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Walkthrough: Ninja Theory

Walkthrough: Ninja Theory
Photo: USA Today Sports Images

by Mike Tanier

While watching the Eagles' loss to the Steelers last Thursday from under my bed, I was reminded of the Inverse Ninja Theory, a principle which may spoil the Eagles’ season.

The Inverse Ninja Theory states that the greater the number of evil ninjas attacking a hero, the weaker those ninjas are. The theory has been proven in hundreds of action movies and video games. If Bruce Lee, Wolverine, or Kung Fu Panda is surrounded by waves of ninjas, he can take them all out with one or two strikes each. But when a lone ninja appears, he’s suddenly a much more formidable threat.

The corollary to the Inverse Ninja Theory asserts that the theory also applies to stormtroopers, killer robots, and any other assailants who attack in droves. I fear that it may also apply to NFL free agents.

The Inverse Ninja Theory is a close cousin of a principle proposed by Roger Ebert many years ago: the Law of Evil Marksmanship. Cowboy villains, the Nazis in World War II movies, and Star Wars stormtroopers cannot shoot straight, even when they have lasers or machine guns. Why do they have such poor accuracy? There must be something inherent in evil itself that effects aim. It explains the first half of Michael Vick’s career fairly well, and the effect of evil on aim may linger for years or generations afterward. Take Worf from Star Trek: The Next Generation as an example. Worf was a good guy, but the Klingons were formerly an evil empire, and as a result of his ancestry Worf couldn’t hit the broad side of a Romulan Bird of Prey.

But back to the ninjas: Nnamdi Asomugha, Cullen Jenkins, Vince Young, and the rest. There’s one legitimate reason to worry that adding multiple free agents could actually hurt the Eagles: in a lockout-shortened offseason, those newcomers could fail to learn the playbook, be confused about their roles, and lack the timing needed to mesh with teammates. Some of those factors may have come into play on Thursday, though most of the worst performers against the Steelers were draftees or incumbent players.

I would be worried more about the "failure to mesh" if the Eagles brought in a new quarterback or a whole new receiving corps, or if more of the new acquisitions were expected to jump into starting roles. Asomugha does not have to really mesh with anyone, and an all-new defensive line can succeed despite less-than-perfect timing in a way that an offensive line cannot. Some of the biggest names the Eagles acquired on offense, like Ronnie Brown, Steve Smith, and Young, are expected to play minor roles anyway, at least early in the year. I’m not one to worry much about team chemistry. I’m also not one to overreact to one preseason game. Yet here I am, under my bed, watching yet another NFL Network replay of the Steelers game. Please make it stop!

All of the Eagles’ free-agent signings made it hard to talk intelligently about the team because of a principle I call the Law of Conversations about the Heat. When a team’s roster move or moves makes that team a prohibitive favorite to win the championship, all discussions of that team are polarized, with one side stating the obvious and the other being contrary for its own sake. So when talking about the Eagles, we are stuck pointing out just how much talent they added to an already talented roster and stating that, well, that makes them the best team in the league on paper, or lapsing into "they still have to go out and play" or "there’s only one football to go around" or "my God, Casey Matthews is terrible" hand-wringing.

They do of course have to go out and play. There is only one football, which should not matter because the biggest upgrades were on defense. While Matthews looks woefully unprepared, defensive coordinator Juan Castillo assured us on Monday that the linebackers "will be ready to win the Super Bowl." His statement reminded me of Spongebob running to school to get his boating license: "I’m ready! I’m ready! I’m ready!" Put a long blonde wig on Spongebob and he could outplay Matthews right now. But it was only one game (which didn't count), and if the defensive line and secondary are as good as they should be, the linebackers can be a little weak.

The Law of Conversations about the Heat has an addendum called LeBron’s Lemma: some segment of the population will assert, against all common sense and contrary evidence, that the addition of a great player will actually hurt the team that signed him. Now, we must be careful of this lemma, because a new arrival can hurt a team, either because he is a bad apple or a bad fit or, yes, he disrupts team chemistry. Team chemistry is a huge deal in basketball, a sport that requires a lot of verbal and non-verbal communication, plus some ego sublimation because there is only one ball to go around. It can be a big deal at some positions in football. It is mostly meaningless in baseball, though ironically baseball people make the biggest deal about it, thinking that the guy at the plate won’t try as hard because he doesn’t like the guy on second, or something.

So LeBron’s Lemma does not cover legitimate questions of whether, say, Chad Ochocinco will cause headaches if he does not get the ball enough or the Raiders will disrupt their offense if they try to find work for Terrelle Pryor this year. (The Raiders offense has been due for a little disruption for years, but you get the idea). Nor is it a contradiction of the Redskins Rule: grabbing a bunch of free agents is no substitute for having a long range plan. LeBron’s Lemma is the trumping up of a minor charge or a non-issue into something major, simply for the sake of concocting a contrary argument. "The signings of Asomugha, Jenkins, and the others actually hurt the Eagles because they fostered an institutional complacency, put a target on their backs, or angered some fickle competitive balance deity who will smite them for their impudence."

