Fire this guy immediately. Jack M already covered the single worst sportswriting paragraph of 2009 (so far); here are the tattered remains of the rest of this week's TMQ.
Most important, are not the Cardinals a rag-tag collection of undrafted and unwanted players -- exactly the sort of gentlemen whose praises TMQ sings? Check the Arizona front seven that shut down Carolina: you won't find a first-round draft choice. (Details below.)
Hit us with those tantalizing details about what a bunch of no-talent zeroes these guys are.
Quickly now, can you name anyone from the Arizona front seven that outperformed Carolina's big-deal blockers? Here they are: Bryan Robinson, an undrafted 12-year veteran who has been waived by four NFL teams;
Legit claim by Gregg. Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaand it's all downhill from here.
Bertrand Berry, a twice-waived 11-year veteran who played for the Edmonton Eskimos once when no NFL team wanted him;
Berry was a 3rd round draft choice in 1997, who maybe needed to go to the CFL to remember what it's like to play football (almost) for free before he went back to the NFL and started living up to his potential.
Chike Okeafor, waived by two NFL teams;
Another 3rd round draft choice (one of the top 100 players chosen in the draft... what a no talent nobody!) who was waived by Seattle purely for salary cap reasons before joining the Cardinals.
Antonio Smith, a fifth-round draft pick; Darnell Dockett and Gerald Hayes, third-round draft picks; and Karlos Dansby, a second-round draft pick. Nary a first-round gentleman in that group.
Therefore, no one with any talent whatsoever! They did it all on heart, hustle, grit, gristle, and grindiness! TMQ has a David Eckstein fathead. He believes that any player making more than $3 million a year should be shot dead in the street.
Also, there is no such thing as a player being waived for salary cap reasons. Anyone who gets waived was unwanted in every sense of the word.
In other playoff news, TMQ contends that on fourth-and-1, it can be better to go for it and fail than to launch a mincing fraidy-cat kick. Proof was seen in the divisional round. Both No. 1 seeds, Jersey/A and Tennessee, faced critical fourth-and-1 decisions near the opponent's goal line, both launched fraidy-cat kicks and both went on to lose.
Correlation = causation. Also, both those teams lost as home teams in the divisional round. Therefore, FMTMQR contends that hosting a divisional game is a receipe for disaster.
Pittsburgh faced a fourth-and-1 at the opponents' goal line, went for it and failed -- then dominated the remainder of the game, winning decisively.
Again, correlation = causation. Pittsburgh did not win because they were the better team, or because San Diego only ran one offensive play in the 3rd quarter, but because they came away with zero points on a 4th and goal. Everyone knows, scoring points is ultimately bad.
Who was the last No. 1-seeded team to win the Super Bowl? New England in the 2003 season. That's five seasons since a first seed hoisted the Lombardi Trophy, and it can't happen this year. Maybe No. 1 seeds become overconfident, or nervous.
I've included this in the post because I'm actually impressed with Gregg (non-sarcastically) for his word choice here. See the use of "maybe?" See how easy it is to not make yourself sound like a total jackass when you theorize why outcomes happen the way they do? Rather than saying "CLEARLY No. 1 seeds become overconfident," Gregg carefully points out that what he's saying is only an unprovable idea and not perfect fact. If only he did this the other 95% of the time, we might have to discontinue the TMQRs around here.
Oh God.... no.... he's going to do it, you know he is....
Cheerleader of the Week: Also according to her team bio, Lofland works as a sporting-events coordinator and jokes that the worst part of being a cheerleader is having to run stadium stairs like the players do. What if there is more overlap between NFL players and NFL cheerleaders than we know? Here is what a cheerleader psyche-up session in the tunnel might sound like:
Fuck me with a goalpost. No way is he going to try to write another skit. No fucking way, no fucking how.
CHEERLEADER SQUAD DIRECTOR: Get out there and give 110 percent! Hip-hop like every hip and every hop is the most important of your life! Other teams' cheerleaders don't respect you! Nobody believes in us but us! I want to see some professionalism out there! Leave it all on the sideline! (Pause.) Who are we?
