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A Moderate Republican Is There…If You Want It!

[ 54 ] January 20, 2016 |

Shorter David Brooks: “A Republican presidential candidate who represents the values of “working-class populism, religious compassion and institutional reform” must by definition exist, and we shall project these qualities onto whichever non-Trump or Cruz candidate does better in New Hampshire, their staunch opposition to all of these things notwithstanding.”

Brooks can get ahead of the game by just joining the “Hillary Clinton is a Republican in my imaginary political universe” racket.

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The Party Decides!

[ 125 ] January 19, 2016 |

Republican vice presidential candidate Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin winks as she speaks during her vice presidential debate against Democratic vice presidential candidate Sen. Joe Biden, D-Del., at Washington University in St. Louis, Mo., Thursday, Oct. 2, 2008. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

This seems overdetermined:

Sarah Palin endorsed Donald Trump on Tuesday, becoming the first current or former statewide elected official in the US to back the real estate mogul for the White House.

In a statement, Trump said he was “greatly honored” to receive the former governor of Alaska’s endorsement.

“She is a friend, and a high-quality person whom I have great respect for. I am proud to have her support,” Trump said. The Republican presidential candidate also described her endorsement “as amongst the most sought after and influential amongst Republicans”.

Even though Palin is nominally a political figure, she fits in perfectly. Whether this has any causal impact on the race, I have no idea.

Supreme Court to Decide DAPA Case This Term

[ 36 ] January 19, 2016 |

And I have thoughts on the subject:

As for how the court will decide, it’s hard to say. The argument that Obama’s executive order is unconstitutional is almost transparently illogical: Congress left immigration enforcement to the discretion of the executive branch by giving it inadequate resources to enforce the policy set by Congress, forcing it to exercise its discretion. The president doesn’t violate the US constitution by exercising that discretion just because he exercised it differently than various members of Congress would have preferred or would have themselves legislated, if they were so inclined.

The fact that the argument that the executive action is unpersuasive, however, doesn’t necessarily mean that opponents of the president’s actions can’t find five votes at the US supreme court. For example, the argument that Section 4 of the Voting Rights Act violates the US constitution was actively embarrassing, but that didn’t stop the US supreme court from joining the Republican Party’s ongoing campaign of voter suppression.

But however the court ultimately rules, both parties face a situation in which their policy and political interests clash. An anti-immigration decision issued by a Republican-dominated US supreme court and supported by Republican officials and candidates in the heat of a presidential campaign would be a political godsend for a Democratic candidate running against a Republican candidate (who will either be Trump or someone forced by Trump to run far to the right on immigration), as it would likely drive even more Latino voters to the welcoming arms of the Democratic party.

Rubio and Iran

[ 70 ] January 19, 2016 |

051315_rubio

Larison is unsparing:

It takes special determination to be as comprehensively wrong about something as Rubio has been about diplomacy with Iran over the last few years. Two years ago, Rubio was feigning interest in negotiations while insisting on maximalist conditions that would have made an agreement impossible. Had the U.S. followed his recommendations, there would have been no deal and Iran’s nuclear program would not be under the significant restrictions now imposed upon it. If the U.S. had demanded “zero enrichment” as Rubio wished, Iran’s stockpile of enriched uranium would not have been shipped out of the country as it has been, but would have remained in Iran’s control and would have continued to expand. A year ago, Rubio was certain that Iran would never abide by any agreement that it made. This month, the IAEA has certified that Iran is in compliance with the agreement, just as it complied with the interim agreement that he also bitterly opposed. Despite his best efforts to tack on irrelevant amendments to the Senate’s oversight legislation to try to sabotage the deal, the deal went forward and has already yielded significant nonproliferation benefits in just its first few months.

Like other Iran hawks, Rubio is reduced to bemoaning non-existent “appeasement” while ignoring the substantial benefits for the U.S. that diplomacy with Iran has already produced.

