Thursday, August 21, 2008

FMTMQR: Gregg Easterbrook is an Unfunny Lummox

Jack and CHart (say "see heart," not, "chart") covered the most egregiously stupid stuff he put in last Tuesday's column. But there's still plenty more where that came from. In fact, I bet I don't have to try particularly hard to pick out one morsel of dumbassery or tragic unfunnyness from each and every one of his 16 AFC team previews.

Baltimore: In the 2007 season finale, Baltimore, which at that point had lost nine straight, defeated a Pittsburgh team that had locked its best seed and was resting starters for the playoffs. In the postgame news conference, Billick called the game "an outstanding win." Coaches use any opportunity to praise themselves, but that statement crossed some kind of nuttiness line.

Yes, clearly he was praising himself and only himself with that comment. And certainly it would be much more appropriate for him to tell the media (while his job was on the line, no less) "Well, we really shouldn't give a shit about this win because the Steelers were resting all their good players." Makes sense. Brutal honesty when dealing with the press- always a great policy when you're in a management position.

Animal activist note: The Ravens hope to have two actual ravens trained to fly around their stadium this fall. Ravens are intelligent animals with some ability to mimic speech; according to The Associated Press, the trainer is trying to teach the birds to say "Go, Ravens." TMQ thinks the birds should be trained to squawk the word "nevermore."

OK. Like the poem. And then they could use it to taunt or intimidate the other team. We get it, you don't have to explain-

If the visiting team scores a touchdown, they could flutter around the end zone proclaiming, "Nevermore! Nevermore!"


Buffalo: The Ivies played well on special teams and on defense -- subtract two blowouts by New England, and Buffalo allowed 18 points per game, a strong figure. But the offense was cover-your-eyes awful: predictable (57 percent rushing on first down, despite opponents OBVIOUSLY stacking the box on first downs),

I'm sure that comment is based on Gregg reviewing hours and hours of Bills game footage from last year. Either that, or he pulled it directly out of his rectum and through his pretentiously clinched sphincter. (And I just won $20 off Dan-Bob by using "sphincter" in a post.)

Buffalo's Ivy League coach, Dick Jauron, is a fine man but low-voltage personified; he's like a car battery that won't turn the engine on a cold morning. Jauron has just one winning season in seven as a head coach. Losing does not seem to bother him; he's never animated on the sidelines or upset after a loss, and he wasn't upset even after the Bills allowed two scores in the final 20 seconds to lose 25-24 to Dallas before a national audience on "Monday Night Football."

I'm not going to say that the level of passion displayed by a coach isn't at all important. I'm just going to say that when you look at a team's record and try to list the reasons their season ended up like it did, the level of passion displayed by their coach should probably be really close to the bottom. Like... at the bottom.

Jauron's gift is lowering expectations; this is his third season in Buffalo, yet he's still talking only about "improvement," not winning. Much of the time, the objective seems to be to lose with dignity.

I'm really sure that this guy, who has worked his entire life to become a professional football coach, doesn't care whether or not his team wins. It's not like, you know, his future as a professional coach (which ostensibly is very important to him) depends on his ability to win or something. We've been over this with Gregg before. It's too bad he's too much of a clod to learn.

Cincinnati: Other teams have bed checks, the Bengals have ankle-bracelet checks.

Yes, their players get in trouble with the law to a disproportionate degree.

Along the sidelines are coaches, trainers, defense attorneys and bail bondsmen.

Right, the whole criminal thing.

Maybe a defense attorney should coach the defense, which finished 27th in 2007.

In this case, the third time unfortunately is not the charm.

Cleveland: Ohio has become the Hall of Fame state -- it has Canton, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland and also the Inventors Hall of Fame in Akron. The latter's members ought to be a lot better known than the members of the first two Halls mentioned, since their contribution to society is greater.

Well, fuck it- why are you even writing this column? Shouldn't you be using your incredibly sophisticated and intelligent brain to educate readers about something a little more important than football? Let's just go ahead and disband professional sports as a whole. Unimportant. Useless. Mariottiesque.

Benched quarterback note: TMQ shook hands with Brady Quinn in LAX on the way back from the ESPYS.

I'm surprised the encounter didn't create a black hole of douche.

Denver: Drop a Fizzie into a glass of water; it bubbles madly, then disappears. That's the Denver Broncos since November 2006. At that point, the Broncos were 7-4 with the inside track to a wild-card berth, quarterbacked by Jake Plummer, a career 41-22 with Denver, and boasting one of the league's top defenses. Then The Ultimate Leader, Mike Shanahan, benched Plummer and sent in rookie signal-caller Jay Cutler. Since that moment, the Broncos are 9-12, their defense has gone Fizzie and even their vaunted rushing game has become mortal, slipping to ninth in 2007.