The Law of Conversations about the Heat and LeBron’s Lemma are being tested and retested on local talk radio right now. As those of you who do not live in Philly might imagine, our local talk show hosts do not know what to do with themselves, with the Phillies clobbering everything in sight and the Eagles acquiring Tiffany lamps for the locker room. One of our more, um, difficult to ignore personalities is actually stepping down soon, probably because there is not enough negativity to go around and he is a vampire who needs to sleep in the dirt of failure to survive. Thursday night’s game was manna from heaven for these guys; before Thursday, the gang at WIP was reduced to this storyline: "If the Eagles disappoint us this year, will it be Andy Reid’s fault?" No reason to enjoy success when you can rush straight to the anticipated disappointment.

A loss like last week’s brings into play the Grand Unification Theory of Fandom: for every early-season or preseason action, there is an unequal and opposite overreaction. By the third quarter of the Steelers game, I let my wife turn on Project Runway because there was a chance that fashion designers and runway models would hit harder than the Eagles defense. But the reality and the clichés set in quickly: it’s a meaningless game, this is a good time to suffer a bad loss because it gives everyone something to work on, and so on. Most fans I talked to were in the same place, and even most of the talk-radio discussion moved past the hyperventilation stage quickly. Invoking the Inverse Ninja Theory was just a manifestation of the Grand Unification Theory, and in turn a gross example of LeBron’s Lemma creeping into an otherwise rational thought process. The Eagles will be very good this year, and they will be pretty darned interesting if we can get past the pre-packaged theories and start focusing on their real strengths and weaknesses.

But for the record, I am still pretty worried about Casey Matthews.


Football Outsiders Almanac is now on sale, but you knew that.

Advance copies of The Philly Fan’s Code are also out. I have one. It is cute and slender and filled with Philadelphia sports memories and arguments.

Please buy both books. Thank you!

Preseason Notes

Kevin Kolb: The game may never slow down enough for Kolb. Watching him against the Packers, I saw too much of what I saw from him last preseason. Too often, he drops back, fails to find a receiver, then drops further and rolls desperately to his right. Kolb isn’t fast enough to make plays outside the pocket, so the rollouts end in incomplete passes or sacks. There’s a chance that no one was open in the first place on these rollouts, of course, but it’s hard to tell from preseason television tape. My guess is that he is late reacting to receivers who flash open, or that he is reluctant to throw into tight windows in space. On one play, he took a three-step drop and had two receivers running crossing routes, yet still wound up rolling right. On plays like those, a quarterback should be able to dump a short completion somewhere in an underneath zone.

Kolb did complete a few short curls along the sidelines and fired a sharp pass over the middle to convert a third-and-8. He’s far better than what the Cardinals had last year, of course.

Ben Tate and J.J. Watt: I wasn’t a big Ben Tate fan in college, and I pretty much forgot he existed when he got hurt last year. He looked very good against the Saints: quick out of the backfield, decisive on cuts, tough when finishing runs. The knock on Tate was that he was a straight-line runner, but he looked very shifty and capable of finding cutback lanes in the Saints game. He could earn a 5-10 touch role behind Arian Foster, which makes him a good "fantasy handcuff."

J.J. Watt was another player who didn’t excite me in college. He has not appeared in the stat sheet much, but he is winning a lot of battles on the defensive line, and he looks like an excellent fit in Wade Phillips’ defense, which does not require exceptional quickness from the defensive ends. He holds the point of attack well and gets his hands up, so he will swat down some passes.

No mention of the Texans this preseason is complete without bringing up Chris Ogbonnaya, who carried the ball 32 times in two games. Who averages 16 carries per preseason game? A third-string hang-around guy who has bounced around the league for three years, that’s who. Ogbonnaya’s main job is to get things over with. I don’t watch the second halves of preseason games much anymore, because it makes more sense for me to go back and re-watch a taped first half, or read the Almanac chapters I didn’t write, or live my life. Checking the gamebooks, I see that Ogbonnaya rushed five straight times early in the fourth quarter against the Jets and ate up three-and-a-half minutes. Go, Chris, go!

Lance Louis: Seriously?

Jaquizz Rodgers: He’s alarmingly short, but his thighs are so thick that I am certain their combined circumference is greater than his height. He looked like one of those "powerful little guy" runners in the Jaguars game, and he should turn into the runner Jerrious Norwood could have been. He’s a great fit in Atlanta.

