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» Scramble Over/Unders: the Norths

The league's northern divisions pose a number of meaty questions, such as: "Is the Bears' offense due for a repeat performance?" "Why do the Lions have such pronounced splits?" and "Has Johnny Manziel made the Cleveland brass even crazier?"

05 Jan 2012

Walkthrough: Spreadsheet Surfer

by Mike Tanier

On my laptop now resides the Football Outsiders Team Efficiency Spreadsheet: the entire NFL season condensed into a few hundred thousand cells of statistics and formulas, all of them highly sortable. It is the football equivalent of The Matrix, in part because it is, in fact, a matrix.

The Team Efficiency Spreadsheet contains super-double-secret DVOA formulas, but those secrets are safe with me, because I do not understand them. It comes bundled with separate passing, rushing, and defensive spreadsheets. It does not contain the Game Charting, which will not be fully cooked for another week or two. But it contains all the tools I need to find any play or combination of plays from the 2011 season, sorted in all sorts of fascinating ways. Did you know that T.J. Yates is 6-of-14 for 162 yards when throwing deep (more than 15 yards downfield) on first down? I do.

Feel free to be jealous.

I know what you are saying: "get your head out of the stat sheet, geek boy, and watch some real, hard-hitting football!" (You don’t say that, of course, but others do). Well, I also have a subscription to NFL Game Rewind. It runs out on Friday, but I also have a credit card. So I can use our spreadsheets to isolate specific plays, then use Rewind to watch them. It means that I can find any play from 2011, analyze it, and comment upon it within the span of a few minutes, all without leaving my dank firetrap of a home office. It also means I have no excuse to not find and analyze plays, which can be a problem when I am trying to cut corners. It’s a trade I am happy to make.

Rummaging through this spreadsheet and the Game Charting takes much of the offseason, and the results get turned into Football Outsiders Almanac and dozens of articles for various sites and newspapers. For the next week or two, I will serve a few appetizers from the "oddities" file: stuff that is not really relevant, but is interesting or enlightening in some small way. Factoids. Tidbits. You get the idea. Here are some:

Longest first-down situation: first-and-35, Titans versus Saints, Week 14. The Titans had just gotten the ball to their own 45-yard line on a Saints roughness penalty, but a Michael Roos flinch and back-to-back penalties by Leroy Harris pushed them all the way back to their own 20-yard line. (One Harris flag negated a 25-yard screen pass to Javon Ringer). Matt Hasselbeck’s pass on first-and-really-really-long was batted into the air by a Saints lineman. Hasselbeck hurt himself during the deflection, because he is Matt Hasselbeck, and the collision of air molecules to his knees and ankles probably causes damage at this point. The Titans, not surprisingly, were forced to punt two plays later.

Longest third-down situation: third-and-35, Chargers versus Broncos, Week 5, Ravens versus Jaguars, Week 7. Let’s focus on the Ravens case, as it was far more precious. The drive started with a Joe Flacco screen to Dennis Pitta which got sniffed out by Daryl Smith for a loss of five. American literary figure Michael Oher held on a Flacco scramble, Ray Rice couldn’t quite haul in a pass over the middle, and Oher held again on another scramble. The Ravens figured a screen to Ricky Williams was just the third-and-forever ticket when everything is working so darn well, but Flacco’s pass was batted back into his face. Flacco caught it and ran, losing eight yards, though at least Oher did not hold. This is what happens to the Ravens offense when you take away the bomb.

Other Quarterback Self-Catches: I found one by Matt Cassel and one by Colt McCoy. Combined, they lost nine yards, but I may have missed one or two.

Catches by Guys with Uniform Numbers in the 50s, 60s, 70’s, or 90’s: Six, on 11 attempts, for 61 yards. Yes, the "throw to a lineman" completion percentage is higher than Tim Tebow’s "throw to anyone" completion percentage. The Niners blow the league away in this category, with passes to Joe Staley (74) and Isaac Sopoaga (90) that were actual passes, not just deflections that a random lineman gobbled up.

Figure 1: Whimper Waggle

The greatest lineman reception of the year, though, was the Whimper Waggle, as shown in Figure 1. It’s third-and-short, it’s the Jaguars, and when the Chargers see an unbalanced line, a covered left tackle, and an eligible Guy Whimper (68), they can be excused for overplaying the Maurice Jones-Drew run threat to the left side. What makes the Whimper Waggle not just a clever play, but one of the greatest events in human history, is that Whimper jukes Eric Weddle (32) in the open field after making a catch. The Jaguars should have designed more plays for Whimper, who displayed better hands and moves than any of their receivers on the Whimper Waggle. And I just cannot stop typing Whimper Waggle. (Yes, nitpickers, it is a waggle, because there is a tight end crossing the middle of the field, even though it is not Whimper who is waggling.)

Longest Penalty: 60 yards, Pass Interference, Mike Adams, Browns. The Ravens got the ball after an interception, lined up in the I-formation, and ... c’mon folks, you have been watching these guys for four years. You knew it’s going to be a play-action bomb up the sideline. The Browns knew it too, so Adams had deep coverage on Torrey Smith, who put a double-move on the cornerback. Flacco’s foot was on his own 30-yard line when he throws, and the ball dropped into Smith’s arms at around the 4-yard line, so it was your basic 66-yard-in-the-air toss. Adams flailed at Smith with his back to the ball and drew the flag; had he turned, he could have made a clean play. The Ravens scored a touchdown a few plays later.

The Ravens also benefited from two 50-yard pass interference penalties en route to gaining a total of 280 yards on DPI, the highest total in the league. All those flags are residue of their scheme, of course: if you keep throwing bombs up the sideline, you increase your odds of getting the defense flagged for general jostling.

Most Yards After Catch on One Play: Victor Cruz, 89 yards, Week 16. You saw the play. He could have run for 8,000 yards before accidently running past Mo Lewis’ house or something. Eighty-nine yards of YAC has to be close to the record. Mike Quick was on about the 19-yard line when he hauled in his 99-yard catch.

Worst Completions: Four Way Tie. There were four completions that lost nine yards this season. Usual suspects Chris Johnson and Reggie Bush joined Chris Ogbonnaya and Isaac Redman in accomplishing this feat. Bush’s play was the worst of the bunch, as the Dolphins were deep in their own territory against the Eagles and ol’ Reg kept flirting with a safety. There were six completions for a loss of eight, including Flacco-to-Flacco and another appearance by Redman. It appears that people who grew up within 10 miles of my home have a strange habit of catching passes for a loss. Redman only had one other reception for a loss, but he only averaged 4.3 yards per catch on 18 catches, because the Steelers believe screens are for receivers and checkdowns are for wussies.