Gregg is apparently unfamiliar with the difference between correlation and causation. This is only about the 50th time he's brought up the QB switch in question during the last 20 months, and somehow, it's the sole reason the Broncos have not enjoyed success since. Poor defense? Cutler's/Shanahan's fault. Poor offensive line play? Cutler's/Shanahan's fault. In reality, although the last two years have been disappointing, the future couldn't be brighter as Cutler (who played well all last season despite having undiagnosed diabetes) establishes himself as a franchise player. Drop it, Easterbrook. Drop it.

Houston: Houston now has Alex Gibbs -- the guy who directed the blocking for the Denver rushing game which made [Insert Name Here] into star tailbacks. Gibbs is coaching the Texans' offensive line and bearing the title assistant head coach. Because most sportswriters don't understand how the Gibbs blocking system works, they call it "zone blocking." That's like calling all short passing attacks a West Coast offense. (TMQ has long believed most full-time football writers and sportscasters cannot diagram most standard football tactics.)

And yet, tragically, TMQ himself is unable to understand basic timing devices or why people are interested in Olympic medal counts. Really puts things into perspective.

Indianapolis: This team was ranked third on defense (in yards allowed per game) last season despite Dwight Freeney going on injured reserve at midseason, and was ranked fifth on offense (in yards per game) despite Marvin Harrison missing 11 games. The Colts lost close games to the Patriots and the Chargers; change a couple of plays in either of those contests, and Indianapolis might have repeated as Super Bowl champions.

Other teams who can make a similar claim: Patriots, Packers, Chargers, Steelers, Cowboys, and probably a couple others. Just saying. It's pretty useless to point out that changing a couple plays in a couple games could have resulted in a different end to a team's season.

Publishing note: Over the winter, Tony Dungy wrote, or at least signed his name to, a children's book. It begins, "Once upon a time there was a good little boy named Peyton who had a bad, evil brother named Eli."

Did Carlos Mencia write that joke? Jesus, It's almost bad enough to have originally been heard on "American Dad."

Jacksonville: Head coach Jack Del Rio's name means "of the River," and he is living up to that. A Jacksonville local news station reported that during the Georgia-Florida water shortage, Del Rio's house was gulping through 3,512 gallons of water per day. The typical home in Jacksonville uses 230 gallons per day, so Del Rio was at 15 times the local water-consumption average. Does Del Rio have a wave tank in his backyard?

What the fuck is a "wave tank?" Is it like a wave pool, the kind of attraction you'd see at a waterpark? Because even then, it would just be cycling the same water through its system over and over. I mean, I get what he's trying to say. But it comes out like "I can't believe the Tampa Bay Rays are so good this year. Do they have a magical good baseball player creating machine down there or something?"

New York: I'm not going to pick on what Easterbrook had to say about them, because most of it consisted of him flagrantly shitting all over Brett Favre and obviously I fully approve of that.

Kansas City: Scripture note: The apostle Paul's Letter to the Romans notes at 14:2, "Some believe in eating anything, while the weak eat only vegetables." Obviously Paul never played flag football with Gonzalez, one of the NFL's few vegetarians. The translation is from the New Revised Standard Version, endorsed by most biblical scholars. The New International Version, favored by evangelicals, renders the passage as, "One man's faith allows him to eat everything, but another man, whose faith is weak, eats only vegetables." Evangelical translators want being a vegetarian to sound wimpy!

I want my eleven seconds back.

Miami: The Marine Mammals have been at sea (yuck, yuck) since Richmond Webb left the team in 2000.

Making fun of your own comedic incompetence doesn't make it any more tolerable.

Arguably, the departure of Webb hurt the Dolphins more than the departure of Dan Marino, because Miami had a decent new quarterback waiting in the wings in Jay Fiedler, while the left tackle position has been a disaster since.

If Jay Fiedler was a "decent" quarterback, I'd hate to have one Gregg would qualify as "terrible" leading my team.

New England: In terms of memory power, New England's accomplishments exceeded what the Giants did, even if Jersey/A got to stand in the confetti shower on the sliding tray in Arizona. All New England needed to do was stop a third-and-11 snap with 45 seconds showing, and the word "perfect" would have shimmered into view.

They'd also have to have stopped a fourth-and-11 snap with 40-odd seconds remaining. Just saying.

The snap was not stopped, because nobody's ever been 19-0 and most likely nobody ever will be.

This is like saying Russia defeated Nazi Germany in the Battle of Stalingrad because good always triumphs over evil. Can we get some weaker analysis, please?

The Patriots are one terrific football team. Tuesday Morning Quarterback thinks the Colts are the club to beat this year, because the football gods will exact vengeance on the Patriots for all the bad karma they created with poor sportsmanship in 2007.

More "football gods" garbage, a week after belittling anyone who resorted to a god/karmic explanation for other worldly events.

One reason the Flying Elvii got to 16-0 in the 2007 regular season was a schedule without any West Coast trips; the Super Bowl was the sole time the team had to kick off west of the Rockies last season.

Yeah, I really think their ability to win would have been significantly diminished if they had to spend an extra 12 hours on an airplane over the course of four months.

