Gregg Easterbrook Offers Conclusive Proof That Blitzing Never Works (or Something) (Updated)

When we last left Gregg Easterbrook, he was busy claiming that increased protection of quarterbacks and receivers has nothing to do with the recent offensive explosion. He was also busy complaining about the realism of science fiction television, how coddled and lazy 1st round draft picks are, and of course, blitzing. So what’s on tap for this week? Watch Gregg sing the praises of the Buffalo Bills, exactly three weeks after excoriating them as cheap for cutting Trent Edwards! Marvel as he compares the Detroit Lions to America’s auto industry with a metaphor that is totally not cliched or lazy. Read on after the jump:

 And on Feb. 6, 2012 — that was in the old way of counting years, before the Fox show “Terra Nova” altered the planet’s timeline — these gleaming heroes met in the Super Bowl at Indianapolis.

Gregg didn’t actually watch Terra Nova. How do I know this? The pilot explained that the time travelers are actually entering a separate time sequence, not their own, and explains how time paradoxes work. Don’t expect Gregg to acknowledge that fact while he continues to use the show to make lame jokes.

The Lions offer the feel-good story of America’s car-manufacturing capital having something to cheer about on the field at the very moment the U.S. car industry finally has something to cheer about in the showroom.

This  analogy provided by Cliched Sports Writing Comparisons Inc., for when you absolutely have to pander to the lowest common denominator.

 The Bills offer the feel-good story of a Harvard quarterback playing fabulously, joining the short list of elite-university quarterbacks to be NFL stars: John Elway and Jim Plunkett of Stanford, Joe Montana and Joe Theismann of Notre Dame, Roger Staubach of Navy. Harvard’s Ryan Fitzpatrick just outplayed Tom Brady, mano-a-male-model. Today there is rending of garments and gnashing of teeth in Massachusetts, because a Haaaa-vuudd boy beat the Patriots.

Where did Tom Brady play his college ball? Oh yeah, the University of Michigan, currently ranked 28th by US News, that apparently doesn’t qualify as elite, but Notre Dame (#19) does…. What qualifies a school as “elite” is subjective, but don’t expect Gregg to acknowledge that a school like Michigan could be considered in that category while he tries to brow-beat you.

As it happened, a personal foul against the Patriots allowed Buffalo to use the entire clock and launch the winning kick as time expired. Postgame, Belichick had to explain to baffled sportswriters, in gruff terms, that he called time-out the moment the replay decision was made, because once officials determined the runner was down inbounds, the clock would restart as if Jackson had been tackled at the 1. How could it be that sportswriters who do nothing but football all year round don’t know that rule?

Have you met any sportswriters? They’re pretty stupid. Speaking of which, my friend Ryan wrote a pretty good post about clock management and timeouts last week.

A bit more to the point, why hasn’t Indianapolis made a play for Carson Palmer? He’s the only person out there who could step in and make the Colts winners in 2011. Conspiracy theory says the Indianapolis plan is to tank the season in hopes of getting Andrew Luck. If it worked that way, that would make sense. Luck is the most Peyton Manning-like quarterback since Peyton. He might give the Indiana franchise another decade of consistent winning.

*trembles at the possibility of Luck going to the Colts* As for Palmer, hahahahahaha, like Mike Brown would ever do that… (Ed Note: As Ryan points out, David Garrard makes a lot more sense for the Colts than Palmer, given his familiarity with AFC South defenses, his superior arm strength compared to Palmer and the grudge he’s likely holding against the Jaguars for cutting him)

Nevertheless Vikings, stand fast. TMQ’s immutable law of nerves holds: Don’t panic now, there will be plenty of time for that later.

My law says this: don’t panic at all Vikings. Your team sucks, just accept it.

Sweet Play of the Week: The Houston Texans leading the New Orleans Saints 26-17 in the fourth quarter, tight end Jimmy Graham lined up wide left, with two wide receivers right. The Texans were in Cover One — only one safety in the middle of the field. This told Drew Brees the play would be a big blitz as, indeed, it was. Brees audibled to vertical routes. Graham, a tight end, executed a wide receiver-like stutter-go and beat a Houston cornerback for a 27-yard touchdown, igniting the Saints’ 23-point fourth quarter.

I’m convinced that Easterbrook has a checklist for every time he writes a column:

“Complaining about 1st rounders? Check. Christmas creep? Check. Science discussion that I get completely wrong? Check. Complaining about movies and TV? Check. Let’s see, what am I missing? Oh yeah, let’s cherry pick a time that a blitz didn’t work and point that out. Column done, PAY ME.”

Sour Play of the Week Washington leading Dallas 16-15 just before the two-minute warning, the Skins had the Boys facing third-and-21 on their 30. Since the average NFL snap gains somewhat over 5 yards, and Washington this season is allowing 6.1 yards per snap, all the Redskins needed do was play straight defense and a stop was likely. That cannot seriously be an eight-man blitz on third-and-21! The eight-man blitz is almost never seen, because it is like handing out a card that says “Please score a touchdown.” Tony Romo threw a 30-yard completion to the single-covered Dez Bryant, penalty yardage was added, and a moment later the home team launched the winning kick.

Check.

On the possession, Washington defensive coordinator Jim Haslett called an eight-man blitz on first down, a seven-man blitz on second down and an eight-man blitz on third down. He also handed out cards saying “Please score a touchdown.” Dallas settled for as field goal.

