Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

21 Dec 2011

Eagles Poor Start Was Only a Flesh Wound

Just because I am giving the Eagles a break in Walkthrough does not mean I won't go to the well for other outlets. Here's a little Iggle humor, some Monty Python, and the usual broadsides at everyone else.

Posted by: Mike Tanier on 21 Dec 2011

22 comments, Last at 22 Dec 2011, 3:46pm by Kal


by Harris :: Wed, 12/21/2011 - 10:55am

That. Was. Goddamn. BRILLIANT.

by Keith(1) (not verified) :: Wed, 12/21/2011 - 11:30am

Good read. I did not realize the Eagles could still make the playoffs...

by zlionsfan :: Wed, 12/21/2011 - 12:21pm

Yep. Three of the four NFC East teams are still alive, so it's not quite the AFC West. (Washington's out.)

Also, props to Mr. Tanier for spelling Pascal correctly. Because there were a number of languages from that era with acronyms for names, more than a few people incorrectly refer to it as PASCAL. (Of course, given that FO's tool for projecting fantasy stats is a person's name in all caps ...)

by MJ (not verified) :: Wed, 12/21/2011 - 12:26pm

Don't forget DAVE.

by Dr. Computer Scientist for Decades (not verified) :: Thu, 12/22/2011 - 12:20am

I'm not sure if it is the other-language factor so much as the general capitalization at the time of everything having to do with a computer.

by bubqr :: Wed, 12/21/2011 - 12:45pm

So full of wins.

by TomC :: Wed, 12/21/2011 - 2:41pm

Did anybody else look at the NYT comments? I think they're going to force Sulzberger to retire and give the whole damn paper to Tanier, such was the love. Fully merited, of course, but a bit surprising coming from a usually tough crowd.

(My one quibble with the article: I don't think Pascal has if-then operators. Statement blocks, sure, but I think the ternary conditional operator didn't come around until the C era.)

by Keith(1) (not verified) :: Wed, 12/21/2011 - 3:14pm

I just read those comments. If Tanier is not blushing, he is more immortal than man; now that I think of it, he might be.

Not even this site fawns over him that much after an article. As of this comment, there is not a single negative comment on the NYT site, and most are ridiculously positive.

by MJ (not verified) :: Wed, 12/21/2011 - 3:27pm

Not that I ever learned Pascal, but at least according to
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Conditional_%28programming%29 and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pascal_%28programming_language%29#Control_s... Pascal did indeed have the if-then construct.

by DGL :: Wed, 12/21/2011 - 4:17pm

Pascal has if-thens, but they're frowned upon. The language was intended for structured programming, with functions and subroutines and while- and repeat- loops.

BASIC is the poster child for nested if-then constructs, but I guess Pascal made for a better line.

by Arkaein :: Wed, 12/21/2011 - 8:04pm

if-then statements are not frowned upon in any structured programming language. It doesn't matter whether a language supports functions or not, you need to put an if statement before a function call or within the called function, you just can't get rid of it altogether. For/while/repeat loops are not a substitution for if-then-else blocks.

If there's a bad programming practice that BASIC is the poster child for it's GOTO statments, which are largely made unnecessary by higher level conditional statements you've mentioned.

by Eddo :: Thu, 12/22/2011 - 12:09am

Yeah, that raised a big question mark for me, too. I'm a software developer by trade (though I've never written anything in or even worked with Pascal), but I can't fathom a structured language that doesn't rely quite heavily on if-then logic.

by TomC :: Thu, 12/22/2011 - 12:47pm

See Sam P.'s comment below. I was (at least partially for humorous purposes) being a stickler about the word "operator". Yes, Pascal absolutely allows if-then statement blocks. But C and java and other more modern languages have an operator that combines the functionality of an if-then statement block into a single operation (quoting from wikipedia):

if (a > b) {
result = x;
else {
result = y;

can be rewritten as the following ternary statement:

result = a > b ? x : y;

by Eddo :: Thu, 12/22/2011 - 12:59pm

Gotcha. Didn't realize (a) you were focused on the term "operator" and (b) Pascal doesn't allow ternary operators.

by Hang50 :: Wed, 12/21/2011 - 2:48pm

If Mike had to explain his pop-culture allusions as thoroughly in Walkthrough as he does in the Gray Lady, he'd battle Easterbrook and King for word count.

by mental :: Wed, 12/21/2011 - 2:48pm

Andy Reid ~ Wayne Fontes?

by Kevin from Philly :: Wed, 12/21/2011 - 3:22pm

I've come to think of Andy's tenure as the football version of "Inception". I can't remember how we got into this cycle (faint illusions of a screaming nightmare with the name Ray come to mind, but I choose to not delve any deeper), and the unreality of the situation (i.e. the Eagles making the playoffs after a season of monumental ineptatude) should tell me that this is only a dream. I only hope that this time, in the end, I don't wake up to the reality of dropped passes, bad game planning and missed opportunities that always come with the end of Eagles seasons before.

by Sam P (not verified) :: Wed, 12/21/2011 - 4:27pm

Tom C was being pedantically precise, though Tanier might not have been. if...then is a statement in Pascal, not an expression nor an operator. Operators are things like '+' and ':='. Expressions evaluate to values, e.g. "3 + 5".

by TomC :: Wed, 12/21/2011 - 6:44pm

Bingo; thanks, Sam.

(I was more trying to up the geek ante for humorous purposes than to actually correct Tanier. Then again, even my geek colleagues accuse me of being pedantic, so if the shoe fits...)

by The Voice (not verified) :: Wed, 12/21/2011 - 5:10pm

I find it strange that incompetence is so often cited as a reason for losses which can be explained through other means. The Eagles, according to FO's own stats, are only an average team, and their losses:

@ Atlanta - Certain playoff team on the road
NYG - currently 7-7 - an above average team
SF - Remember how this was supposed to be a walk? SF is probably going to have a first round bye.
@ Buffalo - when Buffalo was catching everyone offguard during their terrific start, which netted their QB an extension
Chicago - With Cutler and Forte when they were a really good team.
NE - Obviously got whacked against Brady here.
Arizona - do you realize this was when Zona was starting their winning 5 of 6 streak, right?
Seattle - Ditto (also a road game on the WC playing on a Thursday after an East Coast Sunday game - a practice since outlawed by the NFL).

I'm not going into how they lost, just pointing out they have not yet lost to a team which could at the time they played them be considered a bad team - indeed many of their losses came at the hands of teams either much better than anticipated, or in the middle of a real surge of much better play than most of their season.

Of course, great teams win those games anyway, but it seems to me the Eagles have not been done any favores by the scheduling gods this year.

by Rhombus (not verified) :: Wed, 12/21/2011 - 6:17pm

Interesting tidbit about the Seattle-Dallas thing which was initially wrong in the article: even though Dallas beat Seattle, in the event of a tie between Seattle and Dallas for a playoff spot at 9-7, Seattle would win the tiebreaker. The reason is that, if they were vying for the last WC spot, Seattle wins in any three-way tie between Dallas and Detroit or Dallas and Atlanta. So Tanier was technically right, even though not really correct. Tiebreakers are fun!

Also, seriously, best article I've read this year. Laughed out loud during almost the entire thing, and I'm not even an Eagles fan. The NY Times comments are well-deserved.

by Kal :: Thu, 12/22/2011 - 3:46pm

Between this and the Stan filk you've been on fire for the holidays, Mike.