Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

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28 Nov 2008

Audibles at the Line: Thanksgiving Edition

compiled by Doug Farrar and Vince Verhei

Each Sunday (and Thanksgiving), the FO staff sends around e-mails to each other, both during and after the games. It lets us share ideas for columns and comments, and get an idea of how teams that we can't watch are playing. Be aware that the material in this roundtable might seem a bit disjointed and un-edited. It also might still show up later in the week in other columns, or in comments in PFP 2009. Games are chosen based on our own personal viewing preferences, and are going to reflect the teams we support and the cities where we live.

Tennessee Titans 47 at Detroit Lions 10

Bill Barnwell: First two Titans plays from scrimmage are a reverse and a counter. Think they saw the Lions overpursuing on film?

Doug Farrar: Good God. The lane Chris Johnson had on his second touchdown run was so big, Johnson and LenDale White could have gotten through it three-legged race-style. And given Detroit’s tackling acumen, that might have worked just as well. And the only guy who could stop Johnson from bagging a third long TD run in the first quarter was the umpire. Same huge hole. Unbelievable.

Aaron Schatz: This is pathetic. When do we get to start flexing the Thanksgiving game?

Doug Farrar: I wanna see if Johnson breaks Adrian Peterson's single-game rushing record. Woo-hoo!

OK, the Lions call time out late in the first quarter, come back to the line, get busted for delay of game, and end the drive with a 13-yard shank punt. Frankly, I'm astonished. Has a football team ever been this bad?

Benjy Rose: I haven't seen much of Culpepper this year, and don't really remember his from before, but his mechanics seem really wacky. He appears to be releasing the ball from his shoulder pad, which doesn't allow for any loft on the ball. Has he always thrown this way?

Doug Farrar: I think we need to use a new stat in the Detroit chapter of PFP 09 -- Adjusted Air Yards. The number of yards an opponent is allowed to go, and the number of Lions defenders don't lay a freakin' HAND on him, until he walks out of bounds, falls down, gets picked by the umpire, or simply scores a touchdown.

Bill Barnwell: "If there's one thing the Lions defense is good at, it's recovering fumbles. They're third in the league." Phil Simms: Not a reader.

Doug Farrar: I'd guess that's probably true in the more general sense, as well.

Aaron Schatz: Well, hey, if you consider Rotoworld part of the NBC family, CBS is the one network that hasn't employed us yet. So there's time.

Simms' assertion that Kerry Collins should be a candidate for MVP is the reductio ad absurdum of the conventional wisdom that says the quarterback is personally responsible for all wins and losses.

Bill Barnwell: I get the feeling that Calvin Johnson is going to try to defect at halftime. Could you blame him?

Clifford Avril is actually pretty good in the "poor man's Elvis Dumervil" sort of way. His attempt to bounce the football to the endzone was another confirmation of the fact that the Lions are great at recovering fumbles.

For a team who was supposed to be led by a militant who would teach the Lions how to win, man, do the Lions have some awful fundamentals. They take terrible routes to the ball, they ignore their gap responsibilities ... just ugly in every sense of the word.

Mike Tanier: Guys, watching the Lions defense in stop motion is FUNNY. I just saw Ernie Sims -- one of their better players -- get suckered by play action, then do a full 360 searching the field for the receiver he's supposed to cover. Then he runs and follows Bo Scaife, even though Scaife is running a seamer and Sims appears to have hook zone responsibilities. I say Sims appears to have hook zone responsibilities because A) Another LB was in the Tampa-2 Mike position and also followed Scaife up the seam, and B) Gage was completely uncovered in the hook zone. Good times. Good times.

Ben Riley: So I just woke up, and before I flipped on the television, I thought, "I bet the Titans are up by at least 21 points already." In reality, they were up by 32. Somewhere, Michael David Smith is weeping.

Does anyone else find the Chevron commercial regarding "human energy" to be the scariest advertisement since the Apple "1984" ads? You've got a screaming baby, monotone chiming noises, and a scary man asking if "are you going to be part of the solution, or part of the problem?" when it comes to alternative energy. What the hell? Is Chevron selling Soylent Green?

Jim Nantz just said that Kevin Smith carried the ball 450 times in his junior year. I was about to type, "In a related story, Kevin Smith's DYAR is [insert pathetic total here]," but then I looked up Smith's actual DYAR, 95, which is five points better than Chris Johnson's (before today, anyway). I guess I haven't watched that many Lions games this year, because I had no idea Kevin Smith was playing that well.

Doug Farrar: He’s looked pretty good on a couple of plays. Good cutback-to-spin on one play for a longer gain.

Ben Riley: Memo to Dr. Pepper: "Frasier" went off the air in 2004. Might be time to go in a different direction, pitchman-wise.

Phil Simms, just after the Lions muff a punt return: "You know, the Lions fans are disgusted, but really haven't been that vocal today." Well Phil, it's the fourth quarter, the Lions are down 41-10, and they haven't won a game all year -- perhaps the fans have become numb to the pain? Just a thought.

Doug Farrar: What the hell is he talking about? They were booing like crazy in the first half. By the way, we now know what it will take to get Vince Young in the game – a 44-10 lead on the Lions. That is one well-furnished doghouse.

Bill Barnwell: And we know what it'll take to get Drew Henson in the game -- a Vince Young appearance.

Vince Verhei: I know I'm late to the Lions-bashing party here, but I don't recall ever seeing a team overpursue like this. Think Chris Johnson's left-to- right screen pass. Think Young's long pass to Hall, where the Lions bit so hard on the play fake, Young had a tight end open on about a 12- yard out route.

Tennessee was lining up with Albert Haynesworth in the A-gap on one side of the line, and then Kyle Vanden Bosch way outside the offensive tackle. Have they been doing that all year? It seems like a better team could take advantage of a giant gap in the line like that.

Doug Farrar: I've seen Vanden Bosch line up at an outside angle in other games. I'd assume the thought process is that since Haynesworth is almost always going to get a double-team, Vanden Bosch can avoid a head-on with the tackle, blow by him, and there won't be a gap issue. Haynesworth's basically a gap and a half by himself, anyway.

Bill Barnwell: I think it also plays off their propensity to twist on almost every play, too.

Ben Riley: You know, I've always liked Jeff Fisher, but it's pretty classless to challenge a reception with 3:30 left in the game and the Titans up by 37. Put the red flag away, Jeff, it's time for everyone to go home.

Aaron Schatz: Today's Lions game has inspired me. I have decided what I would do if the NFL Network would allow me to program a day of historic games:

The worst teams of all time, in their worst losses!

Imagine: Edited versions (mostly the first halves) of some famous players looking really amazing against some extremely pathetic competition. Who looks worse: the 1976 Bucs, the 1991 Colts, or the 2008 Lions? You decide!

Our schedule:

  • Week 13 1976: Pittsburgh 42, Tampa Bay 0
  • Week 7 1981: San Diego 43, Baltimore 14
  • Week 3 1990: Cincinnati 41, New England 7
  • Week 16 1991: Buffalo 45, Indianapolis 7
  • Week 3 2004: Seattle 34, San Francisco 0
  • Week 13 2008: Tennessee 47, Detroit 10

Fun!

Seattle Seahawks 9 at Dallas Cowboys 34

Bill Barnwell: I don't have Paint on my computer, but if I did, I'd draw a diagram with the Seattle secondary providing a five-yard buffer of space around Jason Witten, a halo around Tony Romo, and a turnstile for DeMarcus Ware to go through. I also try to avoid complaining about the referees, but Jesus, that was a bad Intentional Grounding call.

Ben texted me to say something about Joe Buck hitting on the Jonas Brothers. Not sure what happened, but that makes sense.

Doug Farrar: I’d like to diagram the touchdown to T.O. where Julian Peterson covered him without any safety help, but I don’t think the program I have will do anything that reprehensibly stupid.

Mike Tanier: Yeah, even my diagramming software has Idiot Checker.

Will Carroll: When DeMarcus Ware was rushing, he got pushed and came down on the lateral side of his foot. Easy knee sprain diagnosis. Question is how serious.

Bill Barnwell: Losing Ware REALLY hurts this team. He's their only pass rusher.

Aaron Schatz: I think the story we're missing with this year's Seahawks is the defense. We know about all the injuries on offense. Why is the defense playing so badly? It can't all be the loss of Patrick Kerney. The linebackers really look like they are having problems compared to years past. One play that I noticed, Martellus Bennett pushed Darryl Tapp practically off the right side of the screen before a pass was even thrown.