Julio Jones: Jones has caught four passes, but Jones looks like an amazing athlete just running around and jogging back to the huddle. That doesn’t mean much, because the same can be said of both players named Roy Williams, but when Harry Douglas ran for a touchdown against Jacksonville (Douglas looks like he has his wheels back), I rubbed my eyes and wondered who was running next to him looking for someone to block. That’s not Michael Jenkins! No, no it isn’t.

Reggie Bush: He’s Michigan J. Frog. He only sings and dances when I am watching him. When I run to tell someone that Reggie Bush looks good, he starts dropping passes and running backwards with punts.

Eli Manning: I have no idea if Eli is the fifth best quarterback in the league, or the tenth best, or the 20th best. He is not the best or second best, nor is he the 30th or 40th best. If you want to make a top ten list to prove Eli belongs, you can make one without juggling reality too much. If you want to make a top ten list to prove that he does not belong, you can do it without juggling reality too much, though when Darren Woodson tried it on ESPN he elevated Josh Freeman to the number 10 spot, which struck me as “grabbing a guy to prove a point.”

I don’t know what an elite quarterback is or what that means. "Elite" is one of those wiggle-words we use to dole out left-handed criticism or backhanded praise. Does Manning belong in a class with Tom Brady? He is already in several classes with Brady: NFL quarterbacks, Super Bowl MVPs, players who have thrown for over 20,000 career yards, and so on. Is he as good as Brady? No, but no one ever, ever said he was.

So this is where Eli Manning ranks: He ranks among quarterbacks who should not have to justify themselves. He shouldn’t have to sort his way through loaded questions, then spend two days handling spin control. He has accomplished enough to earn some benefit of the doubt after a bad season and a certain degree of respect from fans and writers who understand that "where do you rank" questions are leading and bogus.

Really, there was enough going on in the NFL last week that we didn’t need this manufactured controversy.

Thoughts While Watching NFL Network

Would it have killed the guys at NFL Network to edit together more than one promo for Red Zone? The "Top Five Passing Touchdowns of 2010" was great the first thousand times I saw it. Why didn’t they edit together the top five rushing touchdowns, the top five sacks or big (legal) hits, or just five fun plays? Putting together eight or nine different promos could not amount to more than a day or two of work for one tape editor, and it would have made the network much more watchable for people like me who are sometimes tuned in for hours on end.

One funny result of the fact that they showed the same five passes two or three times per hour for five months is that my wife kept asking the same question over and over again during the Donald Driver highlight. "What team is that?" she asked at least four times in the last month. (The Packers, you may recall, were wearing funky throwback uniforms that week.) She probably turns large portions of her brain off while I am watching preseason games, which is a smart survival mechanism.

While we are on the subject of NFL Network promos, it is time to buy new jerseys for all of the Seahawks fans in that commercial for the NFL’s ticket resale program. Both the moody soon-to-be dad and the hyperactive little boy are wearing Matt Hasselbeck jerseys. We should get them some Tarvaris Ja … no, some Charlie Wh … Largent throwbacks! We should get them some Largent throwbacks!

I always hated the dude selling his ticket in that ad. His hot wife is 39 weeks pregnant, but she still needs to nudge him and offer moral support so he will give up a few Seahawks games in the name of being a responsible human. The guy couldn’t even bother to shave. The good news is that the commercial is now so old that the baby is about two-years old.

And the little tyke who got the tickets, who is surely on Ritalin now, is old enough to have that surly, tempered version of enthusiasm boys acquire in their preteen years and girls are born with. "Yay! Daddy bought me Seahawks tickets! Let me jump up and down! Yay! Oh wait, Tarvaris Jackson is our starting quarterback. And we’ll be lucky to go .500. Ahem. Leave me alone, dad, I am going to the basement to listen to Avenged Sevenfold and play Black Ops for 36 straight hours. Call me before kickoff and I will sit sullenly in the back of the car with my ear buds in all the way to the stadium."


96 comments, Last at 02 Dec 2012, 6:09pm

1 Re: Walkthrough: Ninja Theory

"One of our more, um, difficult to ignore personalities is actually stepping down soon"

Howard? Or Angelo?

9 Re: Walkthrough: Ninja Theory

Eli Manning. Not talking about the other one this time.

I did a double-take too.

"When you absolutely don't know what to do any more, then it's time to panic." - Johann van der Wiel

3 Re: Walkthrough: Ninja Theory

Your analysis of Eli's standing among NFL QBs is spot-on. I'm a Giants fan constantly having to listen to other Giant fans take Eli out to the woodshed. I defend him 9 times out of 10, but have never put it as well as you have. He deserves the benefit of the doubt. Period.

4 Re: Walkthrough: Ninja Theory

This article is almost definitely Tanier utilizing the Mike Kurtz inverse hype theory of football success.

5 Re: Walkthrough: Ninja Theory

"...and he is a vampire who needs to sleep in the dirt of failure to survive."

I lol'd.

