Our offseason Four Downs series ends with a look at the NFC West's biggest remaining holes and their most notable UDFA signings. The Rams and 49ers have to kick-start their passing games, Arizona's offense lacks a big dimension, and the Seahawks continue to rely on Russell Wilson's magic tricks.
18 Nov 2003
by Gregg Easterbrook
NEW YORK, April 10, 2008 -- National Football League Commissioner Condoleezza Rice today announced the league's 2009 schedule, the first-ever All-Parcells-Homecoming schedule. Rice said the schedule had been arranged so that every week Bill Parcells, coach of the new India-based Bombay Bollywoods expansion franchise, will face a team he has previously coached.
"The Bollywoods will play the Giants, Patriots, Jets, and Cowboys, of course," Rice said. "They'll also play the Los Angeles Chargers, Vancouver Raiders, Los Angeles Rams and Mexico City Colts, all former Parcells-coached teams." Parcells's new squad will square off against his former charges the Potomac Drainage Basin Indigenous Persons, formerly the Washington Redskins, and his former charges the Edmonton Inuits, formerly the Edmonton Eskimos, who joined the United States league when the NFL adopted CFL rules in 2007. Parcells's Bollywoods will also face the Falcons, Saints, Browns, Steelers, Broncos, Texans and China's expansion franchise, the Beijing Gang of Eleven, all of which he coached. "That year in which Parcells was head coach at seven different teams, resigning every Monday morning for 'health reasons,' really helped make this schedule possible," Rice told a packed news conference.
Rice assured eager viewers every Parcells comeback game would be nationally televised. "Now that NFL Sunday Ticket is available on your PDA and can be beamed to the backs of the lens of your sunglasses," Rice said, "no one will miss a single second of Parcells grimacing on the sidelines or standing at midfield hugging someone he once stabbed in the back." A spokes-fembot for ABCCBSCNNCOMCASTNBCMSNBCFOX, which carries NFL games, predicted record ratings.
In other NFL news, at 4:11 Eastern on Sunday, as the Kansas City Chiefs left the field in Cincinnati mumbling "#@&!?*!!" under their breaths, corks popped. In one of the sweetest traditions in sports lore, on opening day of every NFL season, each surviving member of the 1972 Miami Dolphins, sole perfect team in pro football history, sets aside a bottle of Champagne to cool. And it's genuine Champagne from Champagne, not the boysenberry-infused sparkling-Gewurztraminer wine-like substance that passes for bubbly these days. At the moment the stadium clock hits double-zeros for the defeat of the season's last undefeated team, the 1972 Dolphins pull the corks, secure in the knowledge they will reign as sole perfect team for at least one additional year. Gentlemen of 1972, enjoy your annual draught. TMQ feels confident you will continue to sip Champagne each autumn until you are called to meet the football gods, and greeted by song and feasting.
Note: in a gesture of Franco-American friendship, TMQ has agreed to capitalize Champagne. Capitalization of wine types is an issue in trade negotiations between the United States and the European Commission.
And in still other NFL news, fortune favors the bold! The Bengals, Colts, Packers, Panthers, Raiders and Rams won by being bold; the Bills and Jaguars lost by playing it "safe." See details below.
Now to the question all America is asking: What's up with Tuesday Morning Quarterback? I may be in a new permanent home as soon as next Tuesday; see more below. Check Football Outsiders during the week for TMQ updates.
Stats of the Week: Since opening 6-0, Minnesota has gone 0-4, while giving up 129 points and 1,734 yards.
Stats of the Week #2: At the end of the third quarter at Please Don't Buy From Invesco Field in Denver, the San Diego Chargers had 28 total yards of offense.
Stats of the Week #3: Going into the Super Bowl, Tampa and Oakland were on a combined 18-3 run. Since the Super Bowl the teams are on a combined 7-13 run.
Stats of the Week #4: Tampa is 0-6 when Bucs WR Keenan McCardell catches a touchdown pass.
Stats of the Week #5: The Buffalo offense has failed to score a touchdown in five games, including four of its last five.
