Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

11 Oct 2005

TMQ: How to Predict Scores Without Knowing Who's Playing

Another week of TMQ, as Gregg Easterbrook predicts that all games will end 20-17. He also looks in on Mike Nugent (4-for-7, but still better than Doug Brien), addresses the "tuck rule" cancelled safety in the Washington-Denver game, and lambasts the Rams for punting from the Seattle 35-yard line instead of trying a 53-yard field goal. You know, in a dome, with Jeff Wilkins, who has made eight of his last nine attempts over 50 yards. Yep, he's right on that one.

Posted by: Aaron Schatz on 11 Oct 2005

60 comments, Last at 14 Oct 2005, 5:34pm by Sid


by pawnking (not verified) :: Tue, 10/11/2005 - 2:58pm

Let me be the first to say that I found absolutely nothing offensive or moronic about this week's TMQ. I also found nothing original, but we can't have everything, can we? I propose a contest on FO called Predict the TMQ - where all contestants will predict the subjects, games to be focused upon, obscure college scores, sweet plays and drives, and even the wording of the upcoming TMQ article. I'm guessing that a consensus article by the FO-ers will be an almost exact replica of GE's, give or take a haiku or two.

by Ferg (not verified) :: Tue, 10/11/2005 - 3:15pm

pawnking, you mean something like this?

by AnandaG (not verified) :: Tue, 10/11/2005 - 3:17pm

I dunno -- maybe I don't read/listen to enough sports commentary (heh) but I'd never seen the idea that Detroit should have onside kicked after all the penalties spotted their kickoff at the Ravens' 40. Of course it seems obvious, but I hadn't thought of it, no one I'd read had either, and apparently nor did the Detroit coaching staff. That was original to TMQ.

by Starshatterer (not verified) :: Tue, 10/11/2005 - 3:20pm

I'm happy that Daniel Graham's TD catch-vault-the-blocker-run-plow-the-safety-and-carry-three-guys-into-the-end-zone play made TMQ's Sweet Play. It was sweet to watch live (well, on cable-tv delay.

"Predict the TMQ" might be a challenge, though. Who knows what matchups will catch the local affiliates' fancy and thereby get the coveted TMQ column inches?

by princeton73 (not verified) :: Tue, 10/11/2005 - 3:20pm

I don't know..are Muhlenberg and Dickinson really that obscure?

I mean the Redskins held their training camp for many years at Dickinson, and Muhlenberg is well known for ummm..

(well, Ben Schwartzwalder DID coach there for a while)

by MJK (not verified) :: Tue, 10/11/2005 - 3:21pm

Well, here's one problem:

"With the game tied at 7, Die Morgenmuffel -- see below -- faced fourth-and-8 on the Seattle 35. The Rams lined up in field-goal formation, then placekicker Jeff Wilkins pooch-punted for a touchback -- Seahawks ball on the 20. The Rams exchanged a good chance of three points for a trivial gain of 15 yards in field position"...

I didn't watch the game, but I assume the LOS was the 35? In that case, the pooch punt actually gained ~22-23 yards of field position versus as missed FG, since the opposing team takes over where the ball is kicked from if the kick is missed, not the LOS.

I don't necessarily disagree with this call the way GE does. There's a big field position difference between the 20 and the 43, and maybe the Rams thought that difference, plus the possibility that the ball could be downed inside the 10, was better than a long shot at 3 points and a high probability of giving the other team the ball at their own 43. In a close game, field position is especially important.

by Yuri (not verified) :: Tue, 10/11/2005 - 3:21pm

Re: #3--Also, note that as discussed in the "free kick as field goal" thread, you cannot attempt the field goal in the situation when you are kicking off from the 40, even though you are into the range for a long one. Interesting how wacky situations like this just keep occurring...

by johonny (not verified) :: Tue, 10/11/2005 - 3:25pm

So your telling me you knew there was a Britney Spears camp for the performing arts before reading this?

by Drew (not verified) :: Tue, 10/11/2005 - 3:27pm

It's like saying you've invented a new food that combines Spam and corn husks.

