Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

25 Aug 2005

TMQ: NFC Preview

Apparently, nobody from FO linked this while I was driving around Dallas on Tuesday. I swear, is there anything in Dallas that is less than an hour away from anything else? Anyway, I haven't had a chance to read this yet but I'm sure it's swell. Apparently, TMQ's opinion of Mr. Ron Mexico is similar to ours.

Posted by: Aaron Schatz on 25 Aug 2005

119 comments, Last at 04 Sep 2005, 7:50pm by Zac


by B (not verified) :: Thu, 08/25/2005 - 10:34am

Ahh, good old Thursday Morning Quarterback.

by NF (not verified) :: Thu, 08/25/2005 - 10:35am

Aside from calling the Rams defense "respectable," this is a pretty good column, and one of the best in a while.

And as an Eagles fan I agree that the Eagles need a power back to win the Super Bowl.

by Pat (not verified) :: Thu, 08/25/2005 - 10:55am

I'm amazed to find out that kids are less likely to die from football than they are from basketball.

Wow. That's kinda insane.

And that "teams with red uniforms" article has "data mining" written all over it. The correlation wasn't even that large, and so a few trials to tune the data set would blow the whole thing.

by Starshatterer (not verified) :: Thu, 08/25/2005 - 10:59am

Pat (#3 )--

But TMQ uses the "teams with red uniforms" blurb to slam the Cardinals. That moves it into the realm of "facts too good to check" for quite a few people.

by Ryan Mc (not verified) :: Thu, 08/25/2005 - 11:10am

I'm trying to understand this whole thing with the Eagles and a power running back.

So, the team is good enough to get to the Superbowl with a 13-3 regular season record (two losses coming with reserve players logging significant time), and only lose the Superbowl by 3 points, but apparently have a glaring enough deficiency on their roster that there's no way they can ever win the Superbowl.

Seems to me that if a team is good enough to lose by only three points, on a different day they might have ended up winning with the same roster.

Pointing out that the Eagles ran the ball less frequently than anybody but the Raiders doesn't clarify either, since maybe they don't carry a power back because they prefer to pass the ball, not the other way around.

by B (not verified) :: Thu, 08/25/2005 - 11:17am

Of course, the real thing he fails to acknowledge with the whole "Eagles need a power running back" is the 03 Pats, the 02 Bucs and the 99 Rams all won without one.

by Adam (not verified) :: Thu, 08/25/2005 - 11:19am

Thing I was trying to figure out: is he predicting that all 16 NFC teams decline this year?

by Starshatterer (not verified) :: Thu, 08/25/2005 - 11:37am

Adam (#7 )--
is he predicting that all 16 NFC teams decline this year?

At a glance, his predictions:

About the same: Arizona, Chicago, Dallas, Detroit, New Orleans, New York, Philadelphia, San Francisco, Seattle, Tampa, Washington.

Better: Green Bay, Minnesota.

Worse: Atlanta.

I really, really, can't tell: Carolina, Saint Louis.

It only looks like he's claiming most of the NFC will decline, because most of the teams he expects to be bad, were also bad last year.

Granted, all of these are guesses, subjective interpretations of his usual off-season critiques, since GE waits to make his actual season-record predictions until just before the season starts.

by Pat (not verified) :: Thu, 08/25/2005 - 11:56am

His main issue is that the Eagles don't run the ball, which is silly. The entire point of running the ball is to keep the secondary/linebackers close to the line so that they can't play deeper zones and completely destroy all passing patterns.

The Eagles handle this with screens to an RB (like many teams before). It does exactly the same thing. The reason the Patriots played the 2-5 line was because they were more concerned with deep passes than short passes.

I agree it's completely silly to say the Eagles can't win the Super Bowl. The game was tied going into the fourth quarter. If you go back and read the game commentary now, it's clear that to people watching, the game was very evenly matched. Each team knew the other's strengths and weaknesses, and were adjusting accordingly. The Patriots just made fewer mistakes.

by Scott de B. (not verified) :: Thu, 08/25/2005 - 12:09pm

Seems to me that if a team is good enough to lose by only three points, on a different day they might have ended up winning with the same roster.

Ah, but you have to take into account that the Patriots weren't playing their best that day either.

by Will Allen (not verified) :: Thu, 08/25/2005 - 12:18pm

It is silly to claim that a team that failed to win the Super Bowl by a few points cannot possibly do so without a power running attack, particularly when recent teams have done so. It would we a nice strategic option, however, when a defense lines up with two down lineman and five linebackers, to cram the ball down the throats of the defenders with simple drive blocking. When a team has the cap room needed to add the type of players for this line of attack, it is reasonable to ask why such an addition was not made.

by Starshatterer (not verified) :: Thu, 08/25/2005 - 12:20pm

Pat (#9 )--
The Patriots just made fewer mistakes.
No. The Patriots committed fewer turnovers. And at least one of the Eagles' turnovers (the forced fumble) was less a mistake than solid defensive play by Harrison and Gay.

But the Patriots did their best to make up for that with bonehead penalties, which essentially killed three drives on offense and wiped out an INT. (Thankfully, for all us arrogant Patriots fans, McNabb threw another on the next snap.)

by Pat (not verified) :: Thu, 08/25/2005 - 1:32pm

No. The Patriots committed fewer turnovers.

That's what "mistake" means in football (at least part of what it means).

I agree that the turnovers were from solid defensive play. Heck, even Brady's fumble was probably a result of him being a little skittish from the pressure he was facing. Do you remember the interview with him later, when they asked if he struggled in the first half? His face fell, and then with a chuckle, he said something like "You think? I don't think we got a first down in the entire first quarter." (Which wasn't true, I don't think).

But obviously the offense could've done things to not make those turnovers happen. McNabb could've not thrown to those locations, for one. He could've chucked the ball away faster when he was on the 8 yard line rather than take a 10 yard sack.

Or, more simply, the offensive coordinator could've called three running plays, they would've not turned the ball over, kicked a field goal - and it would've been a tie game at the end. (yes, this is an exaggeration) So even passing at all was a mistake.

Anyway, my point is that I agree with you that mistakes don't happen on their own in football, especially between two very good teams. But they are still mistakes.

by zach (not verified) :: Thu, 08/25/2005 - 1:41pm

the entire eagles offensive roster is built around an old-school west coast offense, that is, using the short pass (including but not limited to swings and screens to the RB) to almost completely replace the running game. thus a fast running back that can catch passes is infinitely more valuable to them than a power back would be.

so to say that the eagles need a power running back if they want to win a super bowl is like saying that the eagles need to be the steelers if they want to win a super bowl.

by Oswlek (not verified) :: Thu, 08/25/2005 - 1:46pm


I think what Starshatterer meant was that the Pats made just as many mistakes, just fewer of the turnover kind.

Also, the Eagles certainly played great defensively in the first half, but the fumble had nothing to do with pressure. It was knocked out of Brady's hand by Dillon's leg (I think, or it might have been Brady's own).

All in all, I do agree with the point that the Eagles were obviously good enogh to win the SB last year.

by Pat (not verified) :: Thu, 08/25/2005 - 2:10pm


Well, my point is that it's entirely likely that the reason that the Pats screwed up something they've done thousands of times before might have something to do with the players being a little on edge due to the frustration they were feeling.

I wasn't trying to claim that the Eagles had a direct hand in that fumble at all. :)

Anyway, I still wouldn't necessarily agree with that. I think all around the Patriots just made fewer mistakes. The entire point I was trying to make with that is that the Eagles and the Patriots are easily equally talented teams, and I think that game showed that.