When I had cable, NFL Network was my default station but the TV stayed on mute solely because of their three-commercial loop. I understand that it's harder to sell ads on a channel that lots of cable providers don't carry, but if I hear "You Don't Own Me" one more time I might switch my allegiance to soccer.

17 Re: Walkthrough: Ninja Theory

I can't agree more, they actually make it harder to watch NFL network then if they went to dead air every break. My wife and I just cant take that loop of commercials anymore (particularly the guy yelling at the end of the Red Zone TD one, ugh).

24 Re: Walkthrough: Ninja Theory

I third this.

It's not even about selling ads, they're already putting their own stuff there. Would it kill them to have some variety?

Perhaps it's an intimidation tactic to force advertisers to buy some space...

-- Go Phins!

39 Re: Walkthrough: Ninja Theory

I'm convinced that the new Pepsi one with the polar bears going to the beach is the worst commercial I've ever seen. It's not funny, the CGI looks at least 20 years obsolete, and I have no idea what the accent the "Uncle Teddy" bear uses is supposed to be. Nobody on earth, human or ursine, talks like that.

And I would gladly watch that in a loop for an hour if it meant never having to see Alyssa Milano's "You Don't Own Me" ad again.

43 Re: Walkthrough: Ninja Theory

I believe you meant: This is ouuuuurrr couuuuntrryy!!!

May God banish to hell whatever council of brain dead ad execs signed off on that awful campaign.

44 Re: Walkthrough: Ninja Theory

I believe you meant: This is ouuuuurrr couuuuntrryy!!!

May God banish to hell whatever council of brain dead ad execs signed off on that awful campaign.

83 Re: Walkthrough: Ninja Theory

My sympathy for you limited. Now you know what it feels like to watch NFL games in Europe and Asia. One or two commercials on rotation all season long, every game, every time, and station promos are as varied as NFLN's.

To be fair though, the situation in Europe did improve a bit last season when NASN became ESPN America and added a bit more variety, but ASN in Asia was mind-numbingly monotonous and repetitive, and they even managed to run ads for some amateur ice hockey tournament in Hong Kong for up to a month after the event had taken place.

Which reminds me, I have to re-activate my subscription to ASN. Ah, football! 'Tis but a small price to pay...

90 Commercials

For me right now it's a toss-up between the ticket exchange commercial (mainly because of the song getting stuck in my head) and the NFL Rewind commercial (mainly because of LT screaming LET'S ROCK THE HOUSE!!!).

Maybe FO put together a weekly poll for worst NFLN commercial during the season? We could tally up the DVOA/DYAR at the end.

33 Re: Walkthrough: Ninja Theory

I did the math, and NFL Sunday Ticket on PS3 + Game Rewind = all the NFL I want, whenever I want it, for 1/6th the cost of cable. We download whatever other shows we watch for free, or watch them on Netflix ($8/month) or Hulu (free). Many of the NCAA games I want to watch are on network TV, and those that aren't can be found thru torrents if you know where to look.

$2400/yr (cost of cable w/HD, sports package and DVR) for the opportunity to browse is just absurd. NFLN and (to a greater extent) ESPN are telling me things I read about two days ago on the internet, or don't give two shits about. With so many other options for acquiring content, paying for cable just doesn't make sense to me.

74 Re: Walkthrough: Ninja Theory

$2400 a year? There are like infinite cable/phone co offers where you get espn/internet/phone/dvr for $99. NFLN sports package cost me $5 more.

And what does Netflix have to do with watching NFL games? This is really awful spam.

78 Re: Walkthrough: Ninja Theory

The Netflix comment makes sense. He's explaining that he can get all of the NFL via his PS3, and ends up saving money by getting rid of cable/DVR. And he can get rid of cable because he can see everything he wants to via Netflix and Hulu and it's still much cheaper than paying for cable.

That being said, $2400 is way more than anyone I know pays a year for cable including NFLN. Mine's about 1/2 that.

80 Re: Cable Costs

Agreed - my cable with HD, DVR, all the ESPN's runs about 100/month not the 200 a month. That said - it's time for the NFL to offer Sunday Ticket or individual games PPV on something other than DirectTV.

Steeler fan trapped in Houston!
Six Time SB Champs! ;-)

84 Re: Walkthrough: Ninja Theory

Which cable company charges $200 a month for that? I have DirecTV with HD, two DVRs and the Sunday ticket and will pay a total of about $1,140 this year (including all taxes and the protection plan).

6 Re: Walkthrough: Ninja Theory

"I always hated the dude selling his ticket in that ad. His hot wife is 39 weeks pregnant, but she still needs to nudge him and offer moral support so he will give up a few Seahawks games in the name of being a responsible human. The guy couldn’t even bother to shave. The good news is that the commercial is now so old that the baby is about two-years old. "

The lesson I took from this was that I shouldn't have kids, because my hormone-laden wife will make me sell the season-tickets it took me years of saving to afford. And that kids suck. It's practically a planned-parenthood commercial!