Josh McDaniels, Coaching SUPERPROSPECT

[ 57 ] January 19, 2016 |
Nov 27, 2010; Englewood, CO, USA; Denver Broncos head coach Josh McDaniels speaks during a press conference regarding the violation of integrity of game policy at Broncos Headquarters. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-US PRESSWIRE

Nov 27, 2010; Englewood, CO, USA; Denver Broncos head coach Josh McDaniels speaks during a press conference regarding the violation of integrity of game policy at Broncos Headquarters. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-US PRESSWIRE

I know in itself the issue is too trivial to merit one and a third posts — not that this has ever stopped a good LGMer before — but since media sycophancy has always been within our bailiwick this I can’t resist the high comedy of this Peter King beaut CF dug up. 

Evidently, there will be some redundancies between my points and his:

Seven job openings. Seven go to offensive coaches. Josh McDaniels has been the offensive coordinator for the Patriots for the past four years. Over that four-year period, New England is the highest-scoring team in football (30.22 points per regular-season game). Josh McDaniels didn’t get an interview.

The Patriots have a great offense, and I would never say that McDaniels doesn’t deserve any credit for that. At the same time, they had a great offense before he got there and they had a great offense during the time he left and they still have a great offense now. In addition, when McDaniels was coordinator in St. Louis he presided over by far the worst offense in the NFL. Admittedly, he didn’t exactly have the ’89 49ers to work with, but they declined substantially, and while you might have expected Sam Bradford to improve in his sophomore year he was terrible even by Sam Bradford standards. It seems like this really is worth mentioning when you’re wondering why nobody wants to turn your team over to him.

McDaniels went 11-17 in his only NFL head-coaching trial. Then he went into coach purgatory for a year and a half. Then he took over as Patriots offensive coordinator, and made whatever contributions he made to the team with the most wins in football (54 regular-season and postseason wins) since 2012.

Uh, it seems you’re yadda-yadding the utter trainwreck that was McDaniels’s tenure in Denver rather too quickly. I mean, when you give a hotshot coordinator a head coaching job with de facto personnel control and he combines Chip Kelly’s personnel acumen with Bobby Petrino’s interpersonal and leadership skills, wouldn’t that give you considerable pause about giving him another head coaching job? He was very young and I’m not saying it’s impossible that he’s matured, but you can’t just dismiss it in a sentence and then go back to discussing how miraculous it is that Bill Belichick and Tom Brady’s offense has been very effective with him as the OC, just as it was when noted head coaching SUPERGENIUS Charlie Weis was the OC.

There are numerous examples of the relationship between McDaniels and Brady, and between McDaniels and Bill Belichick. See the bro hugs between Brady and McDaniels after Brady’s quarterback sneak for touchdown Saturday night? Did you watch the NFL Films special last spring, with Belichick talking about McDaniels’ ideas? The mutual respect in both relationships is obvious. Read about it in my column eight days after the last Super Bowl win.

I should pause here and note that to my considerable misery that McDaniels’s playcalling in the most recent Super Bowl really was a marvel of elegance and discipline. At least in the context of Belichick’s system — a massive qualifier — he is very good at his current job, and I wouldn’t deny that. Norv Turner is a real good offensive coordinator too; that doesn’t mean you want him as your head coach. And McDaniels’s record as a head coach makes Norv look like Tom Landry.

Belichick after the 27-20 win over Kansas City: “I thought Josh [McDaniels] and the offensive staff did a tremendous job this week game-planning and play-calling. Josh was magnificent. I thought he really had everything dialed in. Pretty much everything he called, it came out the way we thought it would. As we were breaking the huddle, we could already see we had what we wanted, and Tom and the offense executed it perfectly.”

Again, I’m not denying that he’s doing a good job, but what the hell else is Belichick going to say? “Josh was just terrible today. 27 points against a team with that feeble pass rush? Christ, if Andy hadn’t followed his usual plan of distributing a cocktail of Ambien and Tito’s Vodka personally prepared by Rick Perry to his offensive players and most assuredly himself as soon as the clock hit the three-minute mark of the 4th quarter, we could have been in real trouble. And calling that pass after the onside kick that was very nearly a pick-6 was almost as dumb as when Darrell Bevell graciously handed me a Super Bowl.” Does King have some examples of head coaches ripping their coordinators after a playoff win?

I’m not saying Mike Mularkey (18-39 as a head coach) absolutely shouldn’t get the Titans job. I’m just saying you’re the last team standing and you don’t interview everyone available who might be a strong candidate to coach Marcus Mariota for the next X number of years? You have a former Patriots scout, Jon Robinson, as the new GM and you don’t even allow him to interview to his strength?

