monday-morning quarterback

Tuesday Morning Quarterback

Tuesday Morning Quarterback is a column written by Gregg Easterbrook on ESPN.com.

The column is noted for its length (it often runs over 15 pages in printed form). Easterbrook commonly includes a "Running Items Department", football haiku and senryu, "Cheerbabe Cheesecake" and "Equal-Time Beefcake", "obscure college-football scores" including his obsession with Indiana of Pennsylvania and California of Pennsylvania, and refers to teams by nicknames or "cognomen", such as "Potomac Drainage Basin Indigenous Persons" (Washington Redskins) and "Arizona CAUTION: MAY CONTAIN FOOTBALL-LIKE SUBSTANCE Cardinals". The nicknames are usually used only if a team is struggling or if the team made a boneheaded play that cost them a game, the lone exception being the Washington Redskins due to the team's nickname controversy as well as Easterbrook being based in the Washington, D. C. area.

He also guarantees "All Predictions Wrong or Your Money Back." Of course, the column is free so, as he always points out, there is nothing to be refunded.

General themes which recur in the column include

  • An emphasis on solid football fundamentals as opposed to what Easterbrook considers an overemphasis on flashy but risky and often foolish plays designed to obtain greater media coverage,
  • Bemoaning the tendency of teams to pass instead of run the football,
  • Analysis of coaching strategy and various excellent or atrocious plays and games.
  • Contending that most successful plays are usually the product of good offensive or defensive line play rather than the prowess of any individual quarterback, running back or wide receiver.
  • Criticizing the overuse of the blitz
  • Commenting on coaches punting or kicking field goals instead of trying for first downs or touchdowns, which he mocks as "cowardly".
  • Mockery of most coaches in general, except for Bill Belichick with whom he has a conflicted relationship due to his brilliant coaching yet recent ethical lapses.
  • Mockery of various publicity stunts and other public actions from individuals in the football world whom he considers foolish.
  • A continuing tirade against the NFL Sunday Ticket product available only through DirectTV, which he considers an illegal monopoly and an example of a for-profit corporation taking advantage of municipal taxpayers who fund NFL stadium construction.
  • Advocates a "no punting" strategy on 4th down plays, as well as going for a two-point conversion when trailing by one in the final seconds of a game, citing the higher expected value of a successful conversion vs. turning the ball over to the opponent, and bemoaning coaches who don't take the risk. The crux of Easterbrook's argument is that the average yards gained on a play is 5 yards. Analysts, however, have stated this theory is short-sighted, since it does not take into account the fact that 4th-and-short attempts usually face goal-line defenses; as such, the two-point conversion, which takes place only two yards from the end zone, is more likely to fail than not, with a 40% success rate. Easterbrook disputes this analysis and claims that the real percentage is between 50% and 55%.
  • Criticizing several local markets tendency to air lackluster games as opposed to more competitive matchups, except when a local team is playing, which by NFL rules with the television contracts are required to be shown in their home market in their entirety.
  • Criticizing teams that make uniform changes, having cited only four recent team uniform changes (New England, Philadelphia, San Diego, and St. Louis) as being an improvement. In particular, Easterbrook hates the "monochrome" look of several teams, leading to the cognomen for Atlanta, Denver, and Seattle, while having mixed opinions on teams wearing throwbacks, favoring the Chargers' 1960's look, Buffalo Bills O. J. Simpson-era uniforms, and the Redskins 70th Anniversary throwbacks but doesn't care much for throwbacks worn by the Eagles, Steelers, or the New York Jets decision to return to the Joe Namath-era uniforms full-time in 1998.

Easterbrook also espouses certain football superstitions attributed to a "pantheon" of "football gods" which bestows victory upon the team with the least warmly dressed coach, the most sportsmanlike conduct, the most spirited play, or the most provocatively dressed cheerleaders.

Also, the column is known for randomly placed items and rants on various topics on politics, science fiction, actual science, and various television, film, and pop culture items. Photographs and captions accompany the columns which are often designed to be ridiculously humorous metaphors or caricatures of various persons or items mentioned in the column.