Stats of the Week #6: Since Doug Flutie took the controls in San Diego, the Chargers have gone on streaks of outscoring opponents 42-21 followed by being outscored 44-0.
Stats of the Week #7: The Jets held the Colts to 538 yards of offense.
Stats of the Week #8: Indianapolis outgained Jersey/B by 214 yards and 18 first downs and committed no turnovers, yet won by only a touchdown.
Stats of the Week #9: Arizona had twice as many punts and penalties (14) as points (6).
Stats of the Week #10: In consecutive games against AFC East teams, NFC East leader Dallas scored a total of 10 points.
Stats of the Week #11: The Panthers have won six games by three points or less, and stand 8-2 despite being minus-four on turnovers.
Cheerleader of the Week: This week's Cheerleader of the Week is Laura Jobe of the turnover-prone 8-2 Panthers. From this link, click on her name (sorry, no direct link). Jobe is an eighth-grade math teacher in the Charlotte public school system -- no teacher TMQ ever had looked like her -- and holds a master's in education from the University of North Carolina-Greensboro. Cheer-babes with master's degrees? This really must be the 21st century! If you're of a mood for some Southern charm, activate her video bio.
Best 98-Yard Drive: Scored tied at 13 in the early fourth, Green Bay took over at its own two against the defending champion City of Tampa Bucs. The first Packers' snap was a one-yard loss on a run. Yet Green Bay proceeded to rush on 12 of 17 plays in its 98-yard drive, which culminated in the winning touchdown. Especially on the road, one runs the ball if one wishes to take control of the momentum of one's game.
Tis Better to Have Rushed and Lost Than Never to Have Rushed At All: The Squared Sevens just scored to make it 24-7 in the third. Time for Pittsburgh to panic and become pass-wacky? Actually, at times like these one needs a few power rushing plays, because especially on the road, one runs the ball if one wishes to change the momentum of one's game. Instead the Steelers go incompletion, incompletion, incompletion, 23-yard punt, and TMQ writes the words "game over" in his notebook.
Tis Better to Have Rushed and Lost Than Never to Have -- Hey, They Ran!: Trailing the Atlanta Typos 20-3 at the start of the second half, the New Orleans Boy Scouts went pass-wacky, right? From that point in the game until the Saints' overtime win, New Orleans threw 18 times and ran 19 times. Still trailing 20-10 at the start of the fourth quarter, the Boy Scouts faced second and 10 on the Atlanta 39. In this situation most NFL offensive coordinators become pass-wacky; New Orleans called six consecutive rushing plays, ending with the touchdown that cut it to 20-17 and suddenly all the pressure was on the visitors. Taking over on their own 13, the margin still 20-17 and six minutes remaining in regulation, the Saints ran on five of 14 snaps in an extended drive that concluded with the tying field goal at nine ticks.
Buns of the Week: The Official Wife of TMQ christened last night's Niners-Steelers MNF collision the "Golden Buns" game, as both clubs sported bullion-hued pants. She felt, however, there were insufficient close-up shots of various sculpted golden derrieres. Come on, networks, female NFL viewership is rising. Let's start taking women in the audience into account when it comes to the camera angles!
Fortune Favors the Bold #1: Leading 17-12 against the undefeated Chiefs, the Cincinnati Fudgsicles took possession on their 23 with 6:18 remaining. Grind the clock? You can't dance with the champ, you've got to knock him down! The Fudgsicles call the bomb to Peter Warrick, who's single-covered. Seventy-seven-yard touchdown reception, and certain members of the 1972 Dolphins begin eyeing the Champagne in their fridges. Note: the Kansas City defeat was foreordained by the football gods, since the Chiefs were on the cover of Sports Illustrated last week.
Fortune Favors the Bold #2: Game tied at 13, the Packers faced fourth and one on the City of Tampa 16 with 11 minutes remaining. Play it "safe" with a field goal? Green Bay went for the first, running the ball as manly men do; converted; scored a touchdown on the series and never looked back.