Umm, if someone with a tight connection to the Patriots would rather recycle Mike Mularkey than even give McDaniels an interview, what does that tell you? This is being cited in his favor?

And there’s a final elephant in the room King doesn’t bring up, which is the lack of success of Belichick’s coaching tree. Again, I’m not saying that it’s inevitable that his assistants would fail, and I’d certainly be interested in interviewing Matt Patricia for a head coaching job. But when you hire a Belichick assistant you often seem to end up with a ramped-up, less professional version of Belichick’s dour authoritarianism without his ganeplanning and tactical genius. Nate Jackson’s account of having to play for Eric Magnini is priceless, and his description of his brief account with McDaniels in Slow Getting Up — in which McDaniels meets him, spouts random cliches without making eye contact, and then cuts him without even bring willing to take or return his phone call — is also instructive.

I agree with CF that McDaniels has shown enough to deserve a gig as a non-Belichick OC, and maybe he’s grown enough to be a decent head coach. But the media campaign to make him a top coaching prospect that persists even though teams are passing him over without interview for people that don’t even have overpowering credentials as coordinators is an object illustration of what happens when journalists are dependent on particular sources.

Come Back, HA!, All is Forgiven

[ 151 ] January 18, 2016 |

Dumb and Dumber (Screengrab)

It seems like HA! Goodman’s takes have become too hot for Salon. Apparently they’ve decided instead to serve the hot takes of Walker Bragman, which have essentially identical content but with a less charming brand of amateurism:

Nobody is acknowledging it yet, but in all likelihood the next president, be it a Republican or a Democrat, will have just four years to get as much done as possible before passing the torch to the challenger in 2020. Republicans have little hope of a two-term presidency (let alone winning in 2016) due to changing demographics, and a narrative shift that favors acceptance and diversity over traditional values, and Southern dominance. There is a realignment occurring in the United States the likes of which we have not seen since the Solid South became solid red.

SO, to get this straight, an inexorable law of changing demographics means that it’s inevitable that an incumbent Republican president (who logically shouldn’t been able to get elected in the first place, but moving right along) would lose in 2020 but also make it inevitable that a Republican challenger would win in 2020? This makes…less than no sense. Needless to say, it’s justified by the kind of useless junk history that can allow you to be granted tenure by Fred Hiatt:

Democrats, however, should be concerned for a different reason. The last consecutive two-term presidents from the same party were James Madison and James Monroe, who were both Democratic-Republicans. That transition occurred before the formation of our modern two-party system.

Our “two party system” is, of course, much different than the one that has prevailed for most of American history, in which regionally-based, ideologically heterogeneous brokerage parties have competed for national office. As recently as 1984, it was possible for a presidential candidate to carry 49 states in a presidential election. Trying to infer laws from patterns based on a party system that no longer exists is a complete waste of time. Old patterns just don’t apply to a new system in which more ideologically coherent parties are moving away from the center at an asymmetrical pace.

And even leaving this aside, Bragman is still bullshitting. Note how the argument is carefully worded so as to exclude the 5 consecutive presidential elections that the Democratic Party won in the 20th century. And note as well that the only Republican victories between 1932-1968 were won by an essentially non-partisan war hero who didn’t attempt to significantly disrupt the New Deal order. The Republican Party, to put it mildly, is not about to run the equivalent of Ike in either 2016 or 2020. So this argument is crap all the way down. Which is a problem, since the entire article rests on the premise that the Republicans have a roughly 100% chance of winning as challengers in 2020 and a 0% chance as incumbents.

The 2020 election is one Democrats cannot afford to lose. It is a census year, which means the future of the House will be determined for the next decade. It is also highly possible that at least two (or three) seats will open on the Supreme Court, given the ages of the justices—more than are likely to open between 2016 and 2020. If the Democrats do not win, the GOP will have a solid hold on government for at least another 10 years.

The 2020 elections are indeed crucial. Which makes it all the more important that Democrats win in 2016, so that the Democratic candidate will have the advantages of incumbency, so that a Democratic DOJ will be supervising elections, etc. etc.