Oakland: Camp note: the Raiders train at Redland Middle School in Napa, heart of wine country, while staying at the Marriott Napa. Head coach Lane "Hey Mom, I Got My Learner's Permit" Kiffin must really feel like the big man on campus when he's striding the halls of a middle school! Plus the Raiders' wine-and-cheese reception regime is grueling.

Disaster. Train wreck. Abortion.

Pittsburgh: (Not much to see here, except...) The Steelers were the best 2007 team to draw little media notice.

Little media notice? Little media notice? Is he referring to the Canadian media? Tell this to Browns or Buccaneers fans. Turn on or log in to any major media outlet's coverage, and you'll find heaping doses of certain teams year in and year out. The 2007 Steelers received the same treatment any decent Steelers team receives, which is to say, the public heard plenty about them. I know I'm arguing about something subjective here, but this statement is pretty obviously false in my book.

San Diego: Seven months later I still can't fathom it. San Diego has reached the AFC Championship Game and trails host New England 21-12 with 9:21 left, facing fourth-and-10 at the Pats' 36. Norv Turner sends in the punting unit. Trailing by two scores late against the highest-scoring team of all time, Turner punts in opposition territory. At least let your Pro Bowl kicker attempt a field goal! Boom goes the fraidiest fraidy-cat punt in football annals and the Chargers never touched the ball again. Not only was the punt an incredible case of chicken feathers, three times Turner ordered field-goal attempts inside the New England 9. To beat the highest-scoring team of all time on its own field, you need touchdowns! Instead, Turner used hyperconservative strategy, seeming to think he would just wait for the Patriots to make some killer mistake -- the Patriots, who had the NFL's fewest giveaways in 2007.

Hmmmmm. Well, it didn't happen on the Patriots' home field, but a game was played last February in which someone beat the Patriots despite 1) attempting a field goal from the New England 14, 2) punting on separate occasions from the New England 39 and the New England 41, and 3) taking advantage of several sizable New England mistakes.

But oh, how it helps to look good: Surely the sharp appearance of the Chargers' unis, and beauty of their powder-blue throwbacks, is a factor in the love San Diego gets.

If you're referring to any love they might get from teenaged female fans, maybe. If you're referring to the love they get from intelligent members of the sports media, no.

Tennessee: Vince Young continues to improve, but needs a star wide receiver;

Second part, yes. First part, not really. His QB rating climbed from 2006 to 2007, but his TD/INT ratio plummeted to a miserable 9:17 and his ability to pick up yards on the ground was greatly diminished as teams began to scheme against that aspect of his game. What can I say, I'm a hater; I don't think Young will ever be an above average NFL quarterback.

Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaand... I'm spent. Goodnight, parents' basement dwellers. See you next week.


Martin said...

So, in the great who we hate most at ESPN, is it flexy, or a straight, Simmons, Hill, Easterbrook, or hsa big Gregg moved up to the lead with the Simster on vaction for the summer? It sure seems that Gregg is going for the gold in the Asshat competition with a late kick around the turn.

He doesn't understand how timing works, generally has lousy football analysis, and has become agressively unfunny. Really at the top of his game now.

Chris W said...

"Because most sportswriters don't understand how the Gibbs blocking system works, they call it "zone blocking." That's like calling all short passing attacks a West Coast offense. (TMQ has long believed most full-time football writers and sportscasters cannot diagram most standard football tactics.)"

Yeah. That must be the only reason a football writer would generalize an incredibly complicated concept like Denver's blocking scheme or the West Coast Offense into its most simplistic and easily understandable characteristic--because they don't understand it.

If they truly understood it, they would get into the subtle nuances of it that the casual fan probably wouldn't understand or be interested in. Because really that's the job of a sportswriter. To spend like 3-4 paragraphs of a 5 paragraph article making an irrelevant distinction just to prove how smart and knowledgable about the game they are.


ps: Brady Quinn rules Larry :(

pnoles said...

Congratulations on being the first to slam "American Dad". You beat us all to the punch by doing it in a mere 1.25 years of blogging.

Bengoodfella said...

For me, I am not sure I can dislike an ESPN columnist anymore than Bill Simmons. He is a douchebag, he is from Boston, and thinks he can read people's minds. There is really nothing that can come close to him for me. I feel like he is the spokesman for every Boston fan in the world and that is unacceptable to me.

That being said, Jemele Hill and Gregg Easterbrook are really, really bad columnists, so I think I may actually have some pity for them.

elgringoloco said...

One of the things that bugged me in the San Diego section was him taking a shot at Decatur, AL and Philip Rivers. In the article, he said, and I quote, "GPS note: There is now a Philip Rivers Drive in Decatur, Ala. Rivers is 26 years old and throws a ball for a living. Has Decatur, Ala., never produced a person of substance to honor?" The problem is, that road in question is not being built in Decatur, it's being built in Athens. Right next to the fieldhouse and football field where Rivers played high school ball better than anyone who has ever come through there. In other words, it makes perfect sense that the most famous person in a high school's history would have a road named after him, especially next to the football field he developed as.

Here's the article talking about it

dan-bob said...

Don't think about AJ Hawk!