Contrapositive proves the rule: trailing 20-13 with 3:32 remaining, the defending champion Bucs faced third and two on their own eight. To that point in the game, Green Bay had rushed for 160 yards, meaning if City of Tampa punts, there's a good chance the Packers kill the clock. So isn't this really four-down territory? Run for the first, and if you fail, go on fourth. Instead the Bucs try a mincing fraidy-cat pass that clangs to the ground; they punt; Green Bay snaps off two first downs rushing; Tampa gets to ball back on its own 20 with 25 seconds left and no time-outs, and TMQ writes the words "game over" in his notebook.
Fortune Favors the Bold #3: Leading 21-18, Oakland faced fourth and one at the Minnesota two with 2:19 remaining. Play it "safe" with a field goal, allowing the Vikings to win with a touchdown on their final possession? Or go for it and either ice the game or pin the opponent against his goal line? Zach Crockett up the middle two yards for the touchdown, and TMQ writes the words "game over" in his notebook.
Fortune Favors the Bold #4: Game tied at 31 in the third, the Colts lined up to play it safe with a field-goal attempt at the Jersey/B 21, fourth and three. Note to special-teams coaches: expect fakes when there are fewer than five yards for the first! Holder Hunter Smith, who ran for first off a Colts fake figgie in 2000, simply ran left. Touchdown, and the Lucky Charms never looked back.
Fortune Favors the Bold #5 Game tied at 3, the Panthers faced fourth and goal at the Potomac Drainage Basin Indigenous Persons' one. Play it "safe" with a field goal attempt? Jake Delhomme bootlegs left for the touchdown and Carolina goes on to win by three. Fun fact: Delhomme means "of the man" in French.
Fortune Favors the Bold #6: Trailing Chicago 14-3, Les Mouflons faced fourth and one on their own 40. No mincing fraidy-cat punt; Marshall Faulk up the middle for 52 yards, and St. Louis scores a moment later to pull within 14-10. Then, near the end of the third, Les Mouflons faced fourth and two on the Bears' 38. No mincing fraidy-cat punt; who-dat gentleman Mike Furrey comes into motion right from the wide slot left, takes the interior scissor handoff and runs for the first down. St. Louis scores on the possession to go ahead 17-14, and victory will belong to the bold. Complication: Chicago also went for it on fourth and goal, and scored. The football gods must have weighed two Rams' gambles against one Bears' gamble, and granted the last-second win to the bolder.
Fortune Favors the Bold -- But Not the Bold and Slow : Trailing 9-0 with 9:21 left at Gillette Field, the Cowboys faced fourth and one at midfield. The call was a slooooooooo-developing delay-counter-stumble thing -- Dallas's run blew up so badly you couldn't figure out what was supposed to happen. Loss of two, and TMQ wrote the words "game over" in his notebook. On short-yardage downs when the defense stacks the line of scrimmage, slow-developing plays are the kiss of death.
Stop Me Before I Blitz Again -- Hey, It Worked! #1: Game scoreless in the first, the Potomac Drainage Basin Indigenous Persons faced third and eight on the Carolina 17. The Panthers blitzed six, including a corner, who sacked the oft-sacked Patrick Ramsey back to the 28, whence the Persons missed a long field goal try; ultimately, Carolina won by three. Usually a team is advised to play straight defense, but the sack that knocks the opponent out of confident field-goal range may be worth a blitz gamble.
Stop Me Before I Blitz Again -- Hey, It Worked! #2: Game tied at 3, Baltimore faced third and six at the Miami 31 with 41 seconds in the half. Marine Mammals DE Jason Taylor lined up at middle linebacker, faked a drop into coverage and then came straight up the middle, untouched by human hands. Sack, and the Nevermores punt instead of attempting a figgie. Usually a team is advised to play straight defense, but the sack that knocks the opponent out of confident field-goal range may be worth a blitz gamble.
Stop Me Before I Blitz Again -- Hey, It Worked! #3: Oakland leading 7-3 in the second, Minnesota faced first and 10 at its own 10. Six blitz, sack, Daunte Culpepper fumbles, the Raiders score a touchdown on the next snap and never look back.