The Democratic Party as a whole is moving to the left—albeit slowly. Elizabeth Warren would never have gotten elected in the ’90s, let alone become as influential as she has. It can easily be said that the Democrats are no longer the party of the Clintons (the New Democrats), and are instead, the party of Elizabeth Warren.

Indeed. But what people like Bragman fail to understand is that presidential nominees and presidents shift with their coalitions. If Bill Clinton became president in 2016 he would govern very differently than he did in 1995. As I’ve said before, nobody would think of Lyndon Johnson as a domestic policy hero had he been elected in 1952. Electing more Elizabeth Warrens to Congress is more important than the precise platforms being offered by the Democratic candidate for president.

All things considered, it is safe to call Clinton a neoconservative.

Yeah, not really so much,

Economically speaking, in spite of touting herself as a “progressive who likes to get things done,” Clinton is essentially a moderate Republican

Yeah, this is embarrassing.

She also has trouble convincing some people of her support for LGBTQ equality. It wasn’t until 2013 that she fully embraced same-sex marriage. Prior to that she believed that marriage was a “sacred bond between a man and a woman.” She also supported the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA).

See above — this is all completely irrelevant to anything. Barack Obama nominally opposed same-sex marriage when he came into office, and his justices still provided the necessary votes to strike down DOMA and state bans on same-sex marriage. On issues of LBGT rights, supporting Obama is in fact an object lesson in not letting wishes for perfection stop someone from supporting the vastly superior. Clinton’s judicial nominees would be identical, and she would not sign any legislation imposing legal disabilities on LGBT people. So, going forward, who cares what bad legislation passed over his initial opposition with veto-proof majorities her husband signed in 1996? It tells us less nothing about how Hillary Clinton would govern if elected in 2016.

She hasn’t even been consistent on gun control. Sure, Clinton talks a big game now about background checks and modest reforms, supporting President Obama in his executive actions. But in 2008, she was “Annie Oakley,” accusing Obama of being hostile to hunters’ rights.

Let’s leave aside the fact that if you look at these words next to each other you will note no actual substantive policy differences between Obama and Clinton and gun control. We have a Sanders-or-Cruz wanker attacking Hillary Clinton as being soft on the one issue on which Sanders has been consistently to Clinton’s right. A smarter Sanders-or-Cruz wanker would omit any discussion of gun control.

2) Let a Republican have four years. With a Hillary ticket, this scenario isn’t out of the question—especially if the candidate is Donald Trump, who can run on the fact that he donated to Clinton.

I don’t think Young Master Bragman quite gets how elections, you know, work.

There’s a cold logic in this move. In 2020, Democrats can run someone like Elizabeth Warren who excites the base. Coming off of four years with the GOP, a two-term presidency would be easily attainable with the added benefit that any economic downturns that happen between now and then would be blamed on Republicans.

This returns us to the central fallacy that underlies the article. If you assume that there’s no chance a Republican who won in 2016 could be re-elected in 2020, then a Republican winning in 2016 might be…well, it would still be awful given that much of the damage that Cruz/Ryan/McConnell did in that time couldn’t be undone, but it would be less awful. But this is a really, really stupid assumption. Another thing Young Master Bragman fails to understand is that a Republican Congress would immediately turn into (admittedly inefficient) Keynesians with a Republican in a White House. You can’t just assume an opportune economic recession will hit in 2020.

Also worth mentioning, people typically vote down the party line—which is good for Democrats, considering it is a census year. 2020 could see the Democrats take the presidency, the House and the Senate—and with the likelihood that two or three seats will open on the court, they’d control all three branches of government.

I see, people typically vote the party line, but Democrats would refuse to vote to re-elect President Hillary Clinton. Can’t see any flaws in that logic!

The downside to this option is that Senate Democrats would have to obstruct for four years.

Yes, I’m afraid Young Master Bragman really does think that a Republican Senate in the context of unified Republican government would keep the filibuster in place for Democrats to use for 4 years. In my experience, nobody has greater faith in the essential goodness of Republicans than people who criticize Obama and/or Clinton for having too much faith in bipartisanship. (Cf. also “of course there were multiple Republican votes for a trillion-dollar ARRA!”)