26 Re: Walkthrough: Ninja Theory

No, no. They only suck until they turn into the one that is buying the tickets. Then they are great because they can share your enthusiasm, catch footballs, and go to the game with you. You just have to get through the Valley of Toddlerhood.

36 Re: Walkthrough: Ninja Theory


Plus, when they're four or five you can convince them that you're favorite team is the best team in the world, regardless of the fact that they were horrible last year and may very well be horrible this year. Recurring, spontaneous chants of "Boo Dolphins, Go Panthers!" last weekend (during commercials, I’m raising them right) warmed my heart.

85 Re: Walkthrough: Ninja Theory

I would also add that in the areas North and South of Seattle, that gentleman may pass for clean shaven, and his hygene is acceptable in all but the most formal of circumstances.

7 Re: Ogbonnaya

Chros Ogbonnaya of Rexans good runner. Not grwat. Think wold play good if ever in regular season games. Bht for now is preseason guy. Bill Walsh gerta coach of 49ers used to lkke to draft big bavks to run i.n second halves of preseason games. That was like main purpoise of 49ets drafting a RN in 8th or 11th round in 80s

14 Re: Ogbonnaya

In reply to by Raiderjoe

Raiders too. I want to say Marlon Barnes? And Madre Hill? Going off memory. - aj

87 Re: Ogbonnaya

In reply to by Raiderjoe

I'm relatively new here but know the rep behind RaiderJoe. I just have one question, out of that whole comment, how in the holiest of holy hells did you spell Obgannaya right and completely backhand the rest of the English language?

91 Re: Ogbonnaya

In reply to by TheLyte (not verified)

Qwell , spellwd everything rifht in head but what happened was typed some words bad

92 Re: Ogbonnaya

In reply to by TheLyte (not verified)

He does that. He quite rarely messes up players' names at all* (and never messes up on Raiders). It is part of the fabric that is Raiderjoe.

*Though there was a famous instance in which, in the course of a single post, he spelled Brian Brohm as "Brohm," then "Broom," and finally "Vroom."

8 Re: Walkthrough: Ninja Theory

Umm, the Packers are still more talented than the Eagles.

10 Re: beast in wall

Talk.about ads. Best new one animal conyrol officrr go into lady's home to remove hairy beast. Thing have black fur and trying to claw out of wall. Then guy say he have to leave. Gives animal blasting gun to lady and says to shoot beast when it comes out of wall and will come out he saod. Next scene guy qatching monday nitgh football. Only problem guy was broincs fan.

12 Re: Walkthrough: Ninja Theory

My beautiful, intelligent, sweet, cookie-baking-for-church, rabid-dog Steelers fan wife the first time she saw that commercial: "Where did they find 3 Seahawks fans that go 45 seconds without bitching about the Super Bowl?"

57 Re: Walkthrough: Ninja Theory

Stealers Fans - sensitive much? Almost as if it's a sore spot you don't want to look at too closely, as you'll find something you don't want to see? Maybe if no one says anything, we can pretend there's nothing to tarnish "our" victory! On the net, I've heard far more of them whining about imaginary whines from us than anything me and the rest of my friends have ever said. Of course, we don't have to say anything, because we were robbed and deep down, in their souls, everyone knows it!

(And yes, I'm aware I'm simultaneously claiming not to complain and complaining, so don't bother pointing it out.)

88 Re: Walkthrough: Ninja Theory

Gee, what a swell idea. If only I had realized sooner that I could have discourse on topics of conversation other than football. I repent of the terrible life decisions I have made. Thank you, Insancipitory, for saving me from myself.

95 Re: Walkthrough: Ninja Theory

Who are you calling sensitive again? You say don't bother pointing out your jaw-droppingly ironic complaining, but I still have to. Every one of those calls was defensible, to everyone in the universe but the couple of thousand Seahawk fans on the planet, the people who had money on the game, and the know-it-alls at FO who think you can plot holding calls on an excel spreadsheet in something approaching a scientific fashion.

The push-off in the endzone was perfectly obvious, as I stared at it from 2 rows back in that endzone; and the "illegal block" call on the interception is just a BS rule that was called against the Steelers in a game earlier that year.

Oh well. At least you have your mis-focused rage to keep you warm. All I have is a Super Bowl victory.

p.s. As for the idea that people are inventing the myth of complaining, what's next? Are you going to pretend that Holmgren himself wasn't leading the charge?

15 Re: Walkthrough: Ninja Theory

So this is where Eli Manning ranks: He ranks among quarterbacks who should not have to justify themselves.

Does Elvis Grbac also belong in that group? Because I still see E. Manning as Grbac with some first-round sheen. Look at their stats and tell me they are not similar.