By the way, my starting fantasy running backs are Brian Westbrook and Chris Johnson. Thanksgiving is AWESOME!

Doug Farrar: First of all, there is no pass rush without Kerney. None. The defensive ends drafted by Tim Ruskell, including Tapp, have been disappointments.

Second, Ruskell has taken the idea that undersized defenders have some sort of special intrinsic value to an illogical extreme -- as if Ronde Barber is a successful "type" as opposed to a special individual player. The NFL is getting bigger and bigger, and Seattle's team president is still stuck in about 2002, when the cap had a much lower ceiling and certain tradeoffs had to be made.

Third, Brian Russell. The only reason I can imagine for keeping Russell in the starting defensive lineup is a thing Ruskell may have for Scrappy White Guys. The Mariners have the same problem (Willie Bloomquist), as did the Sonics (Luke Ridnour) before they left town. Maybe it's a Pacific Northwest thing.

It's also my theory that while Ruskell predominantly drafts guys who started a lot and succeeded in college, there are positions where you need to take more of a shot on pure athletic upside. Defensive end. Cornerback. Receiver. I think Ruskell gets hung up on guys like Tapp and Lawrence Jackson who peak in college and don't really have that extra gear in the pros. He's too inflexible when it comes to that pure moldable skill as opposed to the number of merit badges a guy has.

People want to say, "Scheme, scheme, scheme," but sometimes, the talent isn't there, either. They play more Cover-1 than they should, and their pass rushers don’t get home. Their linebackers are out of place far more than they’ve been in years. Tatupu is not playing all that well; he's certainly declined in coverage. It’s just everything, and I don’t think it’s just a matter of fixing an off-year. I think they’re looking at a major rebuild.

Vince Verhei: Seattle's secondary can't tackle at all. It used to be just Brian Russell. Now it's both safeties and the top three corners. They're also zone blitzing a lot. I've noticed this charting games. And it's not linebacker/end Julian Peterson, it's Darryl Tapp and Laurence Jackson dropping into coverage. I'll note this when charting games, and the opponent will complete a pass, and I'll ask myself, what good did that do? Then they'll rush four and get nowhere near him, and I'll ask, what good did THAT do? Then they'll do some convoluted attack with guys taking big arcs to the passer, and ... well, I ask myself a lot of questions during Seahawks games.

Bill Barnwell: Will, any thoughts on Marion Barber having a dislocated toe and what the timeframe could be?

Will Carroll: Depends on how fast it went in and the damage. Worst case is like terrible turf toe. Antonio Gates and Anquan Boldin are the good comps, but it will be interesting to see how he reacts.

Bill Barnwell: Boldin dislocated a toe last year and missed the following week's game, a big one against the Seahawks. Justin Miller dislocated his toe against the Giants in the preseason this year and never got back on the active roster.

Falcons defensive end Brady Smith dislocated his big toe (Barber dislocated his pinky toe) and missed the entire season, although he was a guy on the outside anyway. Finally, Shaun Cody dislocated a toe and missed two weeks.

Hard to find a guy who played the following week with a dislocated toe, which makes me think that Barber's probably going to be out at least week and maybe two.

Arizona Cardinals 20 at Philadelphia Eagles 48

Mike Tanier: The Eagles ran the ball with Brian Westbrook four plays in a row, the fourth being the touchdown that made it 14-0. Can we check the database? When was the last time the Eagles handed off to Westbrook four straight times? I would wager that if it has happened at all, it has happened in the 4th quarter of some lopsided game.

Bill Barnwell: According to my hacky attempt to check the Play-By-Play database, they've done that once: Up 21-0 against the Rams in Week 1.

Mike Tanier: Yeah, not a common thing, though I don't know many backs that get it four times in a row these days, in minimal fairness to Reid. At 21-0, it looks like several somebodies came out in fear for their professional futures tonight. It was great of someone in the Eagles organization to find an old Jeff Garcia game plan, one with a lot of running plays and short passes. It's a shame they only discover this formula in late November of lost-cause seasons every year.

Bill Barnwell: It's occurred 153 different times this year through Week 12.

The Eagles, clearly angered at dropping all the way to fourth in DVOA, are now blowing out the sixth-best team in the league in an attempt to get back to second place.

Aaron Schatz: THE EAGLES ARE TRYING TO KILL ME.

Bill Barnwell: Okay. We know that we're not the only ones, though -- Vegas has our back on this. Pythagoras has our back on this (they're going to have either the second- or third-best point differential in the league after tonight). We need to be rational about this and look at it from all sides. They're a very good team with a combination of bad luck, really stupid coaching decisions, and a very tough schedule.

The NFL.com coverage is suggesting that the Philly fans want "...a knucklehead at quarterback, a dysfunctional guy." They then started suggesting that Allen Iverson might be the ideal Eagles quarterback.

I mention this only so I can mention once more the greatest jersey I've ever heard word of. Guy who has the IVERSON #13 Raiders jersey, you'll always have my respect.

Vince Verhei: The Eagles have played seven very good games: The wins against Arizona, Pittsburgh, Seattle, Atlanta, San Francisco, and St. Louis, all by at least two scores, two by four touchdowns. The seventh good game is the five-point loss to the Giants. The only teams to play better than that against the Giants are the Bengals (who lost by 3) and the Browns (who won by 21).

They have played three basically average games, but have lost all three times: by six to Washington and by four each to Dallas and Chicago.

Finally, they have played two absolute stinkers, the tie with Cincinnati and the blowout loss to Baltimore (which wasn't a blowout until Donovan McNabb was pulled).

Now that I look at this a little closer, I see they are a ridiculous 0-4-1 in one-score games, and 6-1 in blowouts. So that appears to be the answer: The Eagles have a high DVOA because they really are that talented. They have a (relatively) poor win/loss record because in tight games they make mistakes (short-yardage failures, bad clock management) and their opponents don't (making every field goal). Ordinarily we'd say these small mistakes in close games would even out over time, but after so many years of seeing the Eagles play like this, it's pretty clearly more than luck.

Mike Tanier: The Eagles season would look a little different if they are 7-5 right now, wouldn't it? Just get rid of the tie and you can say: heh, pretty good team, toughest decision in the NFL, definitely good enough to win the AFC/NFC West, maybe some other divisions.

Then you look at that tie, which was about bad coaching (awful gameplan puts to much pressure on a quarterback who isn't at his peak anymore; overtime confusion suggests disarray and lack of basic communication). You then look back to the games lost almost exclusively by short yardage mistakes: Bears certainly, Giants to a degree. Then you look at fullback Dan Klecko and my favorite tight end, and you ask if this is rocket science.

Then you look at 2006 and 2007. Midseason swoons where the Eagles get crazy one-dimensional, lose these heartbreaking games because of dumb mistakes. McNabb gets on everybody's poop list and/or gets hurt. Then Jeff Garcia comes in, the Eagles scale down the passing game, keep it simple, and rally. Or McNabb comes back after a Feeley meltdown, and they scale things back, use the running game more, and at least rally back to .500. It's year three, it's Groundhog Day, and you wonder what steps are going to be taken to fix this dysfunctionality. You wonder if the Eagles will look good at the start of 2009, then start throwing the ball 70 percent of the time, 80 percent of the time on third-and-1, fall to 5-6. You wonder if Trent Cole will double as a goal-line fullback in the newest "wrinkle". Then, oh yeah, our running back is an MVP candidate, give him the ball, throw short passes off play action, win.

Or maybe we'll have a different coach and we'll stop squandering this roster.

Posted by: Doug Farrar on 28 Nov 2008

81 comments, Last at 01 Dec 2008, 3:46pm by JAZ

Comments

1
by Dean (not verified) :: Fri, 11/28/2008 - 12:16pm

I was actually hoping you guys would post this to help me get through the workday.

Any thoughts on Toastelio Hanson (we probably should stop calling him that at this point) getting the not as starting CB over Lito Shephard? Hanson had a pick, and Lito got burned on the TD, so on the surface it looks like a good move. I guess it's too early to have the game chart and know who got targeted how many times, etc.?

2
by Kurt :: Fri, 11/28/2008 - 12:21pm

I'm sure the Eagles played great last night, but it's worth noting that the Cards are now 0-4 on the east coast this year, and 3-94 or thereabouts in such games since moving to Arizona. So, insert Bill Simmons quip about Harvey Keitel's line in Pulp Fiction here.