I still stand by my pre-Super Bowl statement (note that my prediction was Pats by a field goal) that if they played that game 100 times, the Patriots would win probably 60 times, and the Eagles would win 40.

by Starshatterer (not verified) :: Thu, 08/25/2005 - 2:16pm

Pat (#13 )--
No. The Patriots committed fewer turnovers.

That’s what “mistake� means in football (at least part of what it means).
But another part of "mistakes," is penalties, especially unforced penalties. That Pats committed 7 penalties to the Eagles' 3 -- including 3 false starts on 1st and 10, which are inexcusable.

My point is not so much to replay Superbowl XXXIX with "who made more mistakes" as the score. It's that both teams made mistakes, on both sides of the ball, and that's part of the game. Just about any game you look at, if you let the losing team correct enough of its mistakes, while the winning team keeps all of theirs, you get to say that the team that lost would have won if they made fewer mistakes.

Oswlek (#15 )--
It was knocked out of Brady’s hand by Dillon’s leg (I think, or it might have been Brady’s own).
It was Kevin Faulk, actually. To quote Aaron, "an end around has a chance of fumbling, but so does any play involving Kevin Faulk, including when Faulk eats a hamburger or puts a quarter in the parking meter."

by Pat (not verified) :: Thu, 08/25/2005 - 2:47pm

Just about any game you look at, if you let the losing team correct enough of its mistakes, while the winning team keeps all of theirs, you get to say that the team that lost would have won if they made fewer mistakes.

Eh, I'm not sure I'd agree with that. There are a lot of games (many of which occurred last season) where one team was just clearly outclassed by another one. Green Bay vs. Philadelphia, any game vs. San Francisco, and I'd almost throw in the postseason Indianapolis vs. New England there.

If those games were repeated over and over, the outcome would likely be the same, over and over. You'd have to almost replace the team in order to get a win.

by Starshatterer (not verified) :: Thu, 08/25/2005 - 3:16pm

There are a lot of games (many of which occurred last season) where one team was just clearly outclassed by another one. Green Bay vs. Philadelphia...
Let's look at that one. Favre threw 2 INTs and Green Bay overall committed 12 penalties, and lost by 30. (Philly also committed a bunch of penalties and McNabb lost a fumble, but the Eagles get to keep theirs.)

Closer look at the play-by-play (linked) says that GB penalties effectively stalled 2 Green Bay drives and extended 2 Philadelphia drives. So let's take away the 10 points Philly got on those drives and add 10 to GB. One of the INTs occurred in the red zone, one near midfield. Let's say the red-zoner killed a TD and the midfielder, a figgie. That's 10 more for Green Bay.

Now we're tied at 27 and heading for overtime, and I haven't even corrected all the mistakes by Green Bay, just the worst of them that show up in NFL.com's play-by-play.

Heck, I bet if I worked at it, I could make New England beat Chicago in Hindsight Superbowl XX.

by Pat (not verified) :: Thu, 08/25/2005 - 3:21pm

Ha! I wanna see you make San Francisco play Miami in the Super Bowl.

by Adam H (not verified) :: Thu, 08/25/2005 - 3:28pm

RE 19 Did you watch that game?

by Starshatterer (not verified) :: Thu, 08/25/2005 - 3:33pm

I wanna see you make San Francisco play Miami in the Super Bowl.
That sounds like more work than I really want to do. :-)
RE 19 Did you watch that game?
I watched the Green Bay-Philly game, though it was kinda dull in the second half. Superbowl XX was equally dull in the second half, and far, far more painful.

by Goldbach (not verified) :: Thu, 08/25/2005 - 4:18pm


You're assuming that drives that were stalled by penalties would all result in points, or that the drives that were extended would not have been extended anyway. We don't know what would have happened if the penalties weren't called. Even on the plays in which the penalties were committed, we don't know that the result of that play would have been the same.

Also, penalties are not the same level of mistake as turnovers. Turnovers are worse.

by TomC (not verified) :: Thu, 08/25/2005 - 5:40pm

Apparently Easterbrook hasn't figured out that "West-Coast Offense" has no real meaning anymore (in that it can mean anything you want it to). He criticizes the Bears for installing a "pass-wacky" WCO when they were so bad at passing the ball last year, but the offense that Ron Turner runs is anything but pass-wacky. The Illini ran more than they passed two of Turner's last three years, and in his last year with the Bears (1995), they ran the ball 100 times more than they threw it. And anytime Turner or Lovie are quoted in the local media, the buzzwords are "power running game."

by Yap (not verified) :: Thu, 08/25/2005 - 5:48pm

plus you also have to assume Philly would have a better second half against GB because they weren't playing with a huge lead and trying to just end the game as quickly as possible... this type of stuff drive me crazy, mostly since I do it myself (I've managed to convince myself that the Flyers would have won the last Stanley Cup if Boston had beaten Montreal in the first round).

by Goldbach (not verified) :: Thu, 08/25/2005 - 6:26pm

I just read the article. Something else TMQ gets wrong about the Eagles is his claim that they always leave salary cap space unspent. Actually, they ALWAYS use up all of their salary cap space. Usually, it's used up in extensions during the year, or in bonuses. Last year, for example, the Eagles used up the space by extending Sheldon Brown, Lito Sheppard, and Greg Lewis.

by B (not verified) :: Thu, 08/25/2005 - 6:37pm

Too bad they didn't use it to give he who must not be named a little more cash this season. Might have been enough to keep him happy. Nahhh, it wouldn't have helped.

by Ray (not verified) :: Thu, 08/25/2005 - 6:38pm


Yeah, that's an excellent point that Easterbrook seems to ignore. Having cap space to resign valuable players is an integral part of the Eagles strategy. Apparently Gregg prefers a Boom or Bust strategy rather than a sustained excellence strategy. The Eagles disagree.

by Trogdor (not verified) :: Thu, 08/25/2005 - 6:44pm

Well, in two of the last three years, Turner's Illini couldn't have beaten my old high school team, so let's hope that his plans for the Bears are slightly different from what worked oh-so-well at Illinois.

by Carl (not verified) :: Thu, 08/25/2005 - 7:21pm

Hey, I thought the Eagles had the second highest cap roll in the NFL projected for this year? I thought I had read some capologists specutlating that the Eagles two years ago began to revert from their formerly prudent salary stewardship and were spending like drunken sailors.

by Carl (not verified) :: Thu, 08/25/2005 - 7:25pm

"("leading with the head" has been illegal since 1976) and improved equipment"

I don't think he read NATA's statement to the NFL last year on this issue. Professional trainers, including those in the NFL, have called on the league to better enforce "spearing" penalties to prevent the risk of catastrophic spinal injuries.

Too many hours of game film analysis have shown me that most DBs still "lead with the head" in an effort to either knock down a ball carrier/ intended receiver or punch the pigskin out of his clutches.

The NCAA's rules, beginning this year, are far more severe than the NFL's, but NATA continues to work with the league to change enforcement policies.

by Vern (not verified) :: Thu, 08/25/2005 - 7:27pm

Back to the need for a "power running back" again. I don't think "power" necessarily means "dominant", but rather a style of runner that is not based on speed and finesse or pass catching.

The 2001 Pats were not very good at the run, using Antowain Smith, who had around 500 yds for the whole season. However, Smith was still a "power runner" by style.

The contention is that power running eats clock in key situations and wears down the opposition.

I'm not sure I totally agree it's essential, but I can definitely see how it might have given McNabb a few extra "off" downs during the game to catch his breath.

by Carl (not verified) :: Thu, 08/25/2005 - 7:30pm

"The surprise in the data is that football is not the most dangerous sport when it comes to permanent disabling injuries."

