Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

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Two NFC teams were hit hardest by injuries last year. One already set the AGL record in 2016, while the other has a coach with the worst AGL since 2002. Also: the Rams' incredible bill of health in L.A., and Tampa Bay's questionable injury reporting.

19 Dec 2008

The Week In Quotes: December 19, 2008

compiled by Mark Zajack


"What do I have to be jealous of? Look at me, I'm handsome as hell ... Anything that goes on, I am going to be the scapegoat. I'm trying to figure out how I make the headlines and I don't even say anything."
-Cowboys wide receiver Terrell Owens, denying an ESPN report that he is envious of the relationship between Jason Witten and Tony Romo. (Star Telegram)


"You've got a chance in this league, the way onside kicks are, you've got a pretty good chance of getting it. About 50-50."
-Chargers head coach Norv Turner, on the odds of recovering an onside kick, leading to a Chargers win in Kansas City.

"(Bleep) no. It's not real high."
-Chargers special teams coach Steve Crosby, critiquing Norv's estimate.

Ed. note: Actual percentage, 2000-2005, for expected onside kicks: 16.6%

"You ain't gonna get that ball away from Kassim Osgood. He's strong and he knows what's coming. He's a veteran guy."
-Crosby, on wide receiver and ace special teamer Kassim Osgood, who recovered the onside kick.

"There was punching, grabbing, scratching. I got bite wounds It was crazy. Somebody tried to give me a fishhook, but they couldn't get in there. It was pretty vicious out there."
-Osgood. (San Diego Union Tribune)


"Think of the anatomy. Brains, eyes, ears, nose. You know there's got to be some [sphincters] over here to have the whole anatomy. My point is this team is made up of that. By golly, when you start picking that part out and saying, 'They don't have a team,' you're missing the point."
-Cowboys owner Jerry Jones, on why team chemistry is overrated. (Dallas Morning News)


"It hurts. I feel like the worst coach in America."
-Redskins head coach Jim Zorn, taking the blame for the Redskins recent woes. (Washington Times)


"I love the Giants! I'm a flamboyant dresser and I'm well-endowed."
-Giants fan Sondra Fortunato, who has attended Giants games for 30 years with her bodacious physique, rhinestone tiara and skimpy outfits.

"Look, I'm a middle-aged woman, I really don't like to give my age - say I'm middle-aged. But Madonna goes out and she's got everything hanging out, and she's middle-aged!"
-Fortunato, who reportedly was asked to cover her D-cups at games.

"Nothing was showing. You couldn't even see my underwear. I don't flash!"
-Fortunato, arrived at the Meadowlands in a tiara, fishnets, a Santa outfit, a bathing-suit bottom and high-heeled boots.

"They said, 'Can't you come to the stadium dressed like a regular person?' They said there were a lot of kids there."
-Fortunato. (New York Post)


"It's not a time to make it spicy, one of my bro's is down. I don't want to celebrate on nothing like that."
-Jags linebacker Mike Peterson, on regaining his starting role after Darryl Smith went down with a groin injury. (Orlando Sentinel)


"I told [defensive lineman] Travis [Kirschke], 'I'd rather go 50 yards than 92 yards if you would've recovered that fumble.' He wanted to add to my legacy, he said. I appreciate that."
-Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, on the failure of his defense to recover a fumble during Baltimore's previous stalled offensive series, leading to a 92-yard game winning drive. (ESPN.com)


"Quite frankly, I'm disappointed by all these things, mostly by the fact that someone would quit on this organization, this football team and this head coach at this juncture. It's wrong."
-Raiders head coach Tom Cable, on assistant offensive line coach James Cregg's decision to leave the Raiders with two games left in the season and joining former coach Lane Kiffin's staff at Tennessee.

"You don't do that," he said. "You never quit. You never quit, I don't care what it is. You don't quit."
-Cable. (ESPN.com)


"I don't know if it was because I wasn't a first-round draft pick, I don't do some kind of dance when I make a 10-yard tackle, I don't go out and get arrested. I believe in playing the game the way it's supposed to be played. You line up each and every week, each and every play and you go out and get the job done. You look at my body of work and I've done that for 11 years. But because I'm not going out causing a lot of controversy, holding a private meeting with the coordinator saying this, this and this, causing a lot of strife on my team, I don't garner a lot of attention. But when you turn the film on each and every week, each and every play, I'm gonna show up. That's what I do. My career has been Hall of Fame worthy. But some coaches and some players get caught up in the hype readin' the newspapers or listening to some national TV game as opposed to watching the game with no sound. It's some BS. I put myself up against anybody playing the position, anybody."
-Redskins linebacker London Fletcher, on being ignored by Pro Bowl voters for the 10th straight time.

"To have it happen, year after year after year after year, you can't tell me ... an 8-time alternate, c'mon man. That's a trivia question. I'm the Susan Lucci of the NFL. And look at the injury situation, I played with a sprained foot [the past three weeks]. There's a lot of guys that play injured in the National Football League, but there's a lot of guys who would cancel Christmas, so to speak, when they got hurt, meaning they would throw in the towel, 'I'm done.'"
-Fletcher. (Washington Times)

Posted by: Mark Zajack on 19 Dec 2008

16 comments, Last at 22 Dec 2008, 10:22pm by Sid


by Danish Denver-Fan :: Fri, 12/19/2008 - 12:09pm

What Norv ment to say was, of course,

"You've got a chance against KANSAS CITY, the way onside kicks are, you've got a pretty good chance of getting it. About 50-50."

by cjfarls :: Fri, 12/19/2008 - 12:20pm

Fletcher is great, but is he really better than Beason, Willis, et. al.?

by MJK :: Fri, 12/19/2008 - 12:36pm

Maybe not this year, but he's certainly been worthy in previous years and has been overlooked. And it's not that uncommon for guys to make the Pro-Bowl on Makeup or Reputation votes.