3
by Dean (not verified) :: Fri, 11/28/2008 - 1:10pm

So are they 0-4 on the East Coast because the travel is really that bad? Or are the 0-4 on the East Coast because the Jets, Giants, Eagles, and Panthers are better teams then they are?

5
by Dean (not verified) :: Fri, 11/28/2008 - 1:20pm

Sorry. That should be Skins, not Giants.

8
by Kurt :: Fri, 11/28/2008 - 1:31pm

Maybe a little of each, though honestly I would think travel for a Thursday game has to make a difference. The Eagles had to travel about 60 miles. Also, you can't really throw bouquets at the Eagles for crushing the #6 DVOA team, and then poo-pooh the travel thing by saying the Panthers, Jets and Redskins are just better than the Cards.

4
by Travis :: Fri, 11/28/2008 - 1:18pm

The Giants game was in Arizona; the Redskins game was on the East Coast.

For what it's worth, the Cardinals are now 22-70 in Eastern Time Zone games since moving to Arizona in 1988, and 5-27 since 2000. (They're not much better in the Central Time Zone: 9-32 overall and 4-15 since 2000, with all those wins in the last 4 years against the Rams.)

6
by Dean (not verified) :: Fri, 11/28/2008 - 1:21pm

But that doesn't really address the question. Is that because it's such an ordeal to travel? Or just because the Cards are a perenially awful team?

7
by Travis :: Fri, 11/28/2008 - 1:28pm

Probably the latter, since East Coast teams don't have the same problem travelling westward, nor does Denver (the only other Mountain Time Zone team) travelling east. They lose about as much as you'd expect for road teams.

12
by Temo :: Fri, 11/28/2008 - 1:44pm

Okay. We know that we're not the only ones, though -- Vegas has our back on this. Pythagoras has our back on this (they're going to have either the second- or third-best point differential in the league after tonight).

Thanks, I don't have to post that same point on the 5th consecutive audibles!

Seriously, Aaron you need to stop thinking that you have to apologize for your Eagles ranking and just explain to everyone that, despite how it may seem, the Eagles are a pretty good team.

9
by Dean (not verified) :: Fri, 11/28/2008 - 1:33pm

If I had access to the data, I'd take their overall winning percentage, check the variance compared to their winning percentage in the eastern time zone. Then do the same thing for combined records of every team in the western 2 time zones and see how the variances compare. Yeah, it's a slow day at the office.

11
by Temo :: Fri, 11/28/2008 - 1:43pm

profootballreference.com

Get to work, Dean.

On a related note, I'm leaving the office now. Half day! :)

14
by Travis :: Fri, 11/28/2008 - 2:30pm

Here's an Excel spreadsheet with all NFL scores since 1950. Hope this makes the rest of the workday easier.

10
by Kurt :: Fri, 11/28/2008 - 1:42pm

One nitpick - final score aside, it's awfully hard to characterize the Eagles' game against San Francisco as a "very good game" or a "blowout", considering they were losing going into the 4th quarter and led by 7 until a pick-six in the last minute.

13
by Rick A. (not verified) :: Fri, 11/28/2008 - 2:11pm

Really what I'd like to say is this : What do all of YOU, never played the game in your life pundits (not speaking of the statisticians and analysts who have created this DVOA system--but referring to the various self proclaimed experts in these threads)who were such minimizers of the Giants last year, what do you have to say now ? Now DVOA has caught up with the REALITY of what an all-time team this is. Have you? Surely your wallets being emptied by betting against them over and over has taught you something.

15
by mattymatty :: Fri, 11/28/2008 - 2:33pm

"never played the game in your life"

Why don't you just accuse everyone who reads the internet (motto: A series of tubes since 1997") of living in their mother's basement? Better yet, why don't you post a receipt of all the money you won betting on the Giants in the playoffs, genius.

17
by TomC :: Fri, 11/28/2008 - 2:52pm

Apologies to the rational Gints fans on this site, but it would be freakin' sweet for the FOMBC to take down a team that was #1 in DVOA by 14% but whose fans were angry that DVOA had taken so long to realize they were a good team.

19
by Kurt :: Fri, 11/28/2008 - 3:03pm

Fan. Singular. Let's get that straight.

24
by Dales :: Fri, 11/28/2008 - 5:24pm

The Commish is wise...

18
by Doug Farrar :: Fri, 11/28/2008 - 2:52pm

Most people would probably say something like what Aaron said on the most recent B.S. Report -- that when you go back now to their postseason run and extend it to this season, it makes one hell of a lot more sense. It's an unusual team in that they went on an amazing run and managed to catch that lightning for what looks like an entire extra season. Doesn't happen very often, but they are now everything they were in that short space of time. That doesn't mean anyone was wrong in grasping for adjectives after the Super Bowl was over.

Honestly, I love watching the Giants and I love the way they play, but there's a small part of me that wants them to get upended by the AFC six-seed in the upcoming Super Bowl, just so I can say to various people, "WELL? Did you see THAT coming, geniuses? HUH???" It's a small part of me, but it's there.

By the way, on your “never played the game” theory: Emmitt Smith’s most interesting quote about the Giants last year was that if they won the NFC Championship, they might have a chance to represent their conference in the Super Bowl. Greatness doesn’t always transfer.

36
by Ben Stuplisberger :: Sat, 11/29/2008 - 6:53am

I played in Junior High. Does it count if I thought the Giants were mediocre in 2007? No?

16
by The Ninja-lectual (not verified) :: Fri, 11/28/2008 - 2:48pm

The Titan's first play to Brandon Jones was an end around, not a reverse.

22
by galactic_dev :: Fri, 11/28/2008 - 4:30pm

Exactly. But is this a lost battle for correct terminology? Is it just you, me, and the reviled TMQ still fighting this fight?

I'll never give up. I'm still trying to teach my students the difference between "good" and "well."

50
by the silent speaker (not verified) :: Sat, 11/29/2008 - 7:56pm

But that's an easy one. As a Giants fan, I can say, "Well, the Eagles played good," but I cannot say, "Good, the Eagles played well."

20
by Harris :: Fri, 11/28/2008 - 3:12pm

Aaron Schatz: THE EAGLES ARE TRYING TO KILL ME.

Thank you, Aaron, for so perfectly capturing the experience of an Eagles fan.

"A little celery is always nice after a good pee."

21
by Rick A. (not verified) :: Fri, 11/28/2008 - 3:58pm

Look rear view mirror experts--I don't have to prove anything with past betting slips to a certain percentage of you that follow this website. (and I don't bet the games, unlike a huge percentage of you) There are plenty here that know I posted plenty of forecasts last year about how the Giants would do PRIOR to their run. As for the basic fact of human nature that people like to root against whoever makes it to the top of the pyramid, knock yourselves out. That's what's great about sports. And as for the basic facts of nature that, inevitably, someone will knock off the Giants, whenever that finally happens (probably not this year)you can then do what you're all so good at doing--you can say "see, I knew it all along, they were just a freak thing, had some luck" etc etc etc. Yeah right, armchair athletes...

23
by Temo :: Fri, 11/28/2008 - 4:59pm

There are plenty here that know I posted plenty of forecasts last year about how the Giants would do PRIOR to their run.

Who are you?

Also, I still don't think the Giants are a great team. Just really annoying. How do you like them apples?

31
by JAZ :: Sat, 11/29/2008 - 1:17am

You don't know who Rick A. is? For shame.

61
by Staubach12 :: Sun, 11/30/2008 - 4:03am

I never knew that Jason Garrett was a pop singer.

43
by thestar5 :: Sat, 11/29/2008 - 2:13pm

He just misspelled Stephen A.

25
by Rick A. (not verified) :: Fri, 11/28/2008 - 5:44pm

Temo--
I don't care. I'm not a fan. But, as a historian and former athlete, I can see clearly, and could see last year, that the Giants are doing things that will make the record books, and have already made the record books, which qualify them to be called "great". "Great" is a relative term. Say what you will in the debate about the differences between today's NFL and eras of the past--but the Giants are a "complete" team in today's reality. VERY strong in all areas of the game now that Manning has gestalted into a top flight QB. And their strongest suit of all appears to be an intangible one : their capacity to not get in the way of people continuing to underestimate them. Look what just happened to the cocky Ravens and their supposed impenetrable rush defense ! Maybe it's as simple as them just going about their business as disciplined professionals and skipping all the trash talk that leads to bulletin board material for the opponents. All of you that just can't seem to get it are arguing with reality itself, as shown last year, this year, and now also seen by DVOA, which is a truly impartial system of analysis. Knock yourselves out. And by the way, to the Emmitt Smith minimizer : I saw that comment happen that day and I immediately felt that he meant that if the Giants would win the NFC Championship they would represent their conference WELL in the SuperBowl. In other words, he was simply saying that the Patriots would have a worthy opponent on their hands, that the Giants were not to be minimized. If you feel a need to insult an authentically great athlete and honest minded individual like Emmitt Smith knock yourself out too. You guys need to open your minds.

