Friday, October 24, 2008

FMTMQR: Easterbrook Is Actually Much Lamer Than Jack Gives Him Credit For

Looking back on Jack's post from a couple days ago, I realized something. Although he has correctly identified TMQ as a pretentious moron, I feel his post didn't quite do enough to also identify him (TMQ) as a clueless jackass. So here I am, with my longest post in a while, to rant and rave about that. As usual it is unfunny, because I am unfunny. Read at your own peril.

Since I started subjecting myself to his drivel last fall, I've identified what I call Gregg's "Three Pillars of Dumbassery." He constantly bitches and moans about these topics despite being (almost always) completely wrong in his analysis relating to them. If you've been reading the blog for a while, you'll recognize them. They are:

1) His "I Don't Understand Technology" pillar- In which he (embarrassingly) insists that clocks in sports which are accurate to hundreds or tenths of a second are totally pointless. This pillar has finally stopped appearing in his columns this season; I'd like to think that maybe someone sent him this video about Olympic timing doohickeys and it got him to realize how fucking dumb he was being.

2) His "Tragic Oversimplification by Insisting that Changing One Event in the Distant Past Will Automatically Change a Final Outcome" pillar- (catchy name, I know) In which he insists that when team A loses to to team B on a last second field goal, team A should have run up the middle for no gain instead of throwing an incomplete pass at some point ten minutes earlier in the fourth quarter. This would have kept the clock running at that time and subsequently it would have run out before team B could later kick the deciding field goal. Although this claim is pure lunacy 99% of the time he brings it up, I don't ever expect it to disappear because unlike pillar #1 it cannot be proven objectively wrong. Too bad. It's like trying to convince Jemele Hill that the Feds are not picking on Barry Bonds because he is black. I mean, it should be fucking obvious. But since you can't show her a cool internet video that 100% disproves it, she's going to cling to it. (While also claiming that she doesn't defend Bonds just because he's black.)

And that leads us to the topic at hand...

3) His "Coaches Don't Care About Winning or Losing, and Fans and Players Don't Care About Getting Shut Out" pillar. (I'm on fire with these names, aren't I.) This is perhaps the most patently wrong of the three. The basic idea is expressed in one of two ways- either A) pretty much anytime a coach calls for a punt when his team is trailing in the second half, he's a total pussy who has no idea how to win a game, or B) anytime a coach kicks a field goal when his team is being shut out and trailing by a huge margin in the 4th quarter it's a selfish move that he made purely to keep said shutout off his record. Rather than expand upon the ways in which these claims are usually fucking stupid, I'll just provide you with a pile of examples (only from subpoint B because Jack already covered A) from this week's column.

In other football news, over the years, Tuesday Morning Quarterback has grown accustomed to timid coaching decisions.

This is the underlying premise of pillar #3- coaches, who remain employed by making their team look as good as possible (sometimes by trying to win, other times by reducing a margin of defeat when a win is unattainable) don't actually make decisions they think will make their team look as good as possible. No. They make decisions for some... other... selfish reason. Yeah! Selfish. That's a good word to accuse people with. And these accusations make sense when you think about them, as long as shortly before doing so you spent a good ten minutes huffing model airplane glue.

Trailing Chicago 48-31 with nine minutes remaining, Minnesota faced fourth-and-3 on the Bears' 5, and kicked a field goal.

So they were losing by three scores before the field goal... considered the likelihood of a relatively difficult conversion (getting three yards against a scrunched up goal line defense)... and instead did something with a high probability of success that reduced their deficit to two scores. What a bunch of pussies. Brad Childress, you should be embarrassed.

Needless to say, the Vikings went on to lose.

Needless to say, a team trailing by 14 with nine minutes left in a game almost always loses no matter what they do.

Forget the 17-point margin;

Actually, no. Look at the 17 point margin. Then consider the potential benefit of doing something easy that will reduce the margin to 14. Then consider the potential cost of going for the first down and failing to convert.

the hour was late and the Vikings were within view of paydirt. To have hope of winning, they needed a touchdown.

To have hope of winning, they needed to get the margin to two scores. To have better hope of winning, they needed to get the margin to ten. Weigh the costs and benefits. (Now, I'm also not saying the situation is totally obvious. I'm not saying I'm 100% sure the Vikings made the right decision. I'm saying you can't even come close to telling me they made the wrong one. I'm not hearing it.)

Trailing Houston 21-0, Detroit kicked a field goal.

Less defensible, as this keeps the margin at three scores. However, it happened in the 2nd quarter. It was probably a little early to worry about that kind of thing. It was also a 54 yard field goal, attempted on 4th and 10. The odds of converting a 4th and 10, and finishing the drive with a TD (rather than just ending up with a closer field goal that took longer to attain) are, NEEDLESS TO SAY, low.