19 Re: Walkthrough: Ninja Theory

Is poster drunk?

Seriously, I just checked, and Grbac started more than 10 games in a season exactly 3 times in his career. He threw for over 3000 (including once over 4000) yards twice. Those two seasons were also the only ones where he passed for more than 15 TDs, and were also his only seasons ranking higher than 15th in passing DYAR.

Eli has managed to start 16 games and throw for over 3000 yards and 20 TDs every season after his rookie year.

38 Re: Walkthrough: Ninja Theory

That's because Grbac, being an 8th round pick, was thought of as a backup from the get-go. Give him the opportunities Manning has had, and Grbac puts up similar career numbers.

41 Re: Walkthrough: Ninja Theory

Sorry, but looking at his FO player page I'm not seeing it.

True, he had to sit for a few more years on the SF bench while Eli was a starter in his second year. However once he went to KC he had plenty of starts and was very inconsistent, both in terms of performances and games started. By this point I don't really believe anyone was paying attention to his draft position. He was obviously regarded as a viable starter or he wouldn't have been given as many starts as he had over multiple seasons.

Now, I don't know my Grbac history very well, so I can't remember what led to those inconsistencies, but it looks like he only started 16 games once in his career, and was a very late bloomer. So either he took a lot longer to put it together than Eli did from an efficiency standpoint, or he couldn't stay healthy for an entire season. Either way the similarities aren't there.

76 Re: Walkthrough: Ninja Theory

Eli consistently starts 16 games a season ( an underrated skill) and is always somewhere between the 5th and 16th best QB in the league. Grbac was a backup who had a couple of decent seasons, he might as well be Damon Huard.

46 Re: Walkthrough: Ninja Theory

Pro-Football Reference's similar players:

Number of years is the first column.

3 Matt Ryan, Joe Flacco, Brett Favre, Tom Brady, Terry Bradshaw*, Mark Brunell, Brian Griese, Gus Frerotte, Jay Cutler, Ed Brown

4 Tom Brady, Brian Griese, Jay Cutler, John Elway*, Gus Frerotte, Brett Favre, Ken O'Brien, Tony Eason, Randall Cunningham, Boomer Esiason

5 Brian Griese, Tom Brady, Jim Plunkett, Ken O'Brien, Mark Brunell, Bob Griese*, John Elway*, Jim Everett, Milt Plum, Jay Cutler

6 Mark Brunell, John Elway*, Tom Brady, Jim Everett, Ken O'Brien, Doug Williams, Troy Aikman*, Jim Plunkett, Steve McNair, Bob Griese*

Career David Garrard, Jake Delhomme, Carson Palmer, Ben Roethlisberger, Chad Pennington, Stan Humphries, Tony Romo, Aaron Brooks, Daryle Lamonica, Doug Williams

56 Re: Walkthrough: Ninja Theory

I don't think you are right about it mattering quite a bit (I am pretty sure it is the opposite-- but I am not certain). However, I think it only uses players since the mid-seventies. Their 'leaderboards' for the metric have a decent balance between the decades from then on.

Wait, on the career level it has Unitas, so maybe a bit before.

18 Re: Walkthrough: Ninja Theory

Why isn't LeBron's Lemma just called Inverse Ewing Theory. Cuz that's what it is.

We all know that if you take a great player off of a team, the team will play better. Ergo, add a great player to a good team, ceteris paribus, they will play worse Q.E.D

20 Re: Walkthrough: Ninja Theory

I actually thought earlier this off-season "hmm, I bet I could get cheap Hasselbeck and Tatupu jerseys now," as I think both are ones that will be completely acceptable to wear long into the future.

It turns out even on sale jerseys are obnoxiously expensive, so I bought a Joe Jurevicius one off of eBay for $8.

21 Re: Walkthrough: Ninja Theory

I'm always confused by jersey sales; I just jumped onto Ebay to look at Bucs jerseys, and who exactly is going to be buying the orange Barrett Ruud throwback for $75? Somebody's actually going to drop $30 on a white Michael Clayton jersey?

22 Re: Walkthrough: Ninja Theory

Mike, do you even read Football Outsiders stats? If you do, do you have any idea what they mean? Josh Freeman was 9th in DYAR and 10th in DVOA. Hardly a case of “grabbing a guy to prove a point" to pick him as the currently 10th best QB.

28 Re: Walkthrough: Ninja Theory

NFL Network does have one of those "Top Five Running Touchdowns" promos -- it ends with Marshawn Lynch's run through the New Orleans Inverse Ninjas. I've only seen it once, though, compared to about 10,000 Tony Moeakis.

30 Re: Walkthrough: Ninja Theory

Some objections to this Walkthrough:

1. Casey Matthews will be fine when he gets some DTs in front of him. Even Ray Lewis had bad games after Siragusa retired.