27
by Harris :: Fri, 11/28/2008 - 6:24pm

So we're supposed to be impressed that a Giants fan predicted that the Giants, coming off a Super Bowl win, would be a dominant team? And had you been, say, a Cardinals fan, you surely wouldn't have predicted the same for them, right? And all this because you're a former athlete AND a historian? Well, I for one am convinced.

"A little celery is always nice after a good pee."

33
by Andrew B :: Sat, 11/29/2008 - 3:41am

"that Manning has gestalted into a top flight QB"

How so? Because he's gotten REALLY good at handing the ball off to the Giants running backs?

I mean, he has ZERO 300 yard games this year. He has just 3 of 12 games completing over 65% of his passes, while he has 6 of 12 completing under 60%. Could it be the one game in 12 where he completed over 20 passes? I mean, nothing says "top flight QB" like a game like his one against the 49ers and their top-notch defense - 16 of 31 for 161 yards 1 TD, 0 INT? Positively Trent Dilferish or Kerry Collinsesque there of Manning. Seeing as the Giants only won by 12 against the 49ers, its not as though they couldn't have used a better effort by Manning. And of course, nothing spells "coaching staff confidence" quite like a QB season where the QB fails to drop back 500 times in 16 games.

The only thing Manning has done different, so far, this year, is throwing fewer interceptions, with just 7 so far. Of course last year, he only had 9 interceptions in his first 10 games, then he came "on fire" with another 9 in his last six games. The big question here is will Coughlin even dare to put him on the field against the Vikings in Week 17? He's only thrown 8 of his 76 career picks in his two games against the Vikings. Nothing like building up confidence going into the playoffs as a game of pitch and catch with Darren Sharper.

"as a historian and former athlete"

Really? Because nothing says a snotty wannabe historian quite like an historian who doesn't know its "an" historian, except for an historian who is forced to describe himself as "a historian" lest anybody miss what is in reality painfully unobvious from your writing. For example, what things have the Giants done "that will make the record books, and have already made the record books"?

"'Great' is a relative term."

No "great" is an objective and descriptive term, like beauty. Did you not take 9th grade English? Most people know what great is, just like most people know what a beautiful woman looks like. A "great football team" is something like the 1978 Steelers, 1984 49ers, 1985 Bears, 1986 Giants, 1989 49ers, 1991 Redskins, 1998 Broncos, 2003-2004 Patriots. We've certainly seen them before, and they tend to come along once every few years or so. So what made or makes the Giants "great" in any sort of historical sense? Being the 5th team to win the Super Bowl out of the Wild Card round, including the 4th in the past 11 years? Opening a season 10-1 like several dozen teams have done before them? Running the ball a lot? Employing Eli Manning? Being annointed by pundits to win the Super Bowl before they've won a playoff game (call Dallas up to find out how that bit of greatness goes). Maybe its beating the 1-9-1 Bengals in overtime. That certainly spells "great" in the books of everyone who put money on the Bengals to cover and the Giants to win straight up, to turn this to your gambling obsession. Honestly, I'm at a loss to know what this record breaking greatness is since you failed to describe any of it. Maybe you could explicate it for us. I hope that is not too big a word for you and you actually know what I am requesting. Enquiring minds want to know.

The Original Andrew

51
by BrixtonBear (not verified) :: Sat, 11/29/2008 - 8:26pm

'A' is the correct article in front of words beginning with a voiced 'h'. 'An' is only used if the 'h' is silent (see here).

And 'beauty' is most definitely subjective, not objective: I might think a woman's beautiful while you think she's fat and has a big nose.

As well, 'great' doesn't have a rigid definition — hence the annual debates surrounding Hall of Fame inductees.

If you're going to be a pedant, at least have the decency to be correct once in a while.

65
by Andrew B :: Sun, 11/30/2008 - 11:26am

Snotty people like Rick A who call themselves historians usually use the, I think British, convention of "an historian". Hence, my comment.

Rick A is a football snob.

The Original Andrew

35
by Jean Sansterre (not verified) :: Sat, 11/29/2008 - 4:24am

I haven't noticed a lot of disrespect coming from this site (or these boards) regarding the Giants. As far as I can tell, FO has been behind the Giants all year as being the best team in the NFL, even when the rest of the sites out there were listing Tennessee first because of their unbeaten record. I've seen some flack for the Eagles, but none for the Giants.

If your position is that the Giants are one of the greatest teams ever... I don't see it. I mean, they're clearly damned good, but next to the Pats of last year who vaporized everything, they just don't measure up. Still probably one of the top 10 teams of the decade, if they keep it up.

If your position is the Rodney Harrison 'disrespect' position, it's just as silly. Everyone thinks the Giants are the team to beat. I don't know how much more you want.

If your position is that people should have thought that the Giants were way better last year pre-playoffs than they actually were... well, that one's self explanatory. Take away Eli Manning's consistently solid performance this year, and you get an uneven but high quality team, the same team they had last year. If they were this good last year pre-playoffs, they sure hid it well.

39
by Temo :: Sat, 11/29/2008 - 1:22pm

Dude, it's just fun to troll blowhards.

I'm legitimately terrified that the Giants will be repeat champions, and then Giants fans will be get even more unbearable than they are now.

Not to mention the frenzied slurping of Eli Manning (the worst QB in the NFCEast, and that is NOT a troll) that will occur.

66
by JAZ :: Sun, 11/30/2008 - 11:33am

You really think Eli is worse than Mustache Campbell? I know their traditional stats are pretty close but Eli has a huge edge in DVOA and I know who I'd want running a two minute drill on my team. Plus, he's a far superior squash player.

79
by Temo :: Mon, 12/01/2008 - 1:54pm

After yesterday's performance, I need to rethink that, I think. With Clinton Portis, Santana Moss, and ARE (who is actually a very good weapon), and a good albeit slightly overrated O-line, there's no reason why Campbell shouldn't have better numbers than he's had.

41
by Wait, what? (not verified) :: Sat, 11/29/2008 - 2:09pm

I am taking a moment from my busy schedule of armchair athletics to point out that you mean "gestated," not "gestalted," as the latter is not a word.

I will also endeavor to work the phrase "their capacity to not get in the way of people continuing to underestimate them" into the zlionsfan template sometime soon as a reason for DVOA not valuing a team enough. We need some kind of metric for this, I think. Are the Lions historically great at getting in the way of people who are trying to underestimate them, perhaps by under-performing even the lowest of expectations?

26
by Mark (not verified) :: Fri, 11/28/2008 - 5:52pm

I'm with you, Rick. I, Nostradamus-like, predicted the Colts' historically bad run defense would become one of the best run Ds in the playoffs in 2006. I posted a bunch of times about it.

Go look it up.

Seriously.

28
by Rick A. (not verified) :: Fri, 11/28/2008 - 6:57pm

You guys can kiss my Kundalini. You don't have to be Nostradamus to know what you're looking at if you know what you're looking at. You guys are the "fans"--from the word "fanatic". I'm not trying to impress anyone, morons. Nor was I last year when I said the same things. But now, much forward in time, I'm asking what all you pundits have to say since your various analyses regarding the Giants have been hammered by reality for a long enough stretch that even you know you have caca all over your face. On top of the results on the field, now DVOA, which you presumably respect or you wouldn't be at this website, confirms in the hypothetical realm that reality. But I have my answer as to what you have to say. More of the same arrogant denial of reality.

52
by justme_cd :: Sat, 11/29/2008 - 8:29pm

You don't have to be a previous football player to know what you're looking at if you know what you are looking at. You also don't have to be younger than 11 to say people have caca all over their face if you are also a caca face.

What reality exactly are people "arrogantly denying"? Temo was the only person I could find to say the Giants weren't great and that was followed by a discussion on how to define greatness.

Really I had other points I wanted to argue but then your defence of Emmitt debacled me.

29
by Duff Soviet Union :: Fri, 11/28/2008 - 7:39pm

Rick A, from what rock did you just crawl out from? You haven't said one thing that makes even the slightest bit of sense.

