Join 3,494 readers in helping fund MetaFilter (Hide)


A Stadium Divided Against Itself
November 30, 2012 4:18 PM   Subscribe

The retirement of Fireman Ed is more than just an index of the toll taken by the Jets quarterback controversy on fans. It’s also a glimpse into the agonizing heart of fandom.
For more than a quarter of a century, Ed Anzalone has attended football games as unofficial team mascot Fireman Ed, leading the crowd in chants for his home team, the New York Jets. That ended last Thursday—on Thanksgiving, no less—midway through a trouncing the team received at the hands of New England Patriots. It had been a particularly brutal game, marked by several fumbles, including one when quarterback Mark Sanchez fell after accidentally running into the backside of his own lineman. By that time, though, Anzalone had already left the stadium. Shortly thereafter, he deleted the Fireman Ed Twitter account.
posted by jenkinsEar (79 comments total) 8 users marked this as a favorite

 
That does sound agonizing.

On the plus side, there's now one fewer Jets fan in the world.
posted by Aizkolari at 4:24 PM on November 30, 2012 [7 favorites]


The fact that "running into the backside" doesn't link to this gif is a travesty.
posted by nathancaswell at 4:28 PM on November 30, 2012 [30 favorites]


Also, fuck Fireman Ed, dude is a Dolphins fan.
posted by nathancaswell at 4:28 PM on November 30, 2012 [1 favorite]


Another take on the Jets biggest controversy* (because he hasn't been featured enough on Metafilter this week), Deadspin's Drew Magary:

Dear Fireman Ed: F-U-C-K Off! Off! Off!


* Yes, that was a joke.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 4:28 PM on November 30, 2012 [1 favorite]


stillbetterthancassel.gif

Never change snarky sports bloggers. Never.Change
posted by JPD at 4:29 PM on November 30, 2012 [4 favorites]


Deadspin's take.
posted by josher71 at 4:29 PM on November 30, 2012


That game was brutal. I haven't seen a worse beating on national TV since Mike Vick destroyed the Redskins in 2010 on MNF.
posted by smoothvirus at 4:37 PM on November 30, 2012 [1 favorite]


I happened to drop by my football-loving friends' house after dinner. We sat down around the TV and turned to this game just in time to watch three turnovers in a row. I don't care much for football, and I have no stake in any of the teams, but that was a really hilarious ten minutes of television.
posted by restless_nomad at 4:39 PM on November 30, 2012 [11 favorites]


First!



(This is a Jets joke, I'm just not sure how)
posted by Trochanter at 4:53 PM on November 30, 2012 [3 favorites]


The fact that "running into the backside" doesn't link to this gif is a travesty.

*cough*
posted by Ufez Jones at 5:00 PM on November 30, 2012 [16 favorites]


Can someone who understands this explain it to those of us who aren't up on modern football fandom? I don't understand why Eagle's fans would be so torn by trying to decide between sticking with the current QB vs. trying the new guy, to the point of being a "divided stadium". In Boston sports fans debate the coaches' & management's moves, but I don't remember them splitting in to divided camps.
posted by benito.strauss at 5:16 PM on November 30, 2012


The Jets' next unofficial mascot needs to be named Ben, that way he can be associated with the Elton John song "Benny and the Jets" and every time he's brought up that song will get stuck in everyone's head, resulting in masses of Jets fans going slowly insane.
posted by hellojed at 5:19 PM on November 30, 2012 [10 favorites]


*cough*

I liked the part where he got hit by the ass.
posted by drezdn at 5:27 PM on November 30, 2012 [8 favorites]


My favorite part of that ass-fumble was that the sportscasters kept trying to pass it off as a brilliant play by the offensive lineman when Sanchez clearly just ran straight into his own lineman's ass for no apparent reason. I like to think that they immediately felt that a play involving that level of incompetence just generally degraded the sport and shouldn't really be talked about.
posted by cmoj at 5:27 PM on November 30, 2012 [12 favorites]


Can someone who understands this explain it to those of us who aren't up on modern football fandom? I don't understand why Eagle's fans would be so torn by trying to decide between sticking with the current QB vs. trying the new guy, to the point of being a "divided stadium". In Boston sports fans debate the coaches' & management's moves, but I don't remember them splitting in to divided camps.

Umm, lesson #1: The Jets are not the Eagles.
posted by Drinky Die at 5:46 PM on November 30, 2012 [11 favorites]


Okay, lesson #2: A quarterback like Mike Vick or Tim Tebow has legions of personal fans (and love to haters) who care more about them as individuals than the team. I'm a Tebow fan myself because he is fun to watch play and he has a lot of heart and the religious stuff doesn't annoy me. The fact that he does not have the talent to make it work just makes it more fun when he somehow beats the friggin Steelers in the playoffs.

It was an extremely boneheaded move for the Jets to bring in Tebow if not intending to start him. Sanchez was too vulnerable to this kind of controversy. It was bad for the NFL that one of their biggest ratings draws last year is stuck on the bench. It's a bigtime disaster all around and it's just asking for Jets fans and Tebow fans and NFL fans to all tune in to hype up every little bit of controversy and conflict.
posted by Drinky Die at 5:51 PM on November 30, 2012 [3 favorites]


I liked the part where he got hit by the ass.

