Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Back to sports!

Not to overshadow Justin's post, which was well-placed and will perhaps serve as the impetus to my voting Democrat for the first (and, hopefully, last) time in my life this November, but this was too good not to quote here. From the always-excellent TMQ, on the sheer lunacy that was the Giants-Cowboys MNF game:

Now we're at the Giants' goal line with 1:38 left in the first half. It's second-and-goal, Dallas holds all three timeouts, plenty of time to run the ball. Instead, the Cowboys' coaches call a short square-out. When you're at the goal line, the short square-out is the riskiest play you can call. Defenders are up at the line, so the cornerback is in position to break on the ball and intercept it; and in this situation the pass travels almost entirely sideways, giving the corner time to react. Dallas' coaches should know how risky the short square-out at the goal line is because three weeks ago when the Cowboys were at the Philadelphia goal line in the closing minute, game in the balance, Dallas' coaches called a short square-out that was intercepted and returned for a touchdown. Maybe, just maybe, the Giants watched film of that. So what do Dallas' coaches tell Bledsoe to throw? A short square-out, interception. Just to prove it was no fluke, when the Cowboys reached Jersey/A's 11 late in a game that was still contested, Dallas' coaches again called a short square-out, again intercepted, and this time it was returned for the icing touchdown. Afterward, did Bill "Mr. Personality" Parcells blame himself or his staff? Somehow he didn't get around to that.

Three Dallas notes: First, it's long been clear that Parcells is an egomaniac in both the casual and, perhaps, clinical senses of that word. Lately he's gone downhill to simply becoming a nasty person, spitting and snarling at everyone around him. What's Parcells going to do next, demand worship? When I look at Parcells, the phrase that comes to mind is "failed human being." Second, the deciding play of Monday night's game was a Terrell Owens blunder. Trailing 19-7 midway through the third quarter, Dallas had a fourth-and-2 on the Jersey/A 32. Romo put a perfect short pass into Owens' hands, and he dropped it like it was a live ferret. I wrote "game over" at that juncture. Third, Dallas did run one really sweet play -- a play we rarely see, and I don't understand why. Scoreboard reading 26-13 at the start of the fourth quarter, the Cowboys lined up for a deuce attempt. Everybody split wide, empty backfield; the Giants' defenders frantically spread wide to stop the wacky pass they expected; Romo simply went straight up the middle for two points. When you spread the field at the goal line, often the result is five offensive linemen blocking only five defenders in the box, and the odds for a successful quarterback sneak are excellent.

Not to toot my own horn, but while watching the game at the bar, I made that very comment about the square-out play; I didn't even know there were NFL offensive coordinators stupid enough to still call it within the 10. But I'm sure lots of people who know football did the same thing; anyone who plays Madden knows the square-out inside the 10 is retarded. But here's my question: Where the fuck is this kind of stuff from ESPN's "real" football guys, like Clayton or Pasquerelli? Easterbrook, in the span of two very long paragraphs, made a handful dead-on, incisive comments about the game and the people involved, but I can't remember the last time Clayton said anything incisive outside of, "Sean Salisbury, you are wrong."

1 comment:

St said...

Seriously, the "real" analysts suck. The Dallas square-out had a bizarro counterpart in the Philly/Tampa interceptions.

Namely: McNabb threw three INTs, and one of them might have been his fault. The other two were the coaching staff's, one with an assist from the always reliable Greg Lewis.

Let's see: Ronde Barber has intercepted McNabb about half a dozen times now. I'd be willing to bet that all but one of those were on out patterns. That included one on Sunday in which Reid called an out pattern to Greg Lewis despite three factors that guaranteed its failure:

1. Tampa had already picked off one out pattern, to the other side of the field. Ronde Barber also already had a different pick, on a play where he clearly knew the routes.

2. Greg Lewis is soft and refuses to come back to the ball.

3. They were down 10-0 and the one thing they couldn't afford was a pick-six.

10-yard-out to Greg Lewis, Ronde Barber picks it for a TD. All of the analysts were calling it a bad throw by McNabb (which it kind of was) and all McNabb's fault (which it absolutely wasn't).

On the first Barber pick, the Eagles had two wideouts on one side. Tampa showed blitz. The Eagles' blitz read on any pass play with double wides is to cut the routes down into quick-slants (which is stupid, but whatever). Jon Gruden knew this, because Andy Reid doesn't change his blitz reads between seasons, much less between games, which was why Gruden called the blitz.

Double-slants, Ronde breaks off his man in man coverage, picks off the pass to the other receiver. If you watch the replay, he clearly knew exactly what play was coming.

What did the analysts say? "McNabb just made horrible throws." He made bad throws, sure -- but he didn't call the damn plays.

Same with that TE crossing route at the end of the half that kept them from scoring at all.

All of which goes to show what? TMQ is great, and the rest of ESPN is full of idiots.