Wednesday, November 4, 2009

WNTMQR: Gregg Being Gregg

Who's ready to vomit? I hope you haven't eaten recently. No GreggJokes this week, but more anecdotal bullshit than you can shake a Bill Simmons at. We do see a return of Friday Night Lights criticism, as well as a deep and dark journey into the mind of an NFL coach (because Gregg knows exactly what they're thinking at all times). Oh, and don't forget- NO BLITZ IN THE HISTORY OF ORGANIZED FOOTBALL HAS EVER PAID DIVIDENDS.

But the Colts and Saints have one thing in common -- lots of nobodies playing well. Indianapolis starts numerous players who were undrafted (Gary Brackett, Ryan Lilja, Daniel Muir, Gijon Robinson, future Hall of Famer Jeff Saturday) or who came out of nowhere (Pierre Garcon, from Division III Mount Union College). The New Orleans lineup is heavy on out-of-nowhere players, or those unwanted by previous teams. Starting Monday night were undrafted players Mike Bell, Jo-Lonn Dunbar and Jabari Greer, while the undrafted Pierre Thomas came off the bench to rush for 91 yards and catch the game-winning touchdown pass. Jahri Evans of Bloomsburg University, a Division II school, started on the offensive line with Jermon Bushrod of Towson University, a Division I-AA college. Jonathan Goodwin, Anthony Hargrove, Scott Shanle and David Thomas, all let go by other teams, started for the NFC's only undefeated club.

Every team has nobodies and guys from small college playing well. Here, I randomly chose the Buccaneers out of a hat (not literally, but I just tried to think of a random mediocre/crappy team and they came up). Take a look at their roster. They've got guys from Ottawa College in Kansas, Utah State, Portland State, Appalachain State (probably too big a college for Gregg, after their upset of Michigan in 2007), South Carolina State, Northern Colorado, and UC-Davis. I'm sure at least a few of those guys are significant contributors. RB Derrick Ward is the guy from Ottawa College, so that pretty much covers the quota right there.

New Orleans standouts Drew Brees, Darren Sharper and Jonathan Vilma were players other teams actively wanted to unload. Brees, the best quarterback in the NFC, was shown the door by San Diego,

Here's what actually happened: Brees was injured in his final game as a Charger, before reaching free agency. San Diego still offered him a 5 year, $50 MM deal that offseason (granted, it was heavily incentivized... because he was an injury risk). He refused the contract and demanded franchise QB money. The Chargers decided he wasn't worth the risk and went with Philip Rivers instead.

then rejected when he offered to sign with Miami;

Miami couldn't fit him in under the salary cap at the price he was asking. Thus, they couldn't sign him. "Offering to sign and then being rejected" is not naming a price the team can't meet and walking away when they won't pay that price. Jesus Christ, there's revisionist history, there's incredibly deceptive political revisionist history, and then there's the revisionist history being used by Gregg here.

Green Bay let Sharper walk as "washed-up" five years ago! Scan around the NFL and behold team after team stacked with big-money first-round draft choices who don't perform.

Including Indianapolis and New Orleans. No one drafts perfectly. Meanwhile, scan around the league and find team after team stacked with big money first round (no hyphens necessary) draft choices who do perform. Because a lot of the time, that's what happens. This is one of the best examples I've ever seen of someone coming up with their thesis first and then fitting the facts to that thesis second. Gregg really likes underappreciated/undrafted/small college players. He devotes an entire column to them at the end of every season. New Orleans and Indianapolis are awesome, fun-to-watch teams right now... THEREFORE THEY MUST CONSIST OF NOTHING BUT UNDERAPPRECIATED/UNDRAFTED/SMALL COLLEGE PLAYERS!

Give me motivated castoffs any day.

You're a terrible writer with a tiny brain.

The Crabtree Curse continues. San Francisco was 3-1, with its only defeat a fluky last-play loss; then the 49ers signed Michael Crabtree, and are 0-3 since.

What a foolish decision! Adding talent to your team like that! For shame.

All that work Mike Singletary did building team spirit on the Niners went out the window when management decided a player could jerk the team around all he wanted and still get a $17 million reward.

My sources inside the San Francisco locker room have confirmed that all spirit has been removed from the team. At this point, all anyone is doing is sitting around and pouting about not having jerked the team around for money as much as they should have.

On the key down of San Francisco's loss at Indianapolis -- third-and-10 for the 49ers with six minutes remaining -- Alex Smith fell on a "coverage sack" when no one was open. Megabucks me-first diva Crabtree was nicely handled by undrafted free agent cornerback Jacob Lacey.