There’s also the high probability that liberals will lose one seat on the Supreme Court, as well as federal judge appointments—all of which be damaging.

“Apart from the trivial consequence of having John Roberts or possibly Antonin Scalia as the median vote on the Supreme Court, I don’t see what harm 4 years of unified Republican government could possible do. Why, maybe that nice, well-groomed Mr. Rubio will win the nomination! He seems so sensible! He would totally veto the Repeal Obamacare and Massive Upper Class Tax Cuts Act of 2017 in the unlikely event that the many congressional Republicans identical to Hillary Clinton don’t stop it first!” Is this guy for real?

“Bernie or Bust” is undoubtedly a controversial position, as many Democrats insist that if Hillary Clinton gets the nod, she should be elected president. This argument relies on the-lesser-of-two-evils mind-set; vote Hillary because she’s better than the GOP. However, with all things weighed and considered, it is clear that Clinton should neither be the Democratic nominee nor the president, and that her differences with her opponents are not so stark.

I’ll give him this: for your typical private-liberal-arts-college educated white guy from Long Island, the differences between Hillary Clinton and Ted Cruz aren’t really so stark. Frankly, they’ll be able to see an upside from the latter.

The Real Scandal Is Etc.

[ 26 ] January 18, 2016 |

120606_bob_mcdonnell_gop_605_reut

I have some thoughts on the Supreme Court to grant cert in the case of Bob McDonnell.

Clearly, the behavior of McDonnell was corrupt in a colloquial sense. But he does have a serious argument that it was not clearly illegal under federal law.

Today In Recycled Nutty Gender Politics Theater, With Maureen Dowd

[ 100 ] January 17, 2016 |

mad men - for immediate release00179

Shorter Verbatim MoDo:

AFTER running as a man last time around, Hillary Clinton is now running as a woman.

Matthew Dowd, the former W. strategist who became an independent, says Hillary got it backward: She should have run as a woman in 2008, when she was beating back a feminized antiwar candidate. And she should have run as a man this time, when Americans feel beleaguered and scared and yearn for something “big and masculine and strong,” as Dowd put it.

Note: as a first approximation, every Maureen Dowd column between now and Election Day will make this argument, the fact that no self-respecting editor should have let it appear in a newspaper of any quality once notwithstanding.

Well, At Least That Wasn’t An Agonizing Loss

[ 135 ] January 17, 2016 |

6358658538411262881957152712_CamNewtonSmiles

Well, you’ll get no more MVP arguments from me. The game was obviously not as close as the score, although it’s not like Wilson was just piling up yards in garbage time in the second half either. Given what a cap hell shambles the franchise was in when they took over, Rivera and Gettleman have really done a tremendous job, regardless of what happens over the next three weeks. And the importance of how well-prepared Rivera had the Panthers can’t be overstated. In last year’s conference final, Wilson was terrible for 3+ quarters, and yet McCarthy’s idiotic tactics kept Seattle hanging around long enough to pull it out. The Panthers got out to a lead that Carroll’s typically good half-time adjustments couldn’t surmount. (To modify a point made by a commenter, this is the third postseason in 4 in which the Seahawks have been completely steamrollered in first half, and the three valiant comebacks have only produced one win. This is obviously something that needs to be addressed going forward.) And, yes, I can at least take consolation in the number of anti-Cam Newton hot takes that have been pre-empted. YOU’RE WELCOME AMERICA!

A final point as we close the book on the Seattle season. The Seahawks made two big trades in the offseason. The first one looked really bad on paper, effectively trading the 95th, 112th, 167th, and 181st picks for Tyler Lockett. It must be said, however, that this trade looks really good — Lockett was as-advertised as a special teams weapon and was surprisingly effective as a wideout for a team that really needed depth at the position. You can argue bout the extent to which Schneider and Carroll were lucky or smart, but I think they’ve earned the presumption that it’s a fair measure of the latter.