30
by kevinNYC (not verified) :: Fri, 11/28/2008 - 7:50pm

Considering that the only teams that played the Giants "closer" than the Eagles are TERRIBLE football teams, what does that tell us about the Eagles in general or that game? I would say nothing, so I don't understand that being used as a measuring stick.

Heck, I'd be willing to say that the Giants outplayed the Eagles by a fairly significant margin in every aspect except kick returns. However, I could be wrong and "very good team(s) with combination of bad luck, really stupid coaching decisions..." normally give up 36 points at home.

32
by Key19 :: Sat, 11/29/2008 - 2:00am

Giants suck, bro.

They can't even beat Browns.

Maybe their to cocky and unprofessional.

David Tyree cheated in the Super Bowl and had gum on his helmet. Just watch the ESPYs or ask Justin Timberlake. The Giants will go "Bye Bye Bye" in the Playoffs. J-Tim said that too. I herd him.

Also the Giants don't have Brett Favre, so their not even the best New York team in New York. Favre can't lose. He will win Super Bowl and Giants will cry. Brett throws picks just to keep the jets' DVOA down so they can be the new greatest upset when they beat the suck Giants in the Super Bowl. Earth Wind and Fire will look like crap crap and crap when they play jets. Favre will play corner and pick eli 10 times to.

Giants suk.

An athlete and a historian? U must be Phil Sims! You sound like him two!

/end bad grammar

34
by Andrew B :: Sat, 11/29/2008 - 3:45am

This is right up there with the original and infamous zlionsfan post.

Just beautiful my friend.

The Original Andrew

37
by Mr Shush :: Sat, 11/29/2008 - 8:47am

I hate to say it, Andrew, but I really don't think many modern philosophers would agree with you that beauty and greatness are objecive qualities. They could be argued to be supervenient on plausibly objective lower order qualities (Super Bowl wins, playoff appearances and hall of famers, say, in the case of the greatness of an NFL dynasty) though I'm not even sure I buy that, but there will be always be disagreement among reasonable people as to which lower order qualities should be taken into consideration and how they should be weighted. That it may be possible to find a broad approximate consensus on what things have some quality is no guarantee that the quality in question is objective. If one person argues that the Peyton Manning Colts have been a great team over the last decade, and another argues that they have been merely a very good team with one great unit, is one right and the other wrong? Or do they just have different ideas of what greatness is?

My feeling is that this year's Giants are very fortunate to be playing in a year where there is neither any other dominant team nor a merely very good team that matches up well with them. I think the Giants would struggle against a team with an excellent pass offense that was competent but unspectacular in every other area, but there is no team like that in this year's NFL. The Cardinals can't run the ball or cover on special teams. The Colts can't stop the run or do anything on special teams. The Cowboys also suck on special teams, and their run defense probably isn't good enough either. Nevertheless, I see those last two teams as the most likely candidates for stopping the Giants in the playoffs. If the Steelers or Titans were in the NFC, they might have a shot at winning a defensive battle in a freezing Meadowlands. On a mild Florida night, not so much.

38
by Andrew B :: Sat, 11/29/2008 - 10:57am

"I hate to say it, Andrew, but I really don't think many modern philosophers would agree with you that beauty and greatness are objecive qualities."

And that's the problem with modern philosophy, isn't it? Not a Plato, Boethius, or Thomas Aquinas among them! 2000 years from now, people will still be learning about objectivity from those three, while the modern philosophers will have long ago been forgotten and assigned as much relevance as Barlaam the Calabrian or Michael du Bay.

I rather think that the internet beauty tests have shown there is an objective beauty implanted in the human mind, for example, from the widespread agreement and convergence in the million+ person polls of pictoral beauty. If there was not this agreement, the argument against objectivity would be quite strong, but the tests certainly disproved that empirically.

"If one person argues that the Peyton Manning Colts have been a great team over the last decade, and another argues that they have been merely a very good team with one great unit, is one right and the other wrong? Or do they just have different ideas of what greatness is?"

Well, the three above, among others, argued that greatness on a human level is relational as it approaches the perfect greatness of God, and that all human greatness was nothing more than a reflection of God's greatness. The greatness of the Colts over a decade, such as it is, is related to their approach to perfection, and how close to perfect they were relative to potential achievement by an NFL franchise. I'd say this site is as good as any at measuring that perfection, in that DVOA is a measurement system of actual success vs. average and potential success on every single play. (If God played football, every offensive play would result in the defense on its ass and the ball carrier running into the endzone for a touchdown - though God would only be playing offense after a touchback or out of bound kickoff -, every defensive play would result in a safety or defensive touchdown, every kickoff return - only once per game for God though! - would be returned 100 yards. God would not punt because his offense woudl always score, and He would not return punts because His defense would always score. This is proof that punting is of the devil.) If the 1999-20XX Colts have the highest DVOA of the decade, would they not be the greatest team of the decade? And if their decadal DVOA was similar to say the best eight-ten-twelve years of the 1981-1998 49ers, or the 1972-1979 Steelers, or the 1946-1969 Browns to name three examples, would that not tell us they are one of the elite great teams of NFL history?

Humanity cannot ordinarily be perfect and thus cannot be objectively great in this life, but it can approach it as much as it is within human capability, and it is to that approach that we ascribe the word great in human terms and on the human level of activity.

The Original Andrew

53
by BrixtonBear (not verified) :: Sat, 11/29/2008 - 8:36pm

I was going to point out that feminine ideals have demonstrably changed through recorded history, and indeed varies in different cultures. But then I saw all the god twaddle and realised it'd be pointless.

76
by The James (not verified) :: Mon, 12/01/2008 - 5:07am

St. Thomas Aquinas engaged in a number of logical fallacies. Please do not include him in a list of respectable philosophers.

81
by JAZ :: Mon, 12/01/2008 - 3:46pm

If you want to impress strangers on the Internet with your knowledge of Philosophy you might want to actually read Plato first. He never conflates beauty with (a Judeo-Christian) God--nor would he, considering he was a pagan. While Christian interperters--including Boethius and Aquinas--have distilled a conception of God from the Platonic Forms, he argued no such thing (cf. the Symposium and especially the Republic).

And your claim that Modern Philosophy is just some fad is absurd. Kant, Locke and Russell, to name just three, are certainly as vital to future Western thought as Boethius and Aquinas.

Lastly, all Hotornot.com proves is that individuals with similar epistemic frameworks (namely, early 21st century English-speaking computer-literates vapid enough to spend time rating strangers) tend to hold similar beliefs. Hardly a convincing argument for objectivity.

40
by Dice (not verified) :: Sat, 11/29/2008 - 1:28pm

While I'm sure I'll be reminded that Audibles are an extra, can the Eagles games in Audibles maybe not just degenerate to a diatribe against Reid and how everything that can go wrong does go wrong? Barely any talk about the game.

42
by Rick A. (not verified) :: Sat, 11/29/2008 - 2:09pm

You guys are a real hoot. Amazing the emotion that flies around regarding Football in America. That's what's great about the sport I guess. First of all, if there's any ex or current players out there--please weigh in. I really doubt it though. But if there were they would agree that Manning has "gestalted into a top flight QB". Numbers are secondary to the bottom line of consistently winning with what you have.

Secondly, the Giants WERE minimized, even by the creators of DVOA, last year prior to their run, not to mention the goon squad that contribute to these threads. Thirdly, to just name only one thing of historical note, (or should I say "an historical note"?) their run of road victories is an astonishing thing and another thing that any actual players would regard as evidence that they qualify as a "great" team.

Lastly,(because I have a life other than reading all this nonsense in my computer room) sports teams are only a phenomenon of the era in which they play. Comparing a team from one era to another from another era is always very "iffy". And teams playing close games versus teams they "should" beat handily, and so on, happens in every era. Teams of the past that are agreed upon pretty unaminously as having been "great" did the same thing. If you guys were around at the time of the Montana 49ers you'd likely be complaining about the characterization by the media that they were one of the great comeback teams ever--you'd probably be talking about the fact that they were always in such positions late in the game when they "shouldn't" have been in the first place, and so on.

Basically, you're a bunch of armchair pundits. You've never played a down of football in your lives. Your outlet is to sit around and be snide minimizers of the people that are doers and achievers--the Giants are winning right now whether you can explain it to yourselves or not. Have a nice life in your computer rooms, watchers and non-achievers. If someone knocks off NYG in the playoffs then you can look to that team and begin sniping against it, and minimizing it and it's players and coaches.