It works on so many levels!
posted by Ufez Jones at 5:54 PM on November 30, 2012 [6 favorites]


Pfft. Savvy Jets fans are clamoring for McElroy.
posted by JPD at 6:00 PM on November 30, 2012 [4 favorites]


Oh, some guy who liked to make the football games all about himself has decided to check out? That's a shame.
posted by gjc at 6:11 PM on November 30, 2012 [5 favorites]


There's just something about the quarterback position in football that I think is unique across all major American sports. Every sport has draft busts who get picked in the first round and don't pan out, and sleepers who go undrafted but find their way into the hall of fame, but with the QB position, you might as well just draft five of them every year and hope to get one that can play. It's ridiculous. Sanchez was a fifth overall pick, and he just doesn't belong on an NFL field. Tebow is a totally different story -- I think most teams knew he was going to be a project with some upside -- but still, he was a first round pick, and he's backing up the "hit by the ass" guy.

The history books are littered with guys like this. Ryan Leaf. Heath Shuler. Akili Smith. Tim Couch. Joey Harrington. J.P. Losman. Charlie Frye. All heralded college QBs, most of them from good programs, who were all wearing a baseball cap and holding a clipboard within a few years. They all seemed to have the tools to excel at the NFL level, but for whatever reason, washed out. It's not like the pro game is that different -- sure, they're running different plays, reading different defenses, but you throw the ball and, the other guy catches the ball. It should not be so hard to pick guys who can play the position.

There are busts at other positions, too, but what's weird about QBs is how big the talent gap is between the top 5 or so (Brees, Peyton Manning, Brady, Rodgers, Griffin III) and even the middle of the pack guys like Stafford, Dalton, Flacco, and Romo. Once you get into the Alex Smith / Russell Wilson territory, you're dealing with guys who probably hurt their teams in the passing game more than if they just handed the ball off every time, and you still have eight or ten guys below them!

I'm not saying it's an easy position to play, and I know a lot of it is mental more than physical. Still, it's just uncanny how hard it is to find a good QB.
posted by tonycpsu at 6:18 PM on November 30, 2012 [16 favorites]


I really wish the NFL had a real minor league. Give younger guys who don't want to do college and older vets a chance to keep playing at a reasonable talent level so young guys can try and figure this out. I'm sure there are more guys like Kurt Warner out there who we could discover have what it takes to be the best if we gave them more chances.
posted by Drinky Die at 6:33 PM on November 30, 2012 [3 favorites]


My understanding is that the pro game is very different. The players are both faster and bigger and a lot of the offensive options that are very common in college simply don't work in the NFL (or abuse the QB too much). College is much more run/option heavy and the NFL requires more of a passing game.
posted by It's Never Lurgi at 6:36 PM on November 30, 2012 [3 favorites]


In 2004, when Mayor Bloomberg and the Jets were campaigning for a new stadium on the west side of Manhattan, Anzalone did an ad in support of the project, dressed in his FDNY gear, in front of his firehouse in Harlem, along with other guys in his engine company. Can't find the clip but quoted here:

"The new West Side Sports and Convention Center will bring more events to New York and millions in new revenue. Money for teachers, police officers, fire fighters, possibly even those hard earned raises we deserve. Now those attack ads are from Cablevision. They don’t care about firefighters, just their monopoly on Madison Square Garden and their profits."

This was three years after 9/11 and an obvious exploitation of New Yorkers' very geniune goodwill toward the FDNY in the wake of the attack. Bloomberg and Anzalone's assertion that opposition to the stadium meant you didn't "care about firefighters" really infuriated me.
posted by stargell at 6:52 PM on November 30, 2012 [5 favorites]


Well yeah that's pretty much it, It's Never Lurgi. Also, the mismatches just aren't there like they are in college. You aren't going to be able to blow past the defensive backs, or run over the linebackers, on a regular basis like big programs can. Because everyone in the NFL was in those big programs, mostly, and they were the ones doing the running over and the blowing past. And they're all big and strong and fast, and even Mark Sanchez, who looks like a stiff out there, is a hell of an impressive guy, physically, up close and personal. He only looks like a stiff next to these phenomenal guys like the Mannings or Brady, who can hit a mosquito from 40 yards away.

So it's all relative.
posted by Mister_A at 6:54 PM on November 30, 2012 [2 favorites]


I didn't think the run balance was that much different -- it's not like many college teams still run the wishbone these days.

Cursory googling suggests that NCAA averages around 55% runs and NFL averages around 42%. I'm not going to say that's insignificant, but it basically means an extra six or seven passes per game -- does that explain the difference? Can you really change the defensive game plan that much based on a 10-15% difference in the number of passes per game?

This phenomenon would also affect all the QBs, so it wouldn't really explain the concentration of five or six guys who can really throw the ball versus the rest of them, who are at best game managers and at worst arm punters. Also, keep in mind most of the pure running QBs in the college game aren't getting drafted by NFL teams as QBs to begin with, so those guys pad the NCAA rushing numbers quite a bit.
posted by tonycpsu at 6:55 PM on November 30, 2012


My husband, lifelong Jets fan, says that the nature of Jets fandom is tragedy. Well, that, and "Sweet Caroline." Bum bum bum.