His biggest problem, though, is that he hasn't played for a really notable winning team since the 2001 Rams (who had a defense that, as I recall, was pretty good but was woefully underrated). Look at last year when all those Patriots O-lineman made the Probowl, and (with the exception of Logan Mankins) probably didn't deserve it.

by MCS :: Fri, 12/19/2008 - 3:09pm

2007 Al Harris leaps to mind.

by The Ninjalectual :: Fri, 12/19/2008 - 3:01pm

London Fletcher is as good as any MLB in the game.

by Steve (not verified) :: Fri, 12/19/2008 - 12:41pm

I heard Norv say that in the post-game press conference and did a double take. Guy gets paid millions of dollars to do his job and he's ignorant of basic statistical facts pertaining to it. After he gets fired he'll be perfect for work on Wall Street.

by MCS :: Fri, 12/19/2008 - 3:10pm

Statistical Facts? Isn't that an oxymoron?

I kid, I kid...

by DrewTS (not verified) :: Fri, 12/19/2008 - 1:13pm

If the chance of recovering an onside kick was really 50-50, would it be optimal to just onside kick every time? I suppose not, since it would basically be a toss-up to decide which team gets the ball at about your 40 -- a situation which would favor your opponent in the long run. So if not, what would the chance have to be to make it optimal to onside kick all the time? (I realize that if you onside kick every time, teams would catch on and your chances would go down.)

by Dales :: Fri, 12/19/2008 - 1:38pm

I don't know about that.

Not sure what DVOA or ZEUS or any other specific analysis says about it, but I think about it this way.

Let's assume that you have successfully kicked the ball off, and have tackled your opponent on their 30 yard line. You take some magic mushrooms, and then have visions of absolute clarity that foretell completely accurately that if you call a specific defense, the next play will result in either an interception out of bounds 30 yards downfield or a completion out of bounds 30 yards downfield (on your 40, either way).

Would a coach exchange a 50% chance of giving up a 30 yard gain for a 50% chance of getting the ball back? I think I would.

Now, this is not exactly the calculus, because if you kick it off the results will vary from a touchback to a fumble recovered by the kicking team to a touchdown return and that would have to be factored in. But I would say that if the odds were 50-50, then hell yeah I would onside kick a large percentage of the time.

Didn't one of the Football Prospectus editions have an article on how effective surprise onside kicks (as opposed to the end-of-game kind) are, and how much higher the success percentages are, making it a good decision because the rewards for success are so great that they overwhelm the field position penalty for failure when the chances of success are high?

by Monkey Business (not verified) :: Fri, 12/19/2008 - 1:37pm

If getting an onside kick back were really 50/50, and that's for an average special teams unit, a good special teams unit could make that 60/40 and possibly play keep away all game. Of course, you'd need a good defense to keep them out of the end zone if they recovered, and you'd end up with a lot of 3 point games, because for some of the teams with good kickers, a 50 yarder wouldn't be a bad idea.

by Israel P. - Jerusalem (not verified) :: Sat, 12/20/2008 - 2:20pm

If it would have been a 50 yard drive, the Ravens would have had more time to mount their own drive.

by Anonymous v20 (not verified) :: Sat, 12/20/2008 - 7:48pm

I disagree with your critique of Norv's logic. He's actually correct. In that one instance, either you recover the ball or the other team does. That's a 50-50 chance. Over many kicks, the 16% number applies. But the outcome of one kick doesn't necessarily have to correlate with the 16% number taken from a dataset of thousands of onside kicks. Otherwise, flipping a coin and getting heads 5 straight times could never happen, even though it can. After thousands of tosses, however, you will get a roughly even mix of heads and tails. In short, all Norv is saying that, in this one instance, the data doesn't matter and it doesn't. Please brush up on your understanding of basic statistics.

by spenczar (not verified) :: Sat, 12/20/2008 - 10:20pm

I don't even know where to begin. You're the one in need of some basic statistics.
The difference between the coin flips (and by the way, statistics from a large dataset wouldn't say 0%, they'd say 3.125%) and the onside kick is that the coin flips diminish in probability because they are iterative; there's only one scenario in which you get all heads, and many more scenarios in which you get something else because you are repeating a 50% probability (and therefore multiplying it). With the onside kick, the event itself has a more likely outcome - that the receiving team recovers the kick - which isn't related to iteration or large datasets. The low likelihood of recovery is a property of the onside kick, derived from the fact that the ball has to go at least ten yards, etc.

by ABW (not verified) :: Sat, 12/20/2008 - 8:57pm

>I disagree with your critique of Norv's logic. He's actually correct. In that one >instance, either you recover the ball or the other team does. That's a 50-50 chance.

So if I buy a lottery ticket, I have a 50% chance of winning, because either I win or I don't? Sounds like I better get out and buy me some lottery tickets.

by B :: Mon, 12/22/2008 - 12:17am

Just two. That way you have a 100% chance of winning.

by Sid :: Mon, 12/22/2008 - 10:22pm

hahahaha. Excellent.