Needless to say, the Lions went on to lose.

Needless to say, most teams that are bad enough to fall behind by 21 in a little more than a quarter are probably going to lose a lot of their games regardless of how many 4th and 10s they attempt.

Trailing Texas 35-0, Missouri kicked a field goal.

For what it's worth, that got their deficit from five scores to four. It also happened on the last play of the 2nd quarter, when Missouri was 16 yards away from the end zone. This is an even less likely conversion than Detriot's 4th and 10. Additionally, at some point when you're getting run up and down the field and have no points, you just kind of want to get on the board. I would be more critical of this if Missouri kicked a field goal when losing 56-21. Slightly.

Needless to say, the Tigers went on to lose.

Needless to say, a team trailing by 35 late in the first half is probably going to lose.

Fraidy-cat coaching decisions like these are intended to deflect criticism away from the coach.

Wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong, and..... wrong.

In the first example, the decision was intended to bring the margin from three scores to two. If you can't understand that, you should definitely not be paid to write an NFL column for the largest sports website in America. It worked, and in fact, Minnesota ended up scoring again and getting the ball deep in their own territory trailing by 7 with a minute left. A touchdown there was very unlikely, but it would have sent the game to overtime. Granted, a field goal was less unlikely, and would have sent the game to OT had they successfully converted the 4th and 3. However, if they blew the 4th and 3, the game would have been over right then and there. Again, it's not an obvious decision.

The second and third examples also have nothing to do with deflecting blame. They have to do with taking a decent shot at 3 points instead of taking a very long shot at 7. Gregg's brainlessness in these cases is also manifested in his inability to think about the psychological impact of a huge shutout on people other than the coach. Do you think players like being shut out? Do you think fans like seeing their team get shut out? It's unquantifiable, of course. But I would bet good money that Missouri's players went into the locker room feeling a reasonable amount better about themselves just for the sake of not having a "0" next to their name on the scoreboard. Perhaps this was even the spark that led them to score 28 points in the second half and make the blowout slightly less horrific. (Oh, and they didn't lose 35-31. That would ruin my point if it were the case. Texas scored an extra three TDs themselves in the second half, making the final score 56-31.) Thinking that coaches will do anything other than what is most likely to enable them to keep their jobs (either by winning, or making their institution look less bad in losing) is fucking dumb.

Maybe they make a modicum of sense in college, where margin of victory counts in the polls -- as Missouri's ridiculous field goal boomed, coach Gary Pinkel seemed to fear being blanked and his team dropping out of the Top 25 altogether.

That's not what he was thinking, and they would not have completely dropped from the polls even if the final score had been 56-0. I promise on both counts.

(It was irrelevant that it was the last play of the first half; Missouri was on the Texas 16 and should have tried for a touchdown.)

Wrong, as already explained.

But margin of victory is meaningless in the NFL. When NFL coaches make decisions intended to keep the final score respectable,

Or in Childress and the Vikings' case, to get their team within two scores with 9 minutes left...

or avoid a shutout, while giving up any hope however small of victory,

Contrary to what Gregg thinks, kicking a field goal with 8 minutes left in the 2nd quarter when you're down 21 does not automatically cause you to forfeit the game.

it isn't just bad tactics.

Here's when it would be bad tactics: if the Vikings had been losing by 21 when they kicked that field goal with 9 minutes left. THAT'S bad tactics.

It is unprofessional -- the coach is placing his own résumé and career prospects ahead of the team.

Yes, I'm sure the team would rather take unnecessary risks (example #1) or attempt crazy 4th down conversions when points are available (examples 2 and 3). That selfish coach! Always thinking of only himself!

That's why Herm "I Honor My Contract When I'm in the Mood" Edwards' decision against Tennessee on Sunday ranks among the worst in the annals of sports.

Easy on the hyperbole, Joe Buck.

Undefeated Tennessee led 27-0 with five minutes remaining; Kansas City had fourth-and-goal on the Titans' 8; rather than try for a touchdown and maintain some tiny hope of a comeback, or at least salvage the Chiefs' dignity, Edwards sent in the field goal unit.

Let's see... 27 points = 4 scores... 24 points = 3 scores... 4th and 8 from the 8 is a very unlikely conversion, especially against a defense like Tennessee's... yeah, this seems familiar. I'm getting dumbass deja vu.

Herm wasn't even trying to protect his team's interest; instead he was protecting his own by keeping a shutout off his résumé.

There are two angles to take here, I'm not sure which is more apporpriate.


I think I'll go with "both."