Conversion Rate, Third-and-20 or more: 4.7 percent. Teams were nine-of-193 on third down when needing 20 or more yards to convert, including two pass interference conversions. There were six passing conversions and one rush. The rush was by Ogbonnaya, of all people, against the Steelers, of all teams. Five of the passing conversions came in the fourth quarters of close games, three by a team trailing by seven points or less (Cam Newton to Brandon LaFell against the Packers, Matt Schaub to Joel Dreessen against the Raiders, and Matt Hasselbeck to Lavelle Hawkins against the Bengals). Late in the game, in a desperate situation, a quarterback is much more likely to wing it deep on third-and-impossible than to check down and punt.

Only two of the passing conversions, including Hawkins’, were catch-and-run plays on throws well in front of the sticks. If you want to gain 22 yards on third-and-21, throw the ball 22 yards downfield.

That was fun. Next week, I will unleash a few more!

The Jauron Gang

Raheem Morris had one good season as a head coach, a year of hope sandwiched between a painful rebuild and an almost inexplicable collapse.

Todd Haley did the exact same thing. Wedged between a 4-12 season and the 5-8 record the Chiefs held when he was fired, Haley’s 10-6 result in 2010 looks like a giant middle finger pointed at fans who dared to believe.

Steve Spagnuolo did almost the same thing, though his "good" year was not quite as good. Tony Sparano flipped the script slightly, riding in on Bill Parcells’ coattails, generating enthusiasm with 11 wins and some hinky strategies, then spending three years receding from success an inch at a time.

All four coaches had one thing in common: they had exactly one good year. Morris, Haley, and Sparano are now members of a unique coaching class I call The Jauron Gang: coaches who try to milk a career out of one productive season. Spags falls short because he never produced a winning record.

Since the merger, there have been 19 coaches who produced exactly one full season with a better-than-.500 record. These 19 coaches combined for a 516-713-7 record and a .417 winning percentage that equates roughly to a six- or seven-win season over 16 games. That tells you all you need to know about what these coaches did in their non-winning seasons.

Here is the list so you can spelunk on Pro Football Reference if you like: Neil Armstrong, Bill Callahan, Dom Capers, Bud Carson, Romeo Crennel, Gunther Cunningham, Butch Davis, Dan Devine, Chan Gailey, Todd Haley, Dick Jauron, June Jones, John Mackovic, Jim Mora the Younger, Mike Mularkey, Ray Perkins, Tommy Prothro, Al Saunders, Tony Sparano, and Vince Tobin.

The list is almost as interesting because of who didn’t make it as who did. Rich Kotite had two good years. Bruce Coslett’s only winning record came in a partial season. Bart Starr, a pretty awful coach who the Packers could never bring themselves to fire, squeezed out 8-7-1 and 5-3-1 (in a strike year) records when not going 5-11. There are a lot of bad coaches who try to ride one success into the sunset, but most squeak out another 9-7 season along the way.

These guys are the Jauron Gang because no one milked one great year like Dick Jauron, who finished his head coaching career (probably) with a 60-82 record built from second chances and wishful thinking after he led the Bears to a 13-3 record in 2001. The Bears gave Jauron two more years to repeat the magic, then he rose from an interim position to lose a few games for the Lions, then he managed to go 7-9 three straight years in Buffalo before they tired of him midway through 2009. Looking back on the Jauron era, it was hard to see what anyone thought he did well besides get the defense to line up semi-correctly and keep everyone content and trying hard. But after watching Morris and Haley, you realize that keeping everyone content and trying hard is, in fact, a skill.

No member of the Jauron Gang can match their leader’s 82-loss total, but then none of them went 13-3 like Jauron did, either. You probably remember that 2001 Bears season: they won back-to-back overtime games on Mike Brown interception returns, Jim Miller was the proto-Rex Grossman, Brian Urlacher burst onto the national scene, and so on. We have them pegged with the sixth-easiest schedule in the league that year and 9.7 estimated wins, finishing eighth in DVOA. It was a 10-6 or 11-5 season -– the kind Haley and Morris had –- with a little fluff. A 13-3 season is going to get you some benefit of the doubt, but when your biggest selling point is that you are not terrible, you will finish 7-9 as long as your bosses allow you to.

Dom Capers (48-80), like Jauron, rode an unlikely second head coaching season to a long career. Capers had the benefit of working for two expansion teams, meaning he got extra grace periods in both Carolina and Houston. Capers is a little like Norm Van Brocklin, who did not make this list despite a 66-100-7 record because he managed a handful of 7-6-1 type seasons in expansion stints with the Vikings and Falcons. The biggest difference is that Capers is not a crazy person. Capers also brings tactical brilliance with him, so you at least know why he merited some extra chances.

Ray Perkins (42-75) has the third-most losses of the Jauron gang. Perkins was a Don Coryell assistant who took over the Giants in the late-1970s and installed a system that looked nothing like Air Coryell. He managed a 9-7 season in 1981, fell to 4-5, then jumped to his alma mater, Alabama, the moment Bear Bryant retired. Perkins hired Bill Parcells and Bill Belichick, so there’s that. Perkins ran afoul of the Alabama boosters by not going undefeated every year, and he returned to the NFL to coach the Buccaneers to a bunch of 5-11 seasons.

Perkins, like Jauron and Capers, was a "lifer" type. He played well with others, and could shift gears from college to the NFL and into and out of coordinator or front office positions. Tommy Prothro (35-51-2) was also a lifer. He went from UCLA to the Rams, where he had his only winning season with the late-era Fearsome Foursome, then spent years slowly rebuilding the Chargers. His teams never won, but he turned Dan Fouts and others over to Coryell before taking over the Browns front office and helping them to their early 80’s success.

Men like these have good football ideas and skills that can help a team. Under better circumstances, they could have been winning coaches. Chan Gailey can be lumped into this lot, I think: an idea man who can shape a college or pro program, but no empire builder. Sparano could be one of these guys. Morris and Spags I am not sure about. Haley is more of a Mora II: if he gets a second chance in the pros and acts the same way he did in Kansas City, his tenure will end even more briskly than this one.

You are probably screaming at your monitor right now: "Belichick was a member of the Jauron Gang when he left Cleveland!" It’s true: he was 34-55, with one 11-5 season. Any member of this generation of gang members could become a Belichick if he spends a few seasons in the wilderness and has a Road to Damascus moment along the way. That is a lot to hope for. Using Belichick as a rubric for a new coach has been bad business sense for the last half-decade, so holding onto a one-year wonder simply because someone else once had an epiphany after six years makes little sense.

Go through the coaching register, and you will not find many guys who pulled out of the early-career Jauron Gang cycle and went on to any real success, particularly in the modern era. Coaches who are going to have any real success, whether as Super Bowl winners or guys who come close year-after-year, do not suddenly drop four-or-five win clunkers into their records after their first successes. They backslide to 8-8 now and then, but they typically build systems that can overcome a rough season and still stay within reach of .500, at least until the crows come to roost after many years.