44
by thestar5 :: Sat, 11/29/2008 - 2:23pm

Are you still talking, Mr Simms?

46
by Shogun-6 (not verified) :: Sat, 11/29/2008 - 3:53pm

Well, Rick, I've played a down or two of football, and I can still tell that your unintelligible diatribe screams two things:
1. You're a Giants homer (which is totally cool, by the way; one should root for his favorite team), and you have no problem believing that anyone who didn't applaud your favorite team prior to its Super Bowl run (when they weren't playing good football) is an idiot.
2. You feel that anyone who hasn't played the game remains unqualified to comment upon it.
Well, I can't agree with you on the first one. I have many friends that are die-hard Giants fans, and they wanted to kill Eli Manning last year. I don't consider them idiots; they simply may not have had the same faith as you. Unbelievers, yes. Idiots, no.
As for your second assertion, I suggest that you begin writing any newspaper in America, as few sports journalists (even the unapologetic Giants-homer journalists) actually have football experience at any level. As for your assertion that only players have the requisite experience to accurately assess the game, I suggest that you talk to the ghost of Wellington Mara, the same man who chose your quarterback savior. He never played a down of football in his life. Neither did Marc Ross, the director of college scouting for the team (who previously discovered second-day gems for the Eagles such as third-rounder Brian Westbrook). I could go on, but, it gets a tad boring, and I'm guessing that you won't listen to me, in any event.

54
by BrixtonBear (not verified) :: Sat, 11/29/2008 - 8:42pm

Exactly what does 'gestalted' mean? It's not in my copy of the O.E.D., but then I only have an abridged edition.

56
by Andrew B :: Sat, 11/29/2008 - 10:05pm

"Numbers are secondary to the bottom line of consistently winning with what you have."

Trent Dilfer, Brad Johnson, etc. - TOP SHELF TOP FLIGHT QB'S BECAUSE THEY WON WITH WHAT THEY HAD. Check.

"their run of road victories is an astonishing thing"

The record is 21 (including two neutral field Super Bowl wins), held by the 49ers. Those 49ers also went 32-2 in road games from Week 2 1987 through 1990. The Giants hit 13 before being stopped (including a Super Bowl on neutral ground). 8 more road games is a long way from astonishing. I'll call it remarkable. Rather like the 18-1 Patriots.

The Original Andrew

57
by Harris :: Sat, 11/29/2008 - 10:32pm

Actually, Slappy, I played in high school, college and semi-pro. Now why don't you go play in traffic?

"A little celery is always nice after a good pee."

63
by roguerouge :: Sun, 11/30/2008 - 5:19am

I'm sorry, Rick A, but have you spent any time in the field of statistical analysis? If you haven't, then your opinions are clearly without merit, no matter how sensible they may seem to you, because you've never spent any time down in the graduate student trenches or used an Excel program so long that you burn out the monitor. Until you do, you'll never understand what we analysts know through sheer dry-erasable grit and swagger. Only once you've paid your dues to the coefficients and formulae can even your most basic arguments be given any credibility, whatever their logic or evidence.

Feel offended? Feel like this is an unfair argument? Well, it's your invalid argument forms (ad hominem, appeal to authority) only reversed. The only thing that matters is the argument's evidence, not the person's identity. Whatever their experience, the person's ideas might be wrong. Since that is true, the only way to identify whether the person is right or wrong is based on their logic and the evidence they muster.

45
by Dice (not verified) :: Sat, 11/29/2008 - 3:50pm

Who knew Phil Simms trolled FO? A victory?

47
by mlibbeymail-foo... :: Sat, 11/29/2008 - 5:17pm

Westbrook only has ~150 rushes this year -- so can't have 153 groupings of 4 straight rushes.

67
by JAZ :: Sun, 11/30/2008 - 11:54am

I'm pretty sure that figure is the incidence of 4 consecutive rushing attempts among all rushers in the league, as a basis for comparison.

48
by Rick A. (not verified) :: Sat, 11/29/2008 - 5:46pm

Hey Shogun--
Speaking of unintelligible, if you are trying to say that people involved in the business of pro sports are somehow comparable to the bunch on this thread, then you're not making the point very well. It wouldn't matter if you did make it well though--because they, of course, are not. And you are trying to say that somehow I am pronouncing that no one other than players or ex-players are qualified to comment. Apparently you don't read very well. All I did was to yesterday ask all the Giant minimizers how they explain the run of success. Then all these idiotic comments ensued. I never said, nor would I say, that pro talent evaluators do not know what the game is about. (unless they're with the Rams, Lions, Texans, etc)

And, by the way, I am not a Giants "homer". I don't root for any team, couldn't care less who the hell wins. I do not live in New York. And you are likely full of caca when you claim to be an ex-player. Any player would appreciate what the Giants, Manning, the offensive line, the running backs, the receivers, the defense, are doing in today's NFL. While everyone raved on about the Patriots, and the Cowboys, and so on, the Giants were quietly getting it together. Manning was finding a stride. And the much maligned Coughlin was winning over the minds of his charges at last. That is reality nerds, whether you like it or not. Deal with it. Like I said, if someone knocks them off you can start your imbecilic routine with whoever that might be. But something tells me that time is not going to be right away.

49
by thestar5 :: Sat, 11/29/2008 - 7:25pm

Two points:

1. No one is trying to say the Giants aren't good. I'm a Cowboys homer and I think the Giants are awesome. I don't like their team, but I have a lot of respect for them, and I know they're really good. Hell, there number 1 in DVOA, and you don't see many people arguing with that. Were they this good last year during the regular season, no. But since the start of the playoffs last year they have been great. I think we all agree on that. Almost no one saw it coming, but hey, predicting sports is hard. Props to you if you knew they would transform from a decent team into a great one at the end of last year.

2. If you think everyone here is a bunch of idiots, why bother to comment? Obviously its your choice, but it seems like you have nothing to gain from talking to a bunch of geeks about football, if thats all you think of the people here.

58
by Jean Sansterre (not verified) :: Sat, 11/29/2008 - 11:08pm

"There are plenty here that know I posted plenty of forecasts last year about how the Giants would do PRIOR to their run. As for the basic fact of human nature that people like to root against whoever makes it to the top of the pyramid, knock yourselves out."

Huh? Did you just say that everyone is hating on the Giants because they're so good? Except that you were the only one that said they were good? Maybe we were fooled by their 10-6 record and +20 point differential for the season. You can't have it both ways - either we hated the Giants because they were on top, and your prediction was meaningless, or you shrewdly predicted their performance when nobody else thought they were great, and we weren't bashing the team on top of the pyramid.

"now that Manning has gestalted into a top flight QB."

Please don't make up words. It hinders the quality of debate when somebody posers up the dialogue.

"First of all, if there's any ex or current players out there--please weigh in. I really doubt it though. But if there were they would agree that Manning has "gestalted into a top flight QB"."

I'm still waiting for you to explain why having played makes you better at analysis. I mean, in general that's true, people are a lot more likely to know formations, theory, etc. if they've played the game. On the flip side, players tend to under-analyze the randomness in things, like recovering fumbles, or appreciating the power of pythagorean wins. Different strengths for each; if your position is that only people that have played get to comment, I'd like to hear the rationale. Nobody is really arguing that Manning '08 edition is not an excellent quarterback. That said, in '07, he threw 20 picks and only 23 TDs, at 56% completions which is in no way top flight, so bear with those of us that are still slightly skeptical.

"Numbers are secondary to the bottom line of consistently winning with what you have."

Does this regard teams or QBs? If teams, then it somewhat undercuts your position. I mean, the Giants were only 10-6 in 2007. So... if wins are all that matters (as you posit) should not the Giants have been shunned in comparison to Dallas (13 wins) Green Bay (13 wins) New England (16 wins) Indianapolis (13 wins) Jacksonville (11 wins) and San Diego (11 wins). Even Seattle, Pittsburgh, Tennessee and Cleveland had 10 wins. I mean, if all that matters is consistently winning, then people should have treated the Giants like the 7th-11th best team in the league, which strangely, they were. If you are referring to quarterbacks, then you're certainly implying some other things. I mean, I remember when Trent Dilfer gestalted to being a top tier quarterback. Sure, by every objective measure he was mediocre at best, but the "bottom line of consistently winning with what you have" shows that Dilfer was the best QB that year. In fact, I remember Jim Plunkett doing that. What about Jeff Hostetler? Jim McMahon? Oh my gawd, they're GESTALTING EVERYWHERE!11!