Greenpeace Staff Volunteered to Examine the Models: With the annual Victoria's Secret prime-time special coming up tomorrow on CBS, it is well to bear in mind that Vicky's has been endorsed by Greenpeace USA for becoming "PVC free." Greenpeace declined, however, to declare Victoria's Secret models "all-natural."
Buck-Buck-Brawckkkkkkk #1: Trailing 10-0 with eight minutes left in the game, the 2-7 Jax Jaguars faced fourth and eight on the Flaming Thumbtacks' 21. You're trailing by 10 on the road against a heavy favorite; you're 2-7; go for it, what do you have to lose? And don't tell me that Jax made it 10-3 and then ended the game with an incompletion at the Tennessee two. Jacksonville still should have gone at this late point rather than launch a mincing fraidy-cat kick. Why do you think the football gods swatted down the last-second Jax pass?
Buck-Buck-Brawckkkkkkk #2: Trailing 9-5 at home in the third, the Bills faced fourth and goal on the Texans' two. Buffalo averaged 6.5 yards per rush on the day, and Houston has one of the league's worst front sevens. So the Bills go for it, right? In this situation it's better to go and fail than to launch a fraidy-cat kick. By going for it, the coach challenges his offense to win, rather than passively shifting the burden onto his defense not to lose. Plus a missed try in this situation pins the opponent against his goal line. The tastefully named Gregg Williams sent in the field goal unit and the football gods, outraged, answered by handing Buffalo what looks like a season-killing two-point defeat.
Can't Anyone Just Run Up the Middle Anymore? Trailing 14-3, Jersey/A reached first and goal on the Philadelphia one. First down, off tackle, no gain. Second down, pass incomplete. Third down, off tackle, no gain. Fourth and goal, pitch, loss of two. It's first down at the one! Run up the middle, repeat as needed!
How Bad Is Arizona?: The 3-6 Browns beat the Arizona (CAUTION: MAY CONTAIN FOOTBALL-LIKE SUBSTANCE) Cardinals by 38 points.
Worse Crowd Response: Leading 9-0 in the third quarter, the New England Flying Elvii (see below) committed a series of penalties and blown plays that left them facing fourth and 37. The home crowd booed loudly.
Sweet Play of the Week #1: Leading 7-3, Philadelphia had the ball at the Jersey/A 29 in the second. Running back Brian (not Bryant) Westbrook split wide right. ARR-u-GAH! ARR-u-GAH! Loud klaxons should have sounded in the Giants' defensive backfield. Many teams split running backs wide to spread the defense, then ignore the backs; Philadelphia throws "up" patterns to the running back in this situation, Duce Staley having caught several in his career on exactly this action. Westbrook ran an "up," catching for a touchdown against the napping Jersey/A defense, and the Eagles never looked back.
Sweet Play of the Week #2: With the score Indy 17, Jets 10 with 12 seconds remaining in the half, the Lucky Charms ran up to the line, lacking a time-out, at the Jersey/B four. Peyton Manning did his trademarked chicken dance, flapping his wings up and down both sides of the line. The Jets assumed this meant Manning was audibling to a pass off the fake spike. But when Manning does his chicken dance at the line it is always a run -- when oh when will the rest of the league catch on to this? Handoff to Edgerrin James up the middle for the touchdown. Considering the clock, a brilliant call.
Normal-Sized Guy Play of the Week #3: You only started a couple games in high school, you've been comfortably seated on the bench in the NFL for four years, and suddenly you are starting on Monday Night Football. The six-foot Tim Rattay celebrated by lofting a perfect deep "up" to Terrell Owens for a 61-yard touchdown; the ball traveled almost 40 yards in the air, and arrived on the correct part of Owens's shoulder. In his two weeks at the San Francisco controls, Rattay is 40 of 56 for 490 yards, five touchdowns and one pick -- a passer rating of 124.
Sour Play of the Week: Seattle 21, Detroit 7, the Blue Men Group faced first and ten on the Peugeots' 34. Four Seattle receivers went out and seven Detroit defenders dropped into coverage. Nevertheless, with seven to guard four, no one was covering Bobby Engram as he came across the formation on a "drag" pattern. Touchdown to the unguarded gentlemen, and the rout is on.