This brings us around to Andy Reid and Norv Turner. Reid operates at a level hundreds of miles above the Jauron Gang. Turner is a cut above, too, though a skeptic might point out that he would fall in with the gang if not for some favorable circumstances. Only a handful of NFL coaches are ever truly great; the rest aspire to sustained better-than-adequacy, using a few real strengths to mask a severe weakness or two, and sealing the deal with enough common sense to keep the owner content and the players from rebelling. Dean Spanos and Jeffrey Lurie said as much in their press conferences, though it took Lurie 45 minutes to say it.

Behind Door One is a guy who goes 13-3 at his best and 8-8 at his worst. Behind Door Two may be a member of the Jauron Gang, or worse. Eventually, you have to open that second door, but it makes sense to wait a little longer, even if many of us would really love a peek.

And Finally

Busy busy busy time! My playoff diagrams are appearing on NBC Sports. My musings about Lurie and others are appearing in the New York Times. I will try to get as much of this material as possible onto FO as Extra Points, but I have a habit of being very late with posting or getting the links wrong, so be patient.

Coming soon: have you ever wanted to skip a shower and smell like Justin Forsett? Don’t bother: I am doing it for you. ShowerPill is the only adult bath-replacement wipe endorsed by a backup Seahawks running back, and Walkthrough is the only place where you will find an in-depth product test!

Posted by: Mike Tanier on 05 Jan 2012

106 comments, Last at 15 Jan 2012, 12:58am by Mr Shush

Comments

1
by Thunderbolt of ... :: Thu, 01/05/2012 - 12:02pm

I'm eager to hear your opinion on whether the ShowerPill is, in fact, "no sticky residue leavin’."

2
by Aaron Brooks Go... :: Thu, 01/05/2012 - 12:12pm

To all you Eagles fan howling for Reid's blood -- Lions fans look back fondly to the Wayne Fontes era. You don't want Wayne Fontes.

3
by turbohappy (not verified) :: Thu, 01/05/2012 - 12:21pm

Curtis Painter had an awesome self-catch where he threw it, it got batted back, he caught it, and then threw it again. Penalty of course and is pretty representative of his ability to play at the NFL level.

9
by Ryan (not verified) :: Thu, 01/05/2012 - 12:59pm

So nice, he threw it twice.

34
by Joe T. :: Thu, 01/05/2012 - 5:48pm

I wanna say Sexy Rexy did that this year too. He's allegedly a great student of the game, good football mind, but you sic a couple blitzing DLs on him and he gets all befuddled.

4
by Dean :: Thu, 01/05/2012 - 12:22pm

This is where we now get 200 comments where people either A) try to ascribe meaning to these random nuggets or B) rip Mike for ascribing meaning to them despite the fact that he clearly states that they're fun, but not particularly meaningful.

Regardless, yes, league oddities are always fun to read about.

5
by Jonadan :: Thu, 01/05/2012 - 12:49pm

Technically speaking, Detroit's own Jim Schwartz is currently a member of the "gang", having just finished his only winning season (10-6) for an overall 18-30. I'm not saying I think he'll stay there, as the Lions have shown steady improvement and now look to be a solid team especially if they fix the defense, but noting it as of now for posterity.

---
"When you absolutely don't know what to do any more, then it's time to panic." - Johann van der Wiel

14
by Aaron Brooks Go... :: Thu, 01/05/2012 - 1:18pm

I thought the other aspect of the Jauron Gang was that early blip season of success, usually in season 1 or 2. Schwartz has peaked in season 3, with consecutive year-to-year improvement, and consecutive pythagorean win improvements.

19
by Jonadan :: Thu, 01/05/2012 - 2:09pm

Yes, but the PFR search we got was, "Since the merger, there have been 19 coaches who produced exactly one full season with a better-than-.500 record." Thus my "technically".

---
"When you absolutely don't know what to do any more, then it's time to panic." - Johann van der Wiel

22
by Aaron Brooks Go... :: Thu, 01/05/2012 - 2:26pm

Jim Harbaugh, come on down!

6
by Eddo :: Thu, 01/05/2012 - 12:53pm

"Coaches who are going to have any real success, whether as Super Bowl winners or guys who come close year-after-year, do not suddenly drop four-or-five win clunkers into their records after their first successes. They backslide to 8-8 now and then, but they typically build systems that can overcome a rough season and still stay within reach of .500, at least until the crows come to roost after many years."

Am I the only one who thought of Lovie Smith, here?

8
by tuluse :: Thu, 01/05/2012 - 12:55pm

No, that's immediately who I thought of as well.

37
by Aaron Brooks Go... :: Thu, 01/05/2012 - 6:54pm

It's interesting that that doesn't describe Gruden or Fisher. Does describe Cowher and Dungy, though.

38
by tuluse :: Thu, 01/05/2012 - 6:57pm

Fisher at least has the excuse of his GM doing a terrible job with the cap resulting in a couple purges.

Gruden *might* be able to argue the Buc's owner is cheap too.

7
by tuluse :: Thu, 01/05/2012 - 12:53pm

I cannot express how wonderful it is to read a list of coaches titled the Jauron Gang and have them ranked by the number of losses they managed to accumulate.

10
by Hurt Bones :: Thu, 01/05/2012 - 1:02pm

"Sporano"? Who is this please?

11
by joebarnin :: Thu, 01/05/2012 - 1:06pm

Norv Turner may be slightly above the Jauron line, but he ain't no Super Bowl coach either. I did a quick study of all head coaches who have taken a team to the Super Bowl. The average number of years as a head coach before getting to the Super Bowl was 4.3. 90% of the coaches did it within 7 years. The longest wait was 12 years (Tom Coughlin). Norv has 14 years and counting with no appearances. I'm pretty sure when you look up mediocrity in the dictionary, there's a picture of old Norv.

33
by Joe T. :: Thu, 01/05/2012 - 5:42pm

Norv (verb) - to fail despite possessing seemingly superior talent; or, to lose a contest in which one had dominated the majority of the time, due to lack of discipline, focus, or both.

See: Romo (verb).

96
by RichC (not verified) :: Tue, 01/10/2012 - 4:44pm

Yeah, I dunno. That sounds like the definition for "Marty(verb)" to me.

102
by Skins fan # 721 (not verified) :: Wed, 01/11/2012 - 9:36am

As a Skins fan, I am sadly all too familiar with both Norv and Marty. Good God, if Philly really thinks Andy Reid, isn't good enough, we'll suffer through 5 NFC Title games in 8 years, or whatever it was.