SQUAD: Cheerleaders! (They start jumping.)
DIRECTOR: I can't hear you!
SQUAD: Cheerleaders! (They head-butt and chest-thump.)
SQUAD DIRECTOR: I still can't hear you!
SQUAD: CHEERLEADERS! (They run onto the field, each ceremonially tapping a cover of the Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue.)/douchechills
/slowly subsiding douchechills
Gregg should be fired for these little skits he throws in every once in a while, but his editor should also be caned for allowing them.
Sweet Play of the Divisional Round: The atmosphere was electric at Giants Stadium, the crowd raucous as it expected to watch the defending champions notch the first victory of their title defense. Philadelphia kicked off, Ahmad Bradshaw broke into the clear. He appeared to be headed for six; only Eagles kicker David Akers remained between Bradshaw and the goal line. Akers took a good angle and forced Bradshaw out of bounds at the Philadelphia 35, and the Giants had to settle for a field goal on the possession. Had Jersey/A scored six points on the game's first play, the crowd would have gone nuts and the day might well have been a rout for the defending champions. Rarely is the first play of a game the most important play -- in this case, Akers' tackle was the most important play of the contest.
Yeah, just ask Ohio State how beneficial taking the opening kickoff back for a TD can be. It was an opening kickoff return TD that propelled them to victory in the 2007 BCS National Championship Game. Wait, they ended up losing that game by 30? And yes, I realize that one counterexample does not totally disprove Gregg's point. But it sure damages it.
Stat of the Week No. 6: The Ravens had the first rookie head coach/rookie starting quarterback combination to win consecutive playoff games.
That's not a stat, it's a factoid. I'm so upset right now.
Why did Tennessee lose to Baltimore? Just ask Gregg- because they didn't make enough exciting decisions! Little known fact: this year, NFL teams that go for it on 4th down more times than their opponent in a game are 457-0.
Had Jeff Fisher gone for two and taken an 8-0 lead, it would have communicated the message that Tennessee would play all-out to win. Even a missed deuce try would have communicated this message. Instead the Titans played cautious, and that would become the theme of the team's loss -- see below.
The Ravens won, as anyone who watched the game can tell you, by playing a crazy, balls-to-the-wall, fuck-it-we're-playing-with-the-house's-money sense of reckless abandon. Fun game stats: the Ravens attempted zero 4th down conversions, while passing 22 times and running 30 times. ZANY. No caution there.
Baltimore was the league's most enthusiastic user of trick plays this season, yet radioed in no trick play in the wild-card or divisional round.
Don't tell Gregg that. Wait, what?
Because McNabb moves in a plodding manner, he never gets credit for his scrambling and throwing-on-the-run talents. Now McNabb has led the Eagles to their fifth title game in eight seasons. Explain please why this guy gets so little love from sports pundits, including in the Philadelphia media.
Re: sports pundits in general- McNabb gets plenty of love. He gets criticism too, but it's not like the media refuses to acknowledge how good he is. Re: why the Philly media doggs on him- is... is... is that a real question? Gregg lives in the DC area. You'd think he might be privy to the tendancies of Philadelphia, a mere three hours away. Then again, you'd think he might be able to figure out that not every coach who orders a field goal is just trying to decrease his team's margin of defeat. Life is full of mysteries.
The key tactical error came at 1:38 of the first half. The Giants to that point were dominating the game in yards gained and first downs, but trailed 7-5. They faced fourth-and-inches on the Philadelphia 17, in a game in which they averaged 4.3 yards per rush. This was the man-or-mouse moment, when the defending champions had their chance to take control of the contest: go for the first down, then score a touchdown for a nice intermission lead, while drilling the clock so McNabb, a master of the late second-quarter drive, had no time for reply.
I'm not saying McNabb isn't this... but who says he is? I have never heard of this aspect of his reputation, ever. Then again I've never heard anything to indicate that the Patriots lost the Super Bowl last February because they ran up the score on opponents earlier in the season, but Gregg seems OK with pushing that theory.