Spygate

Easterbook's column has been highly critical of Bill Belichick with relation to the "Spygate" controversy, calling for Belichick's suspension from the league. Easterbrook’s most controversial article was Suspending Belichick will bring closure to Spygate. Here are two selections from this article:

"Goodell has contended any benefits the Patriots derived were minor at most. But why would the Patriots clandestinely break a rule for eight years, engaging risk, if they never obtained any benefit? They weren't making a PBS documentary! Walsh testified that he took the videotapes directly to Ernie Adams, Belichick's right-hand man. If the tapes merely had been for some kind of historic archive, they would have gone to a video room clerk: Instead they went straight to the top. Walsh told Goodell and Specter that a former New England quarterback said the sign-stealing operation allowed Patriots coaches to know an opponent's defense 75 percent of the time."

"At his press conference, Goodell was asked why the Spygate tapes the league obtained last fall -- the ones rapidly destroyed -- were never shown to anyone. Goodell's answer: "We were in the second week of a season where those tapes potentially could have had competitive consequences." There could not have been "competitive consequences" unless videotapes of sign-stealing can help a team win a game"

Easterbrook's response to Spygate was subtly criticized by his fellow "Page Two" columnist and New England Patriots fan Bill Simmons. "If you have a national column in which you're excoriating a sports team for cheating even though it already paid a severe penalty for what it did, and you're hinting more revelations are coming down the road, and then it's proven you were barking up the wrong tree ... you need to admit defeat and quit blowing the situation out of proportion. No, really."

"TMQ" Team Nicknames

Team Nickname(s) Explanation
Arizona Cardinals Arizona of Mexico Cardinals
Arizona Cactus Wrens
Arizona (CAUTION: MAY CONTAIN FOOTBALL-LIKE SUBSTANCE) Cardinals
During the 2005 season Arizona played a "home" game in Mexico City, drawing far more spectators than the team typically managed to in Arizona.
The cactus wren is the official state bird of Arizona.
Also, Arizona is a historically poor performer in the NFL.
Atlanta Falcons Atlanta Typos The Atlanta uniforms resemble errant smudges on a printing run.
Baltimore Ravens The Nevermores Edgar Allan Poe was a famous resident of Baltimore and his poem "The Raven" was the inspiration for the team's name. The poem is well-known for its repeated use of the word "nevermore".
Buffalo Bills The Budgies Easterbrook coined this name in reference to the Toronto Series in 2008. This is despite the fact that the budgie, an Australian bird, has no connection to Canada; no further explanation was given, although Easterbrook admits that the nickname is one of his silliest.
Chicago Bears Ming Ding Xiong Mandarin for "bears whose outcomes are decided by fate". Their recent successful seasons had several games won on "lucky" plays, or decided by fate.
Cincinnati Bengals Cincinnati Tootsie-Rolls
Cincinnati Trick or Treats
The black and orange uniforms resemble a tootsie roll wrapper.
Black and orange are typically the dominant colors of Halloween decor.
Cleveland Browns Cleveland Browns (Release 3.0b)
(also Cleveland Oranges, Release 3.0b)
Originally nicknamed "Release 2.0" when Cleveland first regained its NFL franchise, the version number was incremented when Romeo Crennel became head coach.
The Cleveland Browns also wore all-orange uniforms from time to time, leading to the Oranges nickname, however they no longer wear the orange jerseys. The name is also a dig to the fairly drastic reorganizations and retooling of the Cleveland roster over recent years.
Detroit Lions Detroit Peugeots
The Cowardly Lions
Detroit Edsels
The lion logo resembles the logo of the Peugeot Motor Company, which is ironic because the team is owned by the Ford family.
Also, a reference to their tendency to punt on fourth downs as opposed to trying to achieve a first down, a move which Easterbrook detests.
Denver Broncos Denver Cursors The Broncos' uniform contains a bright orange stripe, described as a cursor when viewed on TV.
Houston Texans The Moo Cows The team's logo is essentially a stylized cow.
Indianapolis Colts The Lucky Charms The horseshoe logo resembles a marshmallow shape from Lucky Charms cereal.
Kansas City Chiefs The Flintstones The stone arrowhead logo resembles carved, stone age items seen in the cartoon.
Miami Dolphins Marine Mammals Though the Dolphins are often referred to as "the fish", dolphins are actually mammals.
Minnesota Vikings Hyperboreans The Hyperboreans were a mythical barbaric people in Greek mythology. Today the term can be used for any people who live in a cold climate, as the Vikings did.
New England Patriots Flying Elvii The team logo resembles an airborne Elvis Presley, and Easterbrook reasons that Elvii is the plural of Elvis. The team itself has admitted that the logo is modeled after Presley.
New Orleans Saints United States Saints
The Boy Scouts
Following Hurricane Katrina the Saints were without a home field for an entire season, and were adopted by the rest of the country.
The fleur-de-lis logo used by the Saints is similar to the logo of the Boy Scouts
New York Giants Jersey/A The Giants actually play in New Jersey, at a venue which goes by the name Giants Stadium on days when the Giants are playing.
New York Jets Jersey/B The Jets play at the same New Jersey stadium as the Giants, but when the Jets play it is simply called The Meadowlands. A dig at the tendency for Giants seasons to generally fare somewhat better than Jets seasons.
Oakland Raiders Oakland Long Johns After the pirate of that name.
Philadelphia Eagles The Nesharim Philadelphia has the sole logo that faces right to left and "nesharim" means "eagles" in Hebrew, which is also read right to left.
Pittsburgh Steelers The Hypocycloids The team logo features three hypocycloids.
San Francisco 49ers Squared Sevens Seven is the square root of 49.
Seattle Seahawks Blue Men Group The Seahawks wear entirely blue uniforms (most teams sport different colored jerseys and pants) making them resemble the performance group of the same name.
St. Louis Rams Les Mouflons A mouflon is a type of sheep whose curved horns are often mistakenly used as a depiction of ram horns. Dubbed after a series of what Easterbrook considered poorly played games by St. Louis.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers City of Tampa Buccaneers The team actually plays in the City of Tampa, Tampa Bay being a body of water.
Tennessee Titans Flaming Thumbtacks The team logo bears an uncanny resemblance to a thumbtack with a flame on the top.
Washington Redskins Potomac Drainage Basin Indigenous Persons
(also Washington Nanticokes)
The Redskins have various facilities in both Virginia and Maryland, but none in the nation's capital. "Indigenous Persons" was used to avoid the more controversial "Redskins". Easterbrook's original nickname made reference to the Chesapeake Bay, but later changed to the more accurate Potomac River since the Chesapeake Bay area also covered the Baltimore Ravens, with its watershed going all the way up to New York state.
The Nanticoke are the tribe indigenous to the area.