35
by Bright Blue Shorts :: Thu, 01/05/2012 - 6:18pm

Making a Super Bowl vs winning a Super Bowl seems a bit of an arbitrary cut off AND conveniently moves Bill Cowher from taking 14 years to win one to 4 years to participate in one.

To me the bigger difficulty would be what you do with Marty Schottenheimer ... two losing seasons in 21 years ... but just 5 playoffs win eighteen attempts ... but to Spanos it didn't take too much to decide ...

41
by joebarnin :: Thu, 01/05/2012 - 7:49pm

I'll do the same study for Super Bowl winners too - of course the average will be higher than 4.3. I suspect Cowher will be an outlier at 14 years. (Cowher's first 13 years were much better than Norvs anyway). (BTW, I chose Super Bowl appearance instead of victory not for any nefarious reasons, but because as a Charger fan, a SB appearance would be like a victory :-)

As for Marty, a great regular season coach, but a lousy playoff coach. I know 18 games is a pretty small sample size, but 5-13? That seems too poor to explain away on random chance. And he did it with all 3 teams: made them good, got them into the playoffs, and then stunk it up. I don't know the reason he was a bad playoff coach, but it sure seems like there is one.

44
by MJK :: Thu, 01/05/2012 - 8:31pm

Minor nitpick: To win a SB requires winning either three or four games against playoff-caliber opponents (and occasionally the 2011 Broncos or 2010 Seahawks). To go to the SB requires winning either two or three consecutive games against playoff-caliber opponents. So it's not really fair differentiate without looking at how they got there...coaches that made it to, and lost, the SB as a team without a first round bye had done just as impressive a feat as coaches that won the SB with a first round bye.

More on Marty. Marty is perplexing. 5-13 isn't QUITE as bad as it seems...because of the "win and play again, lose and go home, but win at most three or four games" a playoff win/loss record will look slightly worse than a regular season record, even without taking the competition into account (i.e. if a coach has exactly a 50% chance of winning every game he plays regardless of competition, his expected playoff win percentage is slightly under 0.500). Plus there is the fact that playoff competition is generally much tougher on average than regular season win percentage. So one would expect a coach's playoff win percentage to be below his regular season percentage, taking both of these into account. Sometime it isn't (probably due to small sample size noise), but it's not surprising when it is.

But Marty is so much worse that it is surprising. Taking when he had byes into account, his win probability in the playoffs was 28%. That is, based on past history, against playoff-caliber opposition, we would expect him to have a 28% chance of winning any given game. His regular season win percentage was 61.3%. That's a HUGE, unprecedented difference. Compare some numbers for some other coaches who had at least seven playoff appearances (I did this analysis two years ago, so these numbers don't include 2009 or 2010 or 2011):

Coach Reg Season Win% Playoff Win Probability
Belichick: 61.1% 80.3% (it's lower now thanks to two one-and-dones)
Gibbs: 62.1% 70.5%
Reid: 61.1% 62.4%
Cowher: 62.3% 59.2%
Holmgren: 61.3% 54.9%
Parcells: 57% 56.1%
Shanahan: 60.5% 57.1%
Dungy: 66.1% 49.4%
Coughlin: 53.6% 56.3%
Green (?!!?): 54.6% 33.8%
Schottenheimer: 61.3% 28%

Marty really stands out. He is topped only by Dungy and Cowher on this list for regular season wins, yet is worse than even Dennis Green in winning playoff games.

I just don't understand the guy. (I also don't understand why, with all the bad coaches this year and last year, he doesn't have a job, but what do I know?)

52
by Mr Shush :: Fri, 01/06/2012 - 7:36am

"I also don't understand why, with all the bad coaches this year and last year, he doesn't have a job"

Because he's 68 years old.

54
by White Rose Duelist :: Fri, 01/06/2012 - 9:34am

I'm pretty sure that winning percentage in the playoffs has to total 50% just like in the regular season. It's just that you can only lose one game per playoff, while you can win up to four.

81
by MJK :: Fri, 01/06/2012 - 3:39pm

Yes, the number of wins has to equal the number of losses in the playoffs (moreso than the regular season, because you can't tie in the playoffs).

However, the mistake is assuming that having a 0.500 win percentage in the playoffs meant that, on average, you were 50% likely to win the game.

In the regular season, you play exactly 16 games. A hypothetical "average" team (by which we generally take to mean a team that has exactly a 50% chance to win every game) is expected to go 8-8. Hence, if a team gets 8 wins, we assume that that team had a 50-50 shot at its games and therefore is average. We're essentially doing a very primitive maximum likliehood estimation analysis--because a 50% win team is more likely to go 8-8 than any other kind of team, if a team goes 8-8, we assume that they are most likely to be a 50% win team (as opposed to a 60% win team that got some bad breaks, or a 40% win team that was unlucky). This is what we mean by a "0.500 team".

However, in the playoffs, this is not the case. Say the hypothetical 50% win team (now adjusted for playoff caliber opposition) has to play on wildcard weekend. There's a 50% chance they will go 0-1, a 25% chance they will go 1-1, a 12.5% chance they will go 2-1, and a 6.25% chance they will go 3-1. The only other possibility is going 4-0 and winning the SB, hence their chance of that is 6.25%. If calculate their expected wins, you get 0.9375. Any so-called "0.500" team playing on wildcard weekend is expected to win slightly less than 1 game in that year's playoffs. If a team actually has a 0.500 record (say they go 1-1 every time they make the playoffs), they have outperformed what we would have expected had they had a 50% chance of winning any given game. Hence, having a 0.500 playoff win record actually means the team is a little BETTER than having a 50% chance of winning any game.

It's even worse for teams that get a bye--they can at best go 3-0, not 4-0. The expected wins for a 50% team with a bye is only 0.875.

In other words, you can't conclude that the team was playing 50-50 football from a 0.500 playoff record the way you can in the regular season.

And I'll re-iterate...this is without taking the competition level difference into account.

87
by Intropy :: Fri, 01/06/2012 - 10:55pm

Small point, but even with ties there need to be the same number of wins as losses. The only case I can think of off hand where they can be unequal is if you consider a forfeit to be different from a loss with the other team receiving a win.

63
by troycapitated p... :: Fri, 01/06/2012 - 11:43am

I think there are a lot of variables that determine whether or not coaching a team to the Super Bowl without a bye can be considered as impressive as winning the Super Bowl with a bye. But, all things being relatively equal, I think earning a bye and winning the Super Bowl ought to be considered more impressive than not earning a bye, making the Super Bowl, then losing.

75
by JimZipCode :: Fri, 01/06/2012 - 1:46pm

I looked up all of Marty's losses on PFR a few years ago.