Again, I'm not sure he's read the literature from a number of peer reviewed studies about the PROFESSIONAL game. There is no doubt, even among NFL and NFLPA officials, that professional football has the highest incidence of severe injuries in any organized sport. Continuing research by the University of North Carolina shows that NFL retirees suffer disproportionately high rates of concussion-related diseases and syndromes, not to mention astronomical counts of deteriorating joint, spine and bone conditions.

Comparisons to either the general public or other professional sports aren't even comparable -- except boxing, Australian Rules Football and horse racing (the highest head trauma rates are suffered by riders).

Maybe I should send him the medline reports.

by Carl (not verified) :: Thu, 08/25/2005 - 7:34pm

I'm also very concerned that he seems to equate only "death" in the cohort to "serious injury." Because I trust the market on these assessments, one should realize that insurance expenditures for high schools and colleges are highest, per athlete, for football than any other sport.

Since insurers are concerned with catastrophic risk, this should be troubling to anyone tossing out such apologia for a general reader.

I love the game of football, but to twist the numbers and their context to make such a point is spooky.

The data do NOT support his conclusions. The odd thing is that it reads like the talking points from a lobbyist, not a journalist.

by Carl (not verified) :: Thu, 08/25/2005 - 7:38pm

"Grossman got hurt, again, in a preseason game"

Again, as I've written in another forum, his injury was especially rare for NFL quarterbacks. The Bears could not have foreseen that ailment.

Oh, and how many teams have an outstanding backup QB? Look at the Colts' roster some time and look at how a blitzing linebacker could turn Indianapolis from a 14-2 AFC champion into a 2-14 also ran.

by Pat (not verified) :: Thu, 08/25/2005 - 7:41pm


Regarding the Eagles spending, a lot of their spending was from large long term contracts that sucked up the rest of the year's cap. See Sheppard, Lewis last year. This really only screws them if some of their rookies tank severely and need to be replaced. I don't really think it's that much of a switch. Note that they also do the "hey look, here's a LTBE bonus that... you really can't possibly reach, so let's watch it roll over onto the next year's cap" trick quite a bit. But hey, who knows, we'll find out in a couple of years, right?

Regarding the injury reports, keep in mind it's NCAA statistics. To be honest, injuries at the college level bother me more than injuries at the professional level. Kids in college don't really get paid to play.

So unless you expect your kid to get into the NFL, it's safer for him to play football than to play basketball. :)

by Pat (not verified) :: Thu, 08/25/2005 - 7:44pm

The data do NOT support his conclusions. The odd thing is that it reads like the talking points from a lobbyist, not a journalist.

What do you mean? It didn't come from a journalist. It came from a study.

Maybe the study's flawed, but you can't blame a journalist for trusting a scientific study.

by Carl (not verified) :: Thu, 08/25/2005 - 7:46pm

Oh, no.

"In 2003, the Green Bay 'D' performed pretty well, finishing 11th in scoring defense."

FO and I use different metrics to measure defensive ability, but I bet we agree that Green Bay devolved to one of the four or five worst Ds last year, especially on the pass.

"Pretty good," to me, might suggest a team like Philadelphia or San Diego. Not exactly Washington or Buffalo, but still a step above St. Louis or, sigh, the Niners.

Maybe we have different notions of "pretty good."

Heck, while I'm at it, I'm just going to say that the Niners' offense also was "pretty good" and that Kansas City was "pretty good" against the pass!

by wyote (not verified) :: Thu, 08/25/2005 - 7:48pm

TMQ, as I said before, simply likes power running game. He's religiously convinced, and no amount of data will change his mind, that the essence of football is a bruising runner. Like Merrill Hoge, he can't figure out why the Redskins aren't better than the Eagles.

At some point, we'll all realize that TMQ is a clever guy, but he just doesn't know much about football.

by Meat Lockyard (not verified) :: Thu, 08/25/2005 - 7:55pm

What everybody has missed so far about TMQ is the FOOTBALL GODS. The powers of karma and roster-related feng shui have more effect on a team than you might think. For example: the Eagles "aquired" #81 in a rotten pile of B.S. He was traded to the Ravens fair and square, and I still don't understand why the NFL took the cowardly way out of that one. Stolen property does not win Super Bowls, and the Eagles loss was a tease. They will never return to the Super Bowl with He Who Must Not Be Named on their roster. I predict a strong start and a weak finish to their season, as they run out of steam carrying T.Owens' dead weight. TMQ is correct that had they aquired, say, Travis Henry, he would have brought balance to a dangerously unbalanced team. All Eastern Religions advocate this "middle path." The Football Gods will reward team play and superior 300+ lb. gentlemen, not skinny glory boys. Cheating may win Presidential elections, but the opposition is much fiercier in the NFL.

Likewise, the Colts' pathetic fraidy-cat punt vs. the Pats has laced their offense with negative energy, which I suspect they will overcome through perseverance and toughness. The Redskins' giving in to both starting WRs trade demands is negative roster karma, which, sadly, they will not overcome. (Though in Washington, actually winning games might hurt merchandise sales down the road, so I don't think Mr. Snyder even wants to win).

TMQ rightly praises the Pats and Steelers D' for intelligent drafting and solid depth, but he doesn't give enough credit to the Titans and Broncos for similar strategies, just a season or two behind. In the Broncos case, as their backups develop and as soon as they cut the Stranger From the Desert at QB and start the homegrown Bradlee Van Pelt, they shall achieve huge things.

by Carl (not verified) :: Thu, 08/25/2005 - 7:56pm

Pat, I'm blaming him for addressing the notion of "serious" using a study that doesn't exactly do that for him.

Dr. Cantu has been doing this very important research for a very long time (Philadelphia fans might recognize his name).

Cantu and his fellow researchers have every right to brag about the lowered risk of head, neck and spine trauma they have brought to the game of organized football.

But I can't imagine Cantu signing off on TMQ's use of the data to now suggest that football is no more risky than baseball or basketball when it comes to particularly serious injuries.

Part of that starts with a definition of what is "serious." Cantu's own research suggests that two high school and collegiate sports are particularly susceptible to "serious" injuries: Football and gymnastics (The Orange County Register did a very find statistical survey of the injuries faced by young women gymnasts last year).

Bear in mind, however, that not many people are gymnasts. But a great many young men play or played football (including me). Cantu's research puts football at nearly 28 times more likely to create a serious injury than baseball!

Cantu would agree with TMQ that the numbers of mortalities and catastrophic injuries remains low in the pool of participants. But there are cumulative injuries that accrue particularly to the professional player, and that's being investigated scientifically by another wing of UNC.

Cantu, by the way, advises them on their work! They are reaching very different conclusions than what TMQ suggests.

This isn't really a question of studies in a duel with each other. Rather, it's a question of how one uses numbers to make a point. That's a skill of the journalist.

by Pat (not verified) :: Thu, 08/25/2005 - 7:57pm

Oh, incidentally, on that same web page listed before, they've got the Eagles future cap situations for the next three years here.

The only issue the Eagles have is in 2 years, when 15 players become free agents, though only a few of them are starters (Fraley, Thomas, Dawkins, and Lewis).

by Pat (not verified) :: Thu, 08/25/2005 - 7:58pm

FO and I use different metrics to measure defensive ability, but I bet we agree that Green Bay devolved to one of the four or five worst Ds last year, especially on the pass.


He said 2003, not 2004. You're reading too fast. :)

by Carl (not verified) :: Thu, 08/25/2005 - 8:02pm

I stand corrected, Pat. Thanks. In 2003, Green Bay had a "B" sort of D. In 2004, they put the "D" in D.

by Ryan Mc (not verified) :: Thu, 08/25/2005 - 8:02pm

re #35: but I think the point with Grossman is that even if they couldn't have foreseen the injury, we're still talking about an unproven young player. A dependable backup was needed in case he ended up being an ineffective player as much as for injury insurance.