"And you are trying to say that somehow I am pronouncing that no one other than players or ex-players are qualified to comment."

"Basically, you're a bunch of armchair pundits. You've never played a down of football in your lives. Your outlet is to sit around and be snide minimizers of the people that are doers and achievers"

Looking a bit inconsistent there.

"While everyone raved on about the Patriots, and the Cowboys, and so on, the Giants were quietly getting it together. Manning was finding a stride."

Hey now, don't get side-tracked. The "bottom line of consistently winning with what you have", and the Patriots and Cowboys etc. were winning with what they had, much better than the Giants were. And likewise, Eli Manning wasn't performing better than 10-6, so why get all excited about it?

Seriously dude, I don't get it. Your persecution complex seems to be compromising your position. You seem to be arguing that the stat police were poo-pooing the Giants, but if they (as true achievers) just looked at the Giants performance (the bottom line being winning) they would have seen the truth. Of course, 10 other teams did as well or better than the Giants in '07, purely on a 'bottom line' analysis. And the Patriots won 18 games in a row, something that had never been done before in one season. By what bottom line standard can you say that people should have thought the Giants were better? What's that you say? Because they won the Super Bowl? True, but we're talking about what people should have thought BEFORE that game was played. And, frankly, there's nothing you can hang your argument on beyond the fact that you, personally, felt the Giants were going to be great. And good on you, you called it. But the 'bottom line' last year was that the Giants were a good team with a glaring weakness, and anyone with any skill in anything knew that. Sure they'd be great if Eli Manning 'gestalted' into a great quarterback, but he'd been mediocre for years, and had been decidedly so in 07.

If voices talk to you, and tell you the Giants will be good, I'm happy for you. But stop trolling just because there was zero reason to think that your voices were right. Schizophrenia may have won the battle, but stats always win the war.

59
by I am excellent at making love (not verified) :: Sun, 11/30/2008 - 2:02am

I'm not convinced by the evidence that the Giants are "great," but you're so gosh-darned likable that I can't help but agree with you.

/Veteran of several seasons of "Kill the Carrier" on the recess playground.

55
by Carlos (not verified) (not verified) :: Sat, 11/29/2008 - 9:18pm

It’s just everything, and I don’t think it’s just a matter of fixing an off-year. I think they’re looking at a major rebuild.

I understand why you say this, but it sounds more like FO-writer-as-fan than FO-writer-as-analyst.

Cliched to point this out, but football success is about the unit playing as a team. Small breakdowns can lead to terribly below average results. That doesn't mean the players aren't good, or, oddly, that the coaching isn't good either. I'd say it's just the random variability you get in human endeavors.

Look at the Redskins defense under G Williams.
2004: 4th in DVOA
2005: 4th
2006: Last
2007: 6th

Yeah, a few players changed at the margin, but they never drafted to address their longstanding needs on the DL. Coaching staff stayed basically the same. True that G Williams changed the scheme from '06 to '07. Anyway, sometimes decent players and coaches play way below their demonstrated ability. Doesn't mean a wholesale change is required. My 2 cents.

60
by Rick A. (not verified) :: Sun, 11/30/2008 - 3:13am

Hey Jean--
I, of course, did not have the prescience to know, last year during the season, that the Giants were going to go on their history making run. But I saw them, prior to the playoffs doing two things that were remarkable--1. they were winning every road game, and 2. they were executing, with precision, multiple schemes on the opposition with a very young O Line and the bangers at RB to make hay from that. Both of those things are truly remarkable in the NFL. They were signs, to a veteran watcher of the NFL like me, that this team might just go on a playoff run, and that it certainly was showing signs of being a stronger team than those with the better regular season records. Furthermore, Manning was beginning to get it and that was obvious too. But the media, the fans in general, the people that run this website, and the readers of this website, had all decided much earlier on that there was no possibility of this, that this was a mediocre team, etc etc. I put a few threads up warning everyone they'd better not bet against this bunch. I tried to get across to these guys that they were being quite unrealistic in thinking that they have any kind of grip, as analysts, on what it takes to win if they thought these Giants were a non contender in the playoffs. I pointed out then what I'm talking about now--that winning on the road, at ANY level of competition, much less the NFL, is the mark of a seriously gifted team. If anyone here had been a player they would know that and not argue with that elementary "duh" fact. But they just kept on minimizing the Giants, me, and anyone else that joined in in agreement. That is a fact of history, I do not have a "persecution complex". I insult the intelligence of the people on this thread as a generalization because I think most of them are just generally sarcastic, nasty, negative jerks who get off on getting into these posting battles. However, I am aware that, no doubt, many readers of this website are intelligent, open minded and polite. Not many of them are motivated to join in this kind of thing. I suppose, here over the holiday period when I had the free time to check in on F.O., that I thought I would stir it up a little just for kicks. I knew full well there's a bunch of you that still can't figure out what the ***** is going on that the Giants should be continuing this run and I knew how you'd react if someone came up here and asked you to explain why it's happening. The Devil made me do it. And, yes, it is human nature to convince one's self to dislike who is on top and root against them. There are some people, however, that stop that from breaking out in themselves and, instead, look to learn from the one that has made it to the top of the pyramid rather than giving in to envy and ignorance and so on. All of you guys would do well to try and figure what are the factors that have made this team become such a smooth running, winning machine. But you won't. And Jean, my comment about numbers being secondary to consistently winning with what you have refers to teams and quarterbacks both. And the point, of course, is that this year the Giants are doing all season what they didn't fully do until the last part of last year. Consistenly winning. This time they'll get home field advantage--they will again be very tough to beat.

62
by thestar5 :: Sun, 11/30/2008 - 5:01am

"1. they were winning every road game... winning on the road, at ANY level of competition, much less the NFL, is the mark of a seriously gifted team."

Yeah, winning on the road consistently usually means you're a pretty good team. But thats because teams that win on the road usually win at home too, instead of going 3-5. I'm not sure thats the mark of a "seriously gifted team".

"They were signs, to a veteran watcher of the NFL like me, that this team might just go on a playoff run, and that it certainly was showing signs of being a stronger team than those with the better regular season records."

They were 1-5 against teams with winning records. Isn't it important that they can beat those teams if you're going to claim they are better than them? They lost to Dallas twice, and the Pats, Packers, and Redskins once, with one win by 7 points against the Skins. Not exactly impressive. Certainly nothing to show they would morph into a superpower come playoff time.

"Furthermore, Manning was beginning to get it and that was obvious too."

Manning in 2007-
First 8 games: 13 TD's, 9 INT's, Comp%>50 7 times, sacked 8 times, 6-2 record
Last 8 games: 10 TD's, 11 INT's, Comp%>50 5 times, sacked 19 times, 4-4 record

Not to ruin your arguement with facts here, but I don't see the obvious improvement. Manning is worse in every category. Furthermore, I seem to remember calls for Manning being benched and how big of a bust he was at that time, not any praise for improvement in his game. True, the last game of the season against the Patriots he had 4 TD's and only 1 INT, but the game before that against the Bills Manning had a 32.2 QB rating, with no TD's and 2 picks. So I don't think there was any late surge either. Your arguement is just revisionist history and with your "trained" eye you should have been able to see this.

"All of you guys would do well to try and figure what are the factors that have made this team become such a smooth running, winning machine. But you won't."

The same thing that makes every other team good, score points and keep the other team from scoring. Manning got a lot better, the O-line improved, and the pash rush became a monster. No one is denying like you seem to claim that the Giants are really good. No one holds a grudge against them because they improved last year. Your bothering people because you're being a troll, not because people are jealous about the Giants.

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by Harris :: Sun, 11/30/2008 - 8:31am

"I insult the intelligence of the people on this thread as a generalization because I think most of them are just generally sarcastic, nasty, negative jerks who get off on getting into these posting battles."

Mr. Kettle, I've got someone I'd like you to meet.

"A little celery is always nice after a good pee."

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by Rick A. (not verified) :: Sun, 11/30/2008 - 1:05pm

Hey "Star"--
If you didn't see the obvious improvement in Manning then you were quite alone among "neutral" people who were not already invested in proclaiming him a bust. You remember only those haters' calls for benching him. That's why they sit around in computer rooms while people who know what they're talking about in the business of pro football make a nice living.
Not to ruin your argument with facts but you left out the second half number that is the only one that counts : W's...Analyze away pal. From the word "ANAL"...You're all trolls. You're trolling for more like yourselves, and then you can revise history through your "strength" in numbers, tell yourselves what a collective group of geniuses you are etc etc etc. You're worse than sportswriters. At least they were smart enough to find their way to getting paid for their nonsense...

