is not an entertainer and icon. Perhaps that's the reason for Newton's shocked face.

10. I think these are my non-NFL thoughts of the week:

c. Jeter and Harbaugh, at the Big House. Cool sight before BYU-Michigan.

Yeah, super cool. Derek Jeter, the greatest player of Peter's generation.*

*Meaning over the last 25 years, which still isn't true.

f. Mike Trout doesn’t just hit home runs.

Yep, we know that Peter. You must have missed the last three seasons of arguments over the American League MVP award. Trout's defense was an integral part of this debate, but way to be three years late with your observations.

h. Having said that, I do hate the one-game wild-card playoff. It’s unfair for teams that have played 162 games to make the playoffs, and poof, it can be gone with one lousy inning.

I have always been against the one-game Wild Card playoff. I think it should be a three-game series. All of a sudden though, with no explanation, I think I don't hate the one-game Wild Card playoff anymore. It's like a flip switched somehow and my opinion changed after reading these two sentences that Peter wrote. 

k. Can the three teams from the National League Central—as of Friday morning, St. Louis, Pittsburgh and Chicago were 1-2-3 in major-league baseball in wins—just play a World Series round robin this year? Such a shame that, most likely, the Cubs and Pirates will meet in the play-in game, and three hours later, one of them will be out.

If the MLB playoffs still worked like they did before the Wild Card then one of these teams wouldn't even make the playoffs. Heck, if the MLB playoffs worked like they did before the second Wild Card then one of these teams wouldn't even be in the playoffs. So as much as I hate, hate, hate, hate, hate, hate the one-game Wild Card playoff, in this case it at least gives one of these teams a chance to go further into the playoffs. 

m. If you’re Joe Maddon, do you pitch Jake Arrieta at Pittsburgh in the play-in game? If you’re the Pirates, in line to play the third play-in game in three years, aren’t you tired of facing aces? Johnny Cueto and the Reds two years ago, Madison Bumgarner and the Giants last year, and probably Arrieta this year.

If you are the Pirates, don't you understand that if you are playing a one-game Wild Card playoff against another good team then you will probably face that other team's ace? If you are the Pirates, aren't you happy that you have Gerrit Cole? I don't get this comment. Most teams who are on the borderline of making the playoffs have an ace of some sort. In a one-game playoff, that's the guy who gets the start. Maybe the Pirates should try winning the division and avoiding the one-game Wild Card playoff. 

o. Bryce Harper: 1.125 OPS. That is one insane number. No one in baseball is within 100 points of him.

Yeah, but his team isn't winning so he isn't as a valuable as a lesser player on a better team. How can Harper be valuable if he doesn't have better players around him than another player whose team made the playoffs does? 

s. Beernerdness: So happy for the great people at Allagash Brewery in Portland, Maine. Allagash White, which is only the greatest beer of all time, won gold in the Belgian Witbier category this weekend at the Great American Beer Festival in Denver. That’s my little pet beer category, and Allagash White’s the best I’ve had.

(Bengoodfella shakes head sadly) I like Belgian Witbier okay, but open your mind to other beers or talk about different beers in a MMQB. Every week Peter talks about how much he likes white beers and Witbiers. I'm not sure if I have ever heard of Peter liking a darker beer. It's not a big deal, but he's really not a beer nerd if he only talks about one kind of beer, is he?

u. I know some would say, “Keep politics out of this, Pope Francis. You’re not qualified to talk about global warming, and you have no idea what’s causing the discord in the Mideast and it’s easy for you to say everyone should take in refugees—just stick to religion.” I say: “Keep the pressure on, Pope. Keep talking about things that matter, especially global warming. Go get ‘em.”

Peter's opinion is that some might say the Pope doesn't have the knowledge to give his opinion on these matters, but Peter thinks because these issues matter then the Pope should continue giving his opinion. I wonder if Peter would agree with this if the Pope started spouting off about gun rights and issues that Peter doesn't agree with? I think I know the answer. But yeah, keep spouting off about subjects that matter, because Peter agrees with you on these issues. I bet Peter doesn't like it if the Pope starts espousing opinions like those of Kim Davis. They did meet after all. 

The Adieu Haiku

Pagano can speak.
Wall broken down in Nashville.
Colts ran through that thing.

This Adieu Haiku is broken down and this is another awful one. I think Peter ran through his creative ideas for a haiku about two years ago. Make it stop. 

