Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Tuesday 09/11 A.M. Quickie:
MNFx2, JaMarcus, Eli, Pats Cheating, Links, More!

The first Monday after the first Sunday of NFL season should be recognized as some kind of national holiday. (Forget the official Thursday night opening game.) Because there is SO much to talk about:

Sunday's NFL results are king, of course. That's what changes everything. But then you layer in college football and MLB in mid-September, and it feels like the "new year" has begun. Happy new year.

49ers edge Cards, and it wasn't pretty: For the Niners, it was ugly, but one of those things where you simply say "1-0," and you're one step closer to the playoffs. For the Cards, you simply regret letting this easily winnable game go.

Bengals beat Ravens 27-20: You could say the story was, as usual, Chad Johnson's TD celebrations (see below), but the real story was Cincinnati's defense, which racked up 6 takeaways. A consistently great D combined with that explosive offense makes the Bengals an early Team to Watch.

Chad Johnson Celebration Watch: His Hall of Fame "20??" jacket was pretty inspired, but it took him way too long to get it together. When the first time you watch a TD celebration is on replay 60 seconds after the fact, it just doesn't have the same impact.

Pats spying on Jets, busted as cheaters: OK, this is the weirdest story of the new NFL season – did the Pats cheat by using video equipment to tape Jets coaches on the other sideline? What would be the point: Does the Genius really need that kind of illegal intel? (Not with Moss he doesn't.)

I'm sure the league reprimand won't be much, but it's pretty skeevy to think that the best team in the league thinks it has to cheat to find an advantage.

Actually, what's skeevier is that you know this wasn't some unique case; this was simply the first time the Pats were CAUGHT. It is improbable that this was the first time they had done this. (In fact, they apparently were caught – but not busted by the league – doing the same thing against the Packers last season.)

Eli Manning out: The team is saying he "might" not play against Green Bay this week; other sources put him out for a month. Who's right? I certainly wouldn't trust the team. So, uh, who's picking up Jared Lorenzen for their fantasy roster next week?

Kevin Everett is going to be paralyzed: And what was otherwise a wonderful start to the season is hit with a terrible tragedy labeled as "catastrophic." His chances of a full recovery are listed as "dismal." Thoughts and prayers for Everett and his family.

Is JaMarcus Russell ready to sign? Yes? Great: It'll only take him another half-season to be in a position to contribute. Good thing the Raiders have nothing to do this season except get ready for next year's draft (ironically, stocked with exceptional QBs).

Speaking of rookie QBs: Is Brady Quinn going to start next week? He can't possibly be worse than Charlie Frye was in Week 1.

Fantasy Football: A few thoughts after Week 1. First, being in multiple leagues kind of sucks the fun out of fantasy, because you have so many players and so many add/drop/waivers to manage. You really have to work on compartmentalizing each.

Second, last season (in just one league), I was one of those saps who had the third-highest point total in the league, yet missed the playoffs. Flip-flop this year. Reminder: There's no shame in winning the week with the lowest point total in your league.

(Oh, and Vernon Davis SUCKS. Over all my teams, he's probably the player I repeatedly picked. Cost me at least one win. Probably more. This is my second year of owning him, and I dealt with the injury last year after making him a high TE pick. You'd think I'd learn!)

More: So, who is the hottest pick-up in fantasy football? Brady Quinn at QB? Dedrick Ward at RB? Drew Carter at WR? Bengals D? Man, is there ANYONE left on the waiver wire these days? I guess it all depends on injuries (like Ward, who might get Jacobs' touches).

NFL Must-Read: MJD's Smorgasbord returns to Deadspin.

And here's a second must-read from Deadspin (which had an epic day yesterday, in terms of guest-posting): Friend of DS.com Stefan Fatsis on Jason Elam's game-winning kick.

Speaking of Deadspin guest-posts, did you catch my weekly college football post? Here it is.

(And here's Hirshey's on soccer.)

Lloyd Carr Watch: I have a new name to throw at you for a potential Michigan head-coaching candidate: Norm Chow. Sure, he's never been a head coach before, but he's a winner, an offensive genius and he's got NFL cachet, too.

On all things Michigan, I defer to MGoBlog's Brian Cook. He is pimping Jeff Tedford, whose track record at Cal can continue Michigan's storied tradition of developing seemingly good NFL QB prospects that end up being merely mediocre (aside from Tom Brady). Oh, and wouldn't Michigan fans be worried about a coach who annually can't win his "Big Game" (and I'm not talking about THE "Big Game" -- Stanford -- I'm talking about the "Big Game" vs. USC).

Meanwhile, Chad Henne's injured leg will keep him out of next week's game (if not longer). Maybe that's for the best, given the team's start. True frosh replacement Ryan Mallett is the new hotness.

More CFB Injuries: Let's stick with key injuries to RANKED teams. Florida is in trouble: Leading playmaker Andre Caldwell is out for the Tennessee game with a knee injury. This is bad. Sure, the Gators have a ton of depth at the "playmaker" position, but Caldwell was by far the best of the bunch. (Witness his direct-snap 18-yard TD run last Saturday -- run directly in front of my seats. He's spectacular.) Yikes.

Hokies Watch: Even though Virginia Tech is finished as a national title contender (as predicted here... yes, I'll continue to flagellate myself over picking them to win the NC), I will continue to track their progress. Perhaps 11-1 with their only loss being at LSU is reasonable. Anyway, freshman sensation QB Tyrod Taylor is beginning his Era. He is going to get the start this weekend over the disappointing Sean Glennon. Good thing it's "only" against Ohio.

By the way, CFB fans, in addition to Every Day Should Be Saturday and Sunday Morning QB (and this little Deadspin column) every day, I hope you're reading the blog The Quad, by the college football staff of the New York Times, led by the inimitable Pete Thamel. It's the best/only must-read newspaper blog about college football. Thamel has his weekly "State of the Union" and caught my attention with this description of Washington's sensational redshirt freshman QB Jake Locker – "a faster version of Tim Tebow." I think he's right, and that's a scary thought for Ohio State. I'm picking the Huskies to continue their miracle season with a win over the Buckeyes in Seattle (made doubly sweet by a Notre Dame loss at Michigan). Anyway, here's the link.

MLB Stud: Scott Kazmir, who had 10 Ks in a Devil Rays win over the Red Sox. Got a great email from a reader yesterday insisting that the Devil Rays were a "buy-low" value for fans without allegiance (or for fans around the rest of the country who want an AL East team to feel good about). He's right. The new name and uniforms – the total rebranding of the team – will give them one window at making that case.

MLB 2008: The Red Sox and A's will open in Japan next season. So which team's fans will be screwed out of the home games?

Greg Oden to have exploratory knee surgery: Let this be the moment of foreshadowing when we realize his awesome potential was tempered by persistent knee problems for the rest of his career.

NBA Trade: Nuggets trade rebounding machine Reggie Evans to the Sixers for... well, basically cap relief.

Women's World Cup: So much for Team USA's dominance. They tied North Korea (of all teams) 2-2. (And they needed a goal in the 69th minute to do it!)

This is a woefully trite statement, but I can't believe it has been six years since 9/11. I was just starting my second year of business school in Boston, removed from my other life in New York City. Here's something I wrote in the following days for the business school's student newspaper.

-- D.S.


pv845 said...

You owned Vernon Davis for three years? I didn't know that they had College Fantasy Football.

This was the SECOND time the Pats have been caught and it was the same team official caught last time at Lambeau Field.

David Kippe said...

way to go Dan. Keep sticking up for the WWL!

Length of time out cannot be determined by a separated shoulder. Nor is that an official diagnosis, but according to Dr Mortenson it is. Apparently ESPN told Mike and Mike to report that Eli was on his way to see Dr James Andrews, not true either. Though the good doc will be looking at the MRI.