70
by Sansterre (not verified) :: Sun, 11/30/2008 - 4:40pm

You are rapidly approaching nonsense.

"Not to ruin your argument with facts but you left out the second half number that is the only one that counts : W's"

You claim his improvement (gestaltation) occurred in the second half. When posters pointed out that he was actually worse in the second half (by standard stats, which are indicative if not conclusive) you counter by insisting that the team was winning more. Funny story, the Giants went 6-2 in the first 8 games, but only 4-4 in the last 8. So really, your evidence for his improvement (such as it is) is actually evidence that he regressed in his second half. Do you even bother fact-checking your assertions?

Also, the wins = qb quality argument is sorely lacking. I mean, remember a few years ago when Rex Grossman was the second best quarterback in football? What, Rex Grossman sucks you say? You're just haters that live in mother's basements, his W's are the only stat that counted, and he got his team to the super bowl. Derek Anderson put up 5 W's in his last 8 games (which begs the question what were the rest of the browns doing?), all those haters who weren't picking Anderson for the pro bowl need to get a life.

I know, this whole thing is stupid. Feeding a troll only gets you what comes out the other end. But please please please, I would like to hope that you have some redeeming element to your position. I mean, your 'people didn't respect my insight last year' thing is fine, that's definitely not insane. Not sure what you want from people, but that's beside the point. But despite your declarations of gestalthood, you have yet to actually point out anything for Eli Manning that doesn't hurt your argument, much less supports it.

69
by MdM (not verified) :: Sun, 11/30/2008 - 2:47pm

What is it with "angry Giant fan" that seems to become more bitter the better his team does? Also, I can understand that players use the "no respect card" to motivate themselves, but why do fans need to become more motivated?

71
by Rick A. (not verified) :: Sun, 11/30/2008 - 9:16pm

Well Jean--Again you have altered the story of reality. You left out of the story of the "second half" of the season the playoff record. And ANYONE could see the OBVIOUS improvements in Manning's later season performance. Better judgements, better throws when it counted in the clutch, better tempo, better game management, better everything. Why INDEED am I even answering your bull**** ? DID ANY OF YOU PEOPLE EVER PLAY THE GAME IN YOUR LIVES ??!! EVEN POP WARNER OR JFL ?? Do any of you have the slightest inkling of what a QB means to the team in this sport ??? Is there any sentient being out there that can tell the difference between the Bears of 06 who made it to the SB in spite of a certain QB and lost because of him in large part--and the Giants of 07 that made it to the SB and WON IT when their QB got his act together ? What is in the water you guys are drinking ? Have a nice life, all of you. This weekend is over.

74
by Andrew B :: Mon, 12/01/2008 - 3:17am

Rick A:

There are no "better throws in the clutch"; at least not on anything approaching a consistent basis. A good "clutch" QB is a QB who is generally good all of the time.

"Is there any sentient being out there that can tell the difference between the Bears of 06 who made it to the SB in spite of a certain QB and lost because of him in large part--and the Giants of 07 that made it to the SB and WON IT when their QB got his act together ?"

Yes. And we can also tell you that the Giants would be winning this year with David Carr handing off the ball too, just like the 1990 Giants stayed alive with Jeff Hostettler. Eli Manning is "winning" by staying out of harms way, "managing the game", "limiting mistakes", etc. We've all heard these sort of nonsense phrases before applied to other QB's with a history of suckitude. Jake Plummer looked like he had gotten it together too in 2005, limiting his interceptions, "managing the game", yadda, yadda, yadda. Then he ran into the Steelers. Really, he ran back into the same old teams that had been causing him problems for years - Miami, Kansas City, Dallas, Oakland, and the Steelers were simply able to figure out what these teams did to him and copy it.

I want to see Elisha get past the Eagles, Cowboys, and Vikings with no interception in the games to believe any sort of real transformation has taken place. Eli has just two games in his career against the Eagles and Cowboys free of interceptions - the other seven have had 1 to 3 interceptions. Eli has totally melted down both times he faced the Vikings, throwing four interceptions in each game. (And on a side note along the same lines, any bets on whether Brandon Jacobs will finally stop fumbling against the Eagles? He's lost fumbles in every game he's played against them where he was the feature back.)

So Rick A., come talk to us again at the end of the season, and lets see how your boy Elisha is doing then once he faces the next four teams on the schedule.

The Original Andrew

72
by Xeynon (not verified) :: Sun, 11/30/2008 - 9:18pm

Certainly nothing to show they would morph into a superpower come playoff time.

Considering that after a relatively convincing win over a so-so Bucs team they beat the Cowboys by 4, the Packers by 3 (in OT), and the Pats by 3, with the aid of a couple of very timely, stupid turnovers by Favre and Romo, and a one-in-a-million miracle on the Tyree catch, it's hard to call them a "superpower".

They've been excellent this season, but they're hardly historically great - they're definitely the favorite, but I still think the odds they win the Super Bowl are significantly less than 50-50. That prediction is based on the historical performance of #1 seeds, with perhaps a bit of DVOA thrown in, but if facts aren't good enough for RickD, my long experience watching the NFL and the ineffable football acumen I developed playing the game from Pop Warner through college back it up.

Here's an observation/prediction, just so I'm on the record and can do some bragging about insightful a FO poster I am when the time comes - RickD is gestalting into a top-flight online jackass, and if/when the G-men get bounced out of the playoffs, he won't come back to take his medicine.

75
by thestar5 :: Mon, 12/01/2008 - 3:50am

Yeah, superpower was the wrong word.

I would point out that Romo's only turnover was the last play of the game, and I wouldn't really call it stupid. He did make some bone-headed plays though.

I agree the Giants aren't historically good, and their odds of winning the Super Bowl aren't near 50-50.

78
by Andrew B :: Mon, 12/01/2008 - 12:12pm

The 1999 Rams are the only NFC #1 seed to win the Super Bowl since 1996. The 1998 Broncos and 2003 Pats are the only AFC #1 seeds to win the Super Bowl since 1978!

The 13 #1 seeds have won a Super Bowl since 1978, excluding strike years. But 9 of those were from 1995 or prior, before free agency really kicked in.

From 1996 on, 4 #1 seeds, 3 #2 seeds, 1 #3 seed, 2 #4 seeds, 1 #5 seed, and 1 #6 seed have won a Super Bowl. 11 #1 seeds, 6 # 2 seeds, 2 #3 seeds, 3 #4 seeds, 1 #5 seed, and 1 #6 seed have made the Super Bowl. It really seems like if there is a strong lower seed in the playoffs, watch out!

The Original Andrew

73
by Xeynon (not verified) :: Sun, 11/30/2008 - 9:19pm

Sorry, I meant Rick A. - my apologies to all the RickDs out there.

77
by zlionsfan :: Mon, 12/01/2008 - 12:07pm

Wow, go out of town for a couple of days and look what happens.

I want no part of a "worst teams of all time" show. Sorry, Aaron.

In fact, the depth to which the Lions have sunk has begun to degrade my interest in the NFL. I mean, obviously I pay less attention this time of year because it's been eight years since Detroit was playing meaningful games at this point in the season, but recently I almost dread Sundays because the Lions will either a) play a game that is just close enough for a bit to make me think they might win or b) play so poorly that I wish I were born in Florida.

Of course I remember that I can usually pick up Lions opponents on the waiver wire, and as long as I remember things like "Muhsin Muhammad still sucks" and "Kerry Collins is not a fantasy QB" then I do all right.

Plus every now and then they play a quarter or two that is actually decent to chart.

To heck with a bailout for Ford. If WCF needs money, he needs to sell the Lions to someone who cares.

80
by dju (not verified) :: Mon, 12/01/2008 - 3:14pm

"Not to ruin your argument with facts but you left out the second half number that is the only one that counts : W's...Analyze away pal"

"Manning in 2007-"
"First 8 games: 13 TD's, 9 INT's, Comp%>50 7 times, sacked 8 times, 6-2 record"
"Last 8 games: 10 TD's, 11 INT's, Comp%>50 5 times, sacked 19 times, 4-4 record"

I'm sorry but its always comical to see someone sabotage their own arguement so effectively.