Moving on to a handful of other stupid jackass nuggets from the column:

Stat of the Week No. 4:
Stretching back to last season, Dallas, picked by many touts including the consensus of experts to win the Super Bowl, has lost five of its past nine games.

How dare those pundits pick them to win this year's Super Bowl after they lost their last two games in 2007! What a bunch of lummoxes.

And I Don't Even Drink Gin:
Several British readers including Holly Abbington of Whetstone, England, noted that a week ago, Tuesday Morning Quarterback was No. 2 on the list of "favorite things" -- excuse me, "favourite things" -- being perused on the Web by readers of London's Guardian newspaper.

A joke about how both British people (stereotypically) as well as TMQ are pretentious goes here.

The Real Way Many Kids Reach College:
Here's a spoiler that matters to public policy -- a subplot of the current season of "Friday Night Lights" has Brian "Smash" Williams, graduated from Dillon High but without an athletic scholarship owing to an injury, rehabbing his knee and trying to get an offer from a college. Reader Robert Matranga of Orange, Calif., writes, "The show is giving the implication that a football scholarship is his only ticket to college -- that without it, college is unreachable. Smash's family cannot afford the tuition to Texas A&M, where he hopes to go -- but what about an academic or need-based scholarship? The show's implication that athletic scholarship is the only way Brian can attain college feeds the already poor awareness of federal aid in the form of Pell grants and subsidized loans, plus the need-based aid offered by many colleges directly."

This is an important point. The deck is stacked against African-American males in many respects; one of the few places where the deck is stacked in favor of African-American males is college admission. Most colleges and universities want to increase the black male population in their student bodies, and are generous with financial aid for African-American males who earned good grades. Black teens in fiction are often depicted as seeking athletic scholarships rather than regular need-based and academic scholarship opportunities -- though far more kids of all races attend college on regular need-based aid than on NCAA letters.

Not to say that all of this isn't correct... but boy, doesn't that sound like a thrilling storyline for a prime time drama? Smash Williams desperately wants to earn a football scholarship to Texas A&M! But, you know, if he doesn't get it, he can always just get an academic one too. BUT WHICH WILL IT BE? Tune in to find out.

Scouts Notes: Going into the Oakland game, Brett Favre -- who TMQ contends at this point should legally change his name to "Brett Favre Brett Favre Brett Favre"

TMQ is so unfunny he managed to screw up a joke about Brett Favre's self promotion and overexposure. This is like screwing up a Monica Lewinsky joke in early 1998.

-- had thrown eight of his 13 touchdown passes while already in the red zone. Since Jersey/B's coaches were criticized early in the season for not letting Favre throw near the goal line, they are having him throw near the goal line constantly now. Sunday, with the Jets and Raiders tied 3-3, Favre threw from the Oakland 8-yard line and the hosts were ready, intercepting the pass.

Conveniently omitted from this anecdote is the fact that the interception was thrown on 3rd and goal from the 8. Wow, you mean the Packers didn't call a run from that down and distance? Oh, and the Jets had also just called running plays on 1st and goal from the 6 and 2nd and goal from the 3. So basically... this proves ABSOLUTELY FUCKING NOTHING about the tendencies of the Jets' coaching staff.

Opponents: Expect Favre to throw near the goal line, because Jersey/B's coaches want to avoid further criticism for not letting him throw there.

Also: be ready for most quarterbacks on most teams to throw near the goal line on 3rd and 8, because running on that play would probably be a fucking stupid idea unless it was a well-designed draw or something.

Did Lions Tip the Cowboys? Dallas traded first-, third- and sixth-round draft selections to Detroit for Roy Williams and a seventh-round pick. The seventh-round throw-in is so trivial, it seems like a gratuity: "Here you are my good man, here's your highly paid perpetually complaining wide receiver, and I've thrown in a little something extra for your trouble."

OK, I have to toe a very fine line here. Don't get me wrong- Detroit ripped off Dallas. That's a huge price to pay for any non-QB. That said- Williams is pretty talented. He may be overpaid (Dallas can afford it) and a complainer (likely to subside if he's playing for a winner), but it's not like he sucks or something.

And just a thought: Dallas is foundering, so the solution is to raid the roster of the Detroit Lions?

What? You mean bad teams sometimes have good players? What are you, fucking nuts? Here's a thought for you from last July, Milwaukee Brewers- you're foundering, and the solution is to raid the roster of the Cleveland Indians? Ha! Like that will get you to the playoffs.

The Real Reason for Pass-Wacky High School Offenses -- Summer Practice Rules: Here is last week's New York Times front-page take on the A-11 offense (Page 2 had the story earlier this year. Describing the basic A-11 trick of making all 11 players appear eligible just before the snap, the Times continued, "The difficult task for a team defending against the A-11 is to quickly and accurately figure out who those five eligible receivers are." Wait -- this should be easy, it's whoever goes downfield!