Me, as a former UF student and foundation employee, I'm just soooo sick of hearing about Tebow and what a great person he is when he also seems to be a grandstanding douche who likes to do anti-abortion commercials. Three years of it was enough for me. It's kind of even ruined Sunday-cuddle-on-the-couch-while-my-husband-curses-at-the-TV days.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 6:56 PM on November 30, 2012 [3 favorites]


And more bad news for Sanchez: There are 5 or 6 potential Hall of Fame QBs playing right now. It's really hard to look good in a league with Manning, Brady, Manning, Brees, and Roethlisberger slinging it. Matt Ryan, age 27, has a pile of yards, TDs, and wins, and doesn't even get mentioned in the same breath as the first five. Jury's still well out on RG III and Cam, but you get the picture - this is a sort of golden age of passing right now.
posted by Mister_A at 7:02 PM on November 30, 2012 [2 favorites]


The Jets' next unofficial mascot needs to be named Ben, that way he can be associated with the Elton John song "Benny and the Jets" and every time he's brought up that song will get stuck in everyone's head, resulting in masses of Jets fans going slowly insane.

The old Winnipeg Jets mascot was named Benny. They played Bennie and the Jets during warmups/intermissions while Benny tossed T-shirts to the crowd. Benny was some sort of strange alien dude.
posted by L. Ron McKenzie at 7:03 PM on November 30, 2012 [1 favorite]


Anyway, back on topic (?) I do think that Fireman Ed is a douche.
posted by Mister_A at 7:05 PM on November 30, 2012 [2 favorites]


It sort of bugs me that Eli Manning and Roethlisberger are considered serious HOF candidates. Yes, they won the championships, but that's like judging pitchers on wins. For most of his career, Roethlisberger has benefited from an O-line that's consistently among the best in the league, a running game that can almost always be counted on to move the chains, and a defense that is almost always in the top 2 or 3. On another team without those advantages, he's chucking the ball another 10-12 times a game, and I think he looks a lot different.

Eli's an even stranger case. He puts up... okay numbers, but he's pretty careless with the ball, and his "championship" teams were 9-7 and 10-6. They're still championships, but those just weren't great teams, they were good teams who got hot at the right time.

I don't think either of them should get into the hall, but they probably both will.
posted by tonycpsu at 7:33 PM on November 30, 2012 [3 favorites]


Re: Pro v. College: One bit of information I learned for the first time this year is that aside from the defensive speed issue, another reason the college schemes are not likely to work full time in the NFL is the difference in spacing of the hash marks. The college hash marks are set wider than the Pro's.

So, if you're calling an outside run play to the wide side, you've got a lot more room to that side to have your back turn the corner and get headed upfield. It really stretches the defense laterally. The pro game is played a lot more in the middle of the field. I've heard Merrill Hodge and Greg Cosell both say that for that reason, coupled with the speed on defense in the pros, that the read option/ spread option / whatever offense will not work as a base offense in the pro game.

That was new info for me, and I thought it was interesting.

As to the Jets: I think they should ship Tebow off to Jacksonville, get a back up who can run the Jets' offense (not some janky read option or wild cat that's like an entirely different animal) and, if Sanchez falls out of sorts next year, let him sit for a game or two and watch what's happening. I think Sanchez has needed to watch a few games for a couple of years.

There have been a lot of weird personnel decisions made on that team. I think it's one of the questions of the football year who's making those calls -- the coach the GM or the owner.
posted by Trochanter at 7:59 PM on November 30, 2012 [2 favorites]


The reason why Kaepernick just got promoted to QB1 for the Niners is so they can run the read option. Cam Newton runs the read option, RGIII, Luck - all of those offenses show some read option. Speed at LB (what destroys a traditional veer option) isn't really a limiting factor. Rather it is the few superior defensive ends with LB level speed (JPP is basically designed to blow up the read) - but not every team has one of those. If you don't have that guy you still need to shuffle the OLB or nickelback and that opens up all sorts of fun stuff to counter.

The big problem with running a real spread option like you see in college is that the DBs are too good at coverage so you need the constant reps that allow a QB and a receiver to succeed throwing into such small windows. So if your QB goes down that timing isn't there. But its basically math - letting your QB run dramatically changes the odds in favor of the offense.

Incidentally most of the evidence is that what separates the first round busts from those guys who succeed is passing accuracy first and ability to read the defense second. That's one of the big differences vs college - the complexity of the defensive schemes.
posted by JPD at 8:33 PM on November 30, 2012 [4 favorites]


cmoj: Sanchez clearly just ran straight into his own lineman's ass for no apparent reason.
He had his eyes closed. Obviously.
posted by ob1quixote at 8:38 PM on November 30, 2012


The reason why Kaepernick just got promoted to QB1 for the Niners is so they can run the read option.

I don't think that's the case. I think it's because he can throw down field.

I think the Kaepernick thing is fascinating. I always hear it said that it takes something like four games for opposing DCs to amass enough video on a guy to start to force him out of what he does best and to make him play his less favourite game. In the Niner's case that four games puts us right in the playoffs. It's going to be fun to watch this play out. I'm not saying Kaepernick will fail, just that it will be really interesting to see.
posted by Trochanter at 8:44 PM on November 30, 2012 [3 favorites]


It was an extremely boneheaded move for the Jets to bring in Tebow if not intending to start him

Only from the stance of winning football games. In terms of selling gear and getting people talking about you in a town where the other guys won a super bowl, maybe it worked out OK.
posted by shothotbot at 9:15 PM on November 30, 2012


Not when it contributes to the total implosion of the team. Winning is much better for selling gear.
posted by Drinky Die at 9:19 PM on November 30, 2012


I think they should ship Tebow off to Jacksonville

No. Tebow is not the answer, and Gabbert is not the problem.
posted by one more dead town's last parade at 9:40 PM on November 30, 2012 [1 favorite]


1)Tebow is not the answer

If anybody just plain needs bums in seats it's the Jags.