On the subject of young QBs, it's interesting to me how the salary cap/free agency has led to far less patience with young players. When I first started watching football (late '80s) it was rare for a QB to play in his first year or two (no data to back this up, I confess, this is just my recollection). Now, players like Kyle Boller apparently have no excuse but to start producing, even though the guy has all of 1 and a half seasons of pro experience. Favorite whipping boy on this site, Michael Vick, also only has effectively two full seasons of experience, and Joey Harrington has three. All could still improve with time.
As a general question, what is an acceptable observation period before we can conclude a QB can't hack it?

by Carl (not verified) :: Thu, 08/25/2005 - 8:07pm

Ryan, you're absolutely right about that. The problem, as FO has addressed it before, is that when you draft high, you are forced to pay free agent-type money for a player who has yet to prove himself as a free agent.

Nor do you know if certain QBs are particularly liable to succumb to that scourge of quarterbacking -- the concussion. That's really what knocked Tim Couch out of the league, not bad mechanics or bad reads.

He had the mobility of a stop sign and stood behind a line pocked with mediocrity.

It was like watching all the kids in the bumper car pit pick on the fat boy.

by Pat (not verified) :: Thu, 08/25/2005 - 8:08pm

Just to stress what Ryan's saying, Grossman's DVOA for his first few starts was -18.8%.

Now, he looks stellar compared to his replacements, who were something like -50% to -80%, but that's still "not good".

by Carl (not verified) :: Thu, 08/25/2005 - 8:17pm

I'm going to borrow some statistical analysis commissioned by Leigh Steinberg for a second. I find it particularly persuasive when it comes to QBs and the cap.

Before 1993, teams sought to select, train and retain QBs for a "life cycle." To protect them, franchises would invest in developing well-trained, experienced O-lines, putting veterans at every position. Owners had been modifying the rules and enforcment policies for 15 years before the CBA to slowly but surely make the game as safe as possible for the most valuable players on the field, the QB and his halo of blockers.

Free agency and a regressive salary cap changed all that. Because QBs are inherently the most valuable members of the team, salaries for proven passers escalated. So did the rates paid to the best and brightest linemen.

The problem is that, under the cap, you can't have a pair, much less a trio, of able QBs and a sterling line to protect them. What you typically get now, instead, is one top QB, a low-wage sub (often a young draftee taken from a college that played a similar style or a proven dud on his last legs) and what's called a "snaggle toothed line," wherein highly-trained and competent veterans share space with rookies or low-wage talent that wouldn't have started a decade ago.

This is one reason very tony owners and elite agents have whispered for an end to the salary cap. They want to build teams that can afford to spend money on the best o-line and QB prospects, retain them as units for many years, and win, win, win.

A team like Dallas would benefit greatly from this shift. Green Bay? Not so much.

by Carl (not verified) :: Thu, 08/25/2005 - 8:25pm

"If you play well, here's how much you'll get. If you do not play well or the team has salary-cap problems, you will be waived."

Uhhh, that's not exactly what the contracts say. And I'm speaking figuratively, of course, and not the stuff of boilerplate.

No team ever really has "salary-cap problems." Team have "we made a big mistake and now have to face dead money" problems. Or they have "hey, this guy is about as good but he's cheaper" problems. There's really no such thing as "salary cap problems." This implies that there was no human element involved in the confecting of deals or their consequences.

In this phrasing, the "salary cap" is some terrible leviathan, or a tempest brought from the seas to afflict the goodly captains of the Eagles' ship and the sailors onboard.

It's usually the language used by NFL team flacks when they start their roster cuts. "Oh, he has a salary cap casualty."

Hmmmm. Maybe he was a "bonehead GM made a bad decision and, thanks to the CBA we don't have to live with it" casualty? Or a "too bad his got his ankle broken last year and has lost a step" casualty?

In reality, a team can demand a cut in pay, under the stated terms of the CBA, even if a player plays very well or if he's cheaper than his peers putting up the same numbers! In fact, this happens all the time.

When you get enough outstanding players to agree to these "adjustments," you're hailed as a genius and win four Super Bowls.

If you do a crappy job of selecting, training and retaining good players without convincing the most promising to play for less than they're worth, then you call Pro Player or the Super Dome home.

Laissez les bons temps rollez!

by Carl (not verified) :: Thu, 08/25/2005 - 8:29pm

"The teams-can-cut-anyone clause inspires maximum effort, which keeps the quality of NFL play very high, which keeps mega money flowing to NFL players."

Yes, one could never compare the flotsam and jetsam of certain NFL teams to the relative crap one sees on a NBA court, where a global pool of players descends to snatch out much higher contracts for longer terms and wtih greater union power.

Yeah. That would never happen.

If I were a fan of Dallas, right now I'd be saying, "Why can't we put together the best possible players we can find, without the restrictions of a cap? Why should we have to accept mediocrity at certain key positions? Why can't we build the same kind of team we had before 1993, giving players a similar cut of DGR?"

I'm not here to criticize, just to spark conversation.

by Carl (not verified) :: Thu, 08/25/2005 - 8:30pm

"On the other hand, sometimes players end up being paid too much and rarely complain about that."

Until the next year, when their asses are cut.

by Pat (not verified) :: Thu, 08/25/2005 - 8:31pm


I'd like to point out that you're rapidly reaching the point where you've written more than Gregg has.

Maybe you should start a column called "Wednesday Morning Tuesday Morning Quarterback"?

by Will Allen (not verified) :: Thu, 08/25/2005 - 8:33pm

Unless he can run like Vick, I don't know why teams with lousy offensive lines use high 1st round draft picks on Quarterbacks. It's like buying a Bentley, and parking it on a dark side street. Better to use it on a defensive player or somebody projected to be a great olt. Hell, a great running back has an much easier time making do with a lousy o-line than a quarterback, although, given the average career length of runnning backs, I'd hesitate about spending that much capital on a rookie running back.

If the 49ers don't make the Rattay the sacrificial lamb this year, they are making a mistake. I don't know how good Smith will be in any case, but at least if Rattay gets clobbered like a rented mule this year, and has his career shortened, his misfortune doesn't cause a cap disaster.

by Carl (not verified) :: Thu, 08/25/2005 - 8:34pm

"If players want the contractual right to demand a raise after any season in which they performed better than expected, then clubs should have the contractual right to demand money be returned after any season in which a player performs worse than expected. Take a guess how many members of the NFLPA would vote for that arrangement."

This is a strawman argument. Certain star players are not arguing that they should get a higher pay rate at the end of a successful year. What they're demanding is the (1) right to negotiate as equal partners on the following year's contract or (2) to agree to guaranteed long-term deals that will lock in expectations of their future performance, for a price.

Currently, owners have the best of both worlds. They can demand the long-term services of a player AND cut him if he fails to perform or (as previously mentioned) for any number of reasons that have nothing to do with his performance.

I've never heard of any player asking for a retroactive raise based on his performance after Week 17, just as I've never seen an owner demand to be paid back for limited production.

by Carl (not verified) :: Thu, 08/25/2005 - 8:36pm

Before I leave, Pat, I've sworn to help FO drive up their web hits. By saying purposely annoying things, people return to argue with what I suggest. This drives up viewership and allows Aaron to retire a wealthy man.

by Carl (not verified) :: Thu, 08/25/2005 - 8:37pm

Plus, you haven't lived until Senser81 can pipe up about the good ol' days.

by Jake (not verified) :: Thu, 08/25/2005 - 8:38pm

re #9
"The entire point of running the ball is to keep the secondary/linebackers close to the line so that they can’t play deeper zones and completely destroy all passing patterns."