In the middle of his career Marty had 5 consecutive playoff exits, and 6 of 7, where he lost to a higher-seeded team; 3 of them to the #1 seed. This is 1987 to 1994; Marty's last 2 seasons with the Browns and his first 5 playoff teams in KC. The exception, the year Marty lost to a lower-seeded team, was 1988. That year he lost his starting QB Kosar to injury, finished 10-6, won a tiebreaker so hosted the other 10-6 wildcard team. The Oilers had a better Pythagorean projection, even with the Chief's starting QB healthy. These were not bad beats. None of them was a game Marty's team would have been expected to win.

And Marty won 4 playoff games during that span. His teams beat: Indy in 1987, the Raiders in 1991, and the Steelers & Oilers in 1993.

These all seem like cases where Schotty put together a decent to good team, but not yet good enough to compete with the big boys in the conference. And throw in Marty's 1985 loss with Cleveland in this same group: his first playoff appearance, off an 8-8 season. We've just excused 8 of Marty's 13 playoff losses.

Five times Marty brought a great team into the playoffs, the 1 or 2 seed, including 1987 mentioned above. Four of those games are noted for something flukey/historic: The Drive, The Fumble, Lin Elliot misses 3 FGs at home, McCree fumbles the INT return. The other game was 1997, 12-4 Broncos at 13-3 Chiefs, the two best teams in the conference, the defacto AFC championship. Broncos had a better Pythagorean projection, and went on to win the first of their consecutive Terrell Davis Super Bowls. (Schotty must see Elway in his sleep, sometimes.)

Marty's other playoff loss was 2004, his 3rd or 4th seeded Chargers in their first playoff appearance lose the wildcard game to the Jets. 22yo rookie Nate Kaeding misses a FG attempt in OT, 34yo Doug Brien nails it, Jets win.

The margin here is razor thin. A non-missed FG here or there would have made a huge difference. Two non-missed FGs and two non-fumbles, and Marty's playoff record is completely different.

Clearly one of the greatest coaches of all time.

78
by JimZipCode :: Fri, 01/06/2012 - 2:36pm

By the way, I meant to mention: the AFC during the years Marty was coaching had a number of multiple-time champions and consecutive champions. The Broncos in the 80s, the Bills and Broncos in the 90s, the Pats in the 00s. Marty's teams ran into several of those buzz saws.

I wish he'd broken thru one time. If McCree takes a knee in the 4th quarter in 2004 and the Chargers hold on, I think San Diego swamps Indy the following week and overwhelms Da Bears in the Super Bowl. The conversation about Marty would be entirely different. It was nice to see Dungy get his ring that year, and Peyton Manning too, but they had a subsequent chance. It turned out Marty did not.

A great coach like him shouldn't be talked about like a loser.

80
by MJK :: Fri, 01/06/2012 - 3:28pm

Interesting. So it seems like for quite a few of Marty's playoff losses, he had built a team that was good enough to make the playoffs but not compete with the powerhouses. In other words, could you argue that he was good at getting a team that really had no business in the playoffs to play just barely good enough to get in?

98
by RichC (not verified) :: Tue, 01/10/2012 - 5:03pm

When you do that most years, the argument has to change to it either being the coaches, or the GM's fault, right? Because there's really no excuse at that point.

94
by JimZipCode :: Mon, 01/09/2012 - 11:11am

I dunno about all that. Marty did drag some undermanned teams into the playoffs, sure: his first full year in Cleveland, maybe one or two of his early playoff teams in KC. But most of his playoff squads were not teams that played "just barely good enough to get in" to the playoffs. Marty's teams had double-digit wins his last 3 seasons in Cleveland, and 6 of 8 seasons in the middle of his time in KC. A good comparison might be to this year's playoff teams. Detroit did not "play just barely good enough to get into the playoffs." They were a legit playoff team. They just lost to a better team. Houston is another legit playoff team. They could easily lose to a higher-seeded team this weekend in Baltimore. We wouldn't say after those losses that Detriot or Houston "really had no business in the playoffs". They were good teams, they just met a stronger opponent. That describes 7 of Marty's playoff losses.

If that were Marty's whole playoff record, we wouldn't talk about him so much. He'd be a decent-to-good coach who never really put together a contender. What makes Marty's record so – I dunno, poignant – is those 5 times he took a top team into the postseason, and fate decided to jerk him around a little. Fumbles and missed FGs are part of the game, but it just seems wrong that all of that stuff should happen to a single coach in his career. I was watching the Pats-Chargers game, and I remember a feeling of shock and horror when McCree fumbled. It was too cruel, for the same kind of thing to happen to Marty again. That Chargers team was STACKED, too. Should have been Marty's great chance for a Super Bowl appearance. Instead the football gods laughed in his face.

97
by RichC (not verified) :: Tue, 01/10/2012 - 5:01pm

"Five times Marty brought a great team into the playoffs, the 1 or 2 seed, including 1987 mentioned above. Four of those games are noted for something flukey/historic"

When fluky things happen repeatedly, they're no longer flukes.

My memories of Marty's teams in the playoffs are typically teams that outplay their opponents significantly while not managing to open up significant leads. His teams just seem to do stupid things that keep games close.

For instance, the NE/SD Troy-Brown INT-Strip game. At halftime, SD had a 4 point lead despite NE having trouble moving the ball, and SD being able to move the ball at will. Why? Lots O' turnovers. That single play probably won the game, but the game should have never been close in the first place.

The year before was the same thing, lots of dumb coaching/etc that kept a game that shouldn't have been close, close, and then he went ultra conservative at 50 yd field goal range, and of course the kicker missed.

Marty takes his foot off the gas, and you can't do against good teams.

104
by JimZipCode :: Wed, 01/11/2012 - 9:51am

"When fluky things happen repeatedly, they're no longer flukes."

Yeah, but that's nonsense. Lin Elliott missing 3 FGs at home is a fluke. A 76% kicker on his career. "The Fumble" and "The Drive" are remembered, identified by one-word names. Is that because they are run-of-the-mill events?

I don't get what point you are trying to make about the NE/SD INT-strip game. Is "lots of turnovers" a comment about Schottenheimer's coaching, somehow? If Schotty had done a better job of game-planning, those turnovers wouldn't have occurred? It might also be worth mentioning the opponent. NE had the #2 scoring defense in the league that season, and finished the season #4 in defensive weighted DVOA. You mention ultra-conservative coaching (in reference to a different game); but in the NE/SD game, the Chargers went for it on 4th-and-11 in the first half, and in the second half threw the ball 16 times vs 13 runs. We think of "Martyball", but my impression AT THE TIME watching the SD/NE game was that Marty and Cam Cameron had learned their lesson about taking the foot off the gas, from their early-season loss in Baltimore. (I posted something to that effect on a discussion board, during the game.)

Marty's coin game up tails in 5 playoff games when he had a top team. That sucks, but it's really all that happened.