Hmmm. I guess I should expect a negative RSVP from TMQ regarding my annual Spam Tamale Charity Dinner.

by B (not verified) :: Tue, 10/11/2005 - 3:28pm

I knew about the Britney Spears camp before reading this. Wait, I don't think I want to admit I knew that.

by MJK (not verified) :: Tue, 10/11/2005 - 3:29pm

About the long FG at the half in the NE game... I was listening to the game on the radio, and the announcer said BOTH kicks were good, so Vrabel's timeout didn't matter. But GE (and other sportswriters) have criticized Vrabel or the Pats claiming tha the first FG missed. Does anyone know what actually happened with the first attempt, that was negated by the TO?

by B (not verified) :: Tue, 10/11/2005 - 3:32pm

This first kick was long enough but wide right, but the play was negated by Vrabel's TO. The second kick was good, although it was close to the right post. It looked like the kicker adjusted his aim after the first kick.

by Drew (not verified) :: Tue, 10/11/2005 - 3:33pm

Re: #11

I saw the wrap up on ESPN. First kick missed; second kick made.

by princeton73 (not verified) :: Tue, 10/11/2005 - 3:38pm

Britney Spears camp for the performing arts

it's right down the road from the Vin Diesel actors workshop

by TomC (not verified) :: Tue, 10/11/2005 - 3:42pm

re #3:

"original to TMQ"? Um, no.

(click my name, see posts 96 & 98)

by MJK (not verified) :: Tue, 10/11/2005 - 3:44pm

Thanks, they didn't mention that on the radio.

One other comment on TMQ this week. I understand why everyone complains that he always writes the same things. Sometimes I think that he even overlooks good decisions that may run contrary to his mantra. Example: the Bucs game. How many people here think it was a bad idea to kick a FG down by 5 with 4-something remaining facing 4th and 4? This play is a longshot anyway. I can see why it is tempting to go for it, but you're putting too much on one play. If you get it and go on to score a TD, you go up by 1~3 and the other team probably has time for a last minute drive of their own. If you don't get it, the other team can grind the clock and you get the ball with little time left still down by 5. Where as if you kick the chipshot, then you need you D to make a stop (not unreasonable given that TB has a good D and the Jets have a bad offense), and you get the ball back down by only 2. Basically, Gruden decided the probability of converting a 4th and 4, going on to score a red zone TD, and then prevent the other team from driving and scoring a last second FG was less than the probability of kicking a chip shot, holding the other team, and then driving for a second FG. That doesn't seem a huge tactical error. It just didn't work out. Would GE have criticized this play if TB had pulled a New England and won?

by Israel (not verified) :: Tue, 10/11/2005 - 3:44pm

Re #3 (AnandaG).
I listened to the game with Ravens announcers on Field Pass. They expected an onsides kick and were surprised when the Lions passed on the opportunity.

by Carl (not verified) :: Tue, 10/11/2005 - 3:45pm

Nothing gratuitously offensive, nothing particularly interesting, a lot of meaningless crap about Congress, SEC filings and some geeky Battlestar show.

Nothing to see here, folks. Please keep moving.

by Tim (not verified) :: Tue, 10/11/2005 - 3:51pm

Anyone else surprised that there was no mention of the Titans' scrimmage kick at the end of the first half, as discussed in a previous Extra Point? Maybe he just didn't hear about it.

by ABW (not verified) :: Tue, 10/11/2005 - 3:54pm

Boy, I wish GE would stay away from astrophysics. He just sounds stupid when he says things like gamma-ray bursts are from super-advanced weapons. I know he's trying to be funny, but he's really not. He does a great job with things like why Ian Gold was in position to block the pass for the 2 pt conversion - why isn't the entire column like that?

BTW, I will second that Daniel Graham's TD was freakin' sweet. He went over Neal like it was the 110-meter hurdles. There were a lot of sweet Patriots passing plays in that game(Watson's TD, Johnson's TD, Branch going deep). Atlanta's safeties are just not very good, and Belichick and co. certainly made them pay for it.

by Astro Boy (not verified) :: Tue, 10/11/2005 - 3:57pm

I’ve got a nominee for sour play of the week, one that’s tangentially related to the scoop and score vs. fall on the ball debate. It’s the kind of play that I thought TMQ would point out, but as far as I can see, neither he nor anyone else has called attention to it. Of course this play happened in one of many sour games of the week, so it’s quite possible no one cares. The sour play was a bad interception by the defense (yes, that’s correct), and it happened near the end of the Panthers at Cardinals game. The Cards faced 4th at 6 on the Carolina 33 with 2:15 remaining in the game, down by 4. McCown went for it all, throwing to Fitzgerald in the end zone. The throw was a duck and Ken Lucas easily deflected the ball. As the two of them fell to the ground, the ball bounced high in the air, and Marlon McCree thought that he’d pad his stats with an easy uncontested interception. He danced around the end zone for a moment, but a teammate convinced him to take a knee.

I thought this was a foolish, greedy sequence for the defense, and it was one that very nearly cost them. I was more upset at the time because until I checked the official stats, I was convinced that the play had started closer to the Carolina 40. Still, the net effect of the interception was the loss of 13 tough yards in field position (the 33 vs. the 20). On their next possession, not only did Carolina fail to earn a game-icing 1st down, they also incurred a holding penalty that stopped the clock. Luckily for them, it came on their failed third down attempt, so Arizona declined it. Still, they botched the punt, which went only 29 yards to the Arizona 42.

So Arizona got to try for the end zone all over again, with good field position, two time outs left and 1:41 still on the clock. In other words, they really weren’t in much worse shape than they were before the interception, and the game was hardly over at that point. I had money riding on the outcome (Car -2.5), and I was really sweating every play between Carolina’s first and 10 from the 20 and McCown’s rush for 9 yards on 4th and 10. In the meantime, the announcers never mentioned that the interception cost Carolina yardage, and PrimeTime presented the interception as the game-sealing play.

Just as a defender has a choice to fall on a fumble or to scoop it up, McCree had a choice whether to intercept the ball or to knock it down. Having made the choice to intercept the ball, he then had the additional choice to run it out of the end zone or to take a knee. I think he made two bad decisions. The only possible benefit of an interception on 4th down is the chance to return it past the original line of scrimmage, and McCree surrendered that opportunity when he took a knee. I think I once heard Mike Ditka say that you always take the ball, but I disagree. This is a sore point for me, and for Buffalo native TMQ as well, because in the season opener last year, Nate Clements had a chance to seal a win for the Bills against Jacksonville simply by knocking down a 4th down pass to Jimmy Smith. Instead, Clements botched an interception attempt, Smith caught the ball, and Jacksonville went on to win. Buffalo then went on to miss the playoffs by one game.

by Wicked (not verified) :: Tue, 10/11/2005 - 4:07pm

Regarding GB running up the score on the Saints - GB is notorious for 'playing not to lose' and they were doing everything in their power not to let that happen. For their own good they needed to keep scoring. They were still 0-4 at the time and in dire straits much more than the Saints. Keeping the team confident in their abilities is top priority when trying to salvage a season, wondering if you're hurting the feelings of the other team, is not.

by ABW (not verified) :: Tue, 10/11/2005 - 4:14pm

I dunno, Astroboy, expecting a defensive player to see a ball in the air and then think, "wait, it's 4th down, if it's incomplete we get it at the 33, if I take it here I need to return it past the 33 to make it worth it" it s a lot to expect. If I was a defensive coordinator I'd want my players to just go for the ball any chance they get - turnovers are too valuable to risk missing one by having a player trying to think too hard about the context of the play.

I agree, it would have been really stupid if catching an interception had cost them later on, but I don't think that really qualifies as a "sour" play.

by MCS (not verified) :: Tue, 10/11/2005 - 4:38pm


My unsolicited opinion:

I must disagree. These are "professional" football players. They get paid to play and to think. IMHO, it should be ingrained into the DBs: On 4th down, knock it down! This is regardless of score or time. It's a matter of change of possession.

by pullingfish (not verified) :: Tue, 10/11/2005 - 4:56pm

All of you with complaints would be better served by e-mailing Mr. Easterbrook than by posting your gripes here.

by Matthew Furtek (not verified) :: Tue, 10/11/2005 - 5:00pm

Finally, somewhere to discuss the tuck rule this weekend.

Everyone is missing the point on this tuck rule. Even though Jake Plummer may have been tucking the ball back... the ball ended up going BACKWARDS! How can you call a ball the goes backwards an incomplete pass?

by MDS (not verified) :: Tue, 10/11/2005 - 5:02pm

AstroBoy, I saw that and said the exact same thing. (And ABW, I've seen defensive backs knock down passes on fourth down when they could have intercepted.) One thing I'll disagree with AstroBoy on, though, is this:

"The only possible benefit of an interception on 4th down is the chance to return it past the original line of scrimmage"

Actually, there's one other benefit: Running around with the ball to take some time off the clock. Of course, McCree didn't do that, either, but it would be a wise move, especially if the intercepting player was able to run around long enough to take the game past the two-minute warning.

by fishSTYX (not verified) :: Tue, 10/11/2005 - 5:11pm

"the ball ended up going BACKWARDS! How can you call a ball the goes backwards an incomplete pass?"
to be ruled a forward pass, the ball only needs to move forward initially. In this case the ball did move forward as it left his hand so the ruling was correct. The final direction of the ball is irrelevant.

by Adam H (not verified) :: Tue, 10/11/2005 - 5:57pm

Boy,Carl must be cooking up a big one.

by bobstar (not verified) :: Tue, 10/11/2005 - 6:20pm

I don't agree with that in the workplace. Oops, I mean, I don't agree with TMQ regarding GB running up the score. The NFL is entertainment. Why shortchange the 60,000 fans who paid a lot of their hard earned money to see this game?

It seems that most of Easterbrook's kvetches can be easily countered if you look at them in context. (I.e. TB's field goal try with 4:05 remaining while down by 5; Detroit not trying an onside kick on their kickoff from the Raven's 40. Would a failed osk really "have left Baltimore deep in its territory anyway"?

PS I miss Carl. This thread is a lot duller without him.

by ABW (not verified) :: Tue, 10/11/2005 - 6:25pm

Huh. Well, I guess I'll have to raise my standards for defensive back play.

Does DVOA handle this right? As in, give more value to an incompletion in this situation than an interception? This also seems like a good question for William Krasker.

by posy (not verified) :: Tue, 10/11/2005 - 6:26pm

well since they were kicking form the Baltimore 40 and a kick has to go a minimum of 10 yards, that would put the ball at at least the 30 yard line of Baltimore, only 10 yards further than a touchback. But being reasonalbe the kick will likely travel 15 yards putting it at the Baltimore 25.

by pawnking (not verified) :: Tue, 10/11/2005 - 6:40pm

RE: the onside kick from the 40, what would have been the effect if the ball had gone out of bounds (a real possibility given the onside kick)? Would the ball have been placed on the 35?

by Trogdor (not verified) :: Tue, 10/11/2005 - 6:44pm

At the time of Detroit's kick from the 40, my friend and I were debating whether they would onside kick or punt high to try to force a fair catch inside the 5, and which would be a better option. The thought of kicking it out of the end zone never occurred to us. What was really surprising was that the announcers never seemed to consider any option other than just giving a touchback - which normally wouldn't surprise me, but one of the announcers was special teams legend Steve Tasker. I would have thought he'd lambaste them for wasting such a golden opportunity, but I thought wrong.

Speaking of Tasker, he correctly sided with the officials for tossing the Ravens who bumped them during complaints (although they appeared to toss the wrong guy on one). He pointed out that this crew wouldn't put up with that - the ref was the same one who had tossed him from his final game for bumping an official. I partially agree with Baltimore fans' complaints about Barber though - it was in no way unfair that the Ravens got tossed, but there is absolutely no reason Barber should have stayed in the game. The idea that his reputation should be at work is silly (as illustrated by Tasker's booting, for one) - you don't hit the officials, period, and he should have been tossed, no questions asked. Fortunately it didn't affect the outcome of the game at least.

Finally, long-time readers of this site know that I am not one to shy away from unpopular, nay, insane, opinions. And I would like to offer one more proof of my idiocy - I loved my Yugo. My parents bought one in 1986, when I was 10, for about $3000. They still had it when I graduated college. In that time they put about 150k miles on it, and spent less than $1500 on non-scheduled repairs. They finally got rid of it in 2000, when they traded it to a contractor for about $400 worth of work on their plumbing. Even discounting for inflation, that's one heck of a deal. It was fuel-efficient, always started even in the coldest winters, and extremely reliable. What exactly is wrong with Yugos again?

Finally (part 2), I think the small Wisconsin school that has tunnels connecting all buildings has the right idea. I visited a friend at a small college in Minnesota that had the same setup, and it's really something you appreciate when it's 20 below with three feet of snow. I can't imagine it's all that much different in Wisconsin.

by Trogdor (not verified) :: Tue, 10/11/2005 - 6:48pm

If the ball goes out of bounds, you can choose to take it either at the spot where it goes out, or 30 yards from where it was kicked. If it goes less than 15(?) yards, there's one automatic re-kick after a 5-yard penalty (except in the last 5? minutes). So that aspect wasn't a great risk for Detroit.