2)Gabbert is not the problem

Dude. If Henne's already half an answer, Gabbert sure enough was part of the problem. (But I don't follow those guys that close, so if you're saying there are coaching issues with how Gabbert's being brought along, I won't argue with you because I don't know.)
posted by Trochanter at 10:03 PM on November 30, 2012 [1 favorite]


Huge Big Blue fan here. I have to agree that Eli is not a great quarterback, but a pretty good one. HOFer? Not sure about that, but I know one thing. He is a fucking winner. He finds a way to get the ball to the right playmaker. Not sure how everyone measures success in the NFL, but I would take a 9-7 team that wins the super bowl over an 18-1 team like the Pats that lose when it counts most. I measure success by winning the championship. Are the Falcons or Texans successful this year? They're doing well so far, but if they don't win the Super Bowl, bfd.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 10:51 PM on November 30, 2012 [5 favorites]


Roethlisberger has benefited from an O-line that's consistently among the best in the league

Wow. Pittsburgh has consistently had some of the worst pass protection in the league for Roethlisberger; have a look at the Football Outsiders Offensive Line Stats, they have been pretty much buried in the bottom 5 for the last five years. He is not a HOF QB in this pass-crazy era but I can't think of another QB I've seen who could pass in the face of the rush like he can.

I think you may need to recalibrate your expectations regarding NFL QBs, the pool is deeper than you think. You are listing a great young QB - RG3 - in your top 5 who realistically is scraping into the top third of the starting QBs. Unless you want to define 'elite QB' as only HOF candidates then the drop off is not as severe as you think (and 5 active HOF QBs at a time is a tremendous wealth of talent for the NFL). Matt Ryan, Schaub, Roethlisberger, the other Manning, Dalton, Luck, even Romo - there are plenty of capable QBs.

What you don't see now are the journeyman QBs, the guys who were just good enough to find another team willing to give them a couple of years - Testaverde, Steve De Berg, etc. The next generation of QBs coming out of college are so close to pro-ready that teams are willing to throw them in as starters far sooner than they would have 10 or 20 years ago. Griffin, Wilson, Luck, Locker, Tannehill, Kaepernick, Dalton, Newton, even the duds like Weeden and Gabbert - that is a huge number of 1st/2nd year QBs, its looking like some sort of golden age for the position.

Back on topic: Sanchez is bad, Tebow is far, far worse and (Broncos fan here) I can completely believe that Fireman Ed received irrational abuse from other fans for not agreeing that Tebow was the answer.
posted by N-stoff at 12:01 AM on December 1, 2012 [2 favorites]


Huge Big Blue fan here. I have to agree that Eli is not a great quarterback, but a pretty good one. HOFer? Not sure about that, but I know one thing. He is a fucking winner. He finds a way to get the ball to the right playmaker. Not sure how everyone measures success in the NFL, but I would take a 9-7 team that wins the super bowl over an 18-1 team like the Pats that lose when it counts most.

Tom Brady was the ultimate "winner" until he wasn't. He had won 3 Super Bowls with last second heroics and never lost a playoff game until he did. His winning ways always defeated the perrenial loser Peyton Manning who could never win the big game, all the way back to college. Just like Elway (who was the poster child for the star athlete who couldn't win the big game, right up until he won two Super Bowls in a row). Then one year "loser" Peyton Manning hung 38 on "winner" Tom Brady and went on to win the SB. And "winner" Brady has gone on two lose 2 Super Bowls (in both games it took last second drives by Eli, the new king of last second drives to defeat the old king of last second drives even though Brady doesn't play defense). And then is the curious case of "winner" Ben Roethlisberger who completed 9 passes to 2 interceptions for a QB rating of 22.6 in his first Super Bowl victory and but would later go on to lose a third Super Bowl and subsequently lose to the Buttrunner's backup Tim Tebow (who is the ulimate "winner") in the playoffs. Except ultimate winner Tim Tebow went on to get lit up by former winner and now perennial loser Tom Brady the next week who seemed to have no problem winning that big game 45-10.

What I am saying is football is an extremely complicated game in which wins and losses are the combined results of the actions of 22 men on each team plus special teams and an oblong ball that bounces funny. Slapping a player with the label "winner" or "loser" based on the outcome of 1 or 2 big games is easy, but does not hold up to any kind of logical scrutiny. Doing so in the middle of someone's career (hello Matt Ryan) makes even less sense.
posted by nathancaswell at 5:10 AM on December 1, 2012 [22 favorites]


tonycpsu the reason Eli is a HoF candidate is, of course, the championships, but also the ability to keep the team in any game, and to pull out wins in the 4th quarter and win close, big games. He's the reason, in large part, that the Giants have put together those runs. Him and the defensive line.
posted by Mister_A at 6:08 AM on December 1, 2012


tonycpsu, no discussion of draft busts can be complete without the mention of my alma mater's greatest success (1st pick in the draft!) and greatest NFL disaster (Oh, hai, Raiders!). Ladies and gentlemen of MetaFilter, may I introduce you to Mr. JaMarcus Russell!
posted by wintermind at 6:53 AM on December 1, 2012


JohnnyGunn: "but I would take a 9-7 team that wins the super bowl over an 18-1 team like the Pats that lose when it counts most."