Instead Coughlin did the supposedly "safe" thing and ordered a field goal. To that point in the game, Philadelphia had just 32 yards of offense.
How foolish of him to think his defense could prevent the Eagles from scoring before halftime! Way to make such a stupid investment of confidence, Coughlin.
Before the half could end, the Eagles moved 65 yards down the field, kicking a field goal with a second left on the clock. So Jersey/A's "safe" kick decision did the team no good, because Philadelphia still led by two at halftime anyway. More important, the decision fired the Eagles up. Philadelphia players seemed to sense that Jersey/A was playing not to lose, rather than playing to win.
Anecdotal. Bullshit. But at least he said "seemed."
"Friday Night Lights" Update:
No mention in here of how the Dillon Panthers didn't play a full, legal, official Texas high school football schedule. Why even bother writing the item?
San Diego began the game with a smart psychological ploy. Speed receiver Vincent Jackson had been shut out by the Colts, then during the week, was charged with driving under the influence. Their first play call was a deep post to him, though Philip Rivers couldn't get the pass his way. San Diego's third play call was again a deep post to Jackson, who was single-covered, the Steelers' safeties seeming to think it was safe to ignore him: 41 yards, touchdown.
Pittsburgh's defensive gameplan: Vincent Jackson was just charged with a DUI => therefore, the Chargers will not try to throw to him. Also, he had a bad game last week, and no receiver in history has ever followed up a bad game with a good one. We might as well not cover him. See, this is how Barry Bonds was able to beat Hank Aaron's all time home run record. As soon as he was connected to steroids, other teams' pitchers figured the Giants would stop sending him up to bat.
On the first snap of the fourth quarter, leading 21-10, Pittsburgh was not afraid to try to gain a yard -- and thereby, won the game. The fourth quarter began with the Steelers facing fourth-and-goal on the Bolts' 1. Pittsburgh went for it and failed.
That's how you win games, people: by not scoring. You can also win by not having any first round draft picks (or ideally, anyone who was drafted at all) on your team.
But the Steelers actually were better off going and failing than kicking! Obviously if they'd gone and scored, TMQ would have written "game over" in his notebook. Had Pittsburgh taken the field goal, the Steelers would have led by 14, but then had to kick off, likely giving San Diego good field position with a full quarter remaining.
Starting from between your own 15 and 35 is now "good field position."
That would have kept San Diego in the contest. By going and failing, Pittsburgh pinned San Diego on its 1, needing two scores.
Being down 14 with the ball on your own 20 is clearly worlds away from being down 11 with the ball on your own 1. In fact, they're so different that most coaches don't know that either can happen during the course of a football game.
The Chargers could do nothing from their own 1, and the next time you looked up, Pittsburgh led 35-17.
You must enjoy catnaps.
In kick-or-go situations, TMQ asks: "What does my opponent hope I will do?" On the fourth-and-goal from the San Diego 1, the Chargers were hoping Pittsburgh would kick a field goal. Though the Bolts stopped the fourth-down rush, they were worse off than if the Hypocycloids had kicked for three.
Now they needed a TD, a 2 point conversion, and a field goal, which is objectively much harder to get than 2 TDs. Everyone knows this.
Titans tailback Chris Johnson had 12 touches for 100 yards against Baltimore in the first half, then sat out the second half with an injury. The energetic Johnson leaving the game and the plodding, low-intensity LenDale White coming in was a factor in the favorite's defeat. As many readers, including Becca Garrison of Gallatin, Tenn., noted, thrice this season Johnson has taunted opponents, and thrice this season, TMQ has predicted the football gods would exact vengeance.
LenDale White? The guy has never taunted anyone in his life. Well, except for when he (hilariously) stomped on a terrible towel as the Titans were crushing the Steelers in December. But that's totally different. He didn't get hurt because... well, because. The football gods work in mysterious ways. Also, anyone who gets injured, ever, has that happen to them because they angered said football gods.
Next Week Arugula! Arugula!
You are a pretentious waste of a human being. Only a few TMQs left before the end of the year- everyone keep biting your tongues, he's almost finished.