Eli will play this weekend. That is my guarantee.

jhawkjjm said...

I think the "spying" is pretty common. If it wasn't why would Goodell have to warn teams against it. Considering its a stadium employee who caught the guy, how can you not think that the employee would not turn the other way if the Jets were doing the same thing?

I'm curious what Raven's fans think. They went out and got McGhee and had 2nd and goal from the 3 (after the tying TD was called back on a blown call and the subsequent make-up call) and didn't even try running it. If he can't get 3 yards on three tries then why did you go and get him. Very questionable play calling.

David Kippe said...

jhawkjjm are you questioning the "genius?"

thistlewarrior said...

Re: Women's soccer---US dominance or lack thereof was irrellivant. N. Korea is the #5 team in the world and are so secretive (ooh, surprise) that there was almost nil scouting could be done. Also, important to note that N. Korea's 2 goals occurred while the US was playing 1 down due to Abby Wambach's head injury.

(Yes, I woke up at 4:45am to watch this.)

Matt said...

Not a surprise one bit that the Patriots were the ones caught...

soxfan2550 said...

dude, re: Michigan coaching job....can't believe you are even speculating....were you not watching LSU game on Sat? One name and one name only...Les Miles...here's how it plays out: Michigan continues to flounder, Carr is out for sure..meanwhile LSU dominates and wins Natl Champ....Les Miles who bleeds MI blue (ex player and asst coached with BO)leaves LSU victorious and returns to alma mater as hero and successor to golden age under BO. nuff said there......

Alex Gore said...

I am still trying to figure out what the difference between between the video cheating the Patriots were allegedly doing and say, Miami suppossedly buying audio tapes of Tom Brady's cadence from a practice, or Mike Shanahan suppossedly having a lip reader on the sideline, or teams grilling recently released players from their opponents for this weeks game plan, or dome teams suppossedly turning up the music behind oppossing teams bench, or screwing with the climate controls in said domes, etc.

Is this really that big of a deal?

Travis said...

thistlewarrior, thank you for enlightening our blogging buddy, Dan.
I only caught the second half. I'm satisfied with the tie.
By the way, how did the #1, 3, and 5 teams in the world all end up in the same group?

Unknown said...

I am sure cheating is huge in the NFL. The only thing I am surprised about is that they had a guy walking around with a camera. Couldn't they plant microphones on the sidelines, have a high powered zoom lens behind one way glass or something more high tech? Since this is the 2nd time they have been caught, shouldn't the Pats have to forfeit the Jets victory?

Seriously, if they are calling the exact correct defense or pass blocking on every play - and it did seem like it, they should have to forfeit the game.

Is Bellichick a genius or just a good cheat. It is easy to be a great coach when you know the other team's plays. It is also easy to be a genius on Wall Street when you have inside information. On Wall Street, you have to pay back the money. Why don't they have to give back wins in sports if they cheat? Olympic athletes will have to give back medals so why not NFL teams?

Unknown said...

Just to be a bit philosophical for a moment. I saw them reading the names of the 9/11 victims on TV this morning. I also heard the tragic news that the Bill's player is likely to be permanently paralyzed. My question is why are some people eulogized more than others?

If a HS player was paralyzed in some small town while playing football this week, it would only make headlines in his local paper. Nine more soldiers were killed in Iraq - their names were mentioned on a 5th page article and will be forgotten tomorrow except by their families.

It is strange to me how we care about celebrities and who the media telss us to care about.

SF said...


"Reminder: There's no shame in winning the week with the lowest point total in your league."

If you won the week, doesn't that mean that the person you beat had a lower point total than you did?


eric said...

The "offensive genius" label is tossed around wayyy too much. Charlie Weis (his football team is pretty good this year, right?) and Ralph Friegen come to mind, yet neither of these guys are dominating their competition like you would think with the "genius" label.

The heroin sheik said...

Holy shit did I see a mention of my Devil Rays. I may have to go procure a spank mag and lock myself in the bathroom for an hour I am so happy. Kazmir was great and like I have been saying for weeks we are going to make the playoff run interesting by being a spoiler.

I woke up to the England Japan game. There are some hot chicks who play for England.

I was impressed with the Bengals D. I was bored to tears with the AZ game. I hope this weeks games are better.

thistlewarrior said...


This happens EVERY World Cup. Not sure how they determine the groupings, but I can't recall the last time the US team wasn't in the "Group of Death". Read into this what you will...

David Kippe said...

billick got the label after that one great season in Minnesota. Nevermind he had Robert Smith, Randy Moss, Cris Carter all in their prime. Not to mention the reinvigorated Cunningham.

Jen said...

Well, after seeing the Bengals D last night, I don't think things are going to be much better this weekend at Cleveland Browns Stadium.

Hide the kids from matt!!

Mikepcfl said...

As a Ravens fan, I can say the play calling was horrendous. Why throw on 3rd and 1 with a 4th qtr lead, when the running game was just getting going. As for the goalline calls, same thing. And Boller actually is pretty good at the QB sneak. I would have rather have him sneak it in than try the pass to Heap. The pass was complete, but the NFL's version of Donaghy made a bogus offensive interference call on Heap. No I'm not bitter.

Anyway, Billick's play calling was just as much to blame for the loss as the fumbles, injuries and corrupt refs. So I hope that helps. Luckily, we get three straight gimme games (at home against the Jets, Cards and then on the road at the Browns).

TBender said...

It's kinda obvious that Oakland will lose home games. Boston would scream about losing that much money. ESPN would cover the Red Sox whining about it for a full week.

Whoever replaces Carr had better put up results in a hurry. Michigan is trending towards becoming Notre Dame and Alabama -- traditional powers that have become borderline irrelevant.

Friedgen became a genius because he had Joe Hamilton at GT.

CorrND said...

"I'm picking the Huskies to continue their miracle season with a win over the Buckeyes in Seattle (made doubly sweet by a Notre Dame loss at Michigan)."

This will be doubly sweet because Willingham's atrocious recruiting in his later ND years will still be on display to a national audience?

Big D said...

Everything I had to say about the significance of today's date, I wrote last year. I think I said all I needed to then, and that's as far as I'll go with it.

David Kippe said...

corrupt refs? they called defesive holding on 4and goal and gave you another 4 downs to score at the end?

Mikepcfl said...

Getting a first down does not equal having a touchdown taken away.

David Kippe said...

"Whoever replaces Carr had better put up results in a hurry. Michigan is trending towards becoming Notre Dame and Alabama -- traditional powers that have become borderline irrelevant."

Don't know if that is accurate. Michigan did win a national title in the last 10 years and have routinely been in the top 10.

David Kippe said...

hit heap right in the numbers. if you want to be upset with someone, be upset with your all pro TE.

Steve said...

I'll continue to be a bit of a homer, but...

MLB Team Stud - Detroit Tigers, who came back from a 1-4 deficit to win 5-4 with 2 outs and nobody on in the bottom of the 9th.

Sheldiz said...

everything mikepcfl said.

also, sure that offensive interference call was bull shit... but a playoff calibre team should be able to convert on the 1 yard line, given about 9 attempts. regardless of that touchdown being taken away.

marcomarco said...

How is the video thing any different than a man on 2nd base grabbing the catchers signs and relaying it to the batter?

If it's for research purposes, isn't any game/sideline footage free to use?

I'm surprised that they didn't just put the guy in the stands, where the camcorder would be overlooked.

Maybe he was filming 'Cheerleaders gone wild'

The funny thing, because it's the Pats, everyone is so quick to cast the first stone.

Matt said...

Breaking Rumor Alert:

Media in cleveland reporting charlie frye has been traded or will be cut. the browns have brought back mentor and friend of Brady Quinn: Ken Dorsey back to the team.

www.profootballtalk.com confirms story

PatriotsNation said...