Sominex Presents the NFL Game of the Week: Miami 9, Baltimore 6 in overtime.
Maybe the "Bouncing" Universe Is God's Bouncing Baby: Neil Turok of Cambridge University has proposed a new version of the "bouncing universe" theory. The "bouncing universe" idea is that everything begins with a Big Bang; then the cosmos expands for a very long time; eventually gravity overcomes the expansion and pulls everything back to the starting point; then there is another Big Bang. That is, the universe has "bounced." See the details here.
Turok and Paul Steinhardt of Princeton University favor the bouncing universe concept over the single-event theory of the Big Bang, because standard Big Bang theory does not explain the creation of time. Small oversight! If the universe has been "bouncing" forever, there is no need to explain the creation of time.
Now: if the universe bounces, can you dribble it?
Congrats, Eh?: Congratulations to the Edmonton Inuits, who just won the 2003 Grey Cup. You'd think it would be too cold for scantily-attired cheer-babes in Edmonton, but you'd think wrong. Note to female and nontraditional male readers: the Inuits also have hunk cheer-studs, so you too might peruse that link.
Those Who Do Not Learn From Game Film Are Doomed to Repeat It: Last week I wrote, "At this point Tuesday Morning Quarterback has written so many items about the Bills bringing defeat upon themselves by going pass-wacky on shortage-yardage downs that I might as well just enter a generic Buffalo short-yardage-fiasco item into my AutoText." Nevertheless, for the record, Buffalo had six third-and-short downs against Houston. Bills coaches called passes on four third and shorts. Result: three incompletions and a sack. Buffalo ran twice on third and short. Result: 63 yards gained. Still Bills coaches can't seem to figure this out. (Editor's note: Football Outsiders' statistical database -- don't let it fall into the wrong hands! -- completely agrees with TMQ here.)
Cold Coach = Victory : Kickoff temperature 33 degrees at Gillette Field, Master Qui-Jon (Bill Parcells) came out in a heavy parka while his former pupil, Obi-Wan (Bill Belichick) came out in a team sweatshirt with no gloves. TMQ turned to Spenser, an Official Child of TMQ, and declared, "This game's over." So it was.
The Football Gods Grind Slow, But They Grind Exceeding Small : A few weeks ago Lord Voldemort (Dan Synder) watched as Brad Johnson, whom Voldemort discarded, came back to clobber the Potomac Drainage Basin Indigenous Persons. Sunday the same gentleman watched as Stephen Davis, whom Voldemort discarded, came back to beat the Potomac Drainage Basin Indigenous Persons with 92 yards rushing and the game-winning touchdown.
NFL in Iran Update: Tuesday Morning Quarterback endlessly bemoans the woofer games inflicted on viewers by local network affiliates, and the fact that NFL Sunday Ticket, which solves the problem, is only available to the lucky 10 percent of American homes that get DirecTV. If only we all lived in Iran! Readers from the Fertile Crescent continue to barrage TMQ with emails noting that Middle East TV, which broadcasts from Cyprus and serves Iran, Egypt, Turkey and other nations, has an excellent track record of airing top NFL games.
This Sunday the Middle East TV doubleheader was Chiefs at Bengals followed by Packers at Bucs. Excellent card, better than shown in many major American cities. Somehow, even in Cyprus, they sensed that Chiefs at Bengals was shaping up as a monster collision. Maybe they knew about the Sports Illustrated cover!
Check here to learn which games Middle East TV will feature this coming weekend. Cry in your beer as the mullahs in Tehran sip Arabian coffee and see better NFL pairings than aired in many markets in the United States.
The Football Gods Help Those Who Help Themselves: Not only has the Buffalo offense been consistently awful this year: bear in mind it was consistently awful in the second half of 2002 too, so the reason isn't the departure of Peerless Price. Since the second half of 2002, the Bills have run the NFL's most predictable attack -- the same few actions endlessly repeated, plus that incredibly predictable passing on third and short. Yet nothing's been changed, though the problem is a full year old. Sports touts blame pass-wacky offensive coordinator Kevin Gilbride, and this gentleman certainly should be running a Dairy Queen in central Ohio. Bear in mind that TMQ warned in his preseason preview that Gilbride's predictable offense was "a formula for wheeze-out."
But Tuesday Morning Quarterback blames not Gilbride but the tastefully named Gregg Williams. Williams is supposed to be in charge. As the playcalling has been consistently horrible, Williams has never taken said duties away from Gilbride -- Les Steckel, successful offensive coordinator of the Tennessee Super Bowl run, is on the Buffalo sideline -- nor simply gone to Gilbride and spoken these three words: STOP DOING THAT. Before getting the Buffalo gig, the tastefully named Gregg Williams had never been a head coach anywhere but high school. As of a few hours after the 2003 regular season concludes, Williams will, in the future, never be a head coach anywhere but high school.
Beefcake of the Week: Reader Samantha Hopkins requests in haiku,
Titans "Yell Leaders,"
shirtless babe-ness incarnate,
deserve equal time.
-- Samantha Hopkins, Berkeley, California
Indeed, the Tennessee Titans are one of two NFL franchises (Baltimore the other) to boast ripped ultra-hunk cheerleaders in addition to buff mega-babes. Though TMQ assumes that considering trends in equal-time sex-appeal for women, in female viewership of the NFL and especially trends in women's buying power, it can't be long till most clubs field cheer-hunks.
Unfortunately there is no direct link to the cheer-hunks of Samantha's dreams. Go to the Titans site, then click "cheerleaders" under the "team" tab, then click away. TMQ is no expert on beefcake, but suggests clicking on Carl, the middle male face in the bottom column, then clicking #2 under "additional photos."
Best Blocks: The entire Cincinnati punt return team cleaned out the entire Kansas City coverage team on Peter Warrick's 68-yard touchdown; it's pretty fun to run when everyone ahead of you has already been knocked to the ground. Cleveland guard Paul Zukauskas absolutely cleaned house when pulling left on the interior shovel pass, to Dennis Northcutt, for the one-yard touchdown that gave the Cleveland Browns (Release 2.1) a 20-point lead over Arizona and started the rout. And TMQ counted one-thousand one, one-thousand two, one-thousand three, one-thousand four, one-thousand five, one-thousand six, one-thousand seven as Peyton Manning comfortably scanned the field against Jersey/B before throwing 46 yards for a touchdown to Troy Walters.
Worst Blocks: Last week TMQ noted how extremely highly overpaid Bills RT Mike Williams simply stood watching, not even attempting to block anyone, on the critical downs of Buffalo's four-point loss to Dallas. This week Williams sat as reserve Marcus Price played. Texans 12, Bills 8, Buffalo first down on the Houston 31 with two minutes remaining. Seven gentlemen stay back to block four Houston rushers. Marcus Price simply stands there -- never even attempting to touch anyone -- watching as the rusher across from him, Jamie Sharper, sacks Drew Bledsoe. Fumble, Houston ball, game over. For good measure, extremely highly overpaid Bills LG Ruben Brown also stood watching, never even attempting to touch anyone, on this game-deciding play.
Best Play by a 35-Year-Old: Shannon Sharpe, who's been released as washed up twice in his career, set the all-time touchdowns record for a tight end.
Best Use of TMQ: Last week TMQ supposed that the Raiders lost at home to Jersey/B because "the high-aesthetic-appeal Raiders cheer-babes, who normally keep public opinion in mind, wore bulky field jackets. Cheerleader professionalism is essential to victory: professionalism in this sense meaning skin or at least skin-tight." Obviously the Raiderettes read Tuesday Morning Quarterback! Eschewing the bulky jackets they wore with the kickoff temperature at 61 degrees -- one of the fun things about sportswriting is getting to use the word "eschew" -- this week, kickoff temperature 55 degrees, the Oakland cheer-babes came out in revealing tops and all-leg outfits. Needless to say, the football gods crowned their team with victory.
And as it was last week, the above provides a totally gratuitous excuse to direct you to the Raiderettes' individual photos.
Hidden Plays of the Week: Hidden plays are ones that don't show up on highlight reels, but stop or sustain drives. Six times Kansas City threw incomplete on third down. Third-down incompletions don't excite sportscasters, but stop drives.
What's Up With Tuesday Morning Quarterback?: Expect a major announcement soon. For the moment, I thank the Outsiders for providing me a home during my period of exile. Keep checking Football Outsiders during the week, because as soon as the announcement is made it will be here.
Two things you can help with:
First, Football Outsiders is struggling to establish itself as the Web's leading indie football site. You can help by making a donation, using the donation button on the right (or just click here). Rest assured your support will go entirely to the Outsiders, since I'm already donating this column.
At this point several thousand people have written to express sympathy for my period of exile -- it has been people's good will and good wishes that kept me going -- many asking what they could do to help. What you can do is preorder my book The Progress Paradox, which comes out in December. You can preorder it from Amazon using the button on this page (which will also benefit Football Outsiders as an Amazon associate), or locate your local independent bookseller using Booksense.
The Progress Paradox is a nonfiction book about living standards and psychological research. It address the question of why, although we live ever-better and ever-longer, we are no happier as a result. The Progress Paradox is the first book I've written that might actually sell. If one percent of TMQ readers buy it, the book will gain attention. If 10 percent of TMQ readers buy it, the book will be a success.
Last week many Tuesday Morning Quarterback readers did in fact preorder The Progress Paradox -- last Tuesday it rose from an obscure five-digit ranking to #416 on the Amazon list. That's not a bestseller but is a huge, huge help to me, especially for a book not yet released. So if you'd like to express your support for TMQ, please order this book.
Running Items Department
Obscure College Score of the Week: Northwest Oklahoma 54, Bacone 6. The Sooners aren't the only Oklahoma squad that runs up the score! (See below.) Located in Muskogee, Bacone College is "a four-year liberal arts college affiliated with the American Baptist Church, embracing a historic educational mission to American Indians." American Baptists are liberal Baptists, at least compared with Southern Baptists; at the outset of the Civil War, Southern Baptists favored slavery and American Baptists broke away to oppose it.
Obscure College Score of the Week: Wofford 7, Furman 6. Located in Greenville, South Carolina, Furman has one of the best campus-to-kids ratios in all of education -- a 750-acre facility with 36 "major" buildings for just 3,096 students. By tradition, every Furman student must be tossed into the school's lake on his or her birthday.
Obscure College Heaven: Let the Division II and Division III playoffs begin! Pittsburg of Kansas at North Dakota, Emporia at Winona, Muhlenberg at Christopher Newport, Ithaca at Brockport -- man, I wish I could go to every one!
New York Times Final-Score Score: The Paper of Guesses finishes 0-16 in its quixotic attempt to predict an exact NFL final score, bringing the New York Times Final-Score Score to 1-993 since TMQ began tracking. Once just a dream, the moment of 1,000 inaccurate predictions is at hand for the Multicolored Lady. Times, don't choke and make lots of correct final score predictions for next week!
Reader Animadversion: Last week's column noted that even the Patriots themselves call their new helmet logo the "Flying Elvis," and seconded a reader's suggestion that, therefore, this team's TMQ cognomen become the Flying Elvi.
Reader Peter Allen protested that there already exists an organization called the Flying Elvi - the group of Elvis impersonators who jumped out of an airplane in the movie "Honeymoon in Vega." TMQ found on the Internet this team of Elvis-dressed skydivers whose disclaimer sternly cautions, "The E Team IS NOT AND CAN NOT be called the Flying Elvises or the Flying Elvi due to federal trademarks of other teams." Sure enough, here is the Web site of the trademark holder, the Flying Elvi themselves, "licensed by Elvis Presley Enterprises." They operate "on a wig and a prayer," and their site will sell you a Flying Elvi tee-shirt.