Monday, September 28, 2015

8 comments Fresh Off a Week of Blaming Tom Coughlin for Using a "Safe" Strategy, Gregg Talks About How NFL Coaches Should Stop Playing It Safe

Gregg Easterbrook made his non-triumphant return to writing TMQ, albeit for a different news outlet, last week. I haven't met the person who is really excited that TMQ is back, but maybe I run in company that all think like I do. This week Gregg talks about how moving the extra point back hasn't been the cure-all to get NFL coaches to be more aggressive as some (umm...Peter King) thought that it might. For some reason, the "Times" hasn't updated the picture of Gregg beside his column. This really shouldn't bother me, but it does for some reason. Find a newer picture of Gregg and not one taken when he was in his early-40's. The new, shorter TMQ is a much easier read, but I don't understand why he is explaining his ridiculous nicknames for each NFL team. Those people who have read TMQ at ESPN are probably still reading it and don't need him to explain his ridiculous team nicknames. If Gregg does the explanation for new readers, well there were probably new readers every week at and he didn't explain the ridiculous nicknames on a weekly basis, so why explain them now? Actually, how about just calling each NFL team by it's real nickname? I guess that's not annoying enough.

The N.F.L.’s new try rule — “try” is the correct term, not point-after attempt, which applies only to kicks —

Don't be so pretentious about correcting what the right term would be to use. Pretend for a second you like sports and aren't an academic.

is having the desired effect of making after-touchdown placement attempts no longer automatic. In the 2014 season, there were eight missed extra-point kicks. Already this season, with extra-point attempts snapped from the 15-yard line instead of the 2, there have been nine.

Great success! The NFL can fix anything once they put their mind to it. You know, except for their inconsistent disciplinary policy.

But the flip side of the new rule — encouraging the deuce — has not panned out. This season there have been 15 two-point tries. That’s not the landslide expected by those who backed the rules change, considering an average of seven two-point tries in the first two weeks of the previous 10 seasons.

(ahem, Peter King)

NFL coaches are going to suddenly become less conservative after the extra point was moved back from being a 99% probability of success to a 90%-95% probability of success. That's exactly what will happen.

At work may be the same risk-aversion that causes N.F.L. coaches to order punts on fourth-and-short. A deuce try is essentially fourth-and-goal from the 2

Nooooooooooo, you think Gregg? You don't think the same coaches who punt on fourth-and-short are afraid to try for a two-point conversion, do you? It's not like the two-point conversion was moved up, so coaches still see a guaranteed point as better than trying the two-point conversion. The idea there would be initially be a substantial increase in two-point tries amuses me. That wasn't happening with the current attitude NFL coaches have towards the two-point conversion, so why would it change if the extra point was moved back slightly? 

If the coach sends in the kicker for the singleton attempt, he’s doing the “safe” thing. If the coach orders a deuce try that does not succeed, the coach is criticized.

Gregg believes that coaches make every decision based on avoiding criticism. This is his belief. Unlike Gregg, I can't read the minds of people, so I'm not sure if this is a correct assumption or not. I do believe NFL coaches are too conservative, but also that they see the advantage of kicking the extra point and guaranteeing that his team gets an additional point. The belief is the two-point conversion won't be converted at such a high rate as to justify kicking a two-point conversion rather than an extra point. When Gregg spends time in TMQ pointing out how the Bears couldn't get the ball in the end zone on four tries during Week 1, it doesn't help conservative coaches like John Fox to believe going for the two-point conversion is worth it.

I know they aren't totally analogous situations, but I can't help but laugh at Gregg and how he eviscerated the Giants for going for a touchdown, as opposed to doing the "safe" thing and running the clock out in Week 1 versus the Cowboys. Tom Coughlin didn't do the "safe" thing and was criticized. He essentially tried a two-point conversion to ice the game (except it would have been a touchdown) and Gregg thought this was a terrible decision. Remember this when Gregg talks about how NFL head coaches should go for two more often.

Chip Kelly, case in point. At Oregon, where Kelly was worshiped by the local media, he often went for two. This season, Kelly, who is getting hammered by the Philly sports press, has not ordered a deuce try.

Yeah, but..............

Of course it’s not as if he’s had a lot of touchdowns to work with.

"Here is my criticism of Chip Kelly and I want you to take it seriously, despite the fact I'm about to point out the fallacy of my criticism. The larger point is to ignore that Kelly hasn't had a lot of touchdowns to work with and take my observation from a two game sample seriously and see how it proves my larger point." 