Brady Quinn to start this week I would say!!

marcomarco said...

Dan, i bet this is one of your proudest moments:

Britney Debate

More, More, More

By Dan Shanoff
Page 2 columnist

(Britney, baby) Needs More Time
Sung to the tune of "(Hit Me Baby) One More Time")

Are you ready for some ... provocatively dressed 21-year-olds?
Oh, Britney, Britney:
How were we supposed to know:
Your name would 'cause such hatin'?

Oh, Britney, Britney:
Your critics will eat some crow:
You're still so captivatin'!

Page 2:
How our readers love you!
So it's not true:
That your Page 2 bounce is overdue!

Our Brit-less-ness would bother me!
(And I!)
I must confess, I still believe:
(Still believe!)
If you're not with us,
we'll lose our mind
You're our lifeline!

Britney, baby, needs more time!

Oh, Britney, Britney:
Your comeback is such a thrill:
You were mackin' with Madonna!

Oh, Britney, Britney:
You're always so dressed to kill:
Pose in Playboy? (If you wanna!)

Imagine Britney making out with one of the Eagles cheerleaders ...
Ban you?
None others worthy in lieu!
What a snafu:
If your value we misconstrue!

Our Brit-less-ness would bother me!
(And I!)
I must confess, I still believe:
(Still believe!)
If you're not with us,
we'll lose our mind
You're our lifeline!

Britney, baby, needs more time!

We must confess!
If we're Britney-less:
Our traffic goes down ...
Don't you know we still believe:
Her photos we cheer,
The brackets are clear,
So much left in her prime ...

Britney, baby, needs more time!

Dan Shanoff is a columnist for Page 2. His "Daily Quickie" commentary appears every weekday.

chipp said...

The problem with the video camera is that it is against league policy for a TEAM to film during a game. The teams get the game films AFTER the game from the league. Teams can use still photos, but no video. The penalty for cheating is losing a draft pick (not sure what round). It should be a forfeit.

Unknown said...

Try ScreamingSports.com to manage multiple fantasy teams in one location.

Unknown said...

Try ScreamingSports.com to manage multiple fantasy sports teams on one site.

Jen said...

matt~ Hot damn, if that's true I'll be so happy today.

Unknown said...

Check out ScreamingSports.com to manage multiple fantasy teams from one web site.

chitown italian said...

Here's to all the Men and Women fighting for our right to be at work, posting on the internet, complaining about football, and whatever else that is occurring in our daily lives.

Bret A.

Matt said...

Jenn...its confirmed

frye to seattle...terns not yet disclosed

frye is gone....now on to romeo

Jen said...

matt~ saw it on fox! Yeah, Romeo needs a new playbook or adios to him!

RevScottDeMangeMD said...


what did i tell you about rooting for the browns? just come to the good side and root for cincy this weekend! it will make you much more attractive! :)

go bengals!

also...is it the weekend yet?

Geoff said...

If Michigan was borderline irrelevant than no one would be talking about them right now. But they have gotten more press for starting 0-2 than they did last year for starting 11-0. That is being quite relevant.

Also, I am not really sold on Les Miles. I know that he is probably the leading candidate and all, but what has he ever won? I am sure he is a fine coach but I would be bummed if Michigan is already locked onto him and isn't considering anyone else.

Sean said...


Maybe I missing something but screamingsports.com leaves ALOT to be desired when it comes to fantasy football. Let me know when they come close to fanball or cbssportsline and I'll try again.

Matt said...

going to cincy makes you attractive?? dont all your women sweat out skyline chili?

RevScottDeMangeMD said...


you say that like it's a bad thing! :) regulars at this website know my love for skyline chili. it's the poop of angels!

and i'm not from cincy...just near there. went to school at miami u.

Matt said...

i went to BGSU and they put a skyline there, had it 1x and hated it very much. had friends from cincy and thats all they would eat.

my heart stopped when i saw all that cheese they put on it.

Unknown said...

I want to give props to the Israeli National Basketball team.

They played 6 qualifying games earlier this month in an attempt to qualify for a mini tournament. They were expected to win 1, maybe 2, of those games. They won 4 of the 6 and qualified.

They then played in the 4 team single elimination mini tournament in which they weren't expected to win a game. They then beat Macedonia in the 1st round and Bosnia in the championship to win the tournament. That earned them a spot in Eurobasket (the eqivilent of the FIBA Americas tournament).

They were placed in a preliminary group with Serbia/Montenegro, Greece, and Russia where the bottom team is eliminated. They somehow pulled off an upset of the Serbs to move into the qualifying round.

Then Spain, Portugal, and Croatia were added to the group. Israel again pulled off an upset by beating Croatia. But they need 1 more win to make it into the final round; 8 team single elimination.

Israel knows they have no chance of winning, but they want to qualify for the pre-Olympic qualifying tournament that takes place just before Beijing in 2008. To do that they have to come in 7th place or higher in Eurobasket.

The key is tonight's game against Spain. If they can beat Spain (the best AND host team) they can move into the 8 team final round where they would need to win just 1 of 3 games to keep hope for the Olympics alive.

My Proposal

Spain loses on purpose and they call that whole thing even. Spanish Inquisition for a Basketball game sounds like a good trade. And besides, Spain is already through to the next round.

Anonymous said...

Rutgers at #3?

Yeah,they actually do have College Fantasy Football.

Mark said...

I have yet to see this mentioned about Chad Johnson, but did anyone notice that when he pulled the jacket out of the bag it was BUTTONED?! Cmon Chad, if you are going to plan an elaborate celebration that is going to take so much time, at least have the jacket ready to put on when it comes out of the bag. I think this was the biggest problem with the celebration because it was the unbuttoning that took so long and caused ESPN to go back to the punter shanking the PAT. Why would you button a jacket before you put it on? I don't get it.

Spaceman Spiff said...