99
by Eggwasp (not verified) :: Wed, 01/11/2012 - 8:44am

John Elway and Ernest Byner are the reasons he didn't make two SBs...

73
by cjfarls :: Fri, 01/06/2012 - 1:36pm

Why do we need some crazy theory?

If something has a 95% probability of not happening, that still means 1 out 20 times is will happen. There have been probably 100+ coaches in the NFL playoffs... even if underperforming is 99% unlikely, we would still expect 1+ to underperform to that level.

Was Shotty's post season record of failure unlikely given his seemingly high coaching ability? Sure... but its far from absurd.

12
by smk73 (not verified) :: Thu, 01/05/2012 - 1:12pm

Taste the embarrassment, Eric Weddle.

Warning: contains Jon Gruden "commentary", i.e. "Whoa-hoah, tell you wut Jaws I LUVV THAT GUY," so you may want to mute.

28
by Noah of Arkadia :: Thu, 01/05/2012 - 3:43pm

Doesn't work.

------
We are number one. All others are number two, or lower.

43
by Athelas :: Thu, 01/05/2012 - 8:20pm
13
by clark :: Thu, 01/05/2012 - 1:18pm

I saw the lifer list of "good football people bad coaches" and immediately thought of John McVay, but looking him up he didn't even have a winning season.

15
by Dean :: Thu, 01/05/2012 - 1:38pm

I have to admit, I was hoping for a Funk #49 reference in here somewhere. Maybe I should just walk away?

45
by TomC :: Thu, 01/05/2012 - 8:49pm

Film all night,
Coach all day,
I don't think it's working.

I don't think you're ever gonna be
Better than Ray Perkins.

[funky break]

47
by beargoggles :: Fri, 01/06/2012 - 2:00am

nice

66
by Dean :: Fri, 01/06/2012 - 12:08pm

Thank you. Glad someone out there still appreciates pre-eMpTyV music.

16
by KP (not verified) :: Thu, 01/05/2012 - 1:43pm

Missed a 3rd & 20+ in a close game.

Monday night football (9/26) - Redskins vs. Cowboys. Late 4th quarter and the Cowboys are down by 1. It was 3rd & 21, and Haslett calls a all-out 'Cover Zero' blitz against Romo. Knowing it's coming, Romo never stops running backward until Dez Bryant gets open against DeAngelo Hall.

He both completed the pass (with enough yardage for a 1st down), and Hall was called for a facemask penalty...

20
by Mike Tanier :: Thu, 01/05/2012 - 2:13pm

Yep... I think I misread the spreadsheet and thought that the Cowboys were UP by 1, because it is sitting right here.

These cells are really tiny.

17
by Raiderjoe :: Thu, 01/05/2012 - 2:04pm

Whrn see title think of guy in outrr space om surfboarf and guy snd surfboard cobered in grid lines like excel spteadsjeet

18
by Purds :: Thu, 01/05/2012 - 2:06pm

I wonder how much YAC Welker got on that 90+ yard TD from Brady early in the year. I thought he caught it fairly close to the line of scrimmage.

23
by duh (not verified) :: Thu, 01/05/2012 - 2:32pm

It was about 80 yards he caught it right around the 20.

26
by Aaron Brooks Go... :: Thu, 01/05/2012 - 3:03pm

You were right. Somewhere around the 18 or 19.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QuCGet0bNlY

24
by Aaron Brooks Go... :: Thu, 01/05/2012 - 2:33pm

I believe the catch occurred around the 25.

27
by duh :: Thu, 01/05/2012 - 3:13pm

removed

21
by Foo (not verified) :: Thu, 01/05/2012 - 2:18pm

The Hasselback to Hawkins play was a "conversion" on 3rd and 21 only because it was the last play of the game. It really shouldn't count.

25
by Keasley (not verified) :: Thu, 01/05/2012 - 2:51pm

Re: Hasselbeck's reputation as fragile and injury prone:

He started 16 games this year. In his 10 years as a starting QB, he has appeared in less than 12 regular season games only once. I don't believe he's ever missed a playoff game nor been on the IR.

At what point is this fragility meme about Hasselbeck going to be mitigated by the actual stats that suggest he's actually been at least average if not among the more reliable and sturdy QBs in this era.

29
by zenbitz :: Thu, 01/05/2012 - 3:47pm

I did not know that you could declare the weak side tackle eligible with an unbalanced line. I thought it was essentially a mechanism to let OL numbers play TE.

30
by Dean :: Thu, 01/05/2012 - 4:14pm

The rules state that exactly 7 players must be on the line every play. Only the two players lined up the furthest outside of those 7 are elligible receivers. If that player is not wearing an elligible number, the player has to report in to the officials. If the player is lining up as elligible for more than one play, he needs to report every play.

Theoretically, you could line up with 7 OL and have all 6 on one side of the center as long as the players wearing inelligible numbers and playing elligible positions reported to the officials.

31
by Vince Verhei :: Thu, 01/05/2012 - 4:59pm

Theoretically, you could line up with 7 OL and have all 6 on one side of the center as long as the players wearing inelligible numbers and playing elligible positions reported to the officials.

I read about this happening in an early, early NFL championship game. The center lined up eligible, with the rest of the team lined up to one side. He snapped the ball back to the quarterback, then the QB immediately placed the ball right back in the center's hands, and he took off down the field.

32
by tuluse :: Thu, 01/05/2012 - 5:05pm

Come around my family Thanksgiving time and you'll see this as a bread and butter play.

36
by Aaron Brooks Go... :: Thu, 01/05/2012 - 6:47pm

If I read NFL rule 7.6.4 correctly, a center could legally make a side-snap to the uncovered guard, so long as he bounces it to him.

You can also have more than 7 linemen. Technically, you don't need anyone in the backfield, although that severely limits your potential playcalls.

40
by MJK :: Thu, 01/05/2012 - 7:30pm

I thought you were required by rule to have exactly seven men on the line of scrimmage, of which only two are eligible. Wouldn't anyone else have to line up "off the line" in which case they would be eligible and not be "linemen"?

48
by Vince Verhei :: Fri, 01/06/2012 - 2:59am

I've seen teams called for too few men on the line several times. I don't recall ever seeing a penalty for TOO MANY men on the line. It's just that your eligible receivers are your backs and your ends, so putting an extra guy on the line takes one of your eligible receivers away.

53
by Podge (not verified) :: Fri, 01/06/2012 - 9:29am

Isn't too many men lined up on the line of scrimmage generally called as something along the lines of "illegal formation: the tackle was covered up by the wide receiver" or something along those lines?

59
by Aaron Brooks Go... :: Fri, 01/06/2012 - 10:09am

In a >7 alignment, the call would be the end covered up by the WR. However, that's only a penalty if that end goes downfield early or carries the ball.

