Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

22 Nov 2005

TMQ: If a Federal Bureaucracy Ran Sports

Often a play where TMQ complains that the offensive lineman are standing around doing nothing is really just a blown line call. That being said, if Carolina had five guys standing around doing nothing, that's one hell of a blown line call, isn't it? Plus, TMQ one-ups my Mike Vrabel comment by noting that Vrabel is pictured catching a touchdown pass on the cover of the 2005 NFL Record and Fact Book.

Posted by: Aaron Schatz on 22 Nov 2005

40 comments, Last at 24 Nov 2005, 6:23am by Elton


by Alan P (not verified) :: Tue, 11/22/2005 - 3:24pm

I wondered what TMQ would say about the Giants 3 run plays then pass for a TD from the 1 yard line.

I think the Giants did the right thing as TMQ said (although I would have liked them to give the ball to Tiki on at least 1 of those runs), but he should have made some comment about how this play went against his love of running the ball in short yardage.

As soon as the Giants scored on the 61 yard TD off the big blitz I knew TMQ would mention that as well.

Is it bad that when watching games and certain plays happen I immediately think TMQ will be writing about this ?

by zlionsfan (not verified) :: Tue, 11/22/2005 - 3:24pm

I don't think Mathis should have tried to lateral to a teammate at the end of the first half, especially considering that they'd just given up a touchdown on an interception. I'm sure if he had thrown the ball away and it had been picked up and returned for a TD by the Chiefs, that would have been a Sour Play as well.

The Why Are You Kicking? thing is wearing a little thin, too. I don't think the Texans lost because they didn't go for it on fourth-and-goal - in fact, mentioning that the Texans never threatened again might imply that what they did on that drive didn't mean anything anyway.

Also, the Squared Sevens are 2-8, that's true ... but if they hadn't kicked a field goal then, they might not have been in position to tie the game in the final minute. (Disclaimer: I think maybe they should have gone for it from the 5, but the implication seems to be that kicking a field goal leads directly to a loss, and I disagree with that.)

by Sophandros (not verified) :: Tue, 11/22/2005 - 3:44pm

I wonder if Mathis minds having his name spelled in two different ways throughout the article.

by Gaius (not verified) :: Tue, 11/22/2005 - 3:50pm

Nearly complete absence of stock phrases in this one -- many of which had become cloyingly annoying to a number of readers.

Those who are sick of the actual TMQ column and prefer reading and responding to FO commentary may thus venture cautiously into the original text, which does contain a hefty dose of football observations.

[But don't blame Gaius if you don't like it, because you are hereby warned that TMQ does not break new ground.]

In light of the aforementioned stylistic shift, when I reached the end of the column and the author declared he was in his sixth year of writing it, I was prepared for a horrifying clincher, anticipating an announcement this would be the final season -- perhaps citing retirement at season's end due to diminishing skills, or immediate cessation due to literary injury...but, for better or worse, that was not to be.

by Levente (not verified) :: Tue, 11/22/2005 - 4:02pm

He did not mention that Miami did go for it on 4th down on 2 consecutive drives in the 4th quarter being down 22-0 (drive failed both times).

I was angry with them because this way they robbed me of 6 sure FF points (27 and 38 yard field goals).

by Becephalus (not verified) :: Tue, 11/22/2005 - 4:04pm

I think his comments about the government are interesting considering government agencies are run just as effciently as corportions. It is just that while government agencies waste resources on extra staff and process, corporate entities waste it on kickbacks to investors and profit taking (I read a recent study of a bunch of public works projects which were done in the 90's. Per dollar spent the public and private groups acoomplished the exact same things and it was found that on average both spent about 20% of the budget "wastefully".) I wish I could remember where I read it. It might have even come from TMQ's own Brookings Institute.

by james (not verified) :: Tue, 11/22/2005 - 4:04pm

I like reading it because it helps me decide if I like a certain coach or not. Like him or lump him TMQ makes good points.