THIS ANECDOTE PROVES THAT SIGNING CRABTREE WAS AN AWFUL DECISION. A FEATHER IN YOUR CAP, JACOB LACEY. MAY YOU SIGN A $60 MILLION EXTENSION THIS OFFSEASON.

In the kitschy "V" of the 1980s, the aliens' ultimate plan was to steal Earth's water. Since water is a common substance in the universe -- comets are mainly water-ice -- this made little sense.

Look, I don't really want to go down this road with Easterbrook- it would dignify his decision to talk about realism in science fiction in every fucking column- but I gotta say, comets are moving at thousands and thousands of miles per hour. It would be kind of hard to get water out of them. Just saying.

Sour Play of the Week No. 1:
Rookie glam-boy Mark Sanchez ran a nice naked bootleg for a touchdown against Miami. The play was full-frontal naked -- not only did Sanchez have no blocking, but no one else on the Jets even knew he was going to keep the ball. But well before paydirt, Sanchez started waving the ball in the air to taunt the Dolphins -- sour in itself, but especially because even after the touchdown Jersey/B still trailed.

OK, got it. Celebrating a touchdown before crossing the goal line is taunting, "sour," foolish, dumb, etc.

Sour Play of the Week No. 2:
The 49ers scored to make it San Francisco 14, Indianapolis 6 with 32 seconds remaining in the first half -- then Josh Morgan was hit with the infamous celebration penalty. TMQ doesn't like the rule -- why should jumping around after a touchdown be illegal? -- but the rule is the rule, and professionals must know that. San Francisco had to kick off from its own 15-yard line, giving Indianapolis good field position, and the Colts converted that into a field goal on the final snap of the first half.

OK, but celebrating a touchdown after crossing the goal line is totally different and not at all related to sourness or taunting. Thanks, Roger Godell! More like the No Fun League!

Sweet 'N' Sour Play No. 1:
Place-kicker Josh Brown of St. Louis threw a 36-yard touchdown pass to Daniel Fells on a fake field goal attempt, then kicked the extra point; that was sweet. The two situations in which a fake field goal attempt are likely are fourth-and-short, or a long attempt that would probably miss anyway. Les Mouflons lined up for what would have been a 53-yard kick. Yet Detroit fell for the fake. Also, Detroit had no one back deep to return a potential short kick -- if there had been a deep man, he might have stopped the touchdown. The Lions' falling for an obvious trick was sour.

HOW DID THEY NOT SEE THAT COMING? Everyone in the stadium knew it was a fake! I mean, it's not like this was an NFL game, with NFL kickers, being played indoors! And there have to be at least 10, maybe 15 fake field goal attempts per season in the entire NFL. Gregg is patting himself on the back pretty firmly here, but he shouldn't be. I mean, like I said... who DIDN'T know the Rams were running a fake there? Those Lions special teams players sure are a bunch of morons.

Keep 'Em In College:
Last week, yours truly defended raising the NBA minimum age to 20

If you have a few minutes and are interested in this kind of thing, click over to the column and read this portion. I think it's very well thought out and I completely agree with Gregg's stance. Feels weird, kind of like I'm saying "Listen, I don't approve of [person or organization that is really ideologically horrible], but he/she/they do have some good ideas..."

Now it's third-and-11 at the Green Bay 16 with 3:54 remaining. If the Packers hold the Vikings to a field goal, they face a manageable eight-point deficit; if the Vikings get a touchdown, the game is over. As six Green Bay defenders crossed the line at the snap, TMQ said aloud, "Minnesota wins." And yea, verily, it came to pass, in this case, a touchdown pass. Not only does a skilled quarterback like Favre want to be blitzed on third-and-long, a sack here is meaningless, since even after a sack, the Hyperboreans would have been in field goal range. What Green Bay needed on this down was a stop. Instead, the Packers played for a sack. Ye gods.

Clearly, this was the mindset of Green Bay's defensive coordinator when he called that play. "We need a sack! Nothing but a sack will do here!" No way was he just trying to get pressure on Favre and force an incompletion (or perhaps one of those signature Favre 4th quarter INTs). No way. He definitely wanted a sack. Not to mention, no 3rd and long blitz in the history of football has ever succeeded. If they blitzed, they shouldn't have. If they didn't blitz, they should have. If the call worked, it was good. If the call didn't work, it was bad. Gregg Easterbrook is a dipshit. Gregg Easterbrook is not a non-dipshit.

Unified Field Theory of Creep:
Kurt Leinenbach of Jasper, Ind., was among many readers to note that Kia is already advertising the 2011 Sorrento, which goes on sale in January 2010.

Boy, I hate agreeing with Gregg, especially since I've already done it once in this post, but man... that's fucking ridiculous. No sarcasm. There's no reason for this whatsoever.

In Court, Confess; in Sports, Do Not Confess:
Marcus Trufant of the Green Men Group was called for pass interference three times as Dallas pounded Seattle. On the third occasion, as he collided with a receiver, Trufant threw his hands up in the "I didn't do anything" gesture -- and only then did the nearby zebra reach for his flag. Never make the "I didn't do anything" gesture! It only alerts officials that you did, in fact, do something.

Between watching NFL and NCAA football last weekend, I saw at least 3 or 4 defensively linemen successfully use the "I didn't do anything" gesture to avoid being called for roughing the passer (which is called on pretty much every pass play these days). If a player made the gesture, he shouldn't have. If the played didn't make the gesture, he should have. Everything can be proven with anecdotes. Nothing cannot be proven with anecdotes.

'Tis Better to Have Rushed and Lost Than Never to Have Rushed At All:
Trailing 30-25, Jersey/B reached second-and-7 on the Miami 9 with 1:50 remaining, holding two timeouts. The Jets went scramble, sack, incompletion -- turnover on downs. Seven of the Jets' last eight play calls were passes, though Mark Sanchez is a rookie -- and the Jets have the league's No. 1 rushing offense. It was as if media-conscious coach Rex Ryan wanted to let Sanchez win the game, so sportswriters would call Ryan a genius for getting and starting the rookie. Next time, just win the game.

Oh boy, what a trip down memory lane! This takes me back to the days of "[Coach X] called for a 46 yard field goal when his team was trailing 28-3 with 1:15 left in the 2nd quarter. CLEARLY HE WASN'T TRYING TO WIN THE GAME- HE WAS TRYING TO REDUCE THE MARGIN OF VICTORY SO HE WOULD LOOK BETTER IN THE PAPERS ON MONDAY MORNING." Yes, Gregg. Yes. Rex Ryan, a 1st year coach in the most vicious media market in the country, knows several things. First, he knows that New York fans don't just want their teams to win- they want them to win on touchdowns thrown by rookie quarterbacks. Only that will soothe their lust for victory. Second, he knows that if the team had won the game on a rushing TD by Thomas Jones, he would have been torn to shreds by the Post and the Times the next morning. No one would give him credit for that kind of winning TD. Third, he knows that fried foods are delicious. Fat joke!

The game started at 2:15 p.m. local time, a time no football player's body clock is set to.

Uh, there's an NFL team that plays the vast majority of their home games at 2:15 PM. They used to have a pretty decided home field advantage, too. They won a couple Super Bowls in the late 90s. Google around a little bit, you'll figure out who they are. My guess is that at least a few of their players (and the players on the other teams in their division) can set their body clocks to that.

Not to mention the fact that this is a retarded argument to make in the first place, in terms of trying to explain why two teams played flat or poorly. We're not talking about runner training exclusively in the evenings for a 7 AM marathon. We're talking about a one hour difference between this start time and all of the following: EST early game start times, CST late game start times, and PST late game start times. Pathetic.

And it's high school, not the NFL, where many of the concussion problems are -- partly because slightly more than a million boys play high school football, versus fewer than 2,000 players in the NFL, and because medical treatment is rudimentary at many high schools, while players feel pressure to return to the game with a concussion to prove their manhood.

And no NFL player would ever behave similarly! Surely not, what with millions of dollars and their occupational future on the line!

Why did players want out of their Memphis commitments when Calipari left? The sportsyak grapevine said they only were drawn to Calipari because he has "the magic touch" in getting players into the NBA. (Surely not in getting them educations -- Kentucky, it may not be long until your first Calipari scandal.)

Easy with the near-slander, there, bub. Not that I like Calipari. But come on now.

But is it really true that he has some kind of added ability to prepare players? Calipari began at Memphis in the 2001-02 season. Seven roundballers he coached at Memphis have played at least one year in the NBA: Dajuan Wagner, Antonio Burks, Rodney Carney, Shawne Williams, Joey Dorsey, Chris Douglas-Roberts, Derrick Rose. (This count stops at players who have been in the league at least one year, so it doesn't include Tyreke Evans, who almost certainly will achieve that milestone but hasn't yet.)

Wow, eight NBA players in eight years? That sounds like a lot if you ask me. My alma mater- which plays in the Big East, is frequently ranked in the top 25, and goes to the NCAA tournament roughly every other year- has produced just three in that same amount of time. And none of them are any good.

During the same span, 12 UCLA players left their school and spent at least one year in the NBA, along with 11 Duke players, eight Kansas players, eight North Carolina players and eight Florida players. So Calipari doesn't have any kind of unusual ability to send players on to the NBA.

Incredible. Four of the top programs in the history of the game (if not THE four top programs of all time... well I guess Kentucky should be in there too but wahtever), along with another program that has won two national championships in the last five years, produced the same number of or more NBA players in the same timeframe. Therefore, Calipari is nothing special. I mean, Princeton doesn't produce any more fortune 500 CEOS than Harvard, Yale, or Columbia. (Note: stat made up. Just work with me here people) Therefore, there's nothing special about going to Princeton.

The new Dillon coach asks SuperWife Tami Taylor, now principal of Dillon High, to call the ceremonial coin toss for the opening game. He instructs her, "If you win the toss, say we want to play defense." She wins the toss and tells the referee, "We'll start on offense," just to cheese off the new coach, whom she despises. But "we'll play defense" or "we'll start on offense" make no sense at a coin toss. Texas public high schools use the NCAA rulebook, which presents the toss winner these choices: kick, receive, select a goal to defend, or defer. Except in very strong wind, the toss winner always says either "receive" or "defer." (In strong wind you might choose a goal; no one ever chooses "kick," which gives the opponent the ball and the choice of goals to open the game, then the ball again to start the second half.) If as instructed by the coach, SuperWife had said, "we'll play defense," the referee would have responded, "Huh?"

OMG MORE FRIDAY NIGHT LIGHTS INACCURACIES. SOMEONE GET THE WRITERS ON THE PHONE. HAVE THEY NO DECENCY? THIS IS THE WORST THING I'VE HEARD ABOUT THAT SHOW SINCE IT WAS REVEALED THAT THE DILLON PANTHERS DIDN'T PLAY AN ACTUAL OFFICIAL TEXAS HIGH SCHOOL PLAYOFF SCHEDULE ON THEIR WAY TO THE STATE CHAMPIONSHIP.

Reader Comments:
I supposed that coaching is overrated because the most the best coaching could add to performance is 10 percent. Robert Lipson of New York City counters, "If coaching can make a 10 percent difference then coaching is everything. At the elite athletic level the difference between greatness and also-ran is much less than 10 percent. Take, for example, Usain Bolt's 100 meter victory at the 2008 Beijing Olympics. He shattered the world record. Yet he was only two percent faster than the silver medalist and 3.5 percent faster than the eighth place finisher. I think it is more likely that a top coach like Bill Belichick gives his team a two or three percent edge over poorly coached teams. But that is all they need. Kind of like the house's advantage at a casino -- a small advantage over the long run will pay off handsomely."

So Usain Bolt's advantage over other sprinters = Bill Belichick's advantage over other coaches. (The equals sign doesn't mean "is similar to-" it means "is mathematically precisely equal to.") Ah, Easterbrook's readers. The only people on the planet more self-satisfied yet also more retarded than Gregg himself. Perfect analogy, Robert from NYC. How does your taint smell? Good? I'll bet it does. If only everyone had your analytical skills. On a related note- Tim Lincecum's advantage over MLB hitters = McDonalds's advantage over other fast food restaurants.

Stop Me Before I Blitz Again! (College Edition):
Underdog Wake Forest led Miami 27-21 with 1:51 remaining, the Hurricanes facing fourth-and-16 in their territory. All Wake Forest needs to do is play straight defense and victory is highly likely. As seven defenders crossed the line at the snap, yours truly said aloud, "Miami wins." And yea, verily, it came to pass.

I'm going to watch hours and hours and hours of football this weekend. And when a 3rd/4th and long blitz works, and forces an incompletion or turnover, and the team that blitzed goes on to win the game (which I bet happens several times), I'm going to email Gregg about it. Oh, and I'll also email him when a team only rushes three or four on 3rd/4th and long and the offensive team converts and goes on to win. You think he'll publish my points? Probably not... unless the teams that blitz and go on to win are filled with underappreciated players from small schools, and the teams that don't and go on to lose are filled with highly drafted players from big schools. We shall see.

13 comments:

Andrew said...

It's also revisionist history to act like the Chargers didn't draft Rivers BEFORE Brees got hurt. He was drafted in 2004 and spent two years making $8M per on the bench behind Rivers.

Other than that, spot on, and F TMQ.

Andrew said...

Behind Brees I meant. Whoops.

Jack M said...

Rex Ryan was clearly thinking about the winter banquets.

Elliot said...

Damn fine work LB. I think it's ironic that such good writing is about such terrible writing.

Anonymous said...

You left out "Buffalo has the league's last-ranked rushing defense, yet in consecutive weeks, the Jets and Panthers featured the pass against the Bills, and lost"

In that Jets-Bills game, Thomas Jones had consecutive career-long carries en route to the Jets rushing for 318 yards on 44 carries (versus 29 quarterback passing attempts) - one of the reasons WHY the Bills' run defense is ranked so low.

Anonymous said...

Eh, your first comment is dumb. Greggggg's point is that it's interesting that the two BEST teams in the league start a bunch of castoffs and nobodies. Using the WORST team in the league's roster as comparison to disprove that point makes no sense. Now, I have no idea if Greggggggggggg is right in that it's unusual for a top team to start a bunch of nobodies, but saying, "Hey, look, the Bucs have a bunch of nobodies also" does nothing to disprove his theory. You'd want to check the starting lineups of New England, Minnesota, etc to see if he's right or just full of shit as usual.

Anonymous said...

Excellent! Now I find myself reading TMQ just to imagine how Larry B will rip it apart. But I'm just glad that undrafted Peyton guy has finally found himself abn opportunity

Biggus Rickus said...

Anonymous2,

That's a valid point, but without doing any research at all I am willing to say that Gregg is certainly full of shit. Everyone in the league has undrafted players, players from small schools or players that other teams didn't want or couldn't keep for whatever reason. You can't put together a 53 man roster only with draft picks because so many don't pan out.

Edward said...

Re: Friday Night Lights. Don't many NFL players say "We want the ball" instead of "We'll receive"? Easterbrook is being especially nitpicky here.

Re: Bolt/Belichick analogy. I don't think it's a terrible one made by the reader. Didn't Easterbrook throw out the 10% figure last week? If so, the reader is pointing out that any coach (he uses Belichick as an example) that can add 10% more production to a team is immensely valuable, since most athletic contests have a much less than 10% skill differential.

Larry B said...

Edward- Fair point, I just don't like the idea of analogizing sprinting, something that's fairly straightforward and easy to quantify, with football which has an infinitely larger number of inputs and possibilities during any one game.

Anonymous at 8:29 AM, you're missing Gregg's implication. He's trying to say that teams full of high-paid, high-drafted players are all over the league but aren't any good. The teams that actually ARE good are full of nobodies and castoffs! He likes nobodies and castoffs, in case you haven't heard. Read his words again- he's definitely implying that NO and IND have more castoffs and unwanteds than everyone else.

Scan around the NFL and behold team after team stacked with big-money first-round draft choices who don't perform. Give me motivated castoffs any day.

The dumbest part about his point, albeit a minor part of it, is his effort to portray Drew Brees as "unwanted." That's just fucking stupid in every way. Apparently turning down contracts from two teams that want to sign you because you think you're worth more than they're offering even though you're coming off a pretty substantial injury makes you "unwanted."

Adam said...

Greggggs hatred for top draft picks is completely illogical. Only a bitter d-bag writes things like "Megabucks me-first diva Crabtree" and "Rookie glam-boy Mark Sanchez".
Also aparently celebrating touchdowns is OK only if you are not a first-round draft pick.

The irony is that Gregggg portrays Brees as some sort of poor, unwanted, down on his luck success story and Crabtree as money hungry evil. Which player turned down contract offers from two different teams because the guaranteed amount wasn't high enough? Yeah that would be Drew Brees.

Martin said...

Many teams now talk to players about bringing them into camp before the draft, telling them that they aren't going to draft them, but would like them on the team. It's not much different then being drafted, you just aren't waiting around in some instances. I know that I've heard a couple agents say that they'd rather NOT have their guy drafted in the late rounds because they can get them better money as undrafted free agents because they can shop them around.

Anonymous said...

True, comets move through space at thousands of miles per hour, but so does the earth. Therefore, you should never punt and should always be scantily clad, if clad at all. Signed, Undrafted and Unwanted.