Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

14 Jul 2014

MMQB: Rich Eisen

Rich Eisen on the NFL's Silly Season ... I'm not going to lie, it's mostly about Johnny Manziel.

Posted by: Rivers McCown on 14 Jul 2014

13 comments, Last at 17 Jul 2014, 11:19am by Noah Arkadia


by are-tee :: Mon, 07/14/2014 - 1:54pm

"Will this story affect wins or losses when toe meets ball in September?"

When was the last time an NFL kicker made contact with his toe?

by Theo :: Mon, 07/14/2014 - 4:44pm

Hauschka, kick off, Super Bowl.

by Jimmy Oz :: Mon, 07/14/2014 - 11:54pm

Apparently in 2002, Jeff Wilkins, though its probably more foot than toe unless he shanked one.


by Noah Arkadia :: Tue, 07/15/2014 - 1:36am

Why is everyone so enamored with how the US did in the World Cup? It was a solid achievement to make it to the 2nd round -solid but not great, considering the mess Portugal was-, but they also played some of the worst soccer in the tournament whenever they weren't behind. I'm also surprised that their problem seems to be more mental than anything. US representatives across most sports are rarely so timid.

Who, me?

by Jerry :: Tue, 07/15/2014 - 2:47am

For the same reason that you'd be happy with a Dolphins season that ended with a first round playoff loss. Before too long, just reaching the knockouts won't be enough, but it's still pretty new. (And, of course, most of the American audience isn't knowledgeable enough to evaluate the level of play beyond the scoreboard.)

by Noah Arkadia :: Wed, 07/16/2014 - 2:33pm

Sure, but it's not new at all. They've made the round of 16 four times since 1994 and they haven't missed a single World Cup since 86. What I found troubling is that they played pretty much like they used to in 94.

Who, me?

by Pen :: Tue, 07/15/2014 - 2:25pm

They were timid because Klinsmann didn't really believe in them and called a gameplan to defend until late and try to steal a win. Soccer experts have analyzed the U.S. teams play and shown that when on the offensive, they were playing at a level to win the entire Cup. But their coach short changed them with his loser mentality.

by Guest789 :: Tue, 07/15/2014 - 4:46pm

That is some serious theory-crafting.

by Theo :: Tue, 07/15/2014 - 6:56pm

USA had a snowball's chance in hell to beat Germany or the Netherlands.
I'd love to see that analysis.
This should give you an idea of how good a team was:

by RickD :: Wed, 07/16/2014 - 5:41pm

Very interesting link!

by Noah Arkadia :: Wed, 07/16/2014 - 2:36pm

I thought Klinsman was at fault, too, until I saw what he had to say after the elimination. Turns out he didn't actually call a defensive gameplan at all. He mentioned that in soccer the team that believes it is inferior will play defensive ball and that what the US players hadn't realized yet was that they weren't the inferior team most of the time anymore. Yet they still played like it.

As for winning the Cup, let's not get carried away here!

Who, me?

by RickD :: Wed, 07/16/2014 - 5:24pm

Yeah, it's kind of weird how people are fixated on Klinsmann and his one (accurate, mind you) comment about how the US really didn't have a chance to win the entire tournament. As you say, Klinsmann thought the players were too intimidated by Germany and insufficiently aggressive. That quote really doesn't jib with the "Klinsmann killed them by having them play passively" argument.

The US did well to beat Ghana and also really dominated the game vs. Portugal, only failing to win because of a silly late-game mistake by the fullbacks. Germany is simply a much better team, as they showed by winning the entire tournament. Belgium is also a better team, though not by as much.

The US really needs to develop better midfielders. We've been solid at developing defenders (and excellent at developing keepers), and have had some good strikers, but we really don't have a good ball-handling midfielder. That was supposed to be Michael Bradley's job in this tournament, but it wasn't a good fit for him.

But let's not forget that we got further than Spain and Italy, the two previous champions. It's harder to advance out of group play than people seem to think, and Portugal really was a much more dangerous team than people are allowing for. They shit the bed against Germany and never really recovered. Ghana is also a very good team - they did better against Germany than anybody else did. Had they not suspended two of their better players for their game vs. Portugal, they might well have won that game and advanced.

by Noah Arkadia :: Thu, 07/17/2014 - 11:19am

True how getting to the round of 16 is underappreciated. Mexico is caught in its groundhog day of never getting past the round of 16, but at the same time, they always make it to the round of 16. I don't think they've missed one since 82. Meanwhile, however, Portugal is also caught in its own groundhog day of being considered a favorite and not getting out of the group round. And their problem always seems to be teamwork. Still, a very talented team.

Who, me?