Bartender, shotgun spreads for everyone! Considered quirky just a few seasons ago, the shotgun spread has taken over football as completely as if it were a Ukrainian virus targeting Microsoft Outlook. Friday night at my kids' high school game, both sides were running it; I've seen maybe two dozen high school teams since September 2006, and most of the offenses were shotgun spread. Come Saturday, LSU and Virginia Tech slugged it out in prime time with both teams in the shotgun spread. Imagine telling the Gipper that Notre Dame just played at Penn State, and both spent most of the game in a shotgun formation with multiple wideouts, including the Nittany Lions' opening snap being shotgun spread with five wide. Almost every big-college game this weekend featured at least one team that had shotgun as its base look. Miami, Ohio State, West Virginia, Washington, Florida, Georgia, Texas, Texas A&M, Texas Christian, Hawaii, Louisville -- we could save space by listing the major teams that currently don't go shotgun as their base offense. The shotgun spread offense has taken over Division I-AA, Div. II and Div. III, as well, and lest we forget, Appalachian State used the shotgun spread for its historic upset of Michigan. Come the NFL's opening weekend, Atlanta, Dallas, Green Bay, Indianapolis, Jersey/A, Miami, Minnesota, New England, Philadelphia and Tennessee regularly lined up in a shotgun spread, even on rushing downs. Almost every NFL team now uses multiple-wide formations: According to Pro Football Prospectus 2007, 28 of the 32 NFL clubs went five wide on offense at least once in 2006. And of course, Indianapolis just won the Super Bowl from a shotgun spread. All hail the shotgun spread!
Fads come and go in sports, of course. Beginning in the late 1960s, the veer-option offense went from being rare to nearly universal to rare again, the cycle taking about a decade. How long until the shotgun spread is passé? A couple of seasons, most likely. Who gets credit for the popularity of the shotgun spread? Mike Leach and Urban Meyer are the most prominent names. Beginning in the early 1990s, Leach developed a shotgun spread attack at Valdosta State, then at Kentucky, now at Texas Tech; beginning about the same time, Meyer perfected a similar offense at Bowling Green, then at Utah, now at Florida. In high school, the shotgun spread has proliferated partly because coaches have heard that Southlake Carroll used the offense to win four Texas high school championships in the past five seasons, and Hoover of Alabama, which had its own show on MTV, won a lot of games with a shotgun spread. My guess is that in 2006 and 2007, hundreds of high school coaches have switched to the shotgun spread hoping to surprise opponents -- only to find their opponents opening in the shotgun spread, as well. At the NFL level, teams copy other teams. About five years ago, offensive coordinator Tom Moore of the Colts made it clear that a shotgun formation with two or three wide receivers and a wide-spread tight end could work on a consistent basis. Since then, every NFL team has shown this look at least occasionally.
The shotgun itself usually is attributed to former Niners coach Red Hickey, who in 1960 had John Brodie stand well behind the center for a direct snap. Hickey's theory was that because the quarterback has to use time and energy dropping back on a passing play, why not just start the play with the quarterback dropped back? But when Brodie went into the shotgun, the rest of the formation stayed the same -- traditional two backs, two wide receivers -- and Hickey's Niners only shifted to the shotgun on long yardage downs. Few teams, college or pro, seemed interested in the shotgun until 1975, when Tom Landry of the Cowboys began to employ the set with Roger Staubach sometimes lining up in the shotgun on downs other than third-and-long. This was seen as a major innovation at the time, though many coaches thought the idea was stupid: because you couldn't run out of the shotgun, lining up shotgun announced you would pass. (Hold that thought a moment.) Despite the high profile of Staubach's Cowboys, shotgun sets did not catch on, except for third-and-long situations.
About the same time, Bill Walsh -- first as an assistant for the Cincinnati Bengals, then as head coach at Stanford -- conceived what eventually would become the West Coast offense: or as this column calls it, the West Coast Offense®. Walsh's big idea was not, as football pundits are wont to say, "timing routes"; all pass plays involve timing. Walsh's big idea was a pass designed to gain 8-15 yards. Until the West Coast Offense®, coaches viewed runs as plays intended for short gains and passes as plays intended for long gains. A 2-to-1 or 3-to-1 run-pass ratio prevailed, with runs called to raise clouds of dust and occasional passes called to attempt deep strikes: Think of the Packers' game plan in the first Super Bowl. Walsh's idea of frequent short passes that would pick up a first down but probably not lead to a big gain, struck most coaches of the late 1970s and early 1980s as nonsense. But when Walsh showed during San Francisco's Super Bowl runs that a team could control the clock with short throws, this revolutionized football's concept of the pass. Soon run-pass ratios were 1-to-1 or even favored the pass. Last year in the NFL regular season, there were 17,552 called passes -- attempts plus sacks -- versus 14,448 rushes. If your goal is to throw mostly short passes that leave the quarterback's hands quickly, having the quarterback take the snap already several yards deep made sense. (Hold that thought, too.)
Next came the thankfully brief era of the run 'n' shoot. Several teams, prominently Atlanta, Detroit and the old Houston Oilers, lined up with four wide receivers and no tight end, often favoring short receivers on the theory that they could dance around linebackers, and passed like mad, hitting 2-to-1 pass-run ratios. The Lions reached the 1991 NFC Championship Game as a run 'n' shoot team, and entered the contest with no tight end on the roster. Run 'n' shoot teams actively disdained the run, saying the future of football was all passing. The armageddon of the run 'n' shoot came in the 1992 playoffs, when the Oilers used this strategy to take a 35-3 second-half lead over the Bills, then plummeted to the largest lost lead in NFL annals. From the point at which the Oilers attained the 35-3 edge till they walked off the field with heads hanging, Houston coaches called 22 passes and four rushes -- endlessly stopping the clock with incompletions, thus keeping Buffalo alive. After the Oilers' meltdown on national television, the run 'n' shoot fell from vogue and has not been heard from since.
The next fad offense was the no-huddle, started by the Bengals with Boomer Esiason, perfected by Jim Kelly's Super Bowl Bills, and by the late 1990s seen on occasion from most NFL teams. The point of the no-huddle was not, as football pundits commonly said, to pass like crazy: In its four Super Bowl years, Buffalo either had a 1-to-1 run-pass ratio or rushed more than passed. The points of the no-huddle were these: first, to prevent situation substitutions by the defense; second, to lure the defense into using simplified tactics without presnap movements (because defenders would be worried about getting into position in time); third, to increase the number of plays the offense runs (playing defense is more tiring than playing offense, so an accelerated pace favors the offense); and fourth, to entice the defense into using a relatively light "prevent" set with five or six defensive backs, then run against the skinny guys.
I mention these trends because the good aspects of all of them came together in the Leach-Meyer-Southlake-Moore conception of the shotgun spread. West Coast-style, most passes are designed to be short, and thus can be thrown quickly, before blitzers reach the deep-set quarterback. With four receivers running quick routes, somebody will be open; as long as the throws are accurate, the chains will move. Because the shotgun spread is up-tempo, the offense increases its number of plays executed. Offensive linemen are usually in two-point stances, which improves pass-protection performance. The key difference between the shotgun spread and previous philosophies, such as the run 'n' shoot, is that shotgun spread coaches love the run. In my kids' high school's shotgun spread performance Friday night, the run-pass ratio was 3-to-1. On Saturday, Nebraska beat Wake Forest 20-17 on a late 22-yard touchdown run by tailback Marlon Lucky. The line score of the game looks like something from 1953, but Wake rushed 53 times from the shotgun spread and Nebraska's winning touchdown run came from the shotgun spread. The Indianapolis Super Bowl win? The Colts won that game on the ground, rushing from the shotgun spread. The old-timers' assumption that you can only pass from the shotgun turns out to be totally wrong. Old-timers also would have said you can't rush-block from a two-point stance, which also turns out to be wrong. The shotgun spread is a great formation to run from, in part because you often are facing a light defense with one fewer linebacker than normal.
Defenses will soon find ways to counter shotgun-spread mania. When Alabama held Texas Tech to 10 points in the 2006 Cotton Bowl, you were seeing the beginning of the end of the shotgun spread fad. But often fads reach their peak just before collapsing, and the shotgun spread is at its peak right now. Shotgun spread advocates, enjoy your moment in the sun!
Shotgun footnote: TV announcers and sportswriters, please stop saying the point of this offense is to "spread the field." The field remains 160 feet wide regardless of where the players line up. Having multiple split receivers does reduce bunching of linebackers between the tackles, but then again, by moving defenders outward, spreading makes it a lot harder for the tailback to break a big run by turning the corner. Shotgun spread passing routes have more to do with giving the quarterback a clear view of the receiver than with spreading players outward. If spreading were in itself a good idea, all five offensive linemen wouldn't always be together. And by the way, what if not having all five offensive linemen together is the next big fad?
In other football news, see below for my Super Bowl pick, plus my annual off-price ultra-generic house-label prediction.
And in TMQ news -- clear the decks, prepare to dive! The Tuesday Morning Quarterback Challenge returns! At least for this week. See below.
Stat of the Week No. 1: Since the start of the 2002 season, the league's best teams are the Patriots at 68-23 and the Colts at 68-24.
Stat of the Week No. 2: In the Denver-Buffalo game, the Broncos had the lead for exactly one second -- the final second.
Stat of the Week No. 3: Green Bay had a scoring drive of minus-1 yard.
Stat of the Week No. 4: For a second consecutive season, Tampa failed to score a touchdown in its opener.
Stat of the Week No. 5: Atlanta, Chicago, Kansas City, New Orleans, and Tampa all failed to score an offensive touchdown in their openers.
Stat of the Week No. 6: Stretching back to last season, the Jets have lost consecutive games to New England and been outscored by a combined 45 points.
Stat of the Week No. 7: Stretching back to last season, the Saints have lost four of their past six games and been outscored in their two most recent appearances by a combined 56 points.
Stat of the Week No. 8: Since defeating eventual Super Bowl champion Indianapolis on Dec. 10, Jacksonville has dropped four straight games.
Stat of the Week No. 9: Cleveland has lost 14 of its past 15 games against Pittsburgh.
Stat of the Week No. 10: Last season, Larry Johnson rushed the ball more often than five entire teams. On opening weekend, 33 players carried more than Larry Johnson.
Cheerleader of the Week: The newest addition to the NFL cheer-babe ranks is the Jets' Flag Carriers, so naturally they get the first Cheerleader of the Week nod. Reader Barry Negrin of New York City nominates Gina, whose team bio says she is a dance teacher who started dancing at age 2 1/2 -- way too late by modern ballet standards!
Sweet Play of the Week: Leading the Bucs 13-6 in the fourth quarter, Seattle faced third-and-5 on the City of Tampa 34. Before the snap, the Blue Men Group split tailback Maurice Morris all the way left, nearly at the sideline. Morris ran a "go" straight up the field for the game-clinching touchdown, beating linebacker Derrick Brooks. Why don't NFL teams split the tailback wide more often? This almost always causes a matchup problem for the defense.
Sweet Play of the Week No. 2: Trailing New England 7-0, Jersey/B faced third-and-6 on the Patriots' 7-yard line. The home crowd roaring, the Jets stayed in the huddle too long, and several Jets players looked up and pointed at the play clock, which was down to seven clicks, and waved toward the sideline. New England players relaxed, as they assumed a timeout was coming. Then the Jets as a group raced up to the line and quick-snapped, touchdown pass. The whole "Oh no, the play clock is ticking" thing was planned -- how very Belichick-like!
In Other Campaign News, Florida Moves Its Primary Up to Christmas Eve: Over the summer, Hillary Clinton staged a poll in which people voted for her campaign song. What is it with Democratic candidates and campaign songs? When Bill Clinton ran for president in 1992, his theme song was Fleetwood Mac's "Don't Stop (Thinking About Tomorrow)," which contained such puzzling lyrics as, "I know you don't believe that it's true, I never meant any harm to you." At rallies, John Kerry's campaign sometimes played the Jimi Hendrix song "Fire," whose lyrics include, "You don't care for me, I don't care about that." Of the selections Hillary Clinton asked voters to consider, one was the "I'm a Believer" version by Smash Mouth -- not the Monkees' original. Can you imagine: "Ladies and gentlemen, the president of the United States, with soundtrack provided by Smash Mouth." Another nominee was U2's "City of Blinding Lights," whose lyrics include, "I knew much more then than I do now … what happened to the beauty I had inside of me?" The winner was Celine Dion's "You and I," whose lyrics include, "Take me higher than all the stars above / I'm burning, yearning." Somehow, I do not want to contemplate a burning, yearning Hillary Clinton. Meanwhile, Dion is a Canadian who grew up speaking French, and her current Vegas show is directed by Franco Dragon, a Belgian citizen. Is there a sinister Francophone conspiracy behind the Clinton presidential bid?
Sweet 'N' Sour Play: Peyton Manning's 27-yard pass to Marvin Harrison was the first touchdown of the 2007 season. It was second-and-6. New Orleans blitzed six; Indianapolis kept six blockers back, and no Saint even got close to Manning. That was sweet. Meanwhile, on the defensive side, Harrison -- the most productive touchdown receiver in the league -- ran a skinny out-and-up to the end zone and beat his man without a safety in sight. Where was the safety? It's a big blitz, the most productive touchdown receiver in the league goes deep -- where was the safety?
Sour Quarter of the Week: On the Browns' first possession, they lost 3 yards, then boomed a 15-yard punt -- and there were three penalties against Cleveland during the punt. Pittsburgh took over on the Browns' 22 and immediately scored. The Browns' second possession ended with an interception. The Browns' third possession ended with a punt on fourth-and-20. The Browns' fourth possession ended with a fumble.
'Tis Better to Have Rushed and Lost Than Never to Have Rushed At All: Leading 6-3, Jersey/A faced fourth-and-2 on the Dallas 34 in the first quarter. As TMQ notes ad infinitum (Latin for "by using my AutoText"), statistically, rushing plays on fourth-and-1 and fourth-and-2 are far more likely to succeed than passing plays. The Giants went shotgun spread and threw incomplete -- and it wasn't a home run attempt for a big gain, rather some dinky-dorky thing into the flat. Two series later, Dallas faced fourth-and-1 on the Jersey/A 18. Dinky-dorky pass into the flat? Power rush, touchdown, and the host team never looked back.
'Tis Better to Have Rushed and Lost Than Never to Have Rushed At All No. 2: Baltimore, trailing Cincinnati 27-20 at the end of the game, ran eight consecutive goal-to-go plays -- owing to penalties-- and failed to score. Five of the eight plays were pass attempts, all leading to incompletions, interceptions or penalties; the Ravens went pass-wacky though beginning the series with first-and-goal on the Bengals 3, where with four straight power-rushes seemingly all but assured a score.
The Absurdity of News Helicopters: It was awful that two television news helicopters collided above Phoenix in July, killing four people. Perhaps on hearing of the crash you thought, "Why were there two television news helicopters trying to get pictures of a police chase, wouldn't one have been enough?" Turns out there were five television news helicopters above the chase, all jockeying for position for meaningless footage of police cars following a truck. It's a wonder all five didn't collide, or smash into the sixth helicopter above the chase: the police aircraft that was the sole helicopter that actually had a reason to be present.
Polls show the public steadily losing respect for journalism, and the absurd obsession with using news helicopters to generate pseudo-drama must be one reason. News helicopters don't just roar above highway chases -- although all the viewer sees is a jumpy image of a vehicle with police cruisers behind. Increasingly when a news event involves some place, agency, company or school, the local station has its helicopter circle overhead as a correspondent does a report from the scene. This is done to fabricate the impression that something more sensational is happening than actually is: The correspondent deliberately arranges the "stand-up" so she has to shout above the whomp-whomp of helicopter rotors, creating an illusion of drama. That is, the purpose of the helicopter is to distort the news, not report same. Twice in the past couple of years, my kids' high school has been involved in controversies, and each time, news helicopters have circled above the school as correspondents did their stand-ups outside. What could a helicopter contribute to a report on an educational dispute? Why, live footage of cooling fans on the school roof, of course! Last week, two stations of the subway line I commute on were closed by this incident; walking past one closed station, I noted three news helicopters circling above. Circling above a subway station -- where, by definition, you cannot see anything from the air! Typically, local news stations spend about $1 million a year to maintain and operate a news helicopter. If that amount were invested instead in serious reporting, maybe the public wouldn't have so little faith in local newscasters.
Sweet Special Teams Play: Didn't we just read a prominent article on a major sports Web site saying that special teams are overrated? Brian Moorman, the league's best placement punter, boomed a punt that hung up inside the Denver 5-yard line, and Buffalo special-teamers downed the ball on the 1. The defense held, and Buffalo's Roscoe Parrish ran the Denver punt back for a touchdown. Then the game was won by Denver special teams, which -- with the Broncos out of timeouts -- took just 18 seconds to get onto the field, line up and launch the winning kick. Didn't we just read a prominent article on a major sports Web site saying that special teams are overrated?
In Other News, Orangutans Refused to Allow Bonobos to Be Considered in Their Poll: Congratulations to The Associated Press for opening its college Top 25 poll to Division I-AA teams -- Appalachian State drew some votes this week, though it did not crack the Top 25. Note that the coaches' poll, administered by USA Today, will not open its balloting to Division I-AA. Hey, Div. I-A coaches, what are you afraid of? The Div. I-A coaches are afraid that more cupcake schools will stage upsets -- and they want the evidence to disappear, by never being reflected in the polls.
Fortune Favors the Bold! Trailing Tennessee 13-10, Jacksonville faced fourth-and-8 with less than three minutes remaining. In trotted the punt unit, and I scarcely need to tell you the Jaguars never touched the ball again.
Meet the New Cost Overrun, Same as the Old Cost Overrun … Just before kickoff of the Colts-Saints opener, Indianapolis owner James Irsay unveiled the team's championship banner, which he said would "hang from the stadium ceiling forever." Forever? They're tearing the place down next winter! Then the team ran onto the field accompanied by strains of The Who's "Won't Get Fooled Again." Perhaps this refers to the $575 million in subsidies that Indiana taxpayers have been hornswoggled into providing for Irsay's new dome.
Basically, This Item Exists as an Excuse to Run the Photo: Back-to-back summer-weather nationally televised games hosted by Washington and Dallas confirmed beyond doubt what NFL observers have been thinking for several years -- the Redskins cheerleaders are now the league's hottest dance team, leaving the Cowboys cheerleaders in their aesthetic dust. Twenty years ago, the Cowboys' pep squad may have been the best-looking and best-dancing in the NFL. Now, it's not even close -- the Redskins cheerleaders are No. 1 in looks and in choreography. Here they are, and here's their warm-to-the-touch swimsuit calendar. At this point, the Broncos cheerleaders tie the Redskins cheerleaders in beauty and the Eagles cheerleaders tie them in choreography, but Washington finishes first overall, including for game-day professionalism. (Professionalism in the cheer context meaning skin, or at least skintight.) Obviously, this is a debate that should continue throughout the season.
I Say! Pip Pip! Cheerio! The Smart Schools Invade the NFL: There were what is likely a modern-era record number of Ivy League players on opening day NFL rosters: Matt Birk (Vikings), Ryan Fitzpatrick (Bengals), Clifton Dawson (Bengals) and Isaiah Kacyvenski (Raiders) from Harvard; Zak DeOssie (Giants), Sean Morey (Cardinals) and Chas Gessner (Bucs' practice squad) from Brown; Ross Tucker (Redskins), Dennis Norman (Jaguars) and Jonathan Dekker (Steelers' practice squad) from Princeton; Nate Lawrie (Bengals) and Eric Johnson (Saints) from Yale; Jim Finn (Giants) from Penn; Casey Cramer (Titans) from Dartmouth; Steve Cargile (Broncos' practice squad) from Columbia; and Kevin Boothe (Giants) from Cornell. A decade ago, at the kickoff of the 1997 season, there were only four Ivy Leaguers on NFL rosters. This season, there is also a head coach, Dick Jauron (Bills) from Yale, and an offensive coordinator, Jason Garrett (Cowboys) from Princeton. Several other smart-school players made NFL rosters: Sean Conover (Titans) of Bucknell; Bryce Fisher (with the Seahawks in Week 1, then traded to Titans) of the Air Force Academy; Kyle Eckel (Patriots) of Navy; Fred Jackson (Bills) of Coe College; Mike Leach (Broncos), Darren Sharper (Vikings) and Dominique Thompson (Rams) of William & Mary; Michael Allan (Chiefs) of Whitworth; Jamaal Branch (Steelers' practice squad) of Colgate; and Alex Buzbee (Redskins' practice squad) of Georgetown. Of course, NFL teams have many players from serious academic schools such as Stanford and Boston College. But even the quality academic schools in Division I-A treat education as optional for football players. In contrast, the Ivy Leaguers and others mentioned in this item attended colleges and universities where a football player who's not in class is a football player who's off the team.