What do the numbers show so far? Eight of 15 on deuce tries, 146 of 155 on extra-point kicks. This suggests 100 two-point attempts would produce 106 points, while 100 extra-point kicks would produce 94 points. That seems a strong case for attempting a deuce.

I mean, it does seem like a strong case for attempting the two-point conversion league-wide when using a sample size of 100 touchdowns. I don't think this information can be viewed in this way though. Each team may have different success rates on the two-point conversion over a sample of 100 touchdowns. It's like saying college basketball teams should never shoot a two-point shot because the average 3-point percentage is 38.6%, while the average 2-point percentage is 47.0%. So if a team only shot 3-pointers for 100 shots then that team will score 116 points, while they would only score 94 points if they only shot two-point shots. These percentages aren't necessarily true for every single college basketball team, and in terms of football, each team won't convert a two-point conversion at a rate of 53%. Like much of the reason a college basketball team might make 38.6% of 3-point shots is because some of these are open shots and teams are selective when taking these shots, an NFL team may try a two-point conversion because they have a two-point conversion play they feel they can run effectively against a certain team's defense.  

Because the N.F.L. is pass-wacky, coaches who do go for two are showing an inclination to throw.

Gregg will provide information below about the percentage of successful two-point conversions when teams pass and when they run the ball. At no point will he provide information on how many times teams attempted to pass and attempted to run the ball on two-point conversions. So who knows if teams are showing an inclination to throw? Gregg never provides information showing this.

Sunday, the Steelers and the Packers went with empty backfields on deuce attempts. Rushing for two might up the odds of success, making the deuce more attractive.

Or it might not. Gregg will see the results of teams running the ball on two-point conversions and then base his opinion on the outcome, like he normally does. 

Scott Kacsmar of Football Outsiders — by a huge margin the best independent football website —

A huge margin. It's a landslide. Football Outsiders is 47.62% better than any other independent football website. Wait, did I use too much specificity for Gregg when rounding to the hundredth decimal?

recently analyzed all N.F.L. two-point tries from 1994 to 2014. He found that 44 percent of passing deuces were successful, while 56 percent of rushing deuces were.

I would be interested to know how many two-point attempts were rushes and how many were passing attempts. I feel like this would be interesting information for me to know in order to decide if the rushing attempts were successful because defenses predominantly are used to facing passing attempts on two-point conversions. 

The numbers show that N.F.L. coaches ought to try for two, and ought to do so by rushing. Instead they are avoiding the deuce, or when they do try for two, are ordering passes. This is National Football League resistance to change in a nutshell.

Yes, the NFL is resisting changing to a running league. For decades, passing has been the law around the NFL, while rushing has been given the short stick. But now, NFL teams need to run the ball more, despite the entire history of the NFL being a passing league and that's how touchdowns have traditionally been scored. 

The Steelers’ try succeeded, putting Pittsburgh ahead, 8-0, and firing up the home crowd. Seeing their coaches go all-in to win, rather than stick with “safe” tactics, seemed to fire up Steelers players, too, setting in motion a runaway victory.

These aggressive tactics fired up the Steelers team and that's why they won the game. The natural question would be why the aggressive tactics that Tom Coughlin showed the week before when trying to score a touchdown rather than running out the clock didn't fire up the Giants, but don't worry about the failure of non-"safe" tactics in helping the Giants lose a game and just focus on when "safe" tactics win games for NFL teams. There's no need to pay attention to when Gregg's contentions don't seem true and he instead criticizes a head coach for not playing it "safe." Do whatever ends up working, that's all Gregg asks for head coaches to do.

Did Bill Belichick Stage the PSIcheated Scandal to Get Brady Fired Up? Last season’s No. 1 pass defense was Seattle, and the No. 3 unit belonged to Buffalo. At the Super Bowl, Tom Brady threw for 328 yards against the best pass defense; Sunday, he torched the third-best pass defense for 466 yards. At times, Brady was toying with the Boastful Bills.

It's almost like Tom Brady is a really good quarterback or something. 

He completed 18 passes for 210 yards and three touchdowns to Rob Gronkowski and Julian Edelman, and it just never seemed to occur to Buffalo that Gronkowski and Edelman were being targeted.