Oh, absolutely. As an Eagles fan that watched a half dozen or so Donovan McNabb-led teams win 11, 12, 13 games in the regular season and then choke in the playoffs, I would have loved a clutch QB like Eli on my team. I get that some guys rise to the occasion and some guys don't. But playoff games are such a small sample size that it's kind of hard to measure the guys who really win because of some intrinsic quality versus guys who things just break the right way for, and I don't think it's uncouth to say that David Tyree catching a football with the side of his head is not exactly evidence of clutch play. :)

I've got a ton of Giants fans in my family, so I have these arguments a lot, but in the end, it really is about winning championships, so they get the last word. But when it comes to Canton, I don't think winning the Super Bowl should be a factor. (Not that McNabb belongs in the hall, of course.)
posted by tonycpsu at 7:52 AM on December 1, 2012


N-stoff: "Pittsburgh has consistently had some of the worst pass protection in the league for Roethlisberger; have a look at the Football Outsiders Offensive Line Stats, they have been pretty much buried in the bottom 5 for the last five years."

I stand corrected. I live in Pittsburgh now, so I've watched a fair amount of Steelers games. I knew they gave up a lot of sacks, but I've always blamed a lot of those on Ben for holding the ball too long. I don't really understand the analysis behind the Football Outsiders rankings, but I'll cede the point on the OL. The Steeler defense has definitely made him look better over the years, though.

I guess we can quibble over how good or medicore Andy Dalton, Tony Romo, etc. are, and I agree that having so many HOF guys in the league is going to make the bad guys look worse, but I happen to think those guys are pretty damn bad, and the story gets even worse from there.
posted by tonycpsu at 8:12 AM on December 1, 2012 [1 favorite]


I knew they gave up a lot of sacks, but I've always blamed a lot of those on Ben for holding the ball too long.

Well in this you're correct... I'm also a big Football Outsiders fan and they ran the short vs long sack numbers through week 10 and Roethlisberger was 20th in the league with 9 "long" sacks (3 seconds or longer), or 2.7% of his dropbacks. Compare this to Peyton Manning and his quick release which resulted in long sacks on .9% of his dropbacks.
posted by nathancaswell at 8:43 AM on December 1, 2012


The stat that amazes me about Roethlisberger is the difference in his efficacy between when he's throwing from the pocket and when he's moving. In the pocket, he's just ordinary; on the move, he's a monster.

One of the many ways Greg Cosell categorizes quarterbacks is as "early in the down" guys and "late in the down" guys.

P. Manning and Brady are exemplars of the early in the down sort. A lot of stuff gets read pre-snap, a lot of their routes are timing routes, ball's gone fast. Upshot: these guys flatter their O-lines.

Ben, Romo, Vick, Cutler, these are late in the down quarterbacks. They sort of have to see their receivers get open before they throw. They don't help their linemen, in terms of numbers. Just because pass blocking only holds up for, what, one point three seconds or whatever it is?

The examples of the "late" quarterbacks may make it seem like they're not good (or great) quarterbacks, but Brees, Rodgers, Favre and many other great quarterbacks would be classed as late-in-the-down guys. There's nothing wrong with them at all but they will skew the numbers for their lines.

(That's probably a middling summary of Cosell's take)
posted by Trochanter at 9:00 AM on December 1, 2012 [2 favorites]


If anybody just plain needs bums in seats it's the Jags.

Not nearly as badly as the Bucs, Bengals, Lions, Chargers, or Bills, as I've already mentioned this season.

If Henne's already half an answer, Gabbert sure enough was part of the problem

You can't blame the quarterback for what happens when the other team's quarterback is on the field, especially if the rest of the offense keeps changing from week to week. And since Gabbert and Henne can actually complete forward passes, I'm not sure that they need to be replaced with Tebow.

Trading Tebow to the Jaguars will put him back in his hometown, which a lot of fans are clamoring for, but it's not going to magically whisk them into the postseason.
posted by one more dead town's last parade at 9:05 AM on December 1, 2012


The examples of the "late" quarterbacks may make it seem like they're not good (or great) quarterbacks

Yeah, totally. And a lot of this illustrates why stats doesn't apply as neatly to football as they do in baseball. You might take a look at the fact that Roethlisberger takes a lot of long sacks and view it as a negative, but in reality it's just a byproduct of what makes him a special quarterback. You wouldn't want to try to coach it out of him.
posted by nathancaswell at 9:09 AM on December 1, 2012


I wonder how much of NFL QB failure is just the pressure involved with high level expectations. I was at a NYG game a couple years ago where they walloped the Bears with 9 sacks, taking out Cutler and his replacement. It was a pretty severe blow out and still, everytime Eli came onto the field the crowd would chant ELLY, ELLY. The Giants were also trying out a new punter who wasn't doing well so they were booing him everytime. If you're at home and winning and still being bashed by the people who are supposed to be cheering for you how do you parse that?

Cam Newton had never been on a losing team before he was in the NFL, I don't see that happening and still being able to say the NFL is not much different than college ball. I think the real talent is being able to isolate the pressure and just do the job. Athletes who were unstoppable in college might not be prepared to lose.
posted by M Edward at 9:57 AM on December 1, 2012


Trading Tebow to the Jaguars will put him back in his hometown, which a lot of fans are clamoring for, but it's not going to magically whisk them into the postseason.

I agree. When I said the Jets should ship Tebow to the Jags, it was more about getting him the *%#$ out of New York. The Jags' owner wanted him last year, as I know it.

As to Gabbert, it doesn't make me happy to call him a bust. It must be awful for him, money aside. Your team looking at you funny (or refusing to look at you) all the time, showboating ESPN hacks scoring easy snark points off of you, etc. Yuck. But it's there. Gabbert threw nine touchdown passes in nine games. Henne will have thrown more than that in three.