Let’s see, Haslett called blitzes on 1st and 2nd down, leading to a 3rd and 21… wouldn’t this indicate that the blitzes worked pretty well two of three times? I’m not a mathematician or anything, but I got that one by counting on my fingers.

As noted by reader Mike McLaughlin of Spokane, Wash., even Skins corner DeAngelo Hall thought an eight-man blitz on third-and-21 was ridiculous.

Since when did taking advice from DeAngelo Hall become a smart move?

This sort of thing is an example of the reality that while NFL teams have gigantic staffs (the Redskins list 20 coaches) who do nothing but football year-round and boast of their long hours at the office, NFL teams consistently repeat obvious mistakes. The “Monday Night Football” error by Haslett against Dallas was nearly identical to his previous-year error against the Texans. Twenty coaches looked at film of the 2010 Texans loss and learned nothing from it.

And this is conclusive proof that fewer eyes would be better? F*cking arguments.. how do they work?

• Carolina Panthers 2011 First Choice Pinot Grigio: Light and mild like the team’s recent performances, this bottle commemorates the Panthers choosing first in the NFL draft. Note to oenophiles and Vegas oddsmakers: Panthers’ management has already commissioned a 2012 First Choice vintage.

Jerry Richardson only employs the cheapest Mexican migrant quasi-slave labor to pick his grapes.

What The Martz! Are too many cooks spoiling the broth in Chicago? Lovie Smith has three former NFL head coaches as assistants (Mike Martz, Rod Marinelli and Mike Tice), plus a former college head coach (Bob Babich).

It’s not just that Martz has made the pass-wacky offense one-dimensional: counting sacks and scrambles, he has called 131 passes versus 48 rushes. The 1-2 Bears seemed discombobulated at critical moments against the defending champion Packers. Former head coaches tend to project ego fields. Many don’t really want to be taking orders, and don’t want to be questioned by players or each other. There are so many ego fields on the Chicago sideline, they may be interacting negatively.

I’m sure it’s all because of the simple face that those guys were head coaches and has less to do with the fact that they were terrible coaches. Or that Lovie Smith fell asleep at halftime, as he is wont to do.

Why the confusion? This season the Chiefs have an absurd playcalling system. Offensive coordinator Bill Muir, in the press box, calls a play down to quarterbacks coach Jim Zorn, on the sideline, who then radios the play in to Cassel as Haley listens. In 2009, Haley called the plays; in 2010, plays were called by Charlie Weis, who has fled the coop. This year, Chiefs plays are being called by committee. Is there a parliamentarian? The absurd system not only results in timeouts wasted on consecutive downs: Kansas City is the league’s lowest-scoring team.

No sarcastic remark here, I just love it when people point out new reasons that Todd Haley sucks. Even when Gregg does it.

Case Study in Sports Economics: The three players who got the biggest summer new contracts — Peyton Manning, Chris Johnson and Michael Vick — are either hurt or not performing well. About $100 million in guarantees to these three gentlemen is, in economic terms, not creating value.

What’s your point? Since you can’t perfectly predict future performance you often have to pay for past performance, which is really the most reliable indicator of which players will be the most valuable. In that context, the Manning, Vick, and Johnson contracts aren’t really that unreasonable. If tyou’re not trying to argue that the contracts were a bad decision then this paragraph serves no purpose at all.

 What’s the story with Atlanta? Since clinching home-field advantage in the NFC last season, the Falcons are 1-3 and just lost to City of Tampa, a team they traditionally own. The mega-trade for wide receiver Julio Jones so far has only disrupted chemistry. Sunday, normally reliable Roddy White let the ball bounce off his hands for an interception just before halftime, costing Atlanta a likely field goal, then dropped a perfectly delivered touchdown pass in the fourth quarter.

White also had 140 receiving yards, Jones had 115, I don’t think the receivers are the problem. The Falcons only had 30 yards rushing, might that have something to do with their loss?

Many readers, including Jared Grisbgy of Jonesboro, Ark., noted that researchers at Europe’s CERN particle accelerator think they observed neutrinos moving just slightly faster than light. The Special Theory of Relativity says matter cannot exceed the speed of light, which may render impossible the warp drives beloved of sci-fi writers. Confirmation that matter can, in fact, exceed the speed of light would be huge news.

Not Football related in any way.

Last week TMQ, who touts “all-unwanted” players who went undrafted or have been waived, noted the profusion of castoff players on the Buffalo offense, currently the NFL’s highest-scoring. In this week’s Bills game, big defensive plays were made by George Wilson — undrafted, he worked in the offseason as an actor in music videos — and Drayton Florence, who was told to hit the road in Jacksonville. As Florence was running for a pick-six, Tom Brady had the last shot at him and obviously pulled up, perhaps afraid to muss his hair.

When was Brady drafted? Those sixth-round picks are so coddled and entitled.

In the Giants-Eagles game, the undrafted Victor Cruz from Division I-AA Massachusetts scored two touchdowns, including one over megabucks Nnamdi Asomugha. In the Indianapolis-Pittsburgh game, big defensive plays were made by Jamaal Anderson, waived by Atlanta, and Joe Lefeged. In my AFC Preview, I told readers to “expect big things” from Lefeged. What astonishing insider information did I possess? None! I simply knew he was an undrafted free agent for the Colts, who traditionally get undrafted players to produce.

Who needs first-rounders anyways?

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Posted on September 27, 2011, in FJM Style, NFL and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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