The Search for the Next Cubs GM

I started writing this article on the Cubs search for their next GM, but wasn’t able to finish it before it was announced that the Cubs have hired their new President of baseball Operations in Theo Epstein and General manager in Jed Hoyer. I decided to finish and post this article as planned and a future article will come on my opinion solely on the hire of the new Cubs front office with Epstein heading up baseball operations and the new direction for the organization. So please keep in mind that this article was written evaluating the Cubs front office and their options before they hired their new GM.

The Chicago Cubs will be looking for a new manager this off season. I am sure they have actually started their search since the day they announced they have let former General Manager Jim Hendry go. The Cubs have their handful finding the right guy to take over the reins for this job. The Cubs do not have anyone with baseball experience within their organization calling the shots now. Thus, the new General Manager will need to be very talented and insightful to clean up the mess he has inherited and build up the organization from the bottom up. The Cubs aren’t in the worse situation in the league, like some of the teams such as Houston, Seattle, to name a few. They have some prospects and some money off the books, but the new GM needs to build a plan for the organization, put an emphasize on the minor league system, stress the fundamentals from the minors league system to the Major league level, and find a Manager who knows how to coach. I figured we should look at some of the general manager candidates who may be mentioned and then those who probably won’t be considered, but should be who could possibly handle the job as General manager of the Chicago Cubs to end the drought and clean up the mess that keeps getting deeper from Ed Lynch to Andy MacPhail, to Jim Hendry.

The Cubs reached out to Hall of famer Pat Gillick recently and asked him to join the Cubs organization in some capacity such as a special assistant to the owner reporting to Tom Rickets. After Pat Gillick stepped down after the rigous duties of being an GM of the Phillies he became an advisor for them. The same type of role the Cubs have offered him. So why would he want to leave a team that when he took over as GM several years he built the team up to what it is today? They also have a great thing going in Philliadpha being a contender every year with the stellar rotation. If he left the good situation he is now to come to Chicago he would want a position of power to be able to steer this sinking ship in the right direction and get it pointed up instead of going further down. That is why he supposedly told the cubs he would only come as President. That way he would have control over the Cubs to set the direction for the organization from top to bottom. It is also rumored he doesn’t want to take orders from current Cubs president Crake Kennedy, even though he is a business guy. Because Kennedy is president he tries to get involved is all aspects of the club, even though his expertise is only business. Thus, having Kennedy as President has scared a Hall of famer like Gillick away. I would have liked them to bring Gillick in as President with him setting the tone for the organization and guiding the GM he picks. That way he can mentor someone who has some old school smarts like himself, but also may be a little more analytical and advanced stat savvy. Gillick coming to the Cubs is done so lets move on to possibly alternatives.

My first choice for GM would be Andrew Friedman whom I consider to be the best GM in baseball. He has one year left on his contract with the Rays, where he has a limited budget, and in a tough division with the Red Sox and Yankees. So I wouldn’t be surprised if he is interested in the Chicago Cubs job. He is very analytical, knows how to analyze numbers coming from wall street, and has experience running a baseball organization.

My second choice is Theo Epstein whom became the youngest GM at 28 for Boston. In 9 years he has won them 2 championships with a big payroll and rebuilt their farm system. He drafted superstars in Dustin Pedoria, Jacoby Ellsbury, Johnanton Pappelbon, and traded for many others to help them win their championship like Mike Lowell, Josh Beckett. He knows how to draft well and spend money wisely of a big market club, even though some may question that with the signings of John Lackey, Carl Crawford, and J.D. Drew. The only one of those that was really bad at the time and will be regretted is John Lackey. Oh, lets not forget about Dice-K.
Brian Chashman is rumored to be a candidate because his contract is up with the Yankees. I am not a big fan of Cashman though because I don’t know what he has done. He has an endless budget and has hired some good scouting directors to drafts some good talent to keep or use as trade bait. The Yankees may always be good and competeitve, but I don’t think Cashman could have the same success in Chicago and I think he would fail like MacPhail and Jim Hendry did.

Billy Beane has also been mentioned, but like I don’t think he is qualified for the difficulties of this job to turn things around. The Oakland Athletics’ haven’t been in the post season in years because other teams have adaptive to his style and he hasn’t adaptive to the game. He needs to balanced in his approach to the game to gain his advantage to put a winner on the field and he isn’t. That is why he isn’t our guy to run the Cubs.

The Cubs need someone who can turn around an entire organization from top to bottom and that is why Theo Epstein was a great choice. The Cubs have a few talented players thanks to Tim Wilken and isn’t in terrible shape like some teams, but needed someone like Epstein who is one on the few executives currently active in the game in the game that I like who is smart enough to turn around an organization in shambles!

Who's A Better Quarterback Than Mark Sanchez?

Here's a text The 'Bright' One sent to me this morning:
Buddy asked if [Mark] Sanchez is top 15. I said he's not top 32. Can we please name 32 guys better than him? Chad Pennington is probably better right now
So I went out to see if there actually are 32 better quarterbacks than New York Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez. Here is the list I came up with (in no particular order, for me, this list is just QBs by division).

100% I Would Rather Have Over Sanchez

1) Tom Brady
2) Ryan Fitzpatrick
3) Aaron Rodgers
4) Jay Cutler
5) Christian Ponder
6) Matthew Stafford
7) Shaun Hill
8) Philip Rivers
9) Jason Campbell
10) Tim Tebow
11) Kyle Orton
12) Matt Cassel
13) Sam Bradford
14) Alex Smith
15) Michael Vick
16) Vince Young
17) Eli Manning
18) Tony Romo
19) Ben Roethlisberger
20) Joe Flacco
21) Colt McCoy
22) Andy Dalton
23) Drew Brees
24) Matt Ryan
25) Josh Freeman
26) Cam Newton
27) Matt Schaub
28) Matt Hasselbeck
29) David Garrard
30) Blaine Gabbert
31) Andrew Luck
32) Peyton Manning

Toss Up
31) Kevin Kolb
32) Chad Henne
33) Alex Smith
34) Caleb Hanie
25) Matt Flynn

I'd Rather Have Sanchez Than
- Donovan McNabb
- Rex Grossman
- Carson Palmer
- Tarvaris Jackson
- Charlier Whitehurst
- Curtis Painter
- Kyle Boller
- Dan Orlovsky
- Matt Leinart
- Matt Moore
- Mike Kafka
- Luke McCown
- Brady Quinn
- Derek Anderson
- Tyler Thigpen
- Josh Johnson

So are there 32 quarterbacks better than Mark Sanchez? I guess not. One QB on this list is still in college and two are inactive due to injury/surgery. But the point is this, Mark Sanchez is not a very good quarterback. The Jets could have won a Superbowl with Mark Sanchez the past two years on their defense alone but Sanchez should not be their QB of the future because he is a significant hindrance to the team.

I sent this list to TBO and he said he would replace Carson Palmer and Kevin Kolb over Colt McCoy and Tim Tebow but "I basically agree with this list"

Friend-of-GOI Dan Bennett would make these changes:
- Move up Kevin Kolb to the 32nd player he 100% would have over Sanchez
- Move up Tarvaris Jackson and Donovan McNabb to the "Toss Up" list
- Move Chad Henne down to the "I'd Rather Have Sanchez Than" list

1) No one drafted David Garrard as their #1 quarterback. Why didn't Stiller drop Peyton Manning's name? Not only is that more plausible but this is the only football related commercial Peyton Manning is *not* in
2) Should Mark Sanchez really be surprised that L.T. does not have Sanchez as his fantasy quarterback? Tomlinson plays with Sanchez and he knows Sanchez sucks! haha

Looking ahead: 2011 xBABIP-adjusted batting lines

The following is from my latest article for The Hardball Times.

Don't forget to follow THTFantasy on Twitter. A special shout-out thanks to Yizhe Shen for helping me compile the data for players on multiple teams this year.

Each of the past two seasons, I have made it a habit to use The Hardball Times' expected BABIP (xBABIP) formula in an attempt to take a somewhat luck-neutral look at batting lines from the previous year to help better forecast relative value for the (ages away) upcoming season. Not to break habit, what follows is a breakdown of 2011 batting lines.

Before I present the data, which can be accessed and sorted by clicking here, let me explain my methodology and the crucial-to-understand underlying assumptions. If you have not yet read Chris Dutton and Peter Bendix's article on their xBABIP formula, I suggest doing so before proceeding, because I use their formula.

Step one is calculating each player's xBABIP. This can be done through a variety of methods, but as I have indicated above, I use Chris Dutton and Peter Bendix's xBABIP formula. It is worth noting that other xBABIP formulas do exist, such as the one posted by slash12 a couple of years ago on Beyond The Boxscore. xBABIP is a theoretical model, and each formula has its own pros and cons.

I prefer to use The Hardball Times' version because 1) I'm a company man and 2) it accounts for park (though admittedly, the park factor data are a few years old now, and for a few teams—the Yankees, Twins, Mets, and starting next year, the Marlins—the park factors are entirely obsolete). Feel free to use the follow methodology of determining batting line with whatever formulation of xBABIP you choose.

Once you have calculated each player's xBABIP (a feat easier said than done, especially if you have to account for partial seasons and league/park factors), you will need to apply it using fancy algebra to determine a player's expected, luck-neutralized batting average (xAVG), on base percentage (xOBP), and slugging percentage (xSLG).

To calculate expected batting average, you begin by calculating the expected hits differential between a player's actual BABIP and his expected BABIP. To calculate a player's expected hits total, simply rearrange the BABIP formula using xBABIP in place of actual BABIP.

In other words, a player's expected hits are equal to that player's actual home run total plus his xBABIP times the following: At-bats minus strikeouts minus home runs plus sacrifice flies. In other words, xH=HR+xBABIP*(AB-K-HR+SF). Take this expected hits total and divide by at-bats to get xAVG.

Next, you will need to calculate xOBP. This is done by simply taking the quotient of the sum of hits, walks and hit by pitches and dividing that by the sum of at bats, walks, hit by pitches, and sacrifice flies. Not too complicated.

Calculating xSLG is at least as easy as calculating xOBP, but how you calculate it largely depends on how you perceive xBABIP to affect hits. If you think that a player's power rate would remain constant irrespective of BABIP luck, then you simply calculate a player's actual ISO (slugging percentage minus batting average) and add that value to his expected batting average.

If you pessimistically/optimistically believe that all hits gained/lost to BABIP luck were singles, then you calculate xSLG as by adding the difference between expected hits and actual hits to a player's singles total, and then dividing the sum of singles plus two times doubles plus three times triples plus four times home runs by at-bats.

As may be obvious, both methods have their own issues with calculating the expected power of the hits gained/saved through BABIP luck.

The first xSLG method holds power constant, which seems nice in theory. However, given that home runs totals are generally not affected by BABIP luck hit changes, using ISO either over/underestimates power depending on whether xBABIP would either subtract or add hits to a player's final line.

With the hits-added method, a player would be adding non-home run hits at an ISO pace that includes home runs. Alternatively, if hits are subtracted, it is subtracting some home run power value.

The "be overly pessimistic/optimistic approach" of course greatly oversimplifies this error, but it does so with a degree of skepticism. For hits added, we see what life would be like if all hits were singles, and think that there's power upside to be had in the projection.

Alternatively, for hits subtracted, we get some dose of reality with the understanding that there's a little more risk than the downward adjustment the numbers indicate. You might think of a hits-subtracted situation assuming all singles as the "upside" of luck-adjustment.

So pick you method of xSLG; each has its own vices. I prefer to use the first method (constant ISO adjustment), so that is what you will find in my spreadsheet of numbers below.

The methodology laid out, there are a few crucial points that must be addressed before the data are presented.

First is the people included in my data set. My data address only players who accumulated 300 or more plate appearances. With the exception of infield flyballs, pretty much all of the rest of the relevant xBABIP data stabilize by a half season's worth of plate appearances.

However, several players of interest were fewer than 15 plate appearances under the threshold (Desmond Jennings, Justin Morneau, Grady Sizemore, Chris Coghlan and John Mayberry) who I decided to add to the sample out of personal interest nonetheless.

Second, you are probably wondering how to use a different xBABIP formula (particularly slash12's) to get all the relevant numbers without having to do any additional, unnecessary work on your own. As a guy with a background in economics, I understand that desire to do the least amount of additional work necessary to capture the benefit sought, and accordingly, making an xBABIP formula adjustment is very easy with my spreadsheet.

All you need to do is change the formula in the xBABIP cell for the first player to reflect your favored xBABIP formula. Then, drag that cell down vertically to the bottom of the data set. Voila! All of the resulting changes and math will be done for you.

Finally, it is worth reminding you that the default xBABIP method used in my spreadsheet has slightly obsolete data (it's multi-year data from a couple of years ago) that is totally obsolete with respect to a few teams: The Mets, Yankees and Twins. With these three teams, you will need to mentally adjust the numbers to reflect the differential between these teams' old parks and their new ones.

Beyond just the limits of my particular data set, there is also an important assumption that underlies xBABIP that is critical to note. This assumption—which will be true of any xBABIP formula (well, unless that formula regresses a player's numbers towards some skill-based mean, which in and of itself would raise its own issues)—is that a player's xBABIP from year N will remain constant in year N+1. This is a bold assumption, and highly unlikely to be true in any single case.

xBABIP analyzes past luck based on past results, but it does not forecast the underlying elements that go in to figuring out the difference between skill and luck-based reality for future situations. To the extent a player's expected future walk rate, strikeout rate, groundball rate, flyball rate, infield flyball rate, line drive rate and home run rate—to name a few areas—could/will deviate next year from this year, xBABIP will not reflect those deviations.

Hence, if you think a player's line drive rate will increase in 2012 compared to 2011, then you should assume that his real expected future BABIP will be higher than his xBABIP. Let's call this difference nominal xBABIP and real xBABIP.

You should be particularly wary of players who had abnormally high/low home run rates last year. To the extent that home runs will increase or decrease in 2012, that will be a major factor that will impact the player's real versus nominal xBABIP figure. My spreadsheet calculates nominal xBABIP and makes adjustments accordingly. You will need to calculate or mentally adjust real xBABIP on your own.

That said, let's look at the data. In case you have not already, you can download the spreadsheet by clicking here. If the column header has an "x" in front of the stat, it is xBABIP adjusted. If there is no "x," then that stat is the player's actual 2011 stat. For example, "AVG" is the player's 2011 batting average, whereas "xAVG" is his expected batting average based on xBABIP.

If the column header has a "d" in front of the stat, then it is a differential. For example "dBABIP" is the difference between a player's xBABIP and actual BABIP.

Looking through the 275-player spreadsheet, only 61 players (22 percent) have xBABIPs below their actual BABIPs, a testament to another year of excellent pitching and defense. The average actual batting average of the player sample is .267, while the average expected batting average was .281.

Clearly the data are a bit skewed on the high end. I tested the data set with slash12's xBABIP formula, and it also had an average expected batting average that was more than .10 points above the actual league batting average. Fewer than 30 qualified players had a batting average of or above .300 this year; xBABIP believes that that number should have been 42.

Turning to the data, let's first look at the "unluckiest" batters of 2011—those who are most likely to see the sharpest batting average improvements in 2012 (dBABIP greater than .050):
LastName       FirstName     Team             BABIP     xBABIP    dBABIP
Chone Figgins Mariners 0.215 0.314 0.100
Vernon Wells Angels 0.214 0.298 0.084
Rafael Furcal MULTIPLE 0.240 0.320 0.080
Chris Coghlan Marlins 0.263 0.331 0.068
Ian Kinsler Rangers 0.243 0.310 0.068
Russell Martin Yankees 0.252 0.318 0.066
Logan Morrison Marlins 0.265 0.328 0.064
Casey McGehee Brewers 0.249 0.313 0.064
Jonathan Herrera Rockies 0.273 0.337 0.063
Evan Longoria Rays 0.239 0.302 0.063
Alex Rios White Sox 0.237 0.299 0.062
Hanley Ramirez Marlins 0.275 0.337 0.062
Dan Uggla Braves 0.253 0.314 0.061
Ben Revere Twins 0.293 0.354 0.061
Ty Wigginton Rockies 0.271 0.330 0.059
Orlando Cabrera MULTIPLE 0.259 0.318 0.059
Adam Dunn White Sox 0.240 0.299 0.059
Jason Heyward Braves 0.260 0.318 0.058
Mark Teixeira Yankees 0.239 0.296 0.057
Jorge Posada Yankees 0.262 0.317 0.055
Miguel Tejada Giants 0.254 0.308 0.054
Juan Uribe Dodgers 0.245 0.299 0.053
Kelly Johnson MULTIPLE 0.277 0.330 0.053
Adam Lind Blue Jays 0.265 0.317 0.052
Wilson Valdez Phillies 0.288 0.338 0.051
Coco Crisp Athletics 0.284 0.335 0.051

As you might expect, a lot of the guys with some of the lowest batting averages in baseball populate this list. Those players, though mostly terrible, were not nearly as terrible as their batting lines from last year indicate. For example, Alex Rios was likely more a .260-.270 than a .227 hitter, and Adam Dunn should have hit closer to .200 than .159.

Mingled in with the bad players with bad luck last year, however, are a few really interesting names. The one that most stands out is Ian Kinsler, who I already explained could be a first-round caliber player next season. In addition to Kinsler are Evan Longoria and Hanley Ramirez. Long-time fans of the pair can take a cautious sigh of relief if they were worried about spending a third-round pick on either. Mark Texeira is on this list, but I am more skeptical than I am with Ramirez and Longoria that he can bounce back to previous batting average form.

The most shocking name on this list might be Chone Figgins, who seems to be at the end of his career after a .302 wOBA (88 wRC+) last season and a putrid .218 wOBA (34 wRC+) this season. xBABIP thinks Figgins should have hit .273/.321/.332 (.653 OPS) this year, which would have been about league average by wOBA standards once park factors are considered.

Figgins' bat is pretty hollow in real life, but as a perennial base-stealing threat when he gets on, it is encouraging to see that Figgins still has the potential to get on base 33 percent of the time. Figgins' walk rate this season plummeted to a career-low 6.7 percent after four seasons of a walk rate above 10 percent, so some bounceback could be imminent just from regression. This noted, Figgins could be a sleeper source of stolen bases next year.

Next, the 26 "luckiest" batters of 2012 (dBABIP less than -.015), who are most likely to see the sharpest batting average declines in 2012:
LastName       FirstName     Team             BABIP     xBABIP    dBABIP
Wilson Betemit MULTIPLE 0.391 0.323 -0.068
Adrian Gonzalez Red Sox 0.380 0.333 -0.047
Nick Hundley Padres 0.362 0.317 -0.044
Alex Avila Tigers 0.366 0.326 -0.041
Miguel Cabrera Tigers 0.365 0.324 -0.041
Hunter Pence MULTIPLE 0.361 0.322 -0.039
Chase Headley Padres 0.368 0.329 -0.039
Jose Reyes Mets 0.353 0.319 -0.034
Matt Kemp Dodgers 0.380 0.345 -0.034
Daniel Murphy Mets 0.345 0.311 -0.034
Victor Martinez Tigers 0.343 0.309 -0.034
Nyjer Morgan Brewers 0.362 0.329 -0.032
Jemile Weeks Athletics 0.350 0.320 -0.030
Michael Young Rangers 0.367 0.337 -0.030
Lucas Duda Mets 0.326 0.297 -0.029
Alex Gordon Royals 0.358 0.331 -0.027
Jhonny Peralta Tigers 0.325 0.300 -0.025
Dustin Ackley Mariners 0.339 0.316 -0.023
Andre Ethier Dodgers 0.348 0.326 -0.023
Carlos Beltran MULTIPLE 0.324 0.302 -0.021
Mike Napoli Rangers 0.344 0.323 -0.021
Joey Votto Reds 0.349 0.329 -0.020
Ryan Raburn Tigers 0.324 0.305 -0.020
Casey Kotchman Rays 0.335 0.318 -0.017
Michael Morse Nationals 0.344 0.328 -0.016
Ryan Braun Brewers 0.350 0.334 -0.016

As mentioned above, only 22 percent of the players in the sample overperformed their expected BABIP in 2011. This is likely due to the returned recognition of value provided by athleticism and defense in the post-Moneyball era, along with better pitching league-wide.

Unsurprisingly, the "luckiest" batters tend to be the guys who competed for the batting title, and in this regard we find the names Matt Kemp, Adrian Gonzalez, Victor Martinez, Miguel Cabrera, Jose Reyes, and Ryan Braun mingled into the list.

This does not mean that these players are per se guys to avoid next year; they are still great. Their inclusion on this list simply means that their value will be inflated above their luck-neutral talent line. An inflated batting average through BABIP luck tends to lead to extra runs and RBIs, as well as stolen bases, by virtue of the law of opportunity.

Some of the interesting non-elite names on the luck list are second basemen Jemile Weeks and Dustin Ackley. Second base was surprisingly deep this year. Per Yahoo's end of season player rankings, four of the top 26 players were second-base eligible, while seven of the top 100 players were second basemen. With both second base rookies poised to see their averages drop precipitously next season, it is quite possible second base might not be as bountiful next year.

Alex Avila also resides on this list. While his .295 batting average may not be for real, his 15-20 home run power is. The same can be said about Mike Napoli, who is really a .260 hitter with 20-30 home run power depending on playing time.

Of all the names on the list, however, I think Alex Gordon might end up being the most overrated for 2012. As a long-time Gordon supporter and well-rewarded 2011 owner, it pains me to call the guy overrated after years of him not getting a proper chance, but Gordon is not a .300/20/20 player.

Rather, he is more a .275-.280 hitter capable of a low .800s OPS with 20 home run capability and double-digit stolen base potential. A .280/20/13 campaign may be in the cards, but you'll likely be paying a premium over that level to acquire him next year in non-keeper formats. It is also worth noting that Gordon loses his third-base eligibility next year, which will also negatively affect his fantasy value.

So who are some names on the BABIP luck list that most shocked you? Who do you think is least likely to match his expected batting average?

As always, leave the love/hate in the comments below.

New Podcasts Up!

Last Monday Cubsfan4evr1 and I recorded three podcasts. Our first podcast was about baseball and you can find that here. Our next two podcasts are about the NFL.

You can listen to Part I of our football podcast here

You can listen to Part II of our football podcast here

NOTE: If you want to download these or any of GOI's podcast's via iTunes just follow these instructions. Go to the iTunes store and type "Game Of Inches" into it. If you don't see the GOI logo (the one with the fuzzy black background and bright "GOI" lettering on it) then go to the left where it says "Filter By Media Type" and click on "Podcasts". You should see two logos. The second one has the newer podcasts.

The Murky AFC Wild Card Picture

On a recent podcast, Cubsfan and myself discussed how we thought the playoff picture would shake out after seven weeks of football. This led Cubsfan and myself to a Board Bet. I believe the AFC Wild Cards will come from only the AFC North or AFC East. Cubsfan thinks the loser of the Houston/Tennessee division (in his mind Tennessee) can get a wild card. Either way, I think the wild card is completely up in the air. So who will earn a wild card birth? This post is dedicated to evaluating which team will get a birth and which will not. Below is the order of teams I believe have the greatest odds of getting that coveted 5th and 6th seed (i.e. the first team is the team I think has the greatest odds of getting a wild card spot and the last team is my team with the lowest "realisitc" chances of getting a wild card birth)

1) Buffalo Bills

Everyone I have talked to believes the Bills are getting at least one of the wild card spots


The Bills are currently second in the AFC East at 4-2. They only need to go 5-5 the rest of the way to get to nine wins which would put them in the wild card hunt. They play two games against Miami, one game versus the Denver Broncos and one game versus the Washington Redskins. That's essentially four wins right there.

They do play the New Jets twice, the Titans, the Cowboys, and at Chargers (in December). None of those are easy wins but only the Chargers really scare me. I think beating at least one of those teams is pretty realistic.

But even assuming the Bills lose all five of those games, that would put them at 4-5 going into Week 17- at the New England Patriots. I think the Pats will have far and away locked up the #1 seed in the AFC and thus take it easy on the Bills to allow Buffalo to squeak into the playoffs at minimum with a 9-7 record.

The Bills have one of the easiest schedule this year which I believe will propel them into the playoffs.


The Bills have a pretty bad defense (ranked 23rd in points per game allowed and 31st in yards per game allowed) and they have been winning games with their offense solely. This could be a problem come November and December. Fred Jackson is a beast and will be awesome all season but there's a reason Ryan Fitzpatrick is starting his first full season at the age of 28. Fitzpatrick has a pretty weak arm and this caused him to falter down the stretch last year and he's starting to do the same this year. If Buffalo's offense starts to fail and its defense continues to play like it does, then it won't matter how easy their schedule is because they will not be winning games.

2) Cincinnati Bengals

I personally believe the Bills will get the last wild card spot


I like the Bengals set up this year and a blog post is soon to come (hopefully) about how I am a fan of them this year.

The Bengals have a damn good defense, can run the ball pretty well, and Andy Dalton hasn't been a complete disaster this year. To me, the Bengals are set up like the San Francisco 49ers and the Baltimore Ravens: Great defense, can run the ball, and have a QB who's not turning the ball over like Jay Cutler in his first season in Chicago.

This year the Bengals rank 4th in the NFL in points allowed per game. When you have a stingy defense like that, then you're setting yourself up for good things to come. Cedric Benson has been pretty effective this year as well. While not lighting up the league like Fred Jackson or Matt Forte has this year, he's been solid and consistent. Plus, his suspension is only for one game.

The Bengals, like the Bills, also have a pretty easy schedule.

They still have to play Seattle, Cleveland, St. Louis, and Arizona which I believe is a guaranteed four wins right there. Plus, they also play Houston at home; while, to me, that is not a guaranteed win, is a game they very easily could win.


The biggest thing holding the Bengals back is that they play in the same division as the Baltimore Ravens and Pittsburgh Steelers. All three of these teams only have two loses and all three of these teams a) face the NFC West and b) face each other. Cincy still has to play Baltimore twice and face the Steelers in Heinz Field. Not only can I see the Bengals losing all three games but because those teams are obviously division rivals could force Cincy into a deficit that they can't crawl out of.

Plus, while I kind of like the play of Andy Dalton and Cedric Benson this year, the Bengals still only rank 21st in rushing yards and 20th in passing yards.

Lastly, while the Bengals rank 3rd in the in points allowed, Baltimore and Pittsburgh rank 1st and 2nd respectively.

3) Pittsburgh Steelers

I personally believe the Steelers will not make the playoffs this year


The biggest pro is that they're winning their division at 5-2 (However the Steelers have not had their bye and Baltimore and Cincy have. All teams have 2 loses but the Steelers have an extra win). The Steelers still have an amazing defense though (as I mentioned earlier they are second in the AFC in terms of points allowed per game to opposing teams) and they still have this little guy called Ben Roethlisberger.


The first Con is the Steelers schedule. They have already played Seattle and Arizona- two teams the Cincinnati Bengals have not played. The Steelers have a pretty tough schedule the rest of the way. They have to face the New England Patriots next week (1. even though the Steelers are at home, Tom Brady's Patriots own Rosethlisberger's Steelers in Pittsbugh and 2. the Bengals do not have to play the Pats) as well as the Bengals away, the Ravens at home, at San Francisco, and at Arrowhead. They do get the Cleveland Browns twice and get the St. Louis Rams at home but that schedule is tougher than the Bengals.

I also do not trust the Steelers defense. I know they have not allowed a lot of people to score and there are actually first in terms of passing yards allowed, but I just don't trust them. It may be an irrational thought, but this Steelers defense seems weak (well, at least weaker than it historically has been) and beatable.

Lastly, I think this offense will falter down the stretch- mainly because of their terrible offensive line. I know that team has Big Ben and Rahsard Mendenhall and my boy Mike Wallace, but there's a certain level of confidence that I just don't have of those guys because of that terrible O-line. Also, Mendenhall has been terrible this year. He ranks 44th in the NFL in terms of YPC with 3.7.

4) New York Jets

I never trusted the Jets to make it to the playoffs. In an earlier podcast, when Cubsfan and I were first going through the AFC and predicting who will get a wild card spot, I immediately said the Jets would not make it. I later predicted the Jets to get a wild card spot but I said it with disgust and only out of default (If Peyton Manning was healthy this year I would have predicted the Texans to get a wild card spot over the Jets originally).


The Jets have made it to the AFC Championship two years in a row. The core of those two teams is still in place and they still have Rex Ryan at the helm (despite what you may think if him because of press conferences or whatnot, he still is a great defensive coach and damn fine head coach).

The Jets also have to play the Buffalo Bills twice and despite how much I like the Bills, the Jets can realistically win both of those games. That will give the Jets a four game advantage over the Bills and put them in the driver's seat to make it into the playoffs.


This defense is just not the same as it was the past two years. They are 14th in the NFL in terms of points allowed behind teams like the Chicago Bears, Seattle Seahawks, and Cleveland Browns. You can also run on the Jets, which means once you take any sort of lead (which is not hard to do considering the Jets offense) it's a lot easier than before to keep it. Before, the Jets could overcome their offense because of their stingy defense, but that's just not true this year.

And speaking of the Jets offense, they have a quarterback who can't throw effectively and a running back who can't run effectively. While Mark Sanchez is not right now a bottom five quarterback, I would rather have Cam Newton, Andy Dalton, Blaine Gabbert, or Christian Ponder to start my franchise than Mark Sanchez. Sanchez is a QB with accuracy issues- which never bodes well for the QB position. Shonn Greene has also been pretty bad this year with his 3.8 YPC- good for 43rd in the NFL.

5) Oakland Raiders

I believe now that Jason Campbell has gone down and now that Antonio Gates is playing that the San Diego Chargers are going to win the AFC West.


Because the Bills and Jets are in the same division and that Bengals and Steelers are in the same division that they could beat up on each other so that the Raiders can sneak into a spot. They also have this little guy named Darren McFadden that can take over games.


I don't think the Raiders are as good of a team as the first four I mentioned. They have an average to below average defense and I don't think their quarterback play against the Chiefs in Week 7 was THAT big of a fluke. Carson Palmer will be their quarterback for the rest of the season and he has had no time to become acclimated to their system or get a feel for their receivers. While McFadden can take over games, Carson Palmer can lose games.

6) Houston Texans/Tennessee Titans

I know the Texans just defeated the Titans in Week 7 and won big but with Gary Kubiak as their coach, with the way they've played the past two season, and with Mario Williams out for the year and Andre Johnson out for a significant amount of time, I don't think it's lock that the Texans will win this division.

I don't think the loser of this division will get a wild card spot. As of right now the Texans have the 4th seed in the AFC (the worst of all division winners) and the Tennessee Titans are 10th. I just can't wrap my head around the fact that second place in the AFC South can have a better record than any team I just mentioned.

7) Baltimore Ravens

The reason I have the Ravens as the lowest of all these teams is because I believe they will win the division and I believe they are the second best team in the AFC. I know they just lost to the Jacksonville Jaguars, but they also have the best defense in the league and I can not imagine a scenario where the Steelers and Bengals make it to the playoffs and the Ravens do not. Plus, they have a top three running back in the game in Ray Rice- who is a better running back than anyone any of these teams mentioned in this post have (except for maybe Arian Foster in Houston).

Worst QB League Update- Week Seven

1) The 'Bright' One

Total: 603
Last Week: 108

Washington: 10
Indianapolis: 97
Denver: 1
Philadelphia: 0

2) Adam "Sexy Rexy" Kaplan

Total: 555
Last Week: 68

Jacksonville: 52
Cincinnati: 0
Chicago: 10
Dallas: 6

3) Dan Bennett

Total: 526
Last Week: 197

Miami: 13
Oakland: 178
Kansas City: 0*
NY Jets: 6

4) Steven Anderson

Total: 421
Last Week: 108

Seattle: 52
San Francisco: 0
Cleveland: 31
Arizona: 25

5) Cubsfan4evr1

Total: 400
Last Week: 118

Carolina: 0
Minnesota: 15
Tennessee: 92
Detroit: 11

*Due to waiver wire claims, previously set league rules, and bye weeks, Dan Bennett received no points for Kansas City this week

New Podcasts Up!

Adam "Sexy Rexy" Kaplan and Cubsfan4evr1 discuss some baseball!

You can listen to the podcast here

We recorded two more podcasts about football when we recorded this one that will come out tomorrow


NOTE: If you want to download these or any of GOI's podcast's via iTunes just follow these instructions. Go to the iTunes store and type "Game Of Inches" into it. If you don't see the GOI logo (the one with the fuzzy black background and bright "GOI" lettering on it) then go to the left where it says "Filter By Media Type" and click on "Podcasts". You should see two logos. The second one has the newer podcasts.

What's Wrong With Philip Rivers?

I love Philip Rivers. I love his talent and what he was able to do last year with no wide receivers was incredible to me. It's this love that was the reason I predicted Rivers to win his first NFL MVP this year and why I predicted the Chargers to win the Superbowl.

However, after six weeks on play, the Chargers are barely holding on to the first in their division and Rivers has been pretty bad. The San Diego QB ranks 15th in passer rating behind guys like Jay Cutler, Alex Smith, and Curtis Painter with an 87.6 passer rating and ranks 11th in QBR (like passer rating but better because it involves football sabermetrics) behind the greats like Chad Henne and Eli Manning. According to Football Outsiders Rivers ranks 14th in DVOA and DYAR. Even fantasy owners are pissed at Rivers because he's only been 11th best quarterback (on a per game basis).

What the hell Philip Rivers!?

The main reason Rivers has been so bad is because he actually has more interceptions (7) than touchdowns (6). That's good for a .86 TD/INT ratio.

Other than that, Rivers has actually been really good this season.

Through five games in 2011, Rivers ranks 4th in yards per attempt (8.26) and 4th in completion percentage (67.2%). Rivers has a career 64.0 completion percentage and a career 8.0 YPA so what he is doing is actually above his career average.

Even with this high completion percentage and YPA, the reason Rivers is not putting up numbers is because he's just not throwing the ball a lot. Rivers only has 186 attempts- good for 19th in the league. But with that being said Rivers still ranks as the 6th best quarterback in terms of passing yards per game.

Now, let's go back to Rivers TD/INT ratio. As just shown, all other statistics Rivers has fall in line with his career numbers so it seems to me that his problem is turnovers. Over his past three seasons, Rivers has had an interception percentage of 2.4, 1.9, and 2.3 percent respectively. Rivers currently has a 3.8 INT%- his highest total ever since he's been the Chargers starter in 2006.

Rivers also has the lowest TD% of his career- with 3.2. His TD% over the past three years have been 5.5, 5.8, and 7.1 respectively.

Through five games Rivers has been awful at throwing touchdown passes and turning the ball over. However, he has only played in five games and he has played well below his career numbers. There are certain things quarterbacks can not control (say YPA and completion can completely depend on how terrible or good a QBs receivers are) but touchdowns, interceptions, and especially TD/INT ratio are things well within a quarterback's control.

I believe that Rivers' poor ball control is just a sample size issue. When I see a quarterback, in his prime, that has been so good for so long be this bad and have this good underlying statistics, it screams "outlier" to me. I see no reason why Rivers TD/INT ratio should not conform to his career averages for the rest of the season.

How Safe Is Your Coach's Job? (Early 2011 Edition)

This is my hierarchy of how safe each NFL coach's job is. The further down the list you go 1) the more likely it is that the coach will be on the team next year 2) The more likely that coach will be on the team in three years and 3) How good of a coach that coach is.

Guaranteed To Get Fired After This Year
- Jack Del Rio (JAX)
- Tony Sparano (MIA)

Tipping On The Tightrope
- Ken Whisenhunt (ARI)
- Todd Haley (KC)

Playoff or Bust
- Gary Kubiak (HOU)
- Norv Turner (SD)

Should Be Fired But Too Young (On Team)
- Jason Garrett (DAL)
- Steve Spagnolo (STL)
- Leslie Frasier (MIN)

Too Soon To Have An Opinion
- Mike Munchak (TEN)
- Pat Shurmur (CLE)
- Ron Rivera (CAR)
- Pete Carrol (SEA)

- John Fox (DEN)
- Raheem Morris (TB)
- Mike Shanahan (WAS)

Should Be Fired But Won't
- Jim Caldwell (IND)
- Lovie Smith (CHI)

Fans Calling For His Head But Won't Get Fired
- Andy Reid (PHI)
- Rex Ryan (NYJ)

Not Necessarily Good But Will Be On Team Next Year
- Chan Gailey (BUF)
- Marvin Lewis (CIN)

Shouldn't Be Fired And Too Young (On Team)
- Hue Jackson (OAK)
- Jim Harbaugh (SF)
- Jim Schwartz (DET)

Have Earned Respect (This Year and in Past) To Stay On Team
- Sean Payton (NO)
- Mike Smith (ATL)
- Tom Coughlin (NYG)
- John Harbaugh (BAL)

Safest Job In The NFL
- Bill Belichick (NE)
- Mike McCarthy (GB)
- Mike Tomlin (PIT)

Worst QB League Update- Week Six

-Adam Kaplan is dropping Kansas City for Dallas
-Dan Bennett drops Buffalo for Kansas City
(NOTE: Due to bye scheduling, KC will receive a "0" for week 7 for D.B.)

1) The 'Bright' One

Total: 495
Last Week: 109

Washington: 78
Indianapolis: 21
Denver: 0
Philadelphia: 10

2) Adam Kaplan

Total: 487
Last Week: 32

Jacksonville: 27
Cincinnati: 0
Chicago: 5
Kansas City: 0

3) Dan Bennett

Total: 329
Last Week: 86

Miami: 49
Oakland: 25
Buffalo: 12
NY Jets: 0

4) Steven Anderson

Total: 313
Last Week: 30

Seattle: 0
San Francisco: 10
Cleveland: 20
Arizona: 0

5) Cubsfan4evr1

Total: 282
Last Week: 114

Carolina: 27
Minnesota: 65
Tennessee: 0
Detroit: 22

Why Mike Wallace (Not Calvin Johnson) Is The Best Receiver In The NFL Right Now

First of all, let me say that this article is word-for-word K.C. Joyner's article that he wrote for ESPN Insider. If this was a normal article I would have just posted a link but because you don't have Insider (probably), you can read the article below. If you want like to read the article on ESPN, click here.

Second, I have a man crush on Mike Wallace. He is my number one fantasy wide receiver on both of my fantasy team and there have been countless instances of me declaring my love of Wallace. You can see them here and here and here and here. Do I need to show you any more proof about my love?

Now on to KC Joyner's article.
After six weeks of the 2011 NFL season, there are a lot of questions still unanswered: Which team is the best? Will the Colts or Dolphins win a game? Will Tebowmania equal Beatlemania?

It might take a while for those queries to get clarification, but the one question that seems to have been definitively answered to the satisfaction of many is that Calvin Johnson is the best wide receiver in the NFL.

At some level, Johnson is certainly setting a pace that has not been equaled in a long time. According to ESPN Stats & Information, Megatron's nine touchdowns in the first five games were the most by any player through the first five games of any season dating back to 1940. They note that Johnson is on pace to break Randy Moss' NFL record 23 touchdown receptions set in 2007.

That might be enough to put Johnson in the top spot, but he is assisted by the drop-off of some of the other potential leading contenders, some because of injury (Miles Austin, Andre Johnson, Hakeem Nicks) and others because of reduced production (Larry Fitzgerald, Roddy White).

Before handing that honor to Johnson by acclamation, however, he should have to go through the same type of "challenge system" that Bear Bryant used to settle positional battles on his team. This method allowed any player to call for a one-on-one clash in a variety of areas to see who was the best at executing the key responsibilities of the position (as we did with Austin and Andre Johnson last season to see who was the best wideout in the league at that time). The winner gets to claim the prize as best wideout.

The big question is who should be chosen to challenge Johnson? Even with the aforementioned drop-off of the top contenders, there is one player who has more than enough to play the role of Optimus Prime -- Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Mike Wallace.

Wallace is almost never mentioned as one of the top five wideouts in the league, much less as the best, but look at how his numbers this season stack up against Johnson in a variety of categories. (Note: all attempt and yardage totals include penalty plays such as defensive holding, illegal contact, pass interference, etc.).

Short passes (aerials thrown downfield 10 or fewer yards)

• Johnson has gained 202 yards on 27 short pass attempts, so 7.5 yards per attempt.

• Wallace has 205 yards on 22 short pass attempts, which equates to a 9.3 short pass YPA.

Medium passes (11-19 yards downfield)

• Johnson has racked up 163 yards on 16 medium pass attempts for a 10.2 medium YPA.

• Wallace has 117 yards on 11 medium pass attempts for a 10.6 medium YPA.

Deep passes (20-29 yards downfield)

• Johnson has posted 59 yards on six deep pass attempts for a 9.8 deep YPA.

• Wallace has been targeted on a deep pass only one time this season and it didn't result in a completion or a penalty, so he has zero yards in this category.

Bomb passes (30 or more yards downfield)

• Johnson has tallied 145 yards on six bomb pass attempts for a 24.2 bomb YPA.

• Wallace has 329 yards on nine bomb passes for a 36.6 bomb YPA.

Vertical (all medium, deep and bomb passes)

• Johnson has been targeted for 28 vertical passes and has gained 367 yards on those throws. That gives him a 13.1 vertical YPA.

• Wallace has been targeted for 21 vertical passes and posted 446 yards on those throws, giving him a 21.2 vertical YPA.

Stretch vertical (all deep/bomb passes -- the ones designed to really stretch defensive coverage)

• Johnson has 12 targets on stretch vertical passes and gained 204 yards on those aerials. That equates to a 17 stretch vertical YPA.

• Wallace has 10 targets on stretch vertical passes and posted 329 yards on those aerials. That equates to a 32.9 stretch vertical YPA.

Yards after catch

• Johnson has been credited with 129 yards after catch this season.

• Wallace has 183 yards after catch this season.

Overall YPA

• Add all of Johnson's totals up, and he has 569 yards on 55 targets, a 10.3 overall YPA.

• Wallace has 651 yards on 43 targets, or a 15.1 overall YPA.

It's one thing to simply subscribe to the numbers and players must also pass the eye test, but these totals show Wallace as superior thus far in short, medium, bomb, vertical, stretch vertical, yards after catch and overall YPA categories. If he's not dominant in one, he's consistently better in all.

Not only that, Wallace has 82 more total yards than Johnson despite having 12 fewer targets.

That evidence alone would point to Wallace being the better wideout, but there are two potential arguments against this claim.

The first is that Johnson has a 9-4 lead on touchdown receptions. True, but consider this: Johnson has been thrown a pass in the end zone nine times this season and has converted five of those into touchdowns.

By contrast, Wallace has only four end zone targets this season. He has converted three into touchdowns and one into a pass interference penalty that gave the Steelers a first down at the opponent's 1-yard line. What this means is that when Pittsburgh gives Wallace a shot at an end zone pass, so far, he is even better at converting it into a touchdown than Johnson is.

The second argument is that Wallace can't be given this honor after only six games. It takes longer than that to establish someone as the best at his position.

The counter is that Wallace could make a claim as having been the most dominant wideout in the league in 2010 as well. His 13.8 overall YPA was by far the best in the league (it was 1.7 yards better than Kenny Britt's second-place finish in that category). Wallace was the only wideout to post a short pass YPA of higher than 10 yards (10.2). Wallace also ranked tied for third in vertical YPA (16.6) and was fifth in stretch vertical YPA among wide receivers with at least 20 targets at that depth (20.3).

That shows his overall dominance, but for the sake of this discussion, it should be noted that he gained 154 more yards than Johnson last season (1,295 to 1,141) despite being targeted 40 fewer times (134 for Johnson vs. 94 for Wallace). Wallace also had a better touchdown-to-target ratio (once every 9.4 passes vs. once every 11.2 targets for Johnson).

No matter which way you look at, Wallace bests Johnson. At the moment, that makes him the heavyweight champion of NFL wide receivers.

Texas Rangers: The Underrated Pitching Rotation

This is a post I wanted to write about since the MLB playoffs began; however, due to time restraints and my own self-doubt about this topic, I decided not to write a post about it. But now that the Rangers have made the World Series and Game One of the series is tonight, I decided this would be a perfect time to write this post.

At the beginning of the playoffs, I predicted the Texas Rangers to come out of the American League. I though Texas had the best all around team. We all know their line up is amazing (Josh Hamilton, Nelson Cruz, Adrian Beltre, Michael Young, Mike Napoli, Ian Kinsler, and Elvis Andrus make up more than 2/3 of the line up. How ridiculous is that!) and I really liked the big end of their bullpen when they acquired Koji Uehara and Mike Adams to lead into the dominant closer that is Neftali Feliz. However, one of the Rangers perceived weaknesses was their rotation.

Part of this perception is that they don't have a shut down, #1 ace. The Tigers had Verlander. The Yankees had C.C. Sabathia. The rays had James Shields. The Rangers number one man was C.J. Wilson, who was only made into a starter last year.

However, Wilson ended up as the fourth best pitcher in the American League in 2011 (in terms of WAR), behind Justin Verlander, C.C. Sabathia, and Angels pitcher Dan Haren. Wilson was an All-Star and a GOI deserved All-Star. In the AL Wilson was top 10 in ERA, FIP, xFIP, and K/9. Wilson had the talent and potential to hang into Game Ones like the rest of them.

As it turns out, Wilson has had a pretty awful 2011 postseason (0-2, 8.04 ERA) but it was not just Wilson that I liked the Rangers rotation, it is the back end of it that made me like their rotation. I thought the Rangers had the most complete rotation out of anyone in baseball. Outside of Sabathia the Yankees had no one. The Tigers had Doug Fister has their second pitcher (who was also awful in the postseason) and then relegated to starting Rick Porcello and Max Scherzer (who had pretty bad 2011 seasons). The Rays had a decent rotation but matched up poorly to the Rangers hitting staff (James Shields- 12.60 postseason ERA, Jeremy Hellickson- 6.75 postseason ERA, and David Price- 4.05 postseason ERA).

Admittedly some Rangers pitchers have not fared better (Derek Holland- 5.27 postseason ERA, Matt Harrison- 4.27 postseason ERA) but I was basing this post and my prediction at the beginning of the postseason (I also had been championing the Rangers as the best AL rotation thinking Boston would make the Wild Card, not the Rays).

That being said, the main reason I liked the Rangers rotation was how they performed down the stretch.

For starters lest talk about fantasy. In the last 30 days of the 2011 season- Colby Lewis was the 7th best pitcher, Derek Holland was the 10th best pitcher, and Matt Harrison was the 21st best pitcher. That's three pitchers in the top 25. Sure, that's fantasy, and we're talking about reality in this post, but I wanted to give you a reference point to how good the Rangers pitchers were before coming into the postseason.

In September and October, Wilson was the 2nd best pitcher in the AL and Harrison was the 4th. Derek Holland was the 14th best and Colby Lewis was the 20th. That comes out to an average of 10th best in the AL. For comparison, the Tigers averaged 14.25 and the Rays averaged 40.00. (NOTE: The Yankees started resting their pitchers so they did not have enough IP to qualify.)

In September and October, Derek Holland had a 2.20 ERA in 32.2 IP with 35 strikeouts. In that same time span Matt Harrison had a 2.64 ERA in 30.2 IP with 23 strike outs.

While Holland and Harrison were clutch down the stretch to help the Rangers earn the #2 seed in the American League (which ultimately led them to home field advantage throughout the playoffs so far) and kept away the pesky Angels, it has been Colby Lewis and Alexi Ogando that have kept their playoff run alive.

After a 4.26 ERA in June and a 7.14 ERA in August (and because of how good players like Harrison and Holland were late in the year), Rangers Manager Ron Washington decided to move Alexi Ogando to the bullpen as his long reliever. As it turns out, Ogando has been the Rangers best "starting pitcher" because of it. Ogando leads all AL "starters" with a 0.87 ERA in the postseason. The Rangers have won all 7 games that Ogando has pitched in. He pitched two innings in three out of his four appearances verses the Tigers and did not give up an earned run in any of his appearances against the Rays.

Then we have Colby Lewis, the best starting pitcher (statistically) who has pitched (and started) more than one game in the American League. He has the fourth best ERA among AL starters (first is Ogando (has not technically started in the post season), second is Matt Moore (only one appearance) and third is A.J. Burnett (only one appearance)).

Lewis has a better 2011 postseason ERA than: Justin Verlander, Doug Fister, and C.C. Sabathia.

What does this all mean? Probably nothing considering they are facing the luckiest freaking team in the World Series: the St. Louis Cardinals. The Cardinals last World Series was won based on smoke and mirrors (and mainly because the Tigers were so good they won their Championship Series easily and that rest hurt them in the World Series) and they won only 87 games that season. This season the Cardinals only won 90. The Rangers won 96 and did it in the more difficult league.

Anyways, while I think the Rangers have a better overall team than the Cardinals, the Cardinals will probably win anyways. I'm just pointing out that I like the Rangers rotation and pitching.

The Ten Most Mobile Quarterbacks In The NFL

I can't tell you how many times one of my posts starts with, "I was having a conversation with a friend of mine and...". Well, I'm changing it up. This post did not start with that phrase. I'm being meta and having my post start with me talking about how I always start off my posts with that sentence. Let me tell you something, it's tough to think up fresh new sports ideas. Especially considering I spend my day watching SportsCenter and listening to The B.S. Report.

Anyways, a friend of mine blurted out the comment "Jay Cutler is not a good rushing quarterback". In his defense, he is a Lions fans and does not watch Cutler. He, like most football fans in America, only sees the interceptions Cutler's putting up and nothing else. I on the other hand have watched at least 95% of Cutler's game in Chicago and I can tell you that out of all his fault's, rushing is not one of them. I blurted back, "He's at least a top five QB rusher, maybe top ten." I didn't know off hand nor had I created a list to determine where Cutler ranks, but I knew Cutler was a good rushing quarterback. All I knew is that after three years seeing Cutler running away