Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

23 Sep 2013

Mandatory Monday: The NFC Yeesh

How to make the Cowboys look like they took a step forward by taking two steps backward. The NFC East! Plus ... That's Not a Thing.

Posted by: Mike Tanier on 23 Sep 2013

26 comments, Last at 27 Sep 2013, 8:45am by bleeding heart


by QCIC (not verified) :: Mon, 09/23/2013 - 8:57am

Its not MMQB bad, but this piece is really not very good. A lot of twisting the truth to make points and odd evaluation of teams/players. Anyone who says that Eli Manning is the least talented QB in that division needs their head examined.

by CeeBee (not verified) :: Mon, 09/23/2013 - 9:21am

Eli Manning is worse than RG3 and Vick? yeeeeahhh... ok....

by jonnyblazin :: Mon, 09/23/2013 - 9:37am

I think he's talking about from a purely physical standpoint. Vick and Griffin both have great arms and speed, while I would say Romo is more elusive than Eli but has a substantially worse arm.

Also, I think that Ravens probably consider the Pats their main rival at this point, not the Steelers, given the 2 consecutive AFC championship games. Once Goodell started to get serious with penalizing head shots the Ravens-Steelers rivalry has simmered down.

by RickD :: Mon, 09/23/2013 - 1:42pm

He's been worse this season.

This is how his career has always been. He has periods where he plays nearly as well as his brother, but there have also been extended periods (usually in the early regular season) where he's been awful.

Vick has a similar issue, but he's had more time in an up mode this season.

by tuluse :: Mon, 09/23/2013 - 1:59pm

He didn't say worse, he said less talented.

Which means he makes up for it by being smart. This seems reasonable to me.

by QCIC (not verified) :: Mon, 09/23/2013 - 3:20pm

I think it odd smart isn't considered part of the talent package.

by tuluse :: Mon, 09/23/2013 - 3:44pm

He specifies arms and legs. I didn't because I assumed it would be understood though context.

by Juvenal (not verified) :: Mon, 09/23/2013 - 10:34pm

I think I would take Eli's arm over some of those others. Eli's arm is good. In any case the whole comment is making my point. The whole argument is oddly constructed and bending over backwards to distort things. I might as well read ESPN. It is the same tripe just with slightly better jokes.

by Led :: Mon, 09/23/2013 - 9:38am

Then it's a good thing Tanier didn't write that.

Here's the quote: "The least talented quarterback in the division, at least from an arm-and-legs perspective, is the guy with two Super Bowl rings." "From an arm-and-legs perspective" is a pretty important qualification, no? In other words, Vick, RGIII, and Romo are more athletic and have stronger arms. The only thing even debatable about that statement is whether Romo has a stronger arm.

by The Powers That Be :: Mon, 09/23/2013 - 11:33am

Thank you. And Romo is and has been by all measures a better QB than Eli throughout their careers (yeah, I know, blah blah rings blah blah choke blah): the arm-and-legs qualifier was presumably meant for the other guys.

On another note, this column is the closest Tanier has ever come to saying something positive about the Cowboys.

by Paul R :: Mon, 09/23/2013 - 9:52am


by Bobman :: Mon, 09/23/2013 - 2:15pm

That works for me, though the phrase rolling ball of butcher knives is very poetic. The double L's in rolling ease you into it, the repeated hard B's are like a punch in the gut, the hard "CH" is a slap in the face, and the visual is fantastic. You can't stop a rolling ball of butcher knives without incurring some serious damage. Maybe the wisest course of action is to just step out of harm's way...

Of course it's probably better suited to Christian Okoye (who had his own fine nickname) and not T-Rich, but when Pagano retires, I think he'll have no problem finding a job as Indiana's poet laureate. Or a guy who writes one-line movie reviews that always end up in the newspaper ads. "Die Hard Six is a rolling ball of butcher knives!" Who the hell wouldn't go see that? "This Bridges Of Madison County II is a rolling ball of butcher knives!" "Saw 9 is ... well, you get the idea."

by andrew :: Mon, 09/23/2013 - 10:58am

While Hoyermania may not be a thing, whoeveristhrowingatthevikingssecondarymania is.

by Tim Wilson :: Mon, 09/23/2013 - 11:44am

I guess I don't entirely get this column, and this week's version is an example of why. Maybe I expect too much legit, fact-based analysis since Tanier's a FO alum, and this is really more of an ESPN, courting-the-masses type effort, but there seems too much selectively choosing facts to fit a narrative that sounds appealing, rather than "here are the facts in full, now let's see what conclusions they lead us to."