OR, Gronkowski and Edelman are really good football players who find a way to get open when running the offensive plays called by Josh McDaniels, who is most likely calling plays in an effort to get these two players open. Simply because a team knows a certain receiver is being targeted doesn't mean that team can stop that receiver from catching the football. If that were true, then the best wide receivers in the NFL would barely catch any passes. There is a difference in knowing these two players are targeted and actually being able to stop these two players from catching the football. Because Gregg makes everything black and white, I wouldn't expect him to understand this difference. 

At Buffalo, the recent waiver-wire acquisitions Dion Lewis and Scott Chandler combined for nine receptions for 121 yards. Lewis, dubbed a bust by the Eagles, the Browns and the Colts,

Dion Lewis was a 5th round pick. I don't think any team will call a 5th round pick a "bust" by any stretch of the imagination. Gregg consistently fails to understand that some running backs fit the system one team may run better than he fits the system another team may run. The Patriots like pass catching running backs and lost Shane Vereen in free agency. The Eagles had Darren Sproles to catch passes and LeSean McCoy to run the football, so they didn't need Lewis on the team. I can't speak for the Browns and Colts, but maybe the Patriots know how to utilize Lewis better within their system. Either way, not one of those three teams think a 5th round pick is a "bust."

blitz-blocked well and ran two perfect “wheel” routes, the most challenging pass pattern for a tailback.

Yes, this wheel route is the most challenging pass pattern for all tailbacks. Every single one of them believe this. There are no exceptions and don't question this. 

Two undrafted free agents started on the New England offensive line and noticeably outperformed Buffalo’s megabucks defensive line of three Pro Bowlers.

How did the left tackle and right tackle for the Patriots do in this game? You know, the first and second round picks who have a combined cap hit of $12.6 million. Did they do okay during the game or they don't merit a mention since they aren't undrafted players? 

What is Belichick injecting these guys with? I’m guessing grape Ovaltine. But I’m still trying to confirm that story.

This is remarkably unfunny and incoherent. 

Stop Me Before I Blitz Again! Jersey/A leading Atlanta 20-17 with 1:53 remaining, the host Giants big-blitzed, leaving Julio Jones single-covered deep for a 38-yard touchdown reception that gave the visitors the lead.

Yeah, but why would any team double-cover Julio Jones? He's just a highly-paid glory boy who doesn't block in the run game and is singlehandedly to blame for the Falcons not making the playoffs in a given season.

I still love how Gregg considers Jones to be one of the best receivers in the NFL when it was just last year Gregg was discussing how the mega-trade for Jones didn't work out for the Falcons because of the team's record since drafting Jones. Gregg wants his readers to choose to not remember or simply forget about all the things he's written about Julio Jones since 2011. 

Defensive Tackles Cash In, Zone Out. Coming into the season, defensive tackles Ndamukong Suh and Marcell Dareus signed mega-contracts, each with around $60 million guaranteed. Both are celebrating by seeming to take the 2015 season off. Sunday, Suh’s stat line was one tackle, nothing else, as Miami lost to the woeful Jaguars. Sunday, the Bills’ Dareus was totally outplayed by the undrafted New England free-agent rookie David Andrews.

Yes, Suh is paid to get tackles, but that's not really all he does as a defensive tackle. Same thing for Dareus, but I get Gregg's point based on a one game sample size.

In the Dolphins’ opener, the cloak of invisibility was draped over Suh by the Washington rookie Brandon Scherff.

What else would you expect from a highly-paid, glory boy like Brandon Scherff? Though the Redskins are now 1-2, so the Redskins decision to draft Scherff has not paid off with wins. Using Gregg's logic to criticize Julio Jones, this must mean that Scherff was not worth the draft pick.

Sunday, Scherff neutralized Aaron Donald, who has been playing well.

Here is a great example of Gregg Easterbrook lying to his readers and hoping that no one has the energy to look his lie up. Welp, I have the energy and Gregg is a liar. Donald's line from the game:

0.5 sacks and three tackles. Is the really "neutralizing" Aaron Donald? At that rate, he would end the season with 8 sacks and 48 tackles. I'm pretty sure that would make him one of the best DT's in the NFL if those were his statistics over a full season.

N.F.L. received wisdom is that guards should not go high in the first round. Chosen fifth in the 2015 draft, Scherff is the highest-drafted guard since 1975, when Ken Huff was selected third over all.

Facts are so annoying! The Redskins drafted Scherff as a tackle and not a guard. Yes, he is currently playing tackle, but the plan was for Scherff to be a tackle in the NFL. So he can play both positions, but he wasn't drafted as a pure guard. 