Tuesday Morning Quarterback Non-QB Non-RB NFL MVP Award

According to Easterbrook, the "longest [named] award in sports". This is the top award in a series of awards he publishes at the end of each season, known as the "All-Unwanted All-Pros." These awards were created due to Easterbrook's view that the awards and Pro Bowl selection of various sports media outlets and the NFL tended to unfairly reward what he considered "glory boy" positions, such as quarterbacks, running backs and wide receivers, as well as players who tended to be more well known due to higher press coverage as opposed to actual quality of play. Easterbrook also was protesting the lack of attention given to offensive or defensive linemen whom he considers the most important positions in football. Criteria tend to vary from year to year but generally includes players who either were undrafted or cut from previous teams, but otherwise managed to play important or pivotal roles with their current teams over the course of the season.

Year Winner Team Position
2001 Alan Faneca Pittsburgh Steelers Guard
2002 Lincoln Kennedy Oakland Raiders Offensive tackle
2003 Damien Woody New England Patriots Guard
2004 Troy Brown New England Patriots Wide Receiver/Cornerback
2005 Walter Jones Seattle Seahawks Offensive tackle
2006 Jeff Saturday Indianapolis Colts Center
2007 Matt Light New England Patriots Offensive tackle

Controversy

ESPN fired Easterbrook after comments he made about the film Kill Bill were published but after he delivered his apology, he resumed the Tuesday Morning Quarterback column, temporarily for two weeks on the independent website Football Outsiders, and then more permanently for NFL.com. During his stint on NFL.com, Easterbrook was also an analyst for the then-fledging NFL Network.

On April 24, 2006, it was announced that Easterbrook would be brought back to ESPN's website after a two-year absence. His return column, a preview of the 2006 NFL Draft, appeared the following day.

References

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