As Tuesday Morning Quarterback pointed out here, smart schools at which athletes get a genuine education did really well in intercollegiate competition in the 2006-07 season. Now we see that smart schools are doing really well at producing athletes who advance to playing and coaching in the NFL. So I'll ask again: If serious colleges can have high-quality sports programs and still educate their athletes, why is it so many football factories, such as Ohio State, don't even try?
He Has a Promising Career Ahead in Sports Television: The Redskins put second-year man Mike Espy on injured reserve.
Law of the Obvious Dooms Bills: TMQ's immutable Law of the Obvious holds: Sometimes all a team needs to do is rush up the middle for no gain, and everything will be fine. Leading Denver 14-12, the Bills had possession on their 36, facing second-and-7, with 2:51 remaining. Rookie Marshawn Lynch took a pitch and ran out of bounds, stopping the clock. On the next play, Buffalo threw incomplete, stopping the clock. After the punt, Denver staged a hectic hurry-up drive and kicked the game-winning 42-yard field goal with one second showing. Had the Bills simply run up the middle for no gain on both their final snaps, keeping the clock ticking, they would have jogged up the tunnel victorious.
Paper of Record Staring at Tuesday Morning Quarterback's Taillights: In June, during the annual Paris Air Show, The New York Times ran a big article expressing amazement that an entire $400 million Airbus A380, the world's largest aircraft, was being converted for the personal use of a single plutocrat and that billionaire Robert Bass is trying to build an $80 million small private supersonic jet for CEOs. These developments were presented as shocking news. You could have known about Bass' supersonic CEO jet project two years ago by reading TMQ, and you could have known about the $400 million personal A380 configured for a single plutocrat one year ago by reading TMQ. Reader Joakim Andersson of Linkoping, Sweden, reminds us that my 2006 TMQ on the A380 "flying palace" version asked, "How long until some CEO flies an entire personal Airbus A380 to a conference to denounce fossil fuel waste?" (The A380 emits about 160 pounds of greenhouse gases per mile, meaning that flying an A380 from New York to Paris is the equivalent of driving a Hummer for about 75 years; TMQ thinks environmental hypocrisy should be measured in HYs or Hummer Years.) The answer, Andersson says, is that this could happen as early as 2008, when the first super-gigantic A380 converted to a single person's use is delivered to an unnamed obscenely rich buyer.
China's "Modest Proposal" to Avoid Global Warming: Last week, Chinese government officials told the United Nations climate change talks in Vienna that the country has taken a dramatic step against greenhouse gas emissions -- by preventing 300 million people from being born. China calculates its one-child policy has averted 300 million births, which "means we averted 1.3 billion tons of carbon dioxide in 2005, based on average world per capital emissions of 4.2 tons," Chinese Foreign Ministry official Su Wei told the conference, according to a Reuters report. (The average world per capita emission is about six Hummer Months.) The hilarious new Chris Buckley novel "Boomsday" has as its Swiftian premise a near future in which, to restrain Social Security costs, the federal government offers luxury living to senior citizens: as long as they "voluntarily transition" -- commit suicide -- upon reaching age 75. Better not give the Chinese government a copy of "Boomsday."
Football Panel of Experts Can't Name Linemen: In the offseason, a "panel of USA Today NFL reporters and editors" named the top 25 NFL players of the past 25 years -- choosing 15 quarterbacks and running backs versus one offensive lineman. There are twice as many offensive linemen on the field as quarterbacks and running backs, yet USA Today's NFL staff thinks there have been 15 times as many good quarterbacks and running backs as offensive linemen. If I were on the sports staff at USA Today, I'd want to hide that list -- it makes the paper's sportswriters and sports editors seem like amateurs who lack any sophisticated knowledge of the game. But then practically all news organizations that cover football, including ESPN, are guilty of idolizing quarterbacks and running backs while ignoring linemen. Oh well -- at least there's the Tuesday Morning Quarterback Non-QB Non-RB NFL MVP.
In Praise of Line Play: If USA Today and The Associated Press refuse to acknowledge linemen, by the hammer of Grabthar, they shall be avenged! Here is love for three fantastic line performances turned in on opening weekend. The Indianapolis offensive line allowed no sacks nor hits on Peyton Manning, who stood comfortably in his shotgun spread, waiting for receivers to uncover. Sure, Peyton is good -- but take a quarterback like, say, J.P. Losman, who on Sunday often started scrambling just two seconds into the play owing to poor blocking, put him behind the Colts' line, and suddenly he'd be making commercials, too. The Colts' fine O-line performance was doubly impressive because a rookie, Tony Ugoh, started at left tackle. Ugoh, a second-round choice, looked a lot better on opening day than Joe Thomas and Levi Brown, tackles who went at the top of the first round.
Next we praise the San Diego defensive line. Not only did the Chargers' front shut down the hyped Chicago rushing game but it staged one of the nicest stands in football annals. With San Diego leading 14-3, Chicago reached second-and-2 on the Bolts' 36 with 7:36 remaining. If the defending NFC champs don't score here, TMQ will write "game over" in his notebook. They have three tries to gain 2 yards. Second down, Cedric Benson up the middle, stopped for no gain. Third-and-2, Adrian Peterson up the middle, held to a yard. Fourth-and-1, Cedric Benson up the middle, stopped for no gain. What was really impressive about the fourth-down stop is that the Chargers did not stack the box. There were just four linemen and one linebacker between the Bears' tackles, yet these five beat seven blockers to stuff the play. (Note to Bears fans: The phrase "Cedric Benson stopped for no gain" might be a recurring theme of the season.)
Finally, let's praise the New England Patriots offensive line. Tom Brady was never sacked, and was knocked down only once, despite frequent Jersey/B blitzing. Media attention went to the great statistical day enjoyed by Randy Moss. Check Brady's numbers -- 22-of-28 for 297 yards, three touchdowns and no picks. You just can't throw with that kind of precision unless the blocking is great. Brady stood back comfortably in his shotgun spread -- put Joey Harrington behind such blocking, and suddenly he'd be doing commercials. You know some of the Colts' offensive linemen, including 2006 Tuesday Morning Quarterback Non-QB Non-RB NFL MVP Jeff Saturday. Can you name even one New England blocker? The starters Sunday were Matt Light, Logan Mankins, Dan Koppen, Steve Neal and Nick Kaczur.