On the other hand, there’s the decision to trade Max Unger and the equivalent of the 65th pick for Jimmy Graham. I didn’t love the trade at the time — I was concerned about Graham, who showed serious signs of decline at age 28, particularly given his cap hit, and the emphasis on getting a “Red zone weapon” specifically felt like overpaying to exculpate Bevell for his indefensible Super Bowl-losing play call — but I certainly understood the logic: Unger is about to get expensive, so it represented the chance to get a desperately needed top-grade weapon without surrendering a huge amount in return. It was a reasonable gamble, but it really didn’t work. Graham was nothing special before being injured, and the offensive line was a shambles that really could have used Unger, who started 16 games for the Saints, as well as the potential that Schneider could have spotted an offensive line talent with the lost pick. Anyway, hopefully this game was a wakeup call: I’m sure Cable is a good o-line coach, but he’s not a wizard who can make a competent offensive line out of anything they give him. The Seattle window is far from closed, but if they don’t improve the line significantly it will keep getting slammed on their fingers, as I’m sure Schneider well knows.

Divisional Round Sunday Open Thread

[ 157 ] January 17, 2016 |

Mike McCarthy

It seems unlikely that yesterday’s games can be topped, although at least one of these games looks great. A couple of links to discuss:

Tanier has more on the 49ers. Basically, it seems like York realizes he made a massive blunder by letting one of the league’s worst GMs push out one of the league’s best coaches, and while he can’t bring himself to fire Baalke and directly fire Baalke, it certainly seems likely that whoever has the GM title in the media guide Gamble and Kelly will be running things before too long. At least if Gamble takes the dominant role in personnel, this is probably an improvement — but it’s still a major downgrade from Harbaugh and anyone more competent than Baalke.

I agree with Barnwell that McCarthy should have gone for two at the end of the game yesterday. I don’t think, however, that it’s nearly as clear-cut a blunder as his worst decisions in Seattle last year. If you assume that the Packers were big underdogs to the Cardinals — as they were before the game, something I’m not second-guessing because I would have set a similar line — you should definitely go for 2. However, I can understand McCarthy having seen four quarters of watching how an obviously not 100% Carson Palmer was playing and assuming that he was not a big underdog. I don’t think that’s entirely unreasonable. (I’d also say that yesterday’s game is a good demonstration of Bill James’s old dictum that when evaluating players before the postseason its important to take a broader picture of a player’s abilities and not just focus on that year’s stats. If you look at 2015, Palmer looks better than Rodgers. If you look at any previous year, Rodgers looks way ahead of Palmer. It seems clear that we should assume that Rodgers is way better. This doesn’t mean the Packers weren’t significant underdogs — Palmer is surrounded by a lot more talent, which is what bailed him out yesterday. But it does mean that McCarthy’s apparent assumption that he had a better than 40% game of winning the game it OT isn’t absurd. You also have to be concerned about getting a 2-point conversion without Cobb on the field.)

Speaking of which, an interesting point by CrunchyFrog in comments:

A thought on Mike McCarthy. I’ve been somewhat skeptical of his ability as head coach, but reflecting on his playoff record in his 10 years with Green Bay something interesting comes up. Yes, he’s 8-7, including 4-0 in the super bowl year. Yes, he’s been to the playoffs in 8 of 10 years, and 7 in a row. But interesting in what his 7 losses have looked like:

2007: Conference Final, 23-20 (OT) vs NYG
2009: Wild Card 51-45 (OT) at AZ
2011: Divisional 37-20 vs NYG
2012: Divisional 45-31 at SF
2013: Divisional 23-20 vs SF
2014: Conference Final 28-22 (OT) at Seattle
2015: Divisional 26-20 (OT) at AZ

4 of the 7 losses were in over time. Another (2013) was decided on the last play of regulation.

So, on the one hand give the guy credit for being in contention in almost every playoff game he’s been in (13 of 15). On the other hand, like Andy Reid he could really benefit from a coach whose role is to figure out what to do in the final minutes and overtime to maximize his chances of winning.

And yes, he does tend to lose almost all of his close playoff games. Although 4 of his 8 playoff wins were decided by a touchdown or less, none of those games came down to wire. In short, if the game came down to the final play, his team lost.

In this sample size, this doesn’t prove that McCarthy’s obvious limitations as an in-game coach are the reason the Packers have a poor record in close post-season games — it could be random chance. And, of course, chance does play a significant role, no matter what — he was absolutely obliterated by Carroll on the sidelines in last year’s Conference Final, and yet Seattle still needed an extraordinary number of things to break right to win. But I doubt it’s a coincidence. One thing to add is that while in most cases winning or losing a disproportionate number of close games is just luck, the one proven exception is that teams with ultra-elite QBs can have an advantage in close games. The fact that McCarthy has an ultra-elite QB and has underachieved in close playoff games is pretty damning.

Does this mean he should be fired? Not necessarily. I certainly wouldn’t dream of it if it was important to Rodgers to keep him. But if I were Thompson I’d try to get him some help making tactical decisions. As someone mentioned in comments yesterday, the model here is Ron Rivera, a very good Monday-to-Sunday coach who knew he needed help as a sideline decision-maker and improved. Andy Reid, whose clock management is as horrible as ever even after it played a major role in losing him a Super Bowl, is the more mystifying alternate path in terms of how this can play out.

Oh, and speaking of CrunchyFrog he’s made me an addict of Josh McDaniels, coaching SUPERPROSPECT stories like this. The pattern is simple: someone in the Patriots organization — let’s call him “Like Mombardi” — leaks to friendly reporters that McDaniels doesn’t want any job he didn’t get and wasn’t interviewed for, but makes it clear that he is a RED HOT coaching SUPERGENIUS who is a TOP CANDIDATE for any remaining job. And the fact that he doesn’t get even interviewed for those jobs — logically enough, since if you’re going to play the hotshot assistant lottery you’d probably go with one who didn’t spectacularly flame out in his first job, and that goes triple for hotshots who have never shown aptitude outside of Belichick’s system — won’t stop the cycle from repeating next year. It’s hilarious.

 

…..[Erik] Andy Reid, ladies and gentlemen:

With the clock moving, the Chiefs huddled and didn’t get off another snap before the two-minute warning.

“I’m not sure exactly what you’re talking about,” Reid said when asked about the clock management late in the game.

Then Reid said, “We wanted to get a play off. There was 2:20 on the clock. We wanted to make sure we got our best personnel on the field for that play, and we didn’t get that done.”

And Now, the Switch

[ 70 ] January 17, 2016 |

walmart-smile

Nobody could have etc.:

Walmart abruptly announced Friday that it was abandoning a promise to build stores in Washington’s poorest neighborhoods, an agreement that had been key to the deal allowing the retailer to begin operating in the nation’s capital.

The giant retailer cited increasing costs for the new projects and disappointing performance at the three D.C. stores it opened over the past several years. But news that Walmart would pull out of two supercenters planned for east of the Anacostia River, where its wares and jobs are wanted most, shocked D.C. leaders. In one case, the city had already committed $90 million to make a development surrounding one of the stores viable.

NFL Divisional Round Open Thread

[ 283 ] January 16, 2016 |

0819Feature_BelichickPC4

Kansas City (+4 1/2) at New England This game is particularly tough to call given that it’s hard to say what exactly the Patriots will look like — will they have any semblance of an offensive line? Why, given have that he had so semblance of an offensive line and a game plan that expressed indifference to getting the #1 seed, did Smilin’ Bill Belichick put Tom Brady out on the field as a target for Ndamukong Suh and will this have effects that are felt two weeks later? Will Edelman be an actual factor or just a decoy like Gronk in Super Bowl I forget the roman numeral? Given this combination of injury concerns, it’s hard for me to give up 4 and a half points, given that when all was said and done the Chiefs and Patriots were basically dead even in quality this year (and note that in weighted DVOA KC comes in #2 and New England #9.) I still pick KC with trepidation — the Maclin injury is significant, and while Andy Reid can match up with almost anyone as a Monday-to-Friday coach having him on the sideline against Belichick in a playoff game has to give Chiefs fans chills (and Eagles fans nightmares.) Still, Reid’s adventures in clock and timeout management are most significant at the end of close games, and if it’s a close game there’s a 4 1/2 point cushion. I think this game will at least be close. And if it’s a blowout, I frankly think the Chiefs are more likely to be on the long end.