Teams who big blitz alot have no faith in their defensive units. While the big blitz is only a couple plays out of 60 or 70 it exemplifies the desperation that must permeate throughout practices, film sessions, and personel decisions. Panicking is not good for a football team.

Perfect example is the Redskins. They get 0 pressure on the quarterback. This results in many teams driving the ball at will between the 20s. However once inside the 20 where they have to execute often fg's are scored instead of tds. This is why they are in every game, and even won a few because of missed figgies. Unless your name is Chris Simms field goals are the name of the game.

by Joey (not verified) :: Tue, 11/22/2005 - 4:09pm

"Someone who can run a 4.32 would arrive at the 40-yard marker 13 inches ahead of someone running a 4.36."
Which would be the difference between catching a pass and having it broken up. (I was actually surprised such a small difference in time would amount to this large a gap after only 40 yards.)

Funny comments about the giant Airbus, but the Boeing picture looks pretty realistic to me. The foreground is clearly first class and has what appears to be 6 seats across (you see 5 in the photo but it appears there may be another on the far right just off the frame). That's not unheard of in a plane that is going to carry about 250 passengers. And, in the background you see a pretty standard-looking coach class with aisles about half the width of first class—again, about the norm. They sure aren't pretending there's going to be a piano bar onboard.

by C (not verified) :: Tue, 11/22/2005 - 4:13pm

Was I the only one who noticed that he in fact had something to say about the Jets in his stat of the week?
"Stats of the Week No. 4: With 8 yards, Justin McCareins was the Jets' leading rusher."

by Joey (not verified) :: Tue, 11/22/2005 - 4:21pm

"I think his comments about the government are interesting considering government agencies are run just as effciently as corportions."

Not my experience AT ALL, at least not in this country. Govt. is hamstrung in so many ways: Overloaded bureacracy, everything moves at a glacier's pace, countless regulations, workers in many cases who are essentially locked in for life, regardless how they perform. Check out how far behind the government is at installing bomb-sniffing machines at airports as just one example of something a private company would have implemented in a matter of months had they decided to do so. Also see how air traffic control and even the space program use technology that is anything but cutting edge not because they want to but because it's such an undertaking to get anything approved by all the powers that be.

by Todd S. (not verified) :: Tue, 11/22/2005 - 4:21pm

#8 With regards to inches being the difference...I expect that is very, very rarely the case. If the QB throws a perfect pass, (within a foot of where he intends at 40 yards...99% accurate), then it COULD be the difference. However, I imagine several other factors are more important more consistently: adjustment to the ball in the air, positioning of body compared to defender, defender technique, safety help, etc. I agree with TMQ that these hundredths in the combine are way overblown. This isn't track; it's football.

by B-spectacled (not verified) :: Tue, 11/22/2005 - 4:49pm

"And when Tommy Maddox was sacked in overtime, leading to a Pittsburgh punt and Baltimore's winning drive, yours truly counted three Steelers blockers simply standing there watching, not even trying to protect their quarterback."

I think the PIT line was watching in hope that they could get Randle El on the field as QB quicker!

by Sophandros (not verified) :: Tue, 11/22/2005 - 4:53pm

Also, if you're 13 inches in front of me, I can still grab you. I wager that most readers can touch the top of their monitor right now. I would hope that your monitor is more than 13 inches away. Just pulled out a ruler and checked, and I'm more than 13 inches away, and my arm can easily tough the top of my monitor.

Regarding gov't vs. corporate, both are bureaucracies, thus both are imperfect.

by Phil (not verified) :: Tue, 11/22/2005 - 5:14pm

I like how it takes the Bills punting down 35-10 for him to write "game over" in his notebook. The game was over long before that.