But wait, just because it's Elvis Presley Enterprises doesn't make them grammarians. Reader Roberta Downey of Bangor, Maine, countered that Elvis must have a Latin origin and wrote, "Elvis is clearly a third declension Latin noun." So,
Latin pedants say:
more than one, "Elves" must be.
Though -- Elvi, good try.
-- Roberta Downey
Reader Scott de Brestian offered more detail, noting, "You are presumably creating a pseudo-Latin plural on the model of 'Romanus/Romani.' That only works for second-declension masculine nouns ending in -us. Indeed, fourth-declension feminine nouns, such as 'status,' have as a plural merely the lengthening of the final 'u.' A word such as 'Elvis' would, if Latin, certainly be considered a third-declension noun on the pattern of 'iuvenis' or 'youth.' All third-declension nouns have plurals ending in -es. So the plural of ars/artis is artes. The proper Latin plural is thus 'Elves' -- pronounced, although not spelled, El-wes."
But how do we know Elvis is a Latin word? Reader Eric Jablow proposed that if Elvis is a Greek word, then the plural would be "Elvides" - as, he notes, the correct plural of the Greek word octopus is "octopodes."
Tuesday Morning Quarterback was uncertain until reader Justin found this page maintained by Elvis fan Ken Goldstein, who asserts, "I've checked with several grammar experts, and they all agree: The plural of Elvis is Elvii." Goldstein does not name his experts, but if he has gone so far as to consult several experts, how could he be wrong? Tony Blair consulted experts on weapons of mass destruction, after all! So TMQ will go with Flying Elvii as the cognomen for the Patriots, mainly because it looks amusing. Mr. Data, make it so!
Many readers protested TMQ's contention that the Sooners ran up the score in their 77-0 win over the Aggies - a blowout so bad, TMQ supposed, that the final score should have been 77-00. Many pointed out that Bob Stoops agreed to let the game clock run continuously in the fourth quarter in the interest of preventing the score from rising further, and made other sportsmanlike gestures. I didn't see the game, which was not on TV where I live, but read the GameCast on CNNSI.com. Just from the playcalling -- all those passes after it was 35-0 --- it looked like running up the score. The gestures made by Oklahoma's coaching staff in the endgame do not show up in the play-by-play line score. Now that I know, I retract my anti-Oklahoma comments.
Most readers felt it was okay to continue throwing so long as it was the first half; that an unwritten rule applies the running-up-the-score prohibition only to the second half. Maybe; that's an argument for another day. Actually, I attended a high-school game this year, Richard Montgomery at Walt Whitman in Bethesda, Maryland, where it was 35-0 at the start of the second quarter, and at that point the host, Whitman, began killing the clock!
Many readers including Shannon Kelco of Little Rock, Arkansas pointed out that in a column last year, TMQ his ownself declared Texas A&M would bring woe upon itself by hiring the promise-breaker Dennis Franchione. So perhaps that 77-00 final was the vengeance of the football gods, foreseen by TMQ!
And numerous readers including Kenny Pierce noted that, in the fourth quarter, A&M made itself looking ridiculous. Leading 77-0, Oklahoma had first and goal and ran four halfhearted dives; the Sooners' OL stood still and made no attempt to block. Stopping one of these non-tries, an Aggie lineman jumped into the air and began celebrating like he'd just made the last tackle of the Super Bowl. Now, Kenny, don't you think this might have been some ironic postmodern performance-art commentary on the part of the A&M player? Wait, we're talking about Aggies. Okay, so it was not ironic postmodern commentary.
My temporary home on Football Outsiders has the great benefit of the message section, where readers can see each other's comments rather than having me filter them. Biff Scooter pointed out the fault for the print-and-read-later customer: "TMQ itself is seven pages long and the danged comments are another 41 pages long when I printed this out." He then appended, "OK, add my own comment and let's inch our way forward to 50 pages."
This Week's Challenge: The Challenge is suspended, pending final decision on the location of Tuesday Morning Quarterback. I hope to revive it soon, offering as the prize a trinket from -- well, you'll know soon.