The official rule is you need 7 or more on the line. You don't even need to snap backwards if you're clever about it.

65
by Dean :: Fri, 01/06/2012 - 12:05pm

Maybe someone will be kind enough to post a link to the acutal rule? I have always understood it to be exactly 7, not at least 7, but I'm not averse to learning something new today.

67
by Aaron Brooks Go... :: Fri, 01/06/2012 - 12:15pm

Rule 7, Section 5, Article 1.

Section 5 Position of Players at the Snap
Article 1: Offensive Team. The offensive team must be in compliance with the following at the snap:
(a) It must have seven or more players on its line (3-18); and
(b) All players who are not on the line, other than the receiver of the snap under center, must be at least
one yard behind it.
(c) No player may be out of bounds.

69
by Dean :: Fri, 01/06/2012 - 12:23pm

Outstanding. I have now learned something today. Thanks!

Does that mean I can blow off work and take the afternoon off?

79
by MJK :: Fri, 01/06/2012 - 3:27pm

Thank you! I had always assumed the "covering up the end" penalties were essentially because there were too many men on the line. I guess instead it that they had too many men who thought they were eligible.

100
by Eggwasp (not verified) :: Wed, 01/11/2012 - 8:51am

Not for Denver

46
by ineedawittyname (not verified) :: Thu, 01/05/2012 - 10:16pm

The Titans did basically this to the Colts a few years ago (I don't remember exactly when, I'm guessing around 2004) on a punt. Everybody except the punter and long snapper lined up wiiiiiiiiiiide right, then the punter tried to throw it to the long snapper downfield. It didn't work though, as Gary Brackett (then a backup) read it the whole way and almost picked it off. I still remember that oddity, and wish I could find a video of it now.

50
by Shylo :: Fri, 01/06/2012 - 4:11am

I remember a similar play by the Titans against the Panthers in 2003, they lined up in punt formation, but shifted into a formation where the center was eligible. The Panthers never called timeout, and Hentrich passed it to the center, Eddie Berline, for a long TD. They haven't done it in a while, although I remember a game against Atlanta when Fisher was still head coach, where the punt team lined up in an Emory and Henry, but the play never ran.

55
by Podge (not verified) :: Fri, 01/06/2012 - 9:35am

I think that's the best way to do it if you're going to use a bizarre formation - start off in a normal one, and just before you're ready to snap the ball get quickly into the new formation and snap it straight away, so that the D doesn't have time to adjust.

60
by Aaron Brooks Go... :: Fri, 01/06/2012 - 10:11am

The catch on these is that the long-snapper needs to declare as eligible.

101
by Eggwasp (not verified) :: Wed, 01/11/2012 - 8:53am

not if you teach your backup TE to long-snap!

39
by MJK :: Thu, 01/05/2012 - 7:22pm

Belichick in Cleveland was kind of a special case and is hard to fit into your Juaron gang. The coaches in your Juaron gang have a good season early, and then cling to that to maintain their job, before getting fired when they turn in lots of mediocrity/badness.

Belichick was kind of the opposite. He had three seasons of medicority/badness, THEN put together a really good, winning season. Then, the very next season, Modell cut the legs out from under the team, which is as much responsible for their poor finish that year as Belichick was. Also, Belichick technically wasn't fired...he "resigned".

42
by Lyford :: Thu, 01/05/2012 - 8:07pm

Belichick also took over a bad team (3-13 the previous year) that was aging in a league where there was no free agency. There's a lot of talk about how much better he was the second time around, but I think he did a much better job in Cleveland than he generally gets credit for.

This is what I said when NE hired him, before he coached a single game for the Patriots: "That team was trending down and aging, and Kosar was over the hill when he took it over. If you look at what they did, it was like 12-4, 10-5 (strike
year), 10-6, 9-7, 3-13. Schottenheimer had been gone for two years replaced by 1+ year of Bud Carson, and <1 year of Jim Shofner. Belichick took over, and went 6-10, 7-9, 7-9, and then to 11-5 and the playoffs, beating the Pats. He was NOT good with the media, but also took a lot of heat for a good football decision, replacing Kosar with Testaverde. He built a tough, physical, disciplined team that was a real threat before Modell leaked, and then announced, the move."

49
by IAmJoe :: Fri, 01/06/2012 - 3:24am

The Ravens figured a screen to Ricky Williams was just the third-and-forever ticket when everything is working so darn well, but Flacco’s pass was batted back into his face. Flacco caught it and ran, losing eight yards, though at least Oher did not hold. This is what happens to the Ravens offense when you take away the bomb.

Oh god, I'm laughing so hard

I didn't even see this play, but the fact that it is so incredibly believable and that I can quite vividly picture in my mind the Ravens failing like this, I just keep seeing it over and over again. Best of all, though I'm sure this isn't quite what Tanier meant by "into his face", I literally see the ball being slapped into Flacco's face.

Over and over and over. And that image IS Ravens Football.

51
by Malene, Copenhagen (not verified) :: Fri, 01/06/2012 - 5:17am

I'm not sure factoid means what Tanier thinks it means, unless there's some level of irony I'm not catching.

56
by Podge (not verified) :: Fri, 01/06/2012 - 9:38am

It doesn't, but in his defence I just googled factoid and was surprised to find out what it meant. I now feel like one of those people who uses "literally" wrong - I've used a word to mean the exact opposite of what it actually means.

61
by DisplacedPackerFan :: Fri, 01/06/2012 - 10:54am

Well it depends on which definition of the word you are using because it's one of those words that can almost contradict itself.

Merriam-Webster Definition
1 : an invented fact believed to be true because it appears in print
2 : a briefly stated and usually trivial fact

So by definition 2, I believe he is using it exactly as he intended.

Dictionary.com actually reverses the definitions so they claim that the briefly stated, trivial fact is the more common usage. I'll stick with MW on the order though, but there are signs that it's changing, as words do.

Many of the facts he presents are trivial and he does briefly state them. This being Tanier he might also be presenting things for definition 1 above as well. :)

62
by Lyford :: Fri, 01/06/2012 - 11:43am

That's interesting - I've never heard or seen "factoid" used for "an invented fact." But the OED lists the earliest usage as 1973, from Norman Mailer in the book "Marilyn" - "Factoids - that is, facts which have no existence before appearing in a magazine or newspaper, creations which are not so much lies as a product to manipulate emotion in the Silent Majority."

Which is not a way that I'd ever have used it...

64
by nat :: Fri, 01/06/2012 - 12:03pm

Factoid is a relatively recent coinage. In its original usage it meant 'fact-like statement' - basically made up stuff that gave the appearance of being factual.

It's a shame, really, that it's come to mean 'inconsequential fact'. I hate to see a potent and useful word get so diluted.