And you know if the Giants' pass was incomplete on that 4th and goal, he would've been all over them for not running.

by Craig B (not verified) :: Tue, 11/22/2005 - 5:17pm

Aaron questioned the play call and TMQ puts it as the sweet play of the week. I'm going to have to go with the bad play call. A sweep on 4th-and-1 against the Colts is not the way to go. Yes, Brackett stopped it, but sweet play of the week? You could do better.

by Jason (not verified) :: Tue, 11/22/2005 - 5:25pm

#10: Yes, for example, the private health insurance industry is a MODEL of efficiency. As is Halliburton! I wish Halliburton ran everything I do, they are so efficient. /snark

But onto the topic, I tired of Easterbrook long ago and was glad to see him leave Page 2 on ESPN.com. Every column the same, trite observations with the same not-really-that-funny "humor".

by mawbrew (not verified) :: Tue, 11/22/2005 - 5:36pm

I'm wondering who is really running the show in Indy. On an early fourth down, Manning apparently (according to the announcers) waved off the punt team and decided to go for it (successfully). Later with time running out for Cincy, he changes three run plays to passes (unsuccessfully).

The guy is a terrific QB, but at some point this sorta apparent disregard for his coaches has got to get the other players wondering.

by Dennis (not verified) :: Tue, 11/22/2005 - 5:39pm

Re #16: If you think our health insurance system is bad, ask some Canadians about how efficient their state-run health care system is. Our system really is a model of efficiency in comparison.

by Dan (not verified) :: Tue, 11/22/2005 - 5:48pm

I discovered TMQ 2 years ago and at that time the column was very enjoyable. Some of the nicknames and observations he made were just plain funny.

I.E. the Arizone (CAUTION: May Contain a Football Like Substance) Cardinals.

You can't beat that... I don't care who you are - LOL

I must admit though, I've been disappointed in the columns this year. Seems like a greater percentage of off-topic content in a shorter column. Oh well, it made me laugh and it was free. No big loss.

by mawbrew (not verified) :: Tue, 11/22/2005 - 5:56pm

Re: 16

I'd agree health insurance is an inefficient industry, but it's pretty unique among competitive businesses. The separation (in most cases) of purchaser (employer) and customer is more typical of a government funded model than most business models. Throw on top of that the regulations and consumer 'right' to the 'best' treatment regardless of cost and a mess is pretty much unavoidable.

We now return to our regularly scheduled FO discussion.....

Heiden's block on Droughn's run was indeed outstanding. Similarly Bryant's block (way downfield) was also impressive.

by Duane (not verified) :: Tue, 11/22/2005 - 6:20pm

The car star of "Vanishing Point" was a 1970 Dodge Challenger, not a 1969 Charger. And wasn't Ford's inspiration for the new Mustang the 1968 "Bullit" fastback, and not the 1965 model? And all these "retro" cars with four doors; that's just not right.

by Sophandros (not verified) :: Tue, 11/22/2005 - 6:22pm

#18: I've discussed this ad nauseum with friends of mine from Canada, England, Ireland, France, New Zealand, South Africa, and Australia. Guess what? 100% privatized health care sucks, in their opinion.

by B (not verified) :: Tue, 11/22/2005 - 6:27pm

Re 21: Dodge is bringing back the Challenger, in 2-door form. MY 2007, so it should be out next year, based on the same platform as the Charger/300C/Magnum.

by Dennis (not verified) :: Tue, 11/22/2005 - 6:42pm

Re #22: Apparently we've talked to different people, because the Canadians I know don't have much good to say about their system.

by Scott de B. (not verified) :: Tue, 11/22/2005 - 6:51pm

Re #16: If you think our health insurance system is bad, ask some Canadians about how efficient their state-run health care system is. Our system really is a model of efficiency in comparison.