2. Never hide under the bed - that's where the monsters live.

3. What does LeBron James have to do with Peruvian pack animals?

4. Worf kicked ass.

5. Maybe they SHOULD have more than one football. That'd be kinda cool.

37 Re: Walkthrough: Ninja Theory

1. I am going to Tweet my Casey-cam arguments tonight. @FO_MTanier

2. My monsters have their own bedroom.

3. I never understood what a Lemma was or how it differed from a corrolary. By that point in my mathematical education, I was waiting for the hurting to stop.

4. Work kicked butt with that Batlath sword thing. He only hit objects with his phaser that were already indestructible.

5. One for the prima donna receiver to prance around with, one for anyone else.

47 Re: Walkthrough: Ninja Theory

I think the extra ball should be like in pinball - like, if you make a catch on the logo in at the 50 yard line, an extra ball shoots out of the ground.

52 Re: Walkthrough: Ninja Theory

"4. Work kicked butt with that Batlath sword thing. He only hit objects with his phaser that were already indestructible."

Oh, your "Bird of Pray" reference threw me off. I thought you meant he couldn't hit anything with the Enterprise's weapons. And I say that in the most manly and least nerdy way possible.

55 Re: Walkthrough: Ninja Theory

The 'Under the bed' stuff made me think of Binkley's closet of nightmares in 'Bloom County'

Also, I am very pleased to see that you are a cultured individual - only such
a person would reference Michigan J. Frog.

34 Re: Walkthrough: Ninja Theory

Your Ninja Theory is actually called the Conservation of ninjutsu -
The Law of Inverse Ninjutsu -

65 Re: Walkthrough: Ninja Theory

I had always assumed, as Fezzik had asserted, that fighting one required different skills than fighting a crowd and too much time in one set hurts in preparing in the other.

Thanks for the links.

35 Re: Walkthrough: Ninja Theory

While Nnamdi does not have to adjust to the Eagles secondary when he plays man, the Eagles safeties have to adjust to Nnamdi. They need to remind themselves where not to waste their effort. After all, a safety could wander in and ruin Nnamdi's coverage by bumping into him or something.

Also, Nnamdi does have to play zone sometimes. While I have no doubts about Nnamdi's ability to learn the playbook, it is still a new playbook. I mean, his reaction might have been: "Zone. That's what we play in the end zone, right?"

64 Re: Walkthrough: Ninja Theory

Eli Manning is pretty clearly not the 5th best QB or the 20th best; he's right around 10th. I have him 11th and I'd guess that most people have him in the 8-13 range.

Pretty much everyone agrees on the 5 QBs at the top (though not their ordering); by seniority they're P. Manning, Brady, Brees, Rivers, and Rodgers. Roethlisberger is easy to rank as the #6, and he marks the boundary of what I'd call elite (not sure which side he goes on). After that I rank them:

7. Romo
8. Ryan
9. Vick
10. Schaub
11. Eli Manning
12. Flacco
13. Freeman

The exact ordering is very debatable, but I think Eli's pretty clearly in that group (and it would be hard to put him in front of Romo).

After that you're looking at guys with major questions - Cutler, Orton, Garrard, Palmer, McNabb, Bradford, and the like. It would be hard to put any of them ahead of Eli.

66 Re: Walkthrough: Ninja Theory

I really would have thought that the Eli hate would have gone away at this point, but I guess it'll follow him until he retires. I mean the dude wins the Super Bowl, improves his completion % every year, always near the top in TD throws, throws for 3500-4000 yards every year and people still rank him lower than QBs like Josh Freeman, Matt Schaub and Joe Flacco?

I mean, let's get real people. Put your homerism aside and dig deep and really ask yourself who you'd rather have QBing your team?

And Giants fans are just as harsh on Eli at times. They're in for a rude awakening when he retires in 6-7 years.

..Oh and he's NEVER missed a start. If his brother doesn't play Week 1, he'll have the longest active streak.

68 Re: Walkthrough: Ninja Theory

How is calling Eli one of the best dozen or so QBs in the game count as "Eli hate"?

Eli Manning has averaged more than one INT per game in his career. Schaub is about one every two games. Eli throws a LOT of interceptions. So, with Eli, you know what you're getting; lots of yards, lots of TDs, lots of INTs. Would I rather have Josh Freeman right now? Yes, yes, I would. Why? Because he has the possibility of being extremely good based on his last season, and Eli has shown that he will consistently be a guy who throws all those picks and makes those mistakes. Freeman might be a one-year wonder (though I would be very strongly against that), but Eli's had years to develop, and, seriously--more than one INT PER GAME? I mean, I had no idea he was that INT-happy until I just looked it up, but that's a really, really, awful stat.