All units, all units, be on the lookout for the Seattle Seahawks, who stretching back to last season have lost three straight. Then again, in 2014 the Seahawks opened 3-3 and looked blah: They ended that season one snap away from a Lombardi Trophy.

"Here's the point I want to prove about the Seahawks, they are just not very good, but don't listen to me because they have been not good in the past before and almost won the Super Bowl. Well, do listen to me, but don't listen to the parts I don't want you to pay attention to, which is mostly that you shouldn't be listening to me." 

All units, all units, be on the lookout for an explanation for the Washington defense, currently ranked No. 1.

After two games against the Rams and Dolphins. That was before they gave up 363 yards to the New York Giants. 

Undrafted and in the News. Undrafted Seth Roberts of Division II West Alabama — school of undrafted Malcolm Butler, Super Bowl hero — caught the winning touchdown pass as Oakland upset Baltimore.

Who threw the ball? Oh yeah, highly-paid glory boy second round pick Derek Carr. Nice how Gregg leaves that out.

Bot Meets Barbie. Maybe The Upshot’s 4th Down Bot should ask A.I. Barbie out. Their first-date conversation:

4th Down Bot: How’s your burrito? Hey, can you believe Chip Kelly punted on fourth-and-1 at midfield against the Cowboys?

A.I. Barbie: I love what you’ve done with your grappling hooks! And those new treads really complement your look.

4th Down Bot: People say I’m just a machine. Nobody understands me. You’ve been dealing with “she’s just a doll” for like 50 years. How do you handle it?

A.I. Barbie: I believe in gurl power! Why don’t you use your parents’ credit card to order some genuine Mattel fashion accessories for me?

This is shockingly unfunny. There's no punchline and no point to it. 

Johnny Football Report. Last season, Johnny Manziel started a game for the Browns in which his team had 38 snaps, a season low for the league. (N.F.L. teams average 64 snaps per game.) Sunday, Manziel started and the Browns won, with just 47 snaps. Nearly all of Cleveland’s passing offense came on two plays, completions of 60 and 50 yards. Defenses are choking up to stop Manziel from scrambling, which allows the occasional deep throw. But if Cleveland doesn’t snap the ball more, the Browns won’t go far.

I mean, yes and no. Yes, they won't go far if they don't snap the ball much because their defense is on the field and the offense can't manage to stay on the field. But no, they could go far if the Browns are possessing the football on long drives that lead to points on the board for the offense. 

I’d Rather Be Blue. Boise State is on a 94-4 run when playing at home. This has something to do with its recruiting edge over many opponents — the Broncos just had their way with lower-division Idaho State — and with Boise’s 2,700-foot elevation. But T.M.Q. thinks the blue turf is a factor. 

Yet all N.F.L. turf remains standard-issue. The City of Tampa Buccaneers (see explanation below) could make their ugly new video-game-icon uniforms less visible by playing on Creamsicle orange turf that harks back to the founding of the franchise. The Cleveland Browns could make their new kids-pajamas uniforms less visible by playing on turf that’s Tootsie Roll brown. The 49ers could install black turf as camouflage for their Black-Widow-inspired new unis. Why don’t N.F.L. teams explore the possibilities?

Because the NFL has a strict dress code about players can wear their socks and what celebrations a player can and can not do after a touchdown. Does Gregg really think the NFL will allow the Colts to paint their turf all blue? The NFL had a six month investigation into whether a football was missing air by a few tenths of the regulation PSI, but they are going to let the Saints have a gold field? Get the fuck out of here if this is a real question. 

Ye Gods. The Eagles have 70 yards rushing this season. DeMarco Murray has carried 21 times for 11 yards. At Dallas, Murray played behind the league’s best offensive line. Maybe his Boys stats were a reflection of the blocking.

Maybe a running back's statistics are partly dependent on how well his offensive line blocks for him! This is such an obvious observation I have no doubt that Gregg will have an entire TMQ dedicated to trying to figure out the answers. Yes, maybe the fact the Cowboys have the best offensive line in the NFL does have something to do with DeMarco Murray's great rushing statistics last year. Look for Gregg to explore this idea further in an upcoming TMQ. I have no doubt he will. 

Does Belichick Have Hillary’s Missing Emails? Bill Belichick is so paranoid that the team’s website says UNOFFICIAL DEPTH CHART lest an opponent glean some minute tactical advantage from knowing who’s third string at tight end.