For all its flaws (Canada's is one of the worst national health care systems in the industrialized world, both with respect to cost and efficiency), it delivers better results than the U.S. system, and more cheaply.

by EJP (not verified) :: Tue, 11/22/2005 - 7:03pm

I remember when I first discovered TMQ about a year and a half ago. I also really enjoyed it at first, and found it humorous and intelligent. For whatever reason, this season I find his columns completely lacking in everything that I once looked forward to. Too bad.

by shonk (not verified) :: Tue, 11/22/2005 - 7:21pm

100% privatized health care sucks, in their opinion.

If you can name one country on Earth that has a 100% private health system, I'll be impressed.

by Becephalus (not verified) :: Tue, 11/22/2005 - 7:55pm

Well the US system is great if you can afford it. If you cannot it is horrible. From the people I have spoken to in Europe and Canada, NONE want a US style health system. Of course maybe thats because I don't talk to rich people.

Here is the clincher, in the US system per capita we spend something like 4,000 per person privately and another 1,500 publically compared to France or England's say 2,000 per person publically little to none privately.

This is because in the US where people often select their own care. A huge ammount of our healthcare goes to extending the last 6 months of people's lives to the last 8 or 9 months. It is an incredibly stupid way to spend resources from any point fo view.

by Starshatterer (not verified) :: Tue, 11/22/2005 - 9:30pm

New England note 1: The injuries continue, but no matter who the Flying Elvii send out on the offensive line, the blocking is good.
Actually, pass blocking has been spotty. Brady has a very quick release, so he's not sacked as often as he should be, but he's been hit quite often.

by TomC (not verified) :: Tue, 11/22/2005 - 10:39pm

On the subject of Jerome Mathis/Mathias:

I was listening to the Westwood-1 feed, and after the TD, John Riggins let the world know that Jerome was from "The Hamptons."

I thought I recognized him from that boutique in Sag Harbor.

by Roger (not verified) :: Tue, 11/22/2005 - 10:39pm

It's a good thing all of the people we talk to in Europe and Canada are economists specializing in health-care systems! Otherwise, their opinions would be just as relevant as the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders'.

by Chad (not verified) :: Wed, 11/23/2005 - 1:44am

Err, so TMQ did mention the Jets/Broncos game...but I don't see any mention of the MNF game. Did I miss it?

by Becephalus (not verified) :: Wed, 11/23/2005 - 2:25am

It was simply a response to the common critque which was raised above that people in Europe and Canada are not happy with thier healthcare systems (which they are not but they prefer them to ours).

Probably enough discussion fo this topic in this thread anyway sorry.

by shonk (not verified) :: Wed, 11/23/2005 - 2:41am

Here is the clincher, in the US system per capita we spend something like 4,000 per person privately and another 1,500 publically compared to France or England’s say 2,000 per person publically little to none privately.

Warning! Utterly non-football (and probably non-sensical) rant follows. Proceed at your own risk.

I'm certainly not an expert on health care, but I suspect that, just as median income is a much better measure of average wealth than mean income, median per capita spending would be a better measure of health care expenditures than mean per capita spending. In both cases, since there's a strict floor but no ceiling, high variance inevitably inflates the mean. For example, if some rich dude with cancer spends a million dollars extending his life an extra month, that has a big impact on the mean but none on the median; since more private systems tend to make that a more plausible scenario, one would expect more private systems to have higher mean spending figures, even if the medians are similar.

That's not to say that the median numbers for the US system aren't still significantly higher (I have no idea), but it's something to keep in mind. It should also be pointed out that, to some extent, higher prices in the US subsidize health care in other countries. For example, my understanding is that pharmaceutical prices are fixed by law in Canada (and, for that matter, de facto if not de jure in any other country where the government is the dominant or only buyer of pharmaceuticals). Pharmaceuticals companies compensate for this by raising their prices in the US by a couple of bucks. However, if the US suddenly imposed similar price controls, one might guess that the pharmas would be in serious trouble. Personally, I'd probably like to see some of the big pharmas crash and burn, but it's something to be careful about.