In Development at HBO: a Fantasy Show About a Studio Executive Who Cannot Be Fired: Fox's fall lineup includes a show about "a detective who has been granted eternal life." At least till he's canceled! ABC's fall lineup includes a show about a detective who can resurrect the dead. The CBS fall lineup includes a show about a private investigator who is a century-old good vampire. Absurd as these pitches sound, bear in mind that recent television series and movies have had as their premise: a detective who can see into the past ("Déjà Vu"), a detective who can see the future ("Minority Report"), a detective who can travel into the past ("Timecop"), a detective who becomes a sorcerer ("Witchblade"), a detective who endlessly relives the same day ("Day Break"), an amateur detective who endlessly relives the same day ("Premonition"), an amateur detective who can speak to the dead ("Ghost Whisperer"), a detective who can speak to the dead and endlessly relive the same day ("Tru Calling"), a detective who can send radio messages into the past ("Frequency"), a detective who died and then returned to life ("Brimstone"), a private investigator who is a 2-century-old good vampire ("Angel"), a detective of sorts with psychic powers ("Medium"), a detective who instantly recovers from any wound ("Painkiller Jane"), a detective who was kidnapped by space aliens ("The X Files"), a detective whose partner is a space alien ("Alien Nation"), a detective who uses technology given to him by space aliens ("Earth: Final Conflict") and at least five older shows and movies about detectives who are actually machines ("The Six Million Dollar Man," "The Bionic Woman," "RoboCop" the movie, "RoboCop" the series, and the upcoming "Bionic Woman" remake). What possible ridiculous detective series premises are left? Looking into Hollywood's future, I see:
"300 Minus One." A rift in the space-time continuum hurls King Leonidas forward from the battle of Thermoplyae to modern-day Los Angeles, where he prowls the streets avenging the innocent and seeking out Persians. Armed only with a sword and six-pack abs, Leonidas blends in with the contemporary Los Angeles crowd by screaming into a cell phone and filing lawsuits. In the pilot, Leonidas uses some rare gold coins to buy a Porsche, then attempts to hitch horses to it.