Or he just wants everyone to know the Patriots have no official depth chart and will start certain players (especially running backs) depending on the matchup and which players he perceives will give the Patriots an advantage. I'm not sure Belichick is paranoid about opposing teams knowing the depth chart more than he wants people to be aware the depth chart changes on a weekly basis at times. 

College Punting Follies. Hosting Florida State in a high-profile N.C.A.A. game, Boston College punted on fourth-and-2 at midfield, then punted again on fourth-and-2 at midfield. Just to prove it was no fluke, the Eagles also punted in Florida State territory. With five minutes remaining and the visitors up, 14-0, then Boston College went for it. This demonstrates a pattern in coaching decisions on fourth down. Early in the game, when going for it on fourth down might help a team win — but also would expose the coach to criticism if the conversion attempt fails — coaches do the safe thing and order punts.

Yes, it was a "high-profile" NCAA game. I don't know if I understand what "high-profile" means in this situation, other than Florida State is a highly ranked team, but I don't think even Gregg knows what he's talking about much of the time. 

Adventures in Officiating. In the closing seconds of Texans at Panthers, there was confusing over whether a throwing motion was a pass or fumble; whether if a pass, it was grounding; whether Houston could avoid a 10-second runoff by calling a timeout after the fact; and what the clock should be reset to. Zebras required 6 minutes 15 seconds to figure out the spot, down and time remaining.

The official did go to the review booth I believe, so there seems to have been four separate things that needed to be determined on this play. So it's not shocking that it took over six minutes to figure it out, given the fact the official went to the replay booth and had to determine four separate issues on this play. 

Many big-college football coaches, including Nick Saban, yell four-letter-words at players on the sideline, behaving in abusive ways that would get a college professor suspended. Many college football coaches seem to view themselves as little gods;

Probably because the school treats them like little gods and therefore they end up viewing themselves that way. When the coach is the highest paid person at a university and he gets almost anything he wants, then you can see how he would view himself as a god. 

St. Louis at Washington Note. Since the 2012 RG3 mega-trade, Les Mouflons and the Potomac Drainage Basin Indigenous Persons are a combined 38-61-1, with only one above-.500 season in the six between these two clubs. This suggests the transaction was lose-lose.

This is partly why Gregg wrote last year in TMQ that mega-trades don't work. Except for that mega-trade for Julio Jones, which Gregg doesn't talk about anymore because the ridiculous bullshit he asserts about Jones being responsible for the Falcons record is even now too ridiculous and bullshitty for even Gregg to keep asserting.

Rex Ryan Boast of the Week. Ryan is nothing if not entertaining — his news conferences should have an opening monologue. Before the New England game, he mocked the Steelers for a blown coverage that left Rob Gronkowski uncovered, then assured “we’ll have somebody on him.” When Gronkowski flanked wide left in a goal-to-go situation — usually he flanks wide right — the Buffalo defense was confused. Cornerbacks were gesturing and shouting at one another; Ryan did not call a timeout. 

Maybe Rex Ryan should have called a timeout. That's a possibility. The problem is a team only has so many timeouts per half and coaches really don't like burning these timeouts. There's no way for a head coach to predict that if he doesn't call timeout then the other team will score a touchdown. Maybe I'm being too kind to head coaches, but by the time he sees the confusion then it's possible the offense has snapped the ball or he can't the attention of an official to call timeout. Gregg's suggestion is always just "Call a timeout" when that's not always a reasonable solution that can take place. 

Clearly the Patriots have zero respect for Ryan’s boasting, and hoped to increase the victory margin. Ryan talks a great game, Belichick barely talks at all. Which approach works?

Probably the approach that has Tom Brady as his team's quarterback. That is the approach I would take. 

T.M.Q. Lexicon Note. Tampa is the name of the place where the Buccaneers perform. Tampa Bay is a body of water. Thus to T.M.Q. this franchise is the City of Tampa Bucs. Since Green Bay is the city name, Green Bay Packers is fine.

Congratulations, Packers! Your name is fine and Gregg won't rename you with some stupid nickname that is the Gregg Easterbrook version of Peter King's Adieu Haiku. 

The Washington franchise name is offensive. The Potomac Drainage Basin Indigenous Persons nicely captures the spirit of the team, plus it’s pleasing to see Dan Snyder’s name near the word “drainage.”

I don't know why Gregg insists on giving an origin story for why he calls NFL teams these ridiculous nicknames. I'm just thankful that we missed the TMQ NFL season preview that really isn't a preview because all it does is talk about what happened with these NFL teams last year.