And all this time I thought running the ball was not only to allow to pass, but to move the ball, use up the clock, tire the defense, rest your own defense, and provide for a less risky offense in general.

by Carl (not verified) :: Thu, 08/25/2005 - 8:39pm

"but Tuesday Morning Quarterback would trade a few of those 8-yard outs for a few long bombs, and accept the extra incompletion or two."

How about the team seek to boost the run of median YPAs?

Bud Goode, that's for you!

by Carl (not verified) :: Thu, 08/25/2005 - 8:40pm

"NFC South teams have attended three consecutive NFC Championship Games, with Tampa, then Carolina, then Atlanta representing the division. If this pattern holds, New Orleans goes to the NFC title game this season."

This is so wrong in so many ways. There's a statistical purgatory waiting for you, Easterbrook! Do your penance there!

by Will Allen (not verified) :: Thu, 08/25/2005 - 8:41pm

Carl, and if I were a Jacksonville fan, I might be happy there is a cap, unless then next CBA includes more revenue sharing, so my club can get more of Dallas' non-shared revenue with which to sign talent in a non-capped salary environment. There is an increasing spread among NFL teams in non-shared revenues, and new stadiums in Dallas, New York, etc. are only going to increase that trend. It's making for a complex, three-sided labor negotiating environment, that'll be interesting to observe.

by Carl (not verified) :: Thu, 08/25/2005 - 8:42pm

"Maybe you can argue that since the Rams finished 8-8 they showed it is possible to win in the NFL despite lots of turnovers and a wacky offense."

Actually, anyone would studies win rates since the 1978 reforms to the rules would conclude that a pass-first ask questions later offense is the best model to excel in the NFL. Call it "wacky," but St. Louis, New England, Colts, et al, can't all be wrong?

by Carl (not verified) :: Thu, 08/25/2005 - 8:43pm

I agree with every word you said, Will. Personally, I'm hoping for an uncapped year just to see what it will do for Madden07.

by Pat (not verified) :: Thu, 08/25/2005 - 8:44pm

It’s like buying a Bentley, and parking it on a dark side street.

coughDavid Carrcough

I'm really curious to see how Green Bay's draft of Rodgers turned out. I've been getting the itchy, itchy feeling that Favre needs a replacement real soon now, but Green Bay's still got an offensive line that should be able to protect him, and they might be able to make a smooth transition into Rodgers if he pans out well.

by Ron Mexico (not verified) :: Thu, 08/25/2005 - 8:45pm

Will, if I were a Jacksonville fan I'd be pretty pissed about an uncreative coach who has designed a "model" of run and defense that might work for a year or two but is highly risky when it comes to injuries.

I predict the bubble will burst in Jacksonville this season. I'm only surprised they didn't fight with Pitt for the services of Wannstedt. They deserve each other.

by Pat (not verified) :: Thu, 08/25/2005 - 8:46pm

And all this time I thought running the ball was not only to allow to pass, but to move the ball, use up the clock, tire the defense, rest your own defense, and provide for a less risky offense in general.

... all of which is also accomplished by short screen passes, if your QB can toss a ball five yards accurately.

They're still running the ball. It's just that the halfback lines up in a weird spot and the pitch is really really long.

by Carl (not verified) :: Thu, 08/25/2005 - 8:50pm

"Professional sports are foremost a form of entertainment: The goal is to show the customers a good time and having them buy tickets again."

Yeah, and if Rice was a winger in the NHL, that would make sense. There, turnstyle cash, concessions and parking are make-or-break revenue streams.

In the NFL, TV talks. SF's bottom line isn't really going to improve whether they have his Riceness as the third-down back or if Denver has him.

The NFL doesn't exactly do a great job of marketing individual players anyway (perhaps because there is no incentive to do so under the current business model). So it's been the job of reporters to sing the song of Rice for many years.

You're welcome, NFL.

by Will Allen (not verified) :: Thu, 08/25/2005 - 8:51pm

carl, is there anything stopping an unrestricted free agent from demanding that his contract be 100% guaranteed? This is what drive me nuts about the commonly made statement that NFL contracts aren't guaranteed; they are guaranteed to the extent that a player's perceived value commands a franchise to deliver a guarantee. Now, if a player wants to be mad at his union for allowing teams to stick him with the franchise designation, thus limiting the player's negotiating leverage, well, that's a good point. It should be noted, however, that more than a few players have been able to get their teams to waive the franchise designation clause, thus making them truly unrestricted free agents at the end of their current contracts. Those players can get as much guaranteed money as the market commands.

by Ron Mexico (not verified) :: Thu, 08/25/2005 - 8:52pm

"Do you know which Monster the Niners' field is named after?"

Wanna see my "Monster," Eastie?

by Carl (not verified) :: Thu, 08/25/2005 - 8:54pm

Will, much of what you say is valid. Often people bring up that there is one player in the NFL with guaranteed terms.

He's a kicker. Kickers have a 14 percent injury rate and far longer careers with less diminishing returns as they advance in age.

Not a few players and their agents have suggested collusion might play a role in why certain players have not seen their requests for guaranteed terms negotiated.

Me see nothing, hear nothing.

by Carl (not verified) :: Thu, 08/25/2005 - 8:56pm

It also should be noted, Will, that a team can bind a free agent to a mandatory, franchised one-year deal (albeit at relatively high annual compensation). This, unfortunately, still puts the onus of risk on the player, who might get injured and ultimately make less than he might have under more generous free agent terms with another team of his choosing.

Free the Edge!

by Carl (not verified) :: Thu, 08/25/2005 - 9:02pm

By the way, I'm still miffed about his notion that the CBA ensures the best, most competitive game.

Yeah, from the players! But there's nothing that prods teams to win more than lose. A team that goes 2-14 is going to make about the same amount of money as the 14-2 squad. And the 14-2 squad actually will make slightly less because they bear all the expenses from the playoffs!

I've written before about owners who have said they hope they don't make the playoffs, or that they really don't care. Their investment is flush! Franchise equity is rising!

I've mentioned the Brilliant Carl Solution to Owner Mediocrity: Premier League.

Czar Carl hereby sends SF and Cleveland to Europe for the year and bring back the Galaxy and the whomevers to fill their spots! No DGR for you, Niners! Not after that effort!

Bet you would see some pretty competitve teams for 2007, right? Capped or uncapped, those owners would be working like dervishes to put out the best product they could.

by BillT (not verified) :: Thu, 08/25/2005 - 9:05pm

What the hell is happening here??

by Carl (not verified) :: Thu, 08/25/2005 - 9:06pm

"The Redskins' third-place finish on defense last season was, for the tastefully named Gregg Williams, one of the top coaching feats of 2004."

He got the wrong coach. Don't get me wrong. I love the Redskins' D. But for a guy who is supposed to love and respect the rushing game, how did he miss the job Earnest Byner has done on running backs?

Take a look at FO's dustup on the best RBs of last season. Notice just how good all the rushers are for Washington?

Byner has quietly helped select and train IMHO the best trio of running backs in the league.

Are they used well by the offensive coordinators?


Portis does NOT need to be your third-down back. He doesn't need to be used in all short yardage situations. And there's no rule that says the guy who starts the game has to be the one punishing the opposing D-line at the end, when you're nursing a 2-point lead.

Joe Gibbs, you're one of the greatest minds to ever dissect the game of football! Look at what Earnest has given you! Treasure it! Love it! Use it...

by Will Allen (not verified) :: Thu, 08/25/2005 - 9:07pm

Ron, I wasn't making any observation on jacksonville in particular, other than to note that they will never be able to generate the revenue of the Redskins, Cowboys, etc., thus if more revenue streams are not included in the sharing agreement, and the NFL goes to an uncapped environment for any legnth of time, they will be at a decided disadvantage in attracting and retaining talent.

