Friday, September 29, 2006

The Best Argument for the Quality of Your Team's QB? Draft Position.

Bill Simmons is not having one of his better weeks of material. His ESPN the Magazine article is just a compressed version of his mailbag, which is usually pretty funny. This mailbag is boooooring. It's like he used the best questions in his last mailbag and saved the leftovers for the magazine article. It's strange.

Wednesday brought a marathon chat session on ESPN, and again, it was boring. Mind-numbing, really. It felt like a mailed-in effort.

Today's article has its moments, but still feels like there wasn't much effort. I can't put my finger on it, but if you read it, I think you'll agree.

What I'd like to point out is this little gem regarding the Chargers from today's article:

"Every team has at least one serious flaw, but everyone wrote off the Bolts because of the "downgrade" at QB to Philip Rivers. You would have thought they were replacing Brees with Bruce Gradkowski's illegitimate brother, Cliff. Rivers was the No. 4 pick in the 2004 draft, remember? The next seven picks were Sean Taylor, Kellen Winslow Jr., Roy Williams, D'Angelo Hall, Reggie Williams, Dunta Robinson, Ben Roethlisberger and Jonathan Vilma. He's no stiff."

So Rivers should be considered a solid QB because he was the 4th pick in the draft? I hate to point out the obvious fallacy with this argument, but I will. If we used this logic, then the following quarterbacks were great, right?

(overall pick in parentheses)

Tim Couch (1), Rick Mirer (2), Ryan Leaf (2), Akili Smith (3), Heath Shuler (3)... need I say more?

Bill, just an FYI, you can make your arguments much better sometimes. This was weak. And using Madden examples to back up your (real) NFL opinions isn't any better. Madden, while a very good simulation, is not the NFL.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Michael Irvin, Please Take Your Mouth Off T.O.'s Genitals

Well, Irvin did remove his mouth form T.O.'s nether regions long enough yesterday to join ESPN Radio and offer his insight into the T.O. suicide attempt/PR stunt. When Irvin mentioned that T.O. didn't take more than a couple of pills and the reports that he took more were false, the hosts wondered why the bottle of pills was empty (damn good question, I think). Irvin had this to offer (paraphrased, mind you):

"When I travel, I don't carry my pills and supplements in their bottles, I put them in a pill box that I take with me. It has compartments for each type of pill. He was just putting the pills into his travel container, so they were gone from the pill bottle".

Umm... according to reports, he had 35 pills left in the prescription. The team will likely be on the road 2 days, maybe 3. Just how many pills does he need to carry for such a short trip, Michael? Maybe 6? 12 at the most?

Michael, do everyone a favor and do one (or all) of the following:

1. Quit nuzzling T.O.'s crotch.

2. Just come out and admit that you are completely biased when it comes to T.O.. No one is fooled.

3. Ingest 35 pain pills, do not call 911.

Thank you.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

TMQ + MNG

Allow me to share a gripe I have with ESPN Page 2 writer Gregg Easterbrook, AKA Tuesday Morning Quarterback (TMQ), TMQ is a very bright man, often interjecting intellectual discussion into his football articles. It makes for interesting reading when you're on the old crapper, anyway.

TMQ likes to criticize teams for punting when they're in opponent's territory, and I tend to share his viewpoint in most cases. However, a common argument he uses for going for it over punting is "the average NFL play". In today's TMQ article, he says:

"The average NFL offensive play gains about five yards. Yet game in, game out, coaches boom the punt away on short yardage, handing the most precious article in football -- possession of the ball -- to the other side."

On the surface, this argument certainly makes his case. But TMQ is using a statistic that hardly fits the situation. The average NFL play does indeed gain about five yards, but 4th and short is hardly an average NFL down. When teams choose to go for it on 4th and short, the defense plays a lot differently than they would on 2nd and 10. They pin their ears back and go for the kill! I would rather see TMQ find the NFL average on 4th and short and use that for his argument, but I bet the yardage is less than five yards. Maybe a lot less.

It's funny that I would find a gripe with TMQ this morning, because my gripe from last night's New Orleans/Atlanta game is a huge pet peeve of TMQ's as well. This is my MNG - Monday Night Gripe. It has to do with the use of the term "double reverse". Let's allow TMQ to explain:

"Watching a highlight of receiver Marty Booker of Miami running against Tennessee, novice sportscaster Jerome Bettis exclaimed, "Reverse!" It was an end-around, not a reverse: Daunte Culpepper faked up the middle, then handed off to Booker coming around. The ball never changed direction. Announcers, here's the easy way to tell if it's a reverse: count handoffs. An end-around requires one handoff. A reverse requires two handoffs, one to make the ball go in Direction A, another to make it go in Direction B. The very rare double reverse requires three handoffs, so the ball ends up going back in Direction A."

Precisely! TMQ continues to talk about a reverse that went for a touchdown in last night's game, and yet the announcers kept referring to it as a double reverse. The only person in the booth that called it correctly was Joe Theismann (pronounced "thEEsmann", you know). The other two doofuses kept calling double reverse.

To make matters worse, during SportsCenter after the game, they rejoined the MNF pre-game crew (Chris "You're With Me, Leather" Berman, Steve Young, MICHAEL IRVIN, and Tom Jackson) to recap the game. Not one, not two, not three, but all four of these knowledgeable gentlemen referred to it as a double reverse! And keep in mind, 3 of these 4 guys played in the NFL!

Announcers are bad for the most part. Annoying as hell, really. The least they could do is call a play by its true name. Dontcha think?

Monday, September 25, 2006

Revenge, Thy Name is Cincinnati!

Another Sunday, more annoyances courtesy of the sports media. My favorite NFL subplot this weekend was Cincinnati vs. Pittsburgh. The media kept playing this matchup as "A Chance for Cincinnati to Exact Revenge!".

In case you've been in a bunker for the last 9 months, Pittsburgh beat Cincinnati in the AFC title game last season, taking out Cincy's starting QB Carson Palmer in the process. On the second play of the game, no less. Cincy never recovered, and Pittsburgh went on to win the Superbowl.

Much has been made of this game; Palmer's first chance to face the team that destroyed his knee, Cincinnati's belief that they were the better team last year, yada yada yada.

The CBS announcers took the ball and ran (to use a cliche in the spirit of the media) with the payback theme while Cincy was in the process of winning the game, essentially saying that revenge had been exacted on those evil Steelers.

Even today, I read the following headline from SI's feed on Google's personalized home page:

"Palmer pays back Steelers"

Even ESPN got in on the act, saying:

"Palmer, Bengals get Revenge"

So let me get this straight. By beating the Steelers in a regular season football game, they got revenge on the team that beat them in the AFC championship game, a playoff game?

The sports media has long had a fascination with taking a story, any story really, and blowing it up bigger than it really is. All in hopes of making their coverage of the story seem all that more important.

This game was certainly important. But it was not about a team exacting revenge on another team. Unless these two teams face each other in a game where the stakes are as high as they were in last year's playoffs, there is no revenge. Just a victory.

The victory was certainly sweet for Cincinnati, as they beat a divisional (and much hated) rival. But payback? Retribution? Revenge? I just don't see it.