I fear that in a decade or two, 'truthiness' will suffer the same fate. And despite his best efforts, President Colbert will be powerless to stop it.

68
by Aaron Brooks Go... :: Fri, 01/06/2012 - 12:22pm

The Mailer definition of factoid was flawed in its construction. The post-fix "-oid" is used to characterize a larger group of similar structures. For example, humanoid or spheroid. Not perfectly human or perfectly spherical, but still in the same class as lesser examples.

This is inconsistent with the the Mailer usage of something afactual. The reference to something trivial is consistent with the word construction, though, and is similar to the construction of asteroid.

70
by Lyford :: Fri, 01/06/2012 - 12:33pm

Agreed. That's the way I've always understood and used it.

71
by nat :: Fri, 01/06/2012 - 1:10pm

You might think that. But you'd be wrong.

"-oid" comes from a Greek root meaning "resembling". So asteroid originally comes from "resembling a star" not "a lesser or imperfect star".

The construction of "factoid" fits perfectly. Factoids resemble facts, in fact are designed to resemble them, without regard to whether they are facts.

Sadly, the factoid as fact-let usage is now common.

72
by DisplacedPackerFan :: Fri, 01/06/2012 - 1:26pm

As you mention it's a shame because factlet would be another good word to have around to have with factoid being left to be a factoid and factlet taking care of what most think a factoid is.

Also agree with your comment about truthiness, I think you have glimpsed the future on that one.

74
by nat :: Fri, 01/06/2012 - 1:43pm

To tie this all back to football (grin) this is analogous to the "end-around" vs "reverse" debate. These days, saying "reverse" to describe a hand-off to the wide receiver coming across the formation is so common that it's not even incorrect anymore. It's become the dominant usage rather than just an error.

Still, our language has lost some expressiveness because of that. This is not a big deal. But it's a small loss, and those small losses do add up.

77
by DGL :: Fri, 01/06/2012 - 2:34pm

Can I just say "prescriptive versus descriptive" and expect that all the FO commenterati will understand what I'm talking about?

Thought so.

86
by nat :: Fri, 01/06/2012 - 6:05pm

Sure. Why not?
Don't expect everyone to automatically agree with you, though. Some people consider calling the play an end-around elitist and nit-picky. Others consider calling it a reverse just plain ignorant, or at best vague. Prescriptive v. Descriptive is not a battle between good and evil, and both positions have their merits.

76
by Mr Shush :: Fri, 01/06/2012 - 2:03pm

Similarly, "humanoid" is in my experience primarily used to refer to things which are not human (orcs, goblins, kobolds, ogres, bugbears, oh dear I'll stop now).

82
by tuluse :: Fri, 01/06/2012 - 5:01pm

Although humans are a subtype of humanoids.

84
by Mr Shush :: Fri, 01/06/2012 - 5:39pm

Hmm. I think this might be one of those ape-monkey things. I'd be inclined to take "not a human" as part of the definition of "humanoid", but I can certainly see the argument the other way. Of course, in AD&D2e it's clear-cut, to the point where there's even a category (demi-humans) between humans and humanoids . . .

85
by tuluse :: Fri, 01/06/2012 - 5:44pm

They changed things with 3rd, humans are specifically a type of humanoids now. I don't think demi-humans exist as a type anymore.

89
by Mr Shush :: Sat, 01/07/2012 - 7:32am

I'm sure you're right. My contact with 3rd edition consists entirely of Neverwinter Nights. After moving last year into a house so geeky that we were actually seriously discussing running an in-house campaign, I downloaded 4th edition rules, read them, wondered where my THAC0 had gone and what was with the maps and miniatures and said thanks but no thanks, I'll stick with 2. Sadly, it turned out too of us were just too damn busy to do it anyway (perils of trying to run a semi-professional theatre company with aspirations of dropping the semi while still working full time day jobs).

90
by jebmak :: Sat, 01/07/2012 - 10:48am

Semi-professional theatre with role-players who comment on FO? I'm so in.

Edit: And my wife insisted that I ask what city you live in (assuming that you are around to read this and want to answer)

91
by Mr Shush :: Sun, 01/08/2012 - 3:14pm

London (England, not Ontario).

105
by jebmak :: Sat, 01/14/2012 - 10:25pm

Well, that is a little far away from western Illinois, unfortunately.

106
by Mr Shush :: Sun, 01/15/2012 - 12:58am

Indeed. Best wait for the inevitable world tour . . .

92
by tuluse :: Sun, 01/08/2012 - 4:25pm

I actually like getting rid of THAC0. It's simpler now to know if you hit or not, you just have to roll higher than your opponents armor class.

As for 4th edition, I haven't played it, but I've heard a lot of bad things. My friends and I play Pathfinder, which is a modified 3rd edition. Basically it makes some of the more "boring" classes more interesting and streamlines some of the skills and combat.

93
by Mr Shush :: Sun, 01/08/2012 - 9:04pm

Yeah, I'm really just joking/being a grouch about THAC0. I do like how many optional tools 2nd Edition gives you as a DM, and I like the weaker, less super-powery characters and the more realistic feel in general. I do play fast and loose with rules I don't like, though (level caps, for example).

88
by Intropy :: Fri, 01/06/2012 - 10:59pm

Interestingly, definition 2 above is itself a factoid.

103
by Skins fan # 721 (not verified) :: Wed, 01/11/2012 - 9:48am

factoids (#1) are truthiness embodified

57
by Podge (not verified) :: Fri, 01/06/2012 - 9:40am

Mike,

If you're going to highlight specific plays, could you try to give a week and time in the game it happened so that others who have Rewind (or NFL Gamepass like me) can easily find it? You're usually very good at it, but not so much this week.

As usual, the "great column" comment is just implied to be there.

58
by nat :: Fri, 01/06/2012 - 10:07am

I wonder which defense has given up the most DPI yardage.

83
by JonFrum :: Fri, 01/06/2012 - 5:18pm

Regarding 3rd and 20: in that situation, most teams aren't trying to get a first down. They're either trying to get back into field goal position, or they're trying to gain back some field position before punting, while avioding a turnover. I regularly see Brady throw four yard passes in that situation. It's hard to believe he's expecting Welker to go for 17 YAC and get the first down.

95
by nflalternative.com :: Mon, 01/09/2012 - 9:49pm

M.T, a rare swing + total miss.Coaching success in nfl is result of confluence of variety of factors e.g. mix with g,m,injury,+depth building accumulation over several years. Morris,may have built good team + lost to q. b. thumb injury or just lousy coach;Haley screwed by Cassel injuries in non-playoff years etc.-typical small market team depth problems.Pioli may not be as good a Thompson in small market or maybe just not same resource$s.Statistical analysis maybe good but your facile conclusions i.m.h.o. incorrect + sub your par.