No, this doesn't mean that the Redskins will win the Super Bowl, at least while Boy Genius Snyder is at the helm. What it would entail eventually is an environment like baseball's, where the Yankees and Red Sox can make expensive personnel errors, or have bad luck, while their fans retain a reasonable hope of a championship, while teams like the Twins, even though they are very well run, have zero margin for error.

I think one of the reasons for the NFL's vast success is it's ability to maintain very widespread geographical interest. Thus, I would not like to see a situtation in which there was increasing disparity among team's revenues, and no salary cap.

by Ron Mexico (not verified) :: Thu, 08/25/2005 - 9:08pm

Carl is having a Cornholio moment. He needs data for his bunghole.

by Will Allen (not verified) :: Thu, 08/25/2005 - 9:17pm

Well, like I said, carl, the players' largest objection should be to the franchise designation, which forces the player to shoulder the entire risk of injury. Get rid of that, and players would command exactly as much guaranteed money as their perceived value allowed.

I really would like to see a formula by which shared revenues were adjusted by a team's performance. It really
would change some owners' behavior, and benefit the customers tremendously.

by Carl (not verified) :: Thu, 08/25/2005 - 9:20pm

My earlier writings on baseball and football concentrated, Will, on the relatively dearth of brainpower at certain franchises.

I firmly believe that Indianapolis (Oakland) and New England (Red Sox) would be just as successful in an uncapped league as they are in the current system.

That's because they're smarter than the rest of the league, just as Oakland and the Sox are smarter than the rest of their game. I've never believed the Yanks won because they "bought" free agents. They won because they could select, train and retain the best players, developing them into stars who won and lost together.

Their foil in Queens would offer a different sort of model, albeit one no less expensive.

In an uncapped NFL, the Colts and Rams would still win. The latest version of Miami and the Saints would still lose.

The decisions they make in a protected racket would be no less punitive in an uncapped, free market model. And they would still make them.

by putnamp (not verified) :: Thu, 08/25/2005 - 9:29pm

This is something I did not get:

In 2004, Seattle posted only two victories over teams that finished in the top 10 for defense. When the Seahawks met a power defense club, they tended to wilt. If they want to advance, they need to carry the fight to the top defensive teams.

1 Pittsburgh 4134 258.4
2 (L) Buffalo 4228 264.3
3 Washington 4281 267.6
4 Denver 4459 278.7
5 (W) Tampa Bay 4552 284.5
6 Baltimore 4803 300.2
7 (L) NY Jets 4878 304.9
8 (W) Miami 4894 305.9
9 New England 4972 310.8
10 Philadelphia 5115 319.7

They played 4 top-10 defenses, won twice, and lost twice. This statistic seemed inane at first glance, and it seems even less substantial now.

So a team that had an 8th-ranked offense lost to two top-ranked defenses (both from the AFC east), and won against two. The two teams they lost to were Buffalo as they began their late-season surge and the Jets, who also had a 12th ranked offense. In both contests, the Seahawks defense gave up 430 (Bills) and 480 (Jets) yards, while the offense mustered 230 (Bills) and 275 (Jets).

On offense, the Bills made 140 yards more than their season average (430-290=140). The Jets made 150 more than their season average (480-330=150).

On defense, the Bills gave up 30 yards less than their season average (260-230=30). The Jets, 30 as well (305-275=30).

So on offense, both teams performed 50% better, and on defense, they performed about 10% better. But the Seahawks need to "bring it" against those top-ranked defenses.

Evidently all you have to do to prove a point is throw out *any* statistic, and it will be meaningful. Thanks, Gregg, you're the man.

by Carl (not verified) :: Thu, 08/25/2005 - 9:36pm

I leave everyone tonight with a great story in WAPO about why professional athletics remains as beautiful to me as a Monet would to some metrosexual at NFL.com.

by Starshatterer (not verified) :: Thu, 08/25/2005 - 9:37pm

Putnamp (#78 )--

You forgot the (L) between "9" and "New England." Seattle did play the entire AFC East last year, after all.

by Will Allen (not verified) :: Thu, 08/25/2005 - 10:10pm

The problem, Carl, is that the Twins' management is likely every bit as bright as the Yankees', yet the Twins have, on average, much less chance to win the World Series in any given year.

Furthermore, anybody who watched the Twins play the Yankees in recent years during the playoffs has observed the marked advantage the Yankees have had in the late innings of close games, in which the Yankees' ability to bring hitters off the bench, depth that the Twins' cannot afford, unless Carl Pohlad decides to start blowing his kids'inheritance, has been decisive. Smart is good. Smart with overwhelming firepower is better. As someone who thinks the customers as a whole are served when teams are on as equal footing as possible, I thought it would be better if the outcome of those contests weren't so dependent on the Yankees' vastly larger revenues.

I think it quite likely that the Patriots would widen their advantage considerably over the Colts in an uncapped league which did not expand it's revenue sharing considerably. Being able to afford a clearly superior back-up quarterback, for instance, is a tremendous advantage, as is being able to afford a clearly superior back-up tackle. Depth means more in football than any other sport, and an uncapped league with wide revenue disparities will allow smart teams with much larger revenues to have much more depth than smart teams without such revenues.

by putnamp (not verified) :: Fri, 08/26/2005 - 1:05am


Interesting you'd mention that. The splits for that game:

: :

Seattle yards:
443 : 310.8 : 132.2

New England yards:
362 : 357.6 : 4.4

Seattle made 352.1 ypg, and gave up 351.3 ypg. last year. Their offensive performance this time was 33% *HIGHER*, and their defense was a paltry 3% worse.

Gregg should get back to Football Voodoo for the time being, and do the statistics thing in his spare time until he's ironed it all out.

by putnamp (not verified) :: Fri, 08/26/2005 - 1:07am

Wow, my mistake for not reading my preview. The

should read:

[Actual yards] : [New England average per game] : [differential]

by Starshatterer (not verified) :: Fri, 08/26/2005 - 9:38am

Putnamp (#82 )--

I only mentioned that game, because you seemed to have missed it, and it materially affected your point:
They played 4 top-10 defenses, won twice, and lost twice. This statistic seemed inane at first glance, and it seems even less substantial now.
Since they actually won twice, and lost thrice, does GE's point seem more substantial to you now? Your refutatiuon seems less so for the omission.

All the yardage analysis is neat, but pretty much tangential to GE's point:
In 2004, Seattle posted only two victories over teams that finished in the top 10 for defense.
...which is still true, despite all the yards Seattle may have gained. His point may have been inane, but it was at least accurate. And since I find wins a more compelling statistic than yardage, I think you have no cause to criticize inane stat-teasing to make a dubious point.

by Tarrant (not verified) :: Fri, 08/26/2005 - 10:08am

The kow, fallible? That's unpossible.

But I still don't see the statistic as *that* relevant. I mean, they were .400 against teams in the top 10 for defense. What, exactly, would one expect when a somewhat-slightly-above-average team plays teams in the TOP TEN for defense? .800? 1.000?

Most interesting is the disparity between teams on that list - there are some really good, and really bad teams from last year on that list. I mean, Miami may have been top-10 for defense, but they were terrible last year. Winning over them practically doesn't count. Washington is on that list too.

But regardless, to me, it would be like saying "Team X only posted a .500 record against teams in the top ten of the league!" Well if Team X (and team Y and whatever) had beaten those top ten, then they wouldn't have been top ten anymore - it's one of those circular things.


by Oswlek (not verified) :: Fri, 08/26/2005 - 11:19am

I agree with everything that has been said about the *stat* TMQ put out there about Seattle. It certainly doesn't hold as much weight when inspected further.