Green Bay at Arizona (-7 1/2) Actually betting NFL games against the spread is generally about as fiscally sound as paying people large commissions to pick stocks, but on exception is betting on games where I talk myself into a different team at the last minute — betting against the team I settle on has a 1.000 winning percentage. I can’t even reconstruct my reasoning behind talking myself into taking Kirk Cousins over Aaron Rodgers last week and let us forget this ever happened. I’m not going to go the other way, though, and overcompensate by tabbing Green Bay this week. The Pack looked better against the rich man’s version of the Texans* last week, but it was also the first time they looked like a team that belongs in the divisional round since November 22. And they’ve moved up in class from the narrowly best in an unspeakably bad division to the team that was, soup to nuts, the best in the league this year. Granted, the injuries to the Arizona defense — most notably the sublime Tyrann Mathieu — are starting to pile up, and this could be an issue against Carolina or Seattle. And who knows, maybe Aaron Rodgers will go crazy one more once. But I just don’t see Green Bay having the depth to hang with Arizona on the road.

Seattle (+2) at Carolina Do I think the 10-6 Seahawks are a better team than the 15-1 Panthers? I do. Much of the difference in records comes down to luck in close games — the Panthers were only a game better in terms of their point differential, and when you consider that the Panthers played literally the easiest schedule in the league…”15-1″ is really neither here nor there. And while the teams were close to a wash this season, there’s also fact that Seattle has been at this level or better for four years while the Panthers were outscored by 35 points last year with personnel that wasn’t radically different. Do I think Russell Wilson is a better QB than the consensus MVP? Sorry, but I do (and that’s no knock on Newton.) None of this is to say that I feel as confident as this might imply. The Panthers’ only decent receiving weapon is a tight end, but as it happens tight ends have eaten Seattle alive this year (including, of course, Olsen himself.) After the Carolina fiasco I had assumed that Carroll and Richard would be able to scheme to attenuate this problem, but at least in the Minnesota game their stategery was “put Kam Chancellor on him and pray,” which “worked” only thanks to the endless generosity of Blair Walsh. I would assume they’ll try something different this week but then I would have thought that last week. And speaking of timeout management, the Seahawks were burning timeouts because they couldn’t get their offense organized like Rex Ryan himself was on the sideline — if Carroll/Bevell/Wilson can’t get that straightened out it could really cost them a playoff game, and indeed already should have. But still — I think the Seahawks are a better team, by a greater margin than the implcit point they’re getting as the road team. Figures to be the best game of the weekend, at least.

Pittsburgh at Denver (-7 1/2) The easiest pick of the week for me, which is not to say that I don’t have misgivings. The last two years, the issue with picking the Broncos in the playoffs is trying to figure out how much worse Peyton Manning was than his season’s statistics would be in January and February. This year, it’s trying to figure out how much better Manning will be in January than his horrific season stats, if any. Manning wasn’t exactly throwing lasers in his relief appearance, and it’s hard to think of him throwing ducks and give up more than a TD. On the other hand, I’d rather have a washed-up Manning than a green A.J. McCarran, who Pittsburgh struggled to beat despite getting upwards of ten points from dubious-to-horrible calls — the phantom unnecessary roughness call on Smith, the failure to call the leading-with-the-crown penalty on Shazier, and most crucially the failure to flag Porter for unsportsmanlike conduct that the NFL was effectively conceded was erroneous — in high-leverage spots. To be clear, this doesn’t mean that the Steelers didn’t “deserve” to win the game or some such — sometimes you get breaks, you have take advantage of them, the Hill fumble wasn’t just a blunder by the Bengals but a fantastic play by Shazier, plus they lost their QB to injury and they’ll be without the services of their star wideout, who was injured by a cheap shot that received a four-game suspension that was probably inadequate. But, still, Brown will be out as the Steelers go from playing a very good defense to a great one. And while Roethlisberger is genuinely great player and can be remarkably effective playing through injuries, I’m not picking a QB with a separated shoulder against the league’s best pass defense on the road. The Broncos QB situation will be a serious issue if they make it to the conference championship, but I don’t think it catches up with them here.

*This blog really should acknowledge Bill O’Brien scouring through Chuck Pagano’s archive of 1960s high school footage and coming up with a wildcat play to his defensive end with a bad groin, which worked out exactly as well as you’d expect. SUPERGENIUS!

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