72 Re: Walkthrough: Ninja Theory

Eli is ugly and that is also a big reason people don't like him. He doesn't look like the hardened super leader super model type like Brady or that puppet guy in Team America. For another example of this same type of ugly hate see Manning, Peyton.

Like Kevin Kolb does not look like a franchise QB, thus he will not get respect for a long time.

another example is the Kurt Warner with gray hair=bench and "loser that fumbles too much" and "he sucks"; Kurt Warner with dyed jet black hair = future HOF'er and "He rules" and "I won so much money on him in fantasy"

“You have to learn the rules of the game. And then you have to play better than anyone else.”
-Albert Einstein

"Judge a man by his questions rather than by his answers"

73 Re: Walkthrough: Ninja Theory

I'm not sure if this is deftly veiled sarcasm or just plain nonsense.

You are definitely the first person I've ever heard refer to Eli as ugly, much less believe that has something to do with the ranking of his athletic ability. I fear beginning an irrational handsomeness ranking thread of NFL QBs, but I hardly think that would be a primary deficiency for the younger Manning.

Far more likely he's cursed with the automatic comparison to both his older brother and to Phillip Rivers (only one of which one could claim he had much say in).

77 Re: Walkthrough: Ninja Theory

While Warner should definitely be doing spots for "Just For Men" in the near future, the main reason he went from "loser that fumbles too much" to "he rules" was that he stopped fumbling so much.

Seriously. He cut the fumbled snaps in half when he started wearing the gloves in '06 after his benching (approximately .79% fumbled snaps from 2004-2006 pre gloves, approximately .38% from 2006-2009 post gloves) and stopped fumbling on sacks so much because he (and his offensive line) cut his sack percentage just about in half at about the same time.

You can certainly argue that appearance dramatically affects perception, but in this case there was a significant and measurable performance shift as well.

75 Re: Walkthrough: Ninja Theory

Eli in 2009 was an excellent QB, and played at a second-tier level--not quite elite, but very, very good.

Eli in 2010 and 2008 was decent, a bit above average, with some serious flaws both times. That his average-plus seasons bracket his best season, and that his interception total went from "high" to "late career Favre in a bad year," is not a good sign.

Eli before the 2007 postseason was significantly hurting his team.

I'd say he's about the 13th best QB in the league.

Elite: Tom Brady, Drew Brees, Peyton Manning (assuming full recovery), Philip Rivers, Aaron Rodgers

Second Tier: Ben Roethlisberger, Tony Romo, Matt Ryan, Michael Vick

I'd say those guys are clearly better than Eli, right now, though Vick is one bad hit away from crashing and burning.

I'd take Joe Flacco, Kyle Orton, and Matt Schaub before Eli without hesitation. I'd consider Matt Cassel (less upside, but less downside, too), Jay Cutler (similar upside and downside), and Josh Freeman (much less proven, but very promising) to be right around Eli's overall level. I'd have him firmly ahead of Kevin Kolb, among all the other veterans. That puts Eli 13th to 16th--above average, but not by much.

81 Re: Walkthrough: Ninja Theory

"I'd take Joe Flacco, Kyle Orton, and Matt Schaub before Eli without hesitation. I'd consider Matt Cassel (less upside, but less downside, too), Jay Cutler (similar upside and downside), and Josh Freeman (much less proven, but very promising) to be right around Eli's overall level."

Wow dude, really? I mean... really? If you were building a team from scratch and you had to choose between Eli and any of those bums, you'd really roll with a bum? I mean... seriously? Some delusional people here.

82 Re: Walkthrough: Ninja Theory

Bums is a bit harsh.

Flacco's not a great QB, but he's young and has been competent to good. Orton's a solid starter, no more, no less. Schaub has put together a very good string of seasons (and I think is the only one I'd say for sure is better than Eli right now). Cassel is the closest to being a bum, but is at least an adequate starter. Cutler's had a rough few years, but his highs are arguably the highest on this list (and higher than Eli's). Freeman just finished his second year and looked really good.

79 Re: Walkthrough: Ninja Theory

Hmmm... Either someone is doing a clever spoof of the spammers, or the spam bots have decided that we're willing to click on their user names rather than embedded links. Maybe the changing tactics are showing an ability to learn and adapt? If so, I for one welcome our new spam-bot overlords.

And take the kudos Mike and Aaron... the bots really seemed to enjoy this posting!!

89 Re: Walkthrough: Ninja Theory

LeBron's Lemma, as significant to the human race as the Pythagorean theorem!

here's my subLemma, i'm sure only one of many sublemmata to add here:
The addition of a great player to be defined as "adding a player who plays great for 4 quarters"

94 Re: Walkthrough: Ninja Theory

"thoughts on watching the NFL network": THANK YOU. i laughed, i cried, i read it 15 times.

96 FOOTBALL OUTSIDERS: Innovative Statistics, Intelligent Analysis

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