However, even just after a cursory review one would have to admit that the Seahawks definitely came up short when the opposition was stronger. Looking back at the teams in the top 10 for D, Washington and Miami were clearly worse than NE, Buff & NYJ. It isn't just a circular issue. Seattle was a paper tiger last year.

by B (not verified) :: Fri, 08/26/2005 - 11:37am

Yea, Seattle really struggled against superior teams.

by Parker (not verified) :: Fri, 08/26/2005 - 11:55am

Matt Birk just asked for the Vikings to guarantee his contract in exchange for playing through his injury by taking painkillers and whatnot. The Vikings declined.

Not sure how that fits into the discussion of guaranteed contracts, but there it is.

by TomC (not verified) :: Fri, 08/26/2005 - 12:09pm

re #79: "[A] crowd so small the foul balls rattle around the seats with a hollow thud."

Is it a rattle or a thud? Make up your mind, Mr. Highly Respected Journalist.

What was the topic of this thread again?

by Will Allen (not verified) :: Fri, 08/26/2005 - 12:14pm

It is an interesting situation, Parker. Birk makes a perfectly reasonable request to have the Vikings shoulder some of the risk of playing with a partially torn labrum of the hip, and the Vikings thus far have declined to take the risk, which probably tells us that a player shouldn't try to play with such an injury. Looks like he is going to have the surgery, and attempt to fully recover, which is probably the wise thing.

by Carl (not verified) :: Fri, 08/26/2005 - 12:27pm

Beyond E's misleading use of stats to back a point Cantu, et al, won't do for him, and the highly misleading language used to describe the CBA and contracts in the NFL, what bothers me most is this:

"This leads to the coaching quandary Gibbs faces. The Redskins' core problem is inept quarterbacking."

I'm not sure he realizes that Gibbs wasn't exactly the victim in this. It's not as if the GM wooed Brunell from Jacksonville only to watch the famed vet flame out at FedEx. A coach making the best with a bad acquisition.

In reality, Gibbs wined and dined Brunell, a free agent castoff from Jacksonville. When you're a backup in Jacksonville and Gibbs is offering you an $8.6 million signing bonus for your services (and no one else is even close to that), you're more than tempted! You're a Redskin!

That's the fourth most guaranteed money offered to a passer in the last five years. With that money, you're judging Brunell good enough to be your franchise QB for the next several years.

The Bills did a similar deal with Drew Bledsoe, so don't think the 'Skins were alone here. But it's important to remember that Gibbs had a very personal stake in that acquisition. He wanted Brunell, and Snyder agreed after the fact to add on his salary and any potential dead money implications.

Leftwich, the guy who beat Brunell out of his job, didn't even get that kind of dough!

And don't forget that the "Quality Control" boss that scrutinized the cap implications and balanced it with expected returns was none other than Gibbs' son. This decision was a family affair.

It surprised me very much at the time because Gibbs, Sr., relies so much on a highly trained, beefy and fast O-line to make his running and passing game work.

The problem is that he didn't inherit that kind of line. It behooved him to start making player personnel decisions that centered around establishing his kind of blockers, and he didn't do that! Instead, you get strange deals for Coles, or Moss, or Coles and Moss, and Brunell, etc.

Some have suggested that Gibbs got out of the NFL too soon. If he had spent a few years coaching under the cap, he would have better understood the evolving role of the coach and the need for capologists and statisticians to better formulate acquisition policies.

With that in mind, I cut him some major slack.

But I don't cut him slack for not using his rushers well. Portis should not be an all-down back. You've got Cartwright (look at those 2003 numbers, when he was used correctly!) and Betts to supplement him. On many short yardage, third down or late-in-the-game carries, I would be rotating in the right people for the job.

My numbers don't lie there, and they should have been apparent to Gibbs by Week 8 last year.

by Pat (not verified) :: Fri, 08/26/2005 - 12:35pm


I don't think TMQ was suggesting that it wasn't Gibbs's fault. I think he was just saying "what the heck do you do with this mess?"

And I agree. After they drafted Campbell, I got even more confused. What are they planning? Start Ramsey, and let Campbell sit for a year? But next year the Redskins will likely be even weaker, as they have even fewer draft picks. And in that case, why bother keeping Brunell around?

Personally I think he should just roll a die before each game. 1-2 is Ramsey, 3-4 is Brunell, and 5-6 is Campbell. I think it'll be about as successful.

by Carl (not verified) :: Fri, 08/26/2005 - 12:53pm

What bothered me, Pat, was that he didn't mention the salient fact that Brunell was the player potentially with the biggest immediate cap problem for the 'Skins because he isn't going to contribute at all.

And he was the one player Gibbs personally asked for! He goes on to wax eloquently about the how the 'Skins blew through draft picks and bogus free agent QB acquisitions, but he didn't mention that the one really bad decision didn't come from the draft or the GM. It came from the coach.

In his grafs he talks about all the decisions DC "officials" made, but never once touches on the most important decision, one that was made by the same coach he seems to be supporting in the language of victimhood.

He also mentions so-called cap casualties like Smoot. But Smoot -- a very adequate DB -- was making nearly half the median salary of the typical player at his position. I'd argue that he was giving more than he was getting.

I'm not so sure about Springs, although I like the 'Skins D so much I'm not going to question that one. Especially so because Springs is the ONLY Redskin at his position to make more than the typical CB in the league.

With the injury rate for CBs, I'm not sure, however, that I would've given Springs that much cash upfront.

Ditto, Antonio Pierce. He was making about half what a typical LB makes in the NFL. I would suggest that even Pierce (not one of the best on the field) gave more than he got.

So when E mentions those relatively minor salary cap casualties, I'm a bit stumped by his larger point. Why are you talking about the lamps and coffee table instead of the 800 lb. gorilla sitting on the sofa?

I don't want to blurt out, 'Maybe E doesn't understand how the salary cap works,' because I think he does.

I will blurt out, 'Maybe Gibbs had no clue how the salary cap worked when he took Mark Brunell to dinner' because I can't think of any other explanation for that deal.

If Snyder is serious about giving Gibbs some time in DC to establish his kind of game, then why aren't they making the hard decisions now to spin off some of their O-line talent? They're not bad players. In fact, some of them are very, very good players.

But they're not necessarily good players in the Gibbs' system. If you're serious about implementing your way of playing football, then you need to start appraising talent, training them and making the contract moves to retain them, and it starts with really taking a hard look at your O-line now, not later.

Brunell was a bad decision at the time, not in hindsight, and I'm a big fan of the old Brunell.

But that was then, this is now, and you've done nothing to make a mediocre team in a mediocre division in the mediocre NFC any better. In fact, you helped to mortgage its already limited future.

Welcome back.

by Carl (not verified) :: Fri, 08/26/2005 - 1:02pm

By the way, has anyone else noticed that Pierce and Hasselback ended up on the Giants? I didn't until today, perhaps because I visited the Jets and not the Giants this year.

Are the Meadowlands now the land of misfit toys? Tim "I'm Not In Any Way Worth $1.1 Million" Hasselback is one torn labrum away from taking Eli Manning's job?

At the same time, I'm not sure Pierce is a starting MLB. Don't get me wrong. I really like the guy, but still.

by Ron Mexico (not verified) :: Fri, 08/26/2005 - 1:13pm

Carl, you might want to know that "Will Allen" in here is none other than the cornerback for the Giants.

He's going to take offense at that, in between shrugging off demands for a guaranteed contract.

by Goldbach (not verified) :: Fri, 08/26/2005 - 1:54pm

Why is the focus on whether or not contracts should be guarunteed? There is another option to make contracts more eqitable for the players: there could be clauses that allow players to void their contracts after every year (provided that they give back portions of their signing bonuses). Teams would still be able to cut underperforming players, but if a player thought there was a better situation elsewhere, he would be free to persue it.