For instance, this passage:

"The Cowboys beat the Giants, which would be more impressive if the Giants were not 0-3 and coming off a 38-0 loss to the Panthers. The Cowboys lost to the Chiefs, who won two games last year."

The Chiefs are 3-0. They won 2 games last year, sure, but is that really the most relevant detail about them right now? They have a new head coach and a new QB. And the Cowboys lost to them by 1 point, on the road, in a game that they probably outplayed the Chiefs in.

I'm not saying this to boost the Cowboys, it just seems forced. Similarly, this:

"Tony Romo is completing 72% of his passes, and all of the Cowboys' front-line offensive stars -- Romo, Dez Bryant, Jason Witten, DeMarco Murray, and Miles Austin -- are healthy and productive at the moment."

Miles Austin has produced all of 50 total yards over the last 2 weeks and has an injured hamstring.

by jonnyblazin :: Mon, 09/23/2013 - 12:03pm

I think Mike Tanier is easily the best writer on football around, but I don't let his loose analysis get in the way of my enjoying his articles. If I want numbers I'll go to the boxscore or a spreadsheet.

by Tim Wilson :: Mon, 09/23/2013 - 12:57pm

Okay...but the box score or the spreadsheet don't actually come to any conclusions. They are literally just numbers.

My favorite type of football content is data-based analysis and attempts at really understanding what's happening in the league or with individual teams, like FO often does, and like Barnwell does at Grantland and Chase Stuart does at Football Perspectives. Like I said above, I may be going into the Tanier articles with the wrong expectation because he's an FO alum, when really I should read him more like Peter King (but King has access and is a good storyteller, so he at least has something unique there that Tanier doesn't).

by jonnyblazin :: Mon, 09/23/2013 - 1:16pm

Don't read him like Peter King! He's more like a funnier version of Bill Simmons, and actually understands analytics but chooses not to write about them. I'm not going to try to defend Tanier's sense of humor, because explaining why things are funny rarely helps. But "puttering glob of salad forks" is good stuff.

by Kyle D. (not verified) :: Mon, 09/23/2013 - 1:12pm

There's also the line about how the division shouldn't be this bad because two of the coaches have two Super Bowls each. That's relevant for the Giants who just recently won a Super Bowl, but Mike Shanahan's wins came back in the 90s with the Broncos.

by justanothersteve :: Mon, 09/23/2013 - 1:43pm

I'm having a busy day at work, so I will read the rest when I get home. But braincation is the perfect word to describe how DeAngelo Hall usually plays defense.

by RickD :: Mon, 09/23/2013 - 1:44pm

I love the Rams' time travel bit. Boxer Rebellion!

by Hurt Bones :: Mon, 09/23/2013 - 2:05pm

The Rams did look like a team that had run into some seriously Righteous and Harmonious Fists.

by Bobman :: Mon, 09/23/2013 - 2:17pm

That was vintage, classic Tanier.

by serutan :: Mon, 09/23/2013 - 10:13pm

Re Miami : I can certainly see wanting to kick the tires
before jumping on the bandwagon.

I also think Tannehill should send RG3, Luck, and Wilson
nice thank you gifts for allowing him to go through his
growing pains in relative peace and quiet.

Was wr

by Cythammer (not verified) :: Tue, 09/24/2013 - 1:13pm

I don't really buy the Cowboys as a bad team. Their comprehensive win against the Rams would've been a good performance even against the Jags, and their only loss came against a team that was already a popular playoff pick even before they won their first three. Obviously the other three teams in the division have been pretty bad so far, but it seems as if the Cowboys are being portrayed as terrible so they better fit with the 'NFC East is wretched' theme.

by Dean :: Wed, 09/25/2013 - 9:04am

I think it's fair to say that whatever your opinion of them was prior to the start of the season (unless you had some sort of extreme outlier opinion), we haven't seen anything to really change that. If you thought they were going to be pretty good, well, they have a couple impressive wins. If you thought they were going to be mediocre, those wins get heavily discounted. Eventually we'll be able to start drawing conclusions, but not yet.

by bleeding heart (not verified) :: Fri, 09/27/2013 - 8:45am

I thought this was great! Especially the "puttering glob of salad forks line"!
Biggest difference beteween Eli & Romo? Eli finds creative ways to win in the post season, Romo finds, well, creative ways to lose I 'spose! & I relish it!
Sorry guys, but thinking of NFC Least makes me kind of warm and happy inside... & I think Tanier is right on.

Have a good day