Of course, there are other considerations at play here than pure cost-benefit analysis; for example, whether it's really socially desirable for rich, terminally ill old people to be able to spend (or, in many cases, waste) a million bucks on the potential for living for another month or two or, from the other end of the ideological spectrum, whether it's desirable to keep government out of one's health decisions regardless of whether it costs more or not. Unfortunately, many of these considerations are impossible to quantify and tend to be highly politicized.

That having been said, a "huge amount" of health spending will go towards marginally extending the very ends of people's lives regardless of the health care system unless that system simply abandons the very ill. This may objectively be "incredibly stupid", but I tend to think that the alternative is probably worse.

by Elton (not verified) :: Wed, 11/23/2005 - 7:48am

More non-sensical health-care based ranting to follow:

First, click on the website link to read an article by an economist who suggests that the reason American health care is so much more expensive is because it is dramatically better (for those insured, of course): America uses the latest technology and does MUCH more testing (as well as higher pay for doctors). He also notes this: "Overall, 22 percent of health care spending on people over 65 takes place in the last year of life. However, only 1/3 of U.S. health care spending is for people 65 and older. Thus, as a percentage of overall U.S. health care spending, spending on the last year of life amounts to about 7 percent. That is high, but not staggering."

Second, my personal observation as an American expat in Holland matches this: It was very surprising to go to the dentist and not automatically get an X-ray, or to go to the doctor for what I thought would be a checkup with reflex tests, blood pressure, etc., only to get none of that -- the doctor just wanted to know "What's wrong with you?" Very little preventative care -- they just check you out once something goes wrong. It's a huge contrast with basic medical coverage in the U.S. I can't say if all of the extra time & money spent in the U.S. on preventative care is cost-efficient, but very few (if any) countries provide more thorough health care than the U.S. does (again, for those fortunate enough to be insured).

Sorry for the hijack. On topic: I like TMQ, and I would definitely try a blueberry-almond martini. I normally only drink martinis to get the olives anyway.

by Phill (not verified) :: Wed, 11/23/2005 - 7:56am

re #22: Nope. I didn't see any mention of Vikings vs Packers either. Just to be sure, i did a text search for 'Vikings', 'Minnesota', 'Green Bay' and 'Packers'. No hits on any of them.

by Joe (not verified) :: Wed, 11/23/2005 - 12:47pm

Re #26: For whatever reason, this season I find his columns completely lacking in everything that I once looked forward to. Too bad.

That's because he writes the same thing every week so it's become stale. The first time you read "stop me before I blitz again", "tis better to have rushed and lost", or "why are you punting?" it's interesting. The 50th time you read them, they are just annoying.

by Dennis (not verified) :: Wed, 11/23/2005 - 12:55pm

The way to reduce the cost of healthcare is to make it a truly free market and let people shop around. The way the system is now, everyone with insurance doesn't care what the actual costs are, they just pay their copays and deductibles. There is no incentive for to compare prices. And there is no incentive for providers to compete on price because they get paid the contracted amounts from the insurance companies.

The one area of health care that is a free market is cosmetic surgery because in almost all cases, people are paying 100% out of pocket for it. Look how the prices have come down for things like Lasik. Providers have a real incentive to reduce prices because they are competing in an open market.

by PhilD (not verified) :: Wed, 11/23/2005 - 1:27pm

Is it just me or has the link at nfl.com not been updated? I see last week's "animadversions" as the latest post...

by Elton (not verified) :: Thu, 11/24/2005 - 6:23am

I'm with you, Dennis. There is a huge incentive for the medical economy to innovate by inventing new products and techniques, but much less incentive to innovate in the less-sexy area of making existing technology cheaper. There is occasional price competition when states shop around to reduce their medicare costs, but there's no better way to reduce prices than to force companies to compete for the dollars out of peoples' own pockets. Health insurance should work like car insurance: insurance covers the risk of a catastrophic incident or disease, and people pay for their own basic care (with something like government vouchers for the poor for basic services).