"Alchemist." A police detective discovers an ancient book containing mystical spells that turn sand into diamonds or dogs into griffins. The spells make him invincible -- except they only work during a full moon!
"St. John the Vampire Slayer." Some Pentecostals maintain that a Gospel verse means the apostle John cannot die and walks the Earth to this day. Arriving in Los Angeles, St. John (Ving Rhames) becomes a police detective in order to gain access to 911 information: He plans to rescue the helpless, heal the sick and cast out demons. That ability to speak any language, granted at the Pentecost, sure comes in handy on today's L.A. streets. Out on his first night radio call, St. John is shocked to discover Los Angeles is infested with vampires, ghouls and succubae. After taking kickboxing classes, John draws together a band of street-tough followers and sets out to rid Los Angeles of the undead. Each week, he must face his archenemy, the Spawn of Satan (Jenna Elfman). MSNBC gushes, "Crossover appeal to the 'Buffy' college crowd and 'Left Behind' fundamentalists!"
"Codename Lemon Drops." It's the year 2024 and aging Harry Potter, hard up for cash to put James, Lily and Albus Severus through college, takes a job as an inspector with Scotland Yard.

"She Hears Bells." Joan of Arc is reincarnated into the body of a Manhattan detective. Using unorthodox interrogation techniques such as the rack and the Iron Lady, Det. Joan Dark proves able to wring a confession from anyone. Her desire to dress as a man puts her right at home in the modern gender-confused New York nightclub scene. When the city is attacked by Canada and the wimpy government wants to surrender, it's up to Joan to rally the people to resist oppression.
"Wireless." A detective finds a mysterious cell phone that enables him to place calls to the dead who are stranded in a never-world until their murders are solved. You won't believe the roaming charges!
Get on the Ground! That's what coaches yell when they see a ballcarrier, already wrapped up by one or more defenders, straining to get an extra half-yard -- in that situation, you're a lot more likely to fumble than advance the ball. Last night with Cincinnati leading Baltimore 6-0 and the Ravens having lost fumbles on two straight possessions, Steve McNair threw short to rookie fullback Le'Ron McClain, who was wrapped up by two men, had no chance of more yards but kept trying to strain forward -- only to lose a fumble to the third man, who stripped the ball. When you're under tackle, get on the ground!

Preposterous Punt Watch: The new season was barely a few hours old when the first Preposterous Punt boomed. New Orleans trailed Indianapolis 27-10 and faced fourth-and-1 on its 29 early in the fourth quarter. Surely that cannot be the punt unit trotting onto the field! You're down by three scores with 13 minutes remaining: If you don't get points on this possession, the game is over. And you have the league's No. 1 offense of 2006, averaging a dazzling 5.8 yards per play. Why are you punting? Why are you punting??????? I scarcely need mention that after the fraidy-cat punt, the Colts required just five snaps to take the ball the distance for the touchdown that sealed the contest at 34-10.
Preposterous Punt Watch No. 2: Trailing Minnesota 7-0 in the third quarter, Atlanta faced fourth-and-1 on its 41. As TMQ noted last week, "Teams that punt on fourth-and-short when trailing in the second half almost invariably go on to lose." In trotted the punt unit, and from that snap, the Falcons collapsed, losing 24-3. Can you believe for one instant that Bobby Petrino at Louisville would have punted on fourth-and-1 when behind in the second half? Something about the NFL turns all coaches stodgy and obsessed with avoiding blame.
Tuesday Morning Quarterback's Super Bowl Pick : In each of its previous seven years of existence, TMQ has offered the generic forecast, "The team goin' to Disney World will come from among the group that did not make the cut for 'Monday Night Football.'" Two of the first three years I made this generic prediction, I was right -- the Ravens in 2000 and Patriots in 2001, Super Bowl victors, did not appear on "Monday Night Football." In 2003, my prediction came oh so close -- Carolina, not a Monday night baby, lost the Super Bowl on the final snap. Three years ago, my prediction came oh so close -- Pittsburgh and Atlanta, half of the conference championship round, were not Monday night babies. The past two years have been washouts, with all championship-round teams being Monday night entrants. Anyway, my generic formula is 2-for-7 in forecasting Lombardi Trophy winners -- not bad considering I am invariably picking lightly regarded teams the league brain trust believes have absolutely zero chance.
Here we go for 2007. I predict the Super Bowl winner will be one of the following: Carolina, Cleveland, Detroit, Houston, Jersey/B, Kansas City, Oakland, St. Louis or Tampa. Those are the clubs that did not make the Monday Night Football sked. Yea, verily, it's a sorry group. But if the 280 Park Ave. brain trust feels certain none of these teams can reach the Super Bowl, that tells me one of them will.
Now for my annual generic predictions. In the past, I have wagered Home Team Wins against all sports-expert predictions based on incredible insider information. But in the past few seasons, the home advantage seems to have faded. The home team went just 144-122 last season, winning 54 percent of the time, and that's not enough to hang your hat on, considering most football pundits are correct about 60 percent of the time. In the past, I also have forecast a generic score of Home Team 20, Visitor 17, this being the most common NFL outcome -- one that's already happened in the Arizona at San Francisco game last night. This year, I will endorse the generic forecast advocated in the offseason by about 20 readers, pulling from a hat the name Catey Tarbell of Kirkland, Wash. Catey's Law: Best Record Wins -- Unless Records Equal, Then Home Team Wins. TMQ will track this off-price house-label generic forecast against the predictions of full-time football experts who possess incredible insider information.
Adventures in Officiating: Trailing Washington 13-10, Miami had first-and-goal on the Redskins' 18 with 3:01 remaining in regulation. Trent Green stood in the pocket looking around, no defender near him, then sailed a pass out of bounds, no receiver in the vicinity. Officials called intentional grounding. But the rule, at 8.3.1. in the NFL rulebook, defines grounding as "when a passer, facing an imminent loss of yardage because of pressure from the defense, throws a forward pass without a realistic chance of completion." No Redskins defender was near Green when he threw: The pass looked totally kosher. Was this a makeup call? Two downs earlier, officials assessed a ticky-tacky pass interference flag against the Redskins, giving the Marine Mammals first-and-goal on the Washington 8. On the next down, officials called holding on the Dolphins, then on the next down made the inexplicable grounding call -- which pushed Miami back 10 yards and cost the team a down, resulting in the Dolphins' kicking a field goal and forcing the overtime they lost, rather than scoring the go-ahead touchdown on the possession.
TMQ Challenge: Our sun is named Sol. All the planets of the solar system have names, as do hundreds of comets and asteroids. Thousands of stars have been named. Our galaxy is called the Milky Way -- the candy bar named after the galaxy, not the other way around. In the ancient sky, when there was no city nightlight nor industrial haze, the luminous, awe-inspiring inner disk of the Milky Way was seen much more easily than today, and thus the subject of speculation. The Egyptians believed the galaxy formed when a god spilled a bucket of cow's milk, and were using a name similar to Milky Way as much as 5,000 years ago. The Greeks called the galaxy the Milky Circle and said it formed from the breast milk of the goddess Hera. In some Eastern mythology, the brilliant suns of the Milky Way inner disk were wedding gifts from the gods to Altair and Vega, stars that hold the souls of two lovers who died young. A few other galaxies have names; our closest spiral galaxy neighbor, NGC224, is named Andromeda. Its existence was first recorded by astronomer Abd al-Rahman Al Sufi more than 1,000 years ago; he observed NGC224 by looking closely at the Andromeda constellation and noting part appeared more like a cloud than a star. He reasoned that the cloudy area must be a separate galaxy and named it.
But though suns, planets and galaxies have names -- no one has named the universe. The universe is the biggest structure possible, the sum of everything. Yet it's nameless. Thus the Tuesday Morning Quarterback Challenge: Name the universe!
Submit your proposals to TMQ_ESPN@yahoo.com, giving your real name and hometown. Remember, this is a challenge, not a contest. We promise nothing; the rules are kept secret even from the judges; and the final decision will be completely arbitrary. Space aliens and their families not eligible. If the universe already does have a name and you know it because you're a space alien, that's cheating.
Obscure College Score of the Week (Running Up the Score Edition): Western Kentucky 87, West Virginia Tech 0. The Citadel 76, Webber International 0. Macalester 62, Principia 0. Sioux Falls 69, Midland Lutheran 3. St. Francis of Indiana 71, William Penn 7. And in a game involving TMQ's favorite obscure college, the final was Indiana of Pennsylvania 80, Cheney 14. Many of the nation's small schools began play this past weekend, and as these scores indicate, did not distinguish themselves for sportsmanship. Western Kentucky led hapless West Virginia Tech by 49-0 in the first quarter, yet continued to pass in the second half, frantically trying to run up the score. Leading hapless Principia 48-0 at intermission, Macalester threw 13 times in the second half, frantically trying to run up the score. One week after running up the score to 50-6 against hapless Dana, Sioux Falls ran up the score against hapless Midland Lutheran -- and congratulations to Midland Lutheran for the field goal that prevented the Cougars from boasting of a shutout. Located in Fremont, Neb., Midland Lutheran promises students "personal attention," which sounds a lot better than impersonal attention.
Reader Animadversion: Got a complaint or a deeply held grievance? Write me at TMQ_ESPN@yahoo.com. Include your real name and the name of your hometown, and I might quote you by name unless you instruct me otherwise. Note: Giving your hometown improves your odds of being quoted, and I know this sounds strange coming from me, but short comments also improve your odds of being quoted.
TMQ Policy Change: For seven years, this column has delivered something no other column in the entire sports alternate-reality even attempts -- at least one item about every NFL game played. Henceforth, my promise to readers is amended: at least one item about every NFL game played, except for those games not mentioned. Keeping the original promise has been exhausting, especially considering Tuesday Morning Quarterback is my hobby, not my occupation. Last night, I cued up some tape of the Houston-Kansas City game and thought with a weary sigh, "Oh man, I gotta watch this until I notice something everybody else missed." Then the heavens opened, a chorus angelorum sang and the football gods said, "Yea, verily, ye doth not." Hence my policy change. I'll continue to have at least one item about the majority of NFL games played.
Tomorrow: The readers'-comments crackback column resumes.
Next Week: Multitentacled space aliens use IP-address anonymizer proxy servers to enter the Tuesday Morning Quarterback Challenge without revealing their planet of origin.
In addition to writing Tuesday Morning Quarterback, Gregg Easterbrook is the author of "The Progress Paradox: How Life Gets Better While People Feel Worse" and other books. He is also a contributing editor for The New Republic, The Atlantic Monthly and The Washington Monthly and is a visiting fellow at the Brookings Institution.

Mega said...

ESPN is reporting that Kevin Everett is getting feeling back in his arms and legs! woot!

BLUE said...

I like TMQ

Unknown said...

Great news about Everett.