This would motivate both players and management to win. The players would have to perform in order to not get cut, same as now (although if they are cut they keep their signing bonuses). The owners would be motivated to keep the players happy, which generally means making an effort in order to win. If nothing else, there would be a PR backlash if several players decided to leave a particular team because they didn't think management was committed to winning.

by Parker (not verified) :: Fri, 08/26/2005 - 2:23pm

Sounds like anarchy to me.

From my own personal perspective, I find contract disputes/negotiations/renegotiations to be the least enjoyable thing about football. This ability for both sides to void a contract feels like it would result in more of the above rather than less.

Plus, if either side can void the contract at any time, is it really a contract?

by B (not verified) :: Fri, 08/26/2005 - 2:30pm

Why don't we just make all contracts 1 year long. Or even better, single game contracts.

by Ron Mexico (not verified) :: Fri, 08/26/2005 - 2:54pm

Click on my name for a discussion about a Baseball Prospectus writer who (snip) changed his gender.

I think we should discuss those on the Football Prospectus most likely to switch sides.

Any nominations? Or has one of them already become a gender free agent and didnt' tell us?

by Carl (not verified) :: Fri, 08/26/2005 - 3:02pm


In the spirit of FO, I humbly suggest that we make every PLAY a free agent moment. Pay to play, literally. Each player will have a UPC code on his helmet. Scanned as he crosses the hash marks, he'll get paid a pro-rated cut. Bonuses will accrue as he performs better than expected, just as debits will add up for poor execution.

This will be counted on a giant screen, a dollar sign next to every player's name.

Johnny: "Oh, geez, McNabb! That was a $1,346.84 move from a $2,364.33 player!"

by Miles (not verified) :: Fri, 08/26/2005 - 3:20pm

I think TMQ's analysis of the Buffalo-Dallas trade is odd (dallas gots Marcus Spears, Julius Jones, Sean Ryan and Bledsoe Bills got Losman). He says that if Losman is a star, the Dallas loses this deal. Seems to me that a star QB is not clearly better than a star RB or a star DE (much less the combo). He also forgets that the cowboys obtained Drew Hensen for a 3rd pick in draft in which the trade occurred -- so no way that Dallas would have spent a #1 & #3 on QBs.

by Pat (not verified) :: Fri, 08/26/2005 - 3:24pm

Pay to play, literally.

"Let me go man, I need another yard! I have to pay my mortgage!"

by B (not verified) :: Fri, 08/26/2005 - 3:36pm

Pat, the proper expression is "Feed my Family"

by Goldbach (not verified) :: Fri, 08/26/2005 - 6:49pm


Sure, it's a contract. It just has defined terms in which each side can void the contract. In essense, I'm proposing that a player be allowed to buy out of his contract.

Perhaps you put a 2-week period before free agency in which a player can choose ot do this (and only allow players with a certain amount of vested time, to reward teams who do a good job in developing players). All it would result in is more free agents (which would suppress salaries).

I think the end result would be greater harmony, not less, considering that players would only be in situations they want to be in. It would all but eliminate veteran holdouts, since those players who would be holding out would have voided their contracts already. Players would also get the same security they have now, which is a large up-front signing bonus that they can invest to feed their families for years to come.

by wyote (not verified) :: Fri, 08/26/2005 - 8:03pm

Re: #101

Yeah, I would definitely take the Dallas side of that deal; even if it doesn't work out, they played their cards well.

by Fast Eddy (not verified) :: Sat, 08/27/2005 - 6:54am

Personally I didn't like something in the TMQ column that no one has mentioned. First he talked at length about the death of the SF player Thomas Herrion. Then, in the very first team capsule, Arizona, he talks about how Dennis Green seemed to leave when their QB situation had stabilized for a team with an unstable QB situation.

Um, no. Green left Minnesota after the death of Korey Stringer, for several reasons. I found GEs kind of jokey tone a bit weird and somewhat offensive. "Well, enough about death in the NFL, let's say something cute. Ah, Green and his ever changing QBs..."

Green was bought out (he didn't leave), he was highly controversial, and QB stability was probably not something to bring up.

by putnamp (not verified) :: Sat, 08/27/2005 - 10:27pm

What I meant to say was that GE's analysis of Seattle's woes as somehow focused on the Top 10 Defenses is misleading. Seattle did "bring it" against those top 10 defenses, performing as one might expect them to. Seattle's problem wasn't just against good teams. They were not a top 10 team, so I would *expect* them to lose to top 10 defenses more often than not. Their failure was in losing games to teams like St. Louis and Arizona, who they should have been better than. They had an easy schedule that they should've made more of; even though they played several games against the AFC East powerhouse, they also played 6 against the NFC West.

by Sid (not verified) :: Sun, 08/28/2005 - 4:13am

Do you know which Monster the Niners' field is named after?

I'm betting on the job placement company, as I've never heard of the other one.

by LnGrrrR (not verified) :: Sun, 08/28/2005 - 5:39am

Hey Sid, didn't know if you were still around....anyone runing a Fantasy League this year? I'm stuck in Kyrgyzstan, unfortunately. :p

by Sid (not verified) :: Sun, 08/28/2005 - 11:00am

RE: 29

I haven't really gotten the impression that Turner is that great of an offensive coordinator.

by mactbone (not verified) :: Sun, 08/28/2005 - 11:56am

Turner was coordinator when Kramer threw for 4000 yards so in Chicago he's considered one of the best coordinators to ever coach da Bears.

You've never seen the Monster cables at electronics stores? They're high priced versions of A/V cables and similar cables because they use gold plating and other high priced gimmikery that might make your speaker sound better.

by Starshatterer (not verified) :: Sun, 08/28/2005 - 12:04pm

Sid (#108)--

It's Monster Cable (Monster Audio Equipment, in TMQ terms) the field is named for. They're (relatively) local to the Bay Area.

I've linked their homepage, where they have a link to Monster Park's homepage. I'm guessing they didn't get their money's worth from the naming rights, since they remain a mystery to so many.

by Reinhard (not verified) :: Sun, 08/28/2005 - 9:30pm

If youre curious about SF's sponsor, try www.Monster.com Its a place for employers and employees to meet in the Bay Area.

by putnamp (not verified) :: Mon, 08/29/2005 - 12:52am

It's not monster.com

As Starshatterer said, it's Monster Cable. Taken from the bottom of the page linked in my name:

©1997-2005 Monster Cable Products, Inc.
455 Valley Drive, Brisbane, CA 94005 | Phone: 415 840-2000 | Email: webmaster@monstercable.com

by B (not verified) :: Mon, 08/29/2005 - 10:06am

Interesting sidenote, Monster.com is based in Massachussetts, and they tried to get the naming rights for the Patriots new stadium, but were outbid by another internet company, whose name escapes me. That company went out of business, and Gilette picked up the naming rights. Imagine, we could have had Monster Park and Monster Stadium, both in the NFL.

by Sid (not verified) :: Wed, 08/31/2005 - 1:35am

RE: 45

Ron Mexico was drafted in 2001. It's now the 2005 season. I'd say he's had time to show he knows how to play QB.

by Sid (not verified) :: Fri, 09/02/2005 - 12:12am

RE: 109

Sorry to hear that, Grrr. Some FO people started a fantasy football league.

League Name – Theismann-Maguire-Patrick: RIP

League ID# – 549331
Password – dvoa

by Sid (not verified) :: Sun, 09/04/2005 - 6:14pm

B: That would've been great.

by Zac (not verified) :: Sun, 09/04/2005 - 7:50pm

Ron Mexico's posts make me think it's time to start making people register before they post things.