Anyway, it sounds like you're a Jags fan. That's rough.
posted by Trochanter at 9:57 AM on December 1, 2012


On early vs late down guys Peyton Manning's arrival in Denver shows this effect in spades. Look at sack/pressure rates from last year ('late' QBs, lots of scrambling, etc.) to this year (extreme 'early' QB). Ryan Clady went from a pro-bowler in his rookie year to mediocre numbers trying to block for Tebow and back to top-3 LT performance this year.

And on 'early' vs 'late' not equating to good/bad QBs, Jake Locker is releasing the ball as quick as anyone this year and I don't think anyone is putting him in the great QB pile. Lots of ways to get it done.
posted by N-stoff at 9:58 AM on December 1, 2012 [4 favorites]


I always liked the Budweiser commercial where his chant gets drowned out by a jet. It was surprisingly piss-taking for an official NFL sponsor.
posted by The Card Cheat at 11:54 AM on December 1, 2012 [1 favorite]


As someone who doesn't know much about American football, can we get back to the guy who ran into the butt and explain the why to me?
posted by dazed_one at 2:36 PM on December 1, 2012 [1 favorite]


can we get back to the guy who ran into the butt and explain the why to me?

Sanchez is terrible, and it was a broken play. I think it was supposed to be a handoff, but the RB thought it was play action so just ran away without taking the ball. Sanchez can't improvise, so he rammed his head into his own player's butt.
posted by King Bee at 3:07 PM on December 1, 2012 [5 favorites]


Fireman Ed strikes me as annoying and I'd hate to be at a game anywhere near him; people are there to watch the game and the guy running into the ass, not a loud idiot in a child's fireman's outfit.
posted by arcticseal at 3:22 PM on December 1, 2012 [2 favorites]


can we get back to the guy who ran into the butt and explain the why to me?

Sanchez is terrible, and it was a broken play. I think it was supposed to be a handoff, but the RB thought it was play action so just ran away without taking the ball. Sanchez can't improvise, so he rammed his head into his own player's butt.


Sanchez admitted after the game that he straight messed up which side the handoff was supposed to be on, so he decided to just get back up near the line of scrimmage and slide. Unfortunately for him but fortunately for fans of comedy, the lineman got shoved back at just the wrong time, propelling his ass back into Sanchez's head just as he started the slide. Since he wasn't expecting to get hit, Sanchez didn't have the ball held as tightly as he should have, and it popped out.
posted by Etrigan at 3:50 PM on December 1, 2012 [2 favorites]


I think we're going to see more of the college type spread and read-option offensive play in the NFL as time goes on. The difference is that now the read-option QBs that are coming out of college are a lot more suited for the pros - in other words, they can throw the ball.

The option never worked in the NFL because it relied on speed to get outside. You can get away with that in college but NFL defenders are way too fast. The read-option is different. At its core, it relies on the QB reading the DE and making a decision based on whether he comes to the play or stays back. The options are hand off, let the QB keep it, or the third option - throw the ball. It's that third option that makes the read-option viable on the NFL. It forces the DBs to play honest and makes play action a much deadlier threat. As mentioned above, you need DEs with LB speed to be able to combat the read-option. Despite the QB option in the offense, the QB tends to run only a few times a game, so they're not taking a huge pounding.
posted by azpenguin at 4:15 PM on December 1, 2012 [1 favorite]


The Jags' owner wanted him last year, as I know it.

A year ago, the owner of the Jaguars was a different person.

I still think it's a bit early to call Gabbert a bust. He's only 23. Also, his QB rating this year is better than Mark Sanchez's.
posted by one more dead town's last parade at 5:30 PM on December 1, 2012


He means last year as in last offseason.
posted by nathancaswell at 5:52 PM on December 1, 2012


As mentioned above, you need DEs with LB speed to be able to combat the read-option.

NFL defences are already adjusting in this direction, the honeymoon period for the read-option may be shorter than you think.

Denver (staying with what I'm familiar with) is almost using their nickel package as their base defence, with Von Miller as a (ridiculously fast) DE surrogate on the strong side. Seattle seem to be going in a similar direction, with Pete Carroll seemingly overdrafting Bruce Irvin to allow them to play a similar hybrid defence (not quite a 4-3, not quite a 3-4).

In college football it seems like the mad geniuses are the offensive coordinators; its the reverse in the NFL. The groupthink is strong with NFL offences but def. coordinators like Le Beau, Ryan Sr. were free to scheme outside the box. It is going to be really interesting over the next 3-4 years to see how the brighter DCs start attacking the likes of RG3.
posted by N-stoff at 6:10 PM on December 1, 2012 [3 favorites]


Irvin and Miller are emphatically not what I was talking about. They are both basically Linebackers who play stand up defensive end on passing plays. If you use them too much at DE on non-passing downs you just run over them on the playside - you just run the zone read to the weak side if they keep lining up there. They just aren't big enough to take on the point of the attack on the zone give.

Using the Nickel isn't about the read, its a reaction to one back airraid style spread attacks with one back and a few slot receivers.

Although an elite slot defender does do a lot to get in the way of bubble screen - which is one of the option C parts of the zone read option.
posted by JPD at 8:14 PM on December 1, 2012


Shit just got real in here.
posted by nathancaswell at 8:27 PM on December 1, 2012 [1 favorite]


An interesting argument against the zone read from a schematic perspective is that the NFL has a stricter downfield blocking rule than college and high shool. Makes it harder to block the screens that are one of the main constraint plays - basically if the slot defender (either a nickel guy or an OLB) starts to try to cheat in on the back side you throw a wide receiver screen and you've got two offensive players matched up on one defensive back.