by Independent George (not verified) :: Tue, 10/11/2005 - 6:50pm

#34: Did you ever get into an accident with your Yugo? I've never owned one, but I imagine the result would bear a striking resemblance what happened to all my Lego cars when I crash-tested them against my bedroom wall.

by nath (not verified) :: Tue, 10/11/2005 - 8:21pm

re: 23:
They're supposed to know the context of the play before it starts. It's not like it becomes fourth down after the ball is in the air. I don't think "knock it down on fourth down" is either a new idea or a difficult one to remember.

by Astro Boy (not verified) :: Tue, 10/11/2005 - 9:22pm

MDS- Glad you noticed this play as well. I suppose you're correct on the time killing option, but I'll argue that when a defender starts dancing sideline to sideline trying to keep a play alive after a turnover, he's likely either to get blindsided by someone on the offense or to try an ill-advised lateral to a teammate. Either case could easily result in a fumble recovery by the offense and a fresh set of downs. I'll stick to the "4th down, knock it down" mantra.

by Matthew Furtek (not verified) :: Tue, 10/11/2005 - 10:37pm

So, let me understand this.

QB cocks and brings arm foward. He decides to hold onto the ball at the last second. The ball slips out at the end of his throwing motion. The result of the play is that he throws a pass underhanded behind him, kind've like a shotgun snap from center. This is an incomplete pass.

It just doesn't seem correct to me... at what point does his arm end going foward and start going backward?

by Vash (not verified) :: Tue, 10/11/2005 - 11:07pm

This week's TMQ was pretty good, although Easterbrook may be in trouble with the hypocrisy police.

Stats of the Week: Owing to penalties, Detroit ran six consecutive plays from the Baltimore 1-yard line -- and needed all six to score.
Of course they needed all six to score! If they had scored in fewer than six plays, they wouldn't have run six plays.

by Dennis (not verified) :: Tue, 10/11/2005 - 11:35pm

I wish i could get TMQ's job. Just write the same thing every week and get a prominent spot on NFL.com.

by Shane S. (not verified) :: Tue, 10/11/2005 - 11:50pm

I have to agree that you shouldn't be offende by a team running up the score...here's an idea...stop their offense. New Orleans didn't really do that.
Trogdor, that college you mentioned in Minnesota, that wouldn't be Southwest State University, would it? I graduated from there. And yes, tunnels are nice, especially in the dead of winter...

by Dave (not verified) :: Wed, 10/12/2005 - 10:55am

It might be a lot to ask a defensive player to be immediately aware of every ramification of his actions in all cases -- but on a fourth down play? Geez. Baseball players remind each other between every batter how many outs there are and where the play is, and then they're ready to make the right snap decision when the ball is hit. Football guys are savvy enough to "knock it down!" for Hail Mary attempts. What's so much harder about saying in the huddle, "okay, it's fourth down, knock the pass down unless you have a clear return"? Maybe they could talk that over in the film room at the same time they work on convincing DBs to take a knee in the end zone rather than bob and weave their way to their own 6.

Completely unrelated question: why the devil don't players being tackled near the sidelines, or anywhere at all, in clock situations throw (i.e., fumble) the ball out of bounds to stop time? Dicey play you might not want to encourage routinely, but when you're out of time outs and the game's over if you're tackled inbounds anyway, there's no harm trying it. I was thinking this for ten millionth time as Joey Galloway got hauled down in the Bucs game -- not that he was close to the sideline -- but if you've made your players aware of this, it would at least open up a chunk of the field besides "right along the sideline" where you can operate in such a situation. Surely it's no harder to install as a gadget than the hook and ladder, and would be a lot more useful.

by Jeff J. (not verified) :: Wed, 10/12/2005 - 10:56am

I wrote at my site that the NFL rule as worded takes into account that the intent of the player is to NOT pass the ball; the referees can then rule that he DID intend to pass the ball. It just defies logic.

Jake Plummer had zero intention of passing on that play. Mike Vick pump fakes so often on his scrambles that any subsequent dropping of the ball might as well be called a tuck too.

That was a pivotal call, and it clearly changed the direction of the Skins game.

by Starshatterer (not verified) :: Wed, 10/12/2005 - 12:07pm

Dave (#43 )--

My hazy memory recalls "fumble forward out of bounds" being a staple of Raider ballcarriers in the 70s. The present weird rule (you can fumble out of bounds, but the ball does not advance from the spot of the fumble near the end of the half/game) was adopted to put a stop to that.

My guess is that up to now, coaches have assumed another rule change would come if they took your modified tactic. (Unforced fumble out of bounds with no time outs = down at the spot of the fumble, clock keeps running?)

But you're right, it's odd that no one has used that particular loophole yet and taught their runners to lateral out of bounds to stop the clock.

by MDS (not verified) :: Wed, 10/12/2005 - 12:08pm

One of the things no one has mentioned about the Lions' decision to kick for a touchback instead of kicking onside: I heard a lot of fans booing after that kickoff. I can't imagine why the home crowd would boo a home team touchback, other than that they realized that the Lions should have tried an onside kick. So thousands of drunk guys in the stands are smarter than the Lions' coaching staff, the TV announcers, and the Detroit football media (none of whom wrote about it in their game stories or asked Mooch about it at the press conference). I guess that shouldn't surprise me.

Trogdor, this comes from the NFL's digest of rules: a punt may not be used on a kickoff following a touchdown, successful field goal, or to begin each half or overtime period.

by Dave (not verified) :: Wed, 10/12/2005 - 1:02pm

Back when they used to kick off from the 35, it wasn't uncommon to see an unsportsmanlike or similar put the kickoff at midfield. Used to think it was a borderline call to onside kick routinely in that situation, but nobody ever did it that I saw. Your own 45 probably isn't good enough (the yardage tradeoffs are almost exactly analogous to the Jeff Wilkins field goal situation, though your expected return would be lower, at least if the onside were expected), but their 40 should be a no-brainer. I smell an FO article that perhaps could be reduced to laminated chart form for sideline use a la those silly two-point conversion grids.

What do some of these guys spend 20 hours a day thinking about, anyway? I swear, you watch some of these teams waste timeouts to talk about whether to go for two or mangle clock management and it's like it's never occurred to the coaching staff that they might find themselves in a close game late.

Here's another one: Cleveland-Green Bay, week 2. Packers have third and goal at the Cleveland 4 with ten seconds to play, trailing by 9. With elapsed time from the plays, the prospect of winning at this point required recovering an onside kick and then completing a hail mary for a TD -- not likely, but not zero. Therefore, they should kick the chip-shot field goal here to assure that they'll have that chance. Instead, they run another play from scrimmage. It happens that they score a TD, but they're no better off than if they'd kicked, and they've taken the considerable chance of getting no points at all on the play -- which would have ended the game. This was probably also true on second and goal with 14 seconds to play -- a play on which they did not score and were lucky to lose only four seconds. (The onside kick took place at :04; Cleveland snapped the ball at :03, though if there had been no clean recovery, it's not impossible four seconds -- or at least more than one -- could have run off on the kick alone.)

Re 45 -- Maybe, but how many coaches have more than a year or two of job security at most that they can afford to worry about future rules changes like that? Especially if for want of a horseshoe, the war is lost ... (somewhere, Dennis Erickson is dreaming of Vinny Testaverde's helmet)

Sorry for the extended dissertation.

by ChrisG (not verified) :: Wed, 10/12/2005 - 1:49pm

I really don't understand the TMQ bashing here. I get that people may not agree with his assessments of tactics, plays, astrophysics, etc. - but I haven't found a more entertaining football based column than his. In fact it was his column that first led me to FO. I read all the NFL stuff I can on the web, and I always look forward to reading TMQ over lunch on Tuesdays. Personally I like that he writes about more than football. After all - there is more to life than football...wait, is there? Have there been any studies on this?

by HLF (not verified) :: Wed, 10/12/2005 - 4:25pm

I agree completely with the sentiments in #47 above.

As I see it, the true problem is the skill sets required to successfully evaluate talent, motivate players and assistant coaches, prepare playbooks, prepare individual game plans, evaluate opponents strengths and weaknesses, and manage in game strategic decisions, are not all likely to be found in the same person (or more certainly UNlikely to be found in the same person). However, very few head coaches seem to delegate the things they are weakest on to others, particularly any "in-game" strategic or tactical decisions (Holmgrem, Martz, Tice, Edwards, Schottenheimer, I'm staring particularly hard in your directions).

The result is too frequently a man like Martz who truly seems brilliant at designing offensive plays, and finding talent to execute his offensive systems, yet seems completely unable to grasp fundamentals of in game strategy.

Hopeless Lions' Fan,

by Dave (not verified) :: Wed, 10/12/2005 - 4:48pm

Actually, the media DID ask Mariucci about the kicking decision. He said that they planned to do an onside kick, but Jason Hanson vetoed the idea, fearing that the awkward kicking motion required would do more damage to his bad hamstring.

by Mikey (not verified) :: Wed, 10/12/2005 - 5:18pm

Did anyone click on the link about butts in the article? It includes a comment from someone named "Mike Zima" who is buying $600 jeans. Mike Zima...no word if this is a new alias for the man once known as Ron Mexico. Or if he was with his friends Yakov Smirnoff and Sammy Merlot.

by Jake Brake (not verified) :: Wed, 10/12/2005 - 5:25pm

If the tuck rule had been instituted earlier, then Dave Kreig would have had a lot fewer fumbles in the 80s. The man was a master of the backward pass - without being hit.

by marc (not verified) :: Wed, 10/12/2005 - 6:54pm

"Completely unrelated question: why the devil don’t players being tackled near the sidelines, or anywhere at all, in clock situations throw (i.e., fumble) the ball out of bounds to stop time?"

Players don't do that because:
1. there is a rule against pretending to fumble the ball
2. It's incredibly moronic to purposely give the other team even a miniscule chance at getting a loose ball.

by DavidH (not verified) :: Wed, 10/12/2005 - 7:27pm

2. It’s incredibly moronic to purposely give the other team even a miniscule chance at getting a loose ball.

It is less moronic than letting yourself get tackled in bounds in the closing seconds of a game in which you are trailing.

by masocc (not verified) :: Thu, 10/13/2005 - 7:43am

Re: #52. Except that Dave Krieg never bothered to tuck. He simply dropped the ball when he cocked his arm back to throw, because he had hands approximately the size of Verne Troyer's.

by masocc (not verified) :: Thu, 10/13/2005 - 8:09am

Re: #21 Astroboy:
If you ask me, you're REALLY lucky you didn't lose your money on that game.

If there was a sour play(call) there, it was Dennis Green choosing to go for it in the first place!

He should've trotted Rackers out for the 48 yard Figgie. Rackers is on fire, and he'd already made one from 49. I'd say that's a better bet than a bomb into the endzone. Bam, you've already lost your money AND the Panthers would've gone on to lose the game BECAUSE:

The Panthers, inexplicably, couldn't rush against the Cards' 28th ranked (by DVOA) rush defense. Overall, they averaged less than 3.4 YPC. And that's counting Foster's numerous 'surprise' runs on expected passing downs. If you look at just Davis' carries (who would likely get the ball twice at the end of the game, if not three times), he averaged a PATHETIC 2.6 YPC.

Apart from a couple of long pass plays, the Cards' D has played a great game up to this point. Chances are, if Dennis Green shows some faith (which they had EARNED up until that point) in his D, they'd have had a good shot at a decent range FG to WIN the game, instead of a series of desperation plays.

TMQ be damned, the Cards should've been kicking that 48 yard FG and assumed they'd be getting the ball back.

by masocc (not verified) :: Thu, 10/13/2005 - 8:17am

Speaking of TMQ...

When I buy my first NFL franchise. My team will go 16-0 4 years running, with back-to-back-to-back-to-back Super Bowl victories! How, you ask?

I'm going to stock the roster with purely average NFL players. They will then commence to run a quite average play over and over again. 4+4+4=12! Odds are, we'll make a first down EVERY time! WooHoo! HOF, here I come.

by Sid (not verified) :: Fri, 10/14/2005 - 3:34pm

Yahoo! users almost almost pick the favorite. That's why they're beating the experts. Pick the odds-on favorites to win each game each week, and you'll do pretty well.
Cincy going for it on 4th and 1 made sense. It's 4th and 1. Compare this to TMQ's constant exhortations for teams to go for it on 4th and 8 rather than kick a FG. On 4th and 1, I'd go for it most of the time, probably. On 4th and 5 or greater, I'm not going for it unless it's late and I'm totally desperate.
I didn't catch the dumb line about a "Yugo girl".

by Sid (not verified) :: Fri, 10/14/2005 - 5:34pm

RE: 21
You're right, and players do this all the time to pad your stats. On 4th down, you knock the ball down unless you think you have open field in front of you and can get a good return. On second thought, even then it isn't worth the risk. Just knock the ball down and get the ball at the LOS.

by Sid (not verified) :: Fri, 10/14/2005 - 5:34pm

That should read "...to pad their stats..."