You don't... really... uh... understand how football works, do you? (Note: there's a chance this was a joke and I'm the one that looks like an idiot by trying to make fun of it. If you read it in the full context of the item, you can't really tell. But since we're dealing with TMQ, I decided to not give him the benefit of the doubt. Probably works better this way. And if reader Erik wants to email me and argue that my assessment is incorrect, I hope he sends it to the correct address.)

Happy Hour in Hell's Sports Bar: Hell's sports bar has 28 wide-screen plasma TVs, and now gets DirecTV! But certain blackout rules may apply. On Sunday in the early slot, the TVs in Hell's Sports Bar showed nothing but Ravens at Dolphins and Cowboys at Rams, and the far more attractive Chargers at Bills pairing was not offered. (Wait -- this is what actually happened in the Washington, D.C., television viewing area.)

Well, Chargers/Bills is an all-AFC pairing. That means CBS has the rights and the fact that Rams/Cowboys was on FOX is irrelevant. Ravens/Dolphins is an all AFC pairing too. And Baltimore is 50 miles from DC, meaning there are probably a lot of Baltimore fans in the DC area. This shouldn't be too hard to figure out.

For the highlight program, all 28 screens in Hell's Sports Bar showed nothing but, over and over, winless Detroit kicking a field goal when down 21-0.

On 4th and 10 from their own 37 with 8 minutes left in the 2nd quarter, you fucking... useless... what's the noun I'm looking for... oh yeah. Zilcheroo. Man, if Gregg Easterbrook were here right now, I would FWAP him right across the face. Are we important enough to be self-referential like that? I hope so. I mean, not because I want us to be important. Just because I want to make that reference and have most of our readers get it. And possibly crack a little tiny smile. Or who knows, maybe even get a smidgen of a chuckle out of it. Heh. Heh.

OK, I'm done.


Tonus said...

Is Gregg implying that if Missouri had scored a touchdown when they were losing 35-0 in the first half, that they would've come back to win?

Andy said...

Why must this site always mock my beloved Cleveland Indians? :-(

Chris W said...

that Brett Favre thing--ws that a Beetlejuice reference?

ps: Cleveland (rocks?) Sucks

Larry B said...

Sorry Andy. I have no hate for the Indians. They just seem to come up in a negative context with unusual frequency. Hey, at least the Cubs still haven't won one in forever. That deflects a little attention away from you guys, right?

Chris W said...

Jndjans suck.

Remember when AJ stomped on Aaron Boone?

That was the joint.

Martin said...

Somehow good ol' Gregg manages to make Simmons look decent each week. His ability to cherry pick instances in game and make his arguments completely out of context is fantastic. If only they somehow reflected reality.

cs said...

Needless to say, Greggggg has a serious problem with a theme in his thinking. Over the years of reading TMQ, it's obvious he hates wealthy people and those in power (see:JEWS), is convinced that rich people shouldn't be rich, and that the rich are always covering their own asses and are all universally selfishly greedy. This philosophy extends to his viewpoint of coaches. He's convinced that coaches only care about themselves and make scoring decisions based on building their resume and their image.

I believe punting on 4th down all the time is a terrible approach to coaching. I think teams need to go for it more often. But Greggggg has taken this once interesting idea and destroyed it by bringing up shit examples every fucking week. It's like this year's The Patriots are EVIL theme.

Larry B said...

I like where your head's at, CS, but isn't Easterbrook a Jew himself? That was the impression I always got.

Larry B said...

Oh, and I just want to add that the absolute worst part of this article was the Favre-throwing-near-the-goal-line thing. If for some reason you're reading the comments but didn't read the whole article, just go find that part. What a fucking dumbo Easterbrook is. 1st and goal- run. 2nd and goal- run. 3rd and goal from the 8- pass. Intercepted, because the Raiders totally knew exactly what the Jets were going to do on that play! Sooooooo predictable!

CitizenX said...


Martin said...

I don't think Gregggg is Jewish, he seems to be a Christian of some type from his writings. I do know that he has gotten in hot water for anti-semitic remarks he has made in the past, though I don't think they were in TMQ.

cs said...

I was making a half-assed attempt at a joke, but Greggggg got fired from ESPN in 2003 for what they perceived as anti-semitic remarks. I took them as anti-Hollywood business. But, more to the point, he took a shot at Eisner and Disney, so, that's probably really what got him in deep shit. But judge for yourself:

His paragraph is at the end of the article. And yeah, X is right, it wasn't actually in TMQ.

cs said...

Msrtin, that is. But X is right on with the FWAP