In college or high school the lineman can get downfield right away on passes completed behind the line of scrimmage- so the can disrupt the flow of the lb's and db's to the ball. In the NFL the OL can't leave the neutral zone on a passing play until the ball is caught, even if the pass is caught behind the line.

That's also why that nifty jet sweep with the shovel pass you are starting to see from some of the airraid teams probably can't be used in the NFL.
posted by JPD at 8:28 PM on December 1, 2012


In college football it seems like the mad geniuses are the offensive coordinators; its the reverse in the NFL.

this runs in cycles. 30 years ago the mad geniuses in the NFL were the offensive guys - Bill Walsh, Sid Gilman, et al. Arguably Belichek started out as a defensive genius, but the Pats appear to have been the first team to implement the sort of airraid-y one back offense that seems to be slowly taking over the way the West Coast offense did in the 80's and 90's.

Ironically the airraid owes a ton to the run n shoot which was sort of mocked and derided during the 80's, but the change in rules for bodying up receivers at the line over the last ten years has really tilted the game in favor of timing heavy passing attacks. All those back shoulder throws that seem unstoppable today are only unstoppable because the DB can't really jam the receivers anymore.

BTW - if your eyes didn't glaze over at all this I hope you are reading SmartFootball
posted by JPD at 8:39 PM on December 1, 2012 [3 favorites]


JPD, how many DEs with linebacker speed - ones that can stand up against the run as an every down player - are you going to see in the NFL at any one time? I'm guessing maybe 3, top end 5; there are only so many Peppers or Pierre-Pauls available. Any defence predicated on having such a rare commodity will never become widespread, I have faith that other effective counters will be developed (if not, we'll just see another rule change to tilt the balance - this is the NFL after all).

I see the recent increase in hybrid fronts as (in part) a response to both the growing number of spread and option looks from offences in the last couple of years. Some defences are willing to compromise on size on the edges in order to gain flexibility - if you can't have a traditional stud DE powering through blocks then at least have the speed to create some mismatches.

I'm thinking on how Denver played the Panthers and Cam Newton. 3 down linemen, 2-3 'normal' LBs and Von Miller. Miller alternated between a 'spy' role on Newton, regular strong-side LB and a stand-up DE. From my outsider view they seemed to be relying on quick penetration to deal with the option plays; Denver would put Miller on the line, stack 2 or 3 players together to overload one edge of the pocket and get one of them into the backfield to break up the timing. Miller is a pretty special athlete in his own way but outside LBs with good speed are much easier to find than DEs with LB speed.

(and yeah, Smart Football rocks)
posted by N-stoff at 9:36 PM on December 1, 2012


Pre-Peppers you would have thought that sort of DE was a magical wonderful animal, but just like QB's like Luck and RGIII are coming along with accuracy to hit nfl throwing windows and the athleticism to run the ball, I think you'll see more an more DE's with the combo of speed and size to effectively blow up the read.

Clowney from USCe certainly appears to be in that mold.

Yeah, what Denver did is sort of the standard approach to stopping a run heavy zone read. Part of the problem with NFL teams is that they don't like to run the constraint plays that might get the QB caught up inside. The Panthers run a not so great offense. The Niners seem to do it the best. Watch how they use Kaepernick.

But the reality is that if you willing to run the QB on any down the numbers are in the offenses favor. You just have to be willing to let your QB get hurt, and I'm not sure most NFL teams can make that intellectual leap. I mean imagine if you got Rodgers hurt because you ran a QB power?

Intellectually I find this stuff fascinating. One of the reasons why I'm bummed about ND-Bama is that I would have loved to have seen Saban trying to figure out Oregon. Instead we're just gonna have two teams running into one another as hard as they can. Idiot "big-boy football" fans who like to think football like war will be all excited for it. They don't seem to realize the war they are watching is taking place on the Somme in 1917.
posted by JPD at 6:53 AM on December 2, 2012 [1 favorite]


Intellectually I find this stuff fascinating. One of the reasons why I'm bummed about ND-Bama is that I would have loved to have seen Saban trying to figure out Oregon. Instead we're just gonna have two teams running into one another as hard as they can. Idiot "big-boy football" fans who like to think football like war will be all excited for it. They don't seem to realize the war they are watching is taking place on the Somme in 1917.

Maybe you can tamp down the name-calling until Oregon actually beats someone good? And no, I'm not a "big-boy football" fan. I would have loved to have seen Oregon-Alabama as well. But until the new tactics prove that they are reliably better than the old ones, they're not better tactics, they're just new.
posted by Etrigan at 8:09 AM on December 2, 2012 [1 favorite]


Yeah, the problem with PAC-12 teams is that at some point, they have to play teams that understand that there's another phase of the game that happens after your score the touchdown, kick the extra point, and kick the ball off. Stanford bothered to field a defense this year, and I guess UCLA occasionally forces a punt or two, but I can't imagine any other PAC-12 team holding Alabama under 40 in a bowl game.
posted by tonycpsu at 8:26 AM on December 2, 2012 [1 favorite]


But until the new tactics prove that they are reliably better than the old ones, they're not better tactics, they're just new.

Urban Meyer and Gus Malzahn say hi!!

(also they aren't really new. they just came back into vogue with the return of 8 in the box defensive fronts back in the 90's)

ETA: I'm not saying any tactic is reliably better than another tactic. It is all about cycles. The West Coast was dominant until guys rediscovered zone blitzing and two deep coverages. The Air Raid type stuff has led to teams running more and more nickel and looking for hybrid d-backs, etc, etc.
posted by JPD at 9:04 AM on December 2, 2012


I just want to mention one other little negative thing about all these newschool systems. I don't have strong feelings about it, but here goes:

You know that little time stretching moment where the quarterback has the ball tucked in the back's tummy? That safety and linebacker freezing moment that some say is at the heart of the read/stretch option? Some filmroom rats (Cosell again) say that that little hiccup in time disadvantages a talented running back as well as the defence. He's never starting his run with the authority he would have knowing he's getting the ball coming out of the huddle.

I'd like to ask you guys who seem to have boned up on this more than I have two questions, first, is Cosell's worry legit, and second, in that system, is the back making the same read as the quarterback, in that moment?
posted by Trochanter at 10:00 AM on December 2, 2012


the RB is running basically an outside or inside zone run. His read is predicated on how his team blocks the zone, but that's basically the play that the broncos rode to the best rushing offense of the 90's. The RB's read is always playside looking for a running lane and he doesn't have anything to do with the give/keep decision which is driven by the backside read. But it is the same read Arian Foster is making for the Texans or Terrell Davis was making for the Broncos - just to name two backs that thrived in that style of run.

That said it does take a little longer to run than a regular outside zone so you are depending on your OL to hold their blocks - I think the hope is that the back side keep threat slows down the flow to the playside.

So 1) is sorta maybe 2) is no. It might be better to say that the offense lends itself to a certain kind of RB who is comfortable waiting to see how the play develops. Guys who just want to plunge straight ahead into a predetermined hole probably would not succeed - but they wouldn't succeed in any zone style attack - with or without the option.

I mean the lead draw was a slow developing play as well, and Emmitt Smith ran that to the HoF.
posted by JPD at 10:15 AM on December 2, 2012


I guess Mark Sanchez will be looking for work soon.
posted by bq at 1:37 PM on December 2, 2012


I just think he needs to sit for a while. He's punch drunk.
posted by Trochanter at 1:54 PM on December 2, 2012


stargell In 2004, when Mayor Bloomberg and the Jets were campaigning for a new stadium on the west side of Manhattan, Anzalone did an ad in support of the project, dressed in his FDNY gear, in front of his firehouse in Harlem, along with other guys in his engine company. . .This was three years after 9/11 and an obvious exploitation of New Yorkers' very geniune goodwill toward the FDNY in the wake of the attack. Bloomberg and Anzalone's assertion that opposition to the stadium meant you didn't "care about firefighters" really infuriated me.

stargell, I just want to emphasise for you and for any NYC resident mefite who may read this thread, that you are absolutely correct, it was Bloomberg, Anzalone and a few other members of Engine 69. In a firehouse with more than 50 firefighters and officers, and a department with close to 11,000 members, 8 (including Anzalone) participated in the ad.

The two largest FDNY unions, the Uniformed Firefighters Association and the Uniformed Fire Officers Association both opposed the West Side Stadium. The UFA was vociferously opposed to the ad. Union officials asked him not to appear in the ad and he did anyway.

From a New York Times article on February 8, 2005:

"The ads ran soon after, much to the dismay of other firefighters, who heckled him [Anzalone] at an October union meeting. . .The union vice president, James Slevin, who attended the meeting said, 'He got a negative reception from the members,' Mr. Slevin said. 'A very negative reception.' They were outraged, he said."

There were many spirited discussions in UFA publications (that are not available online) that the ads were inappropriate for precisely the reason you cite. There was also real anger that the line-of-duty deaths of FDNY members on 9/11 were trivialized and politicized.

tl;dr - More than 99% of the membership of the two largest FDNY Unions agree with your comment. Please know that the ad was approved by Mayor Bloomberg and the brass at the FDNY, i.e., not the firefighters and officers you would interact with as a New Yorker.
posted by mlis at 9:58 PM on December 2, 2012


Well played, Jets Fan -- well played.
posted by tonycpsu at 7:30 AM on December 3, 2012 [5 favorites]


E-mail no. 2: It's the day after Thanksgiving, pretty quiet in the office, so our secretary decided to bring her 6-year-old daughter in for the day. A bunch of us are gathered around one of the guys' desk watching the highlights from last night's Pats-Jets game, and her daughter sneaks up next to us to see what's going on. She instantly recognizes what we are watching, her eyes light up, and excitedly she says, "Oh yeah, I saw this! The guy who ran into the butt!" Amazing. As a Boston sports fan, I don't know what makes me happier: That a 6-year-old, in the earliest stages of her exposure to football, now knows the quarterback of the New York Jets as 'The Guy Who Ran Into The Butt;' or the fact that I now have a great new way to refer to Mark Sanchez.
— Kevin A., Boston
(from)
posted by en forme de poire at 9:06 AM on December 3, 2012 [1 favorite]


Just Eyeballed That Sphincter

C'mon, better than Just End The Season, right?
posted by JaredSeth at 1:07 PM on December 3, 2012


Jim DeMint: The Fireman Ed of Politics
posted by homunculus at 11:50 AM on December 9, 2012 [1 favorite]


« Older This week in Scotland, it is Book Week. Many note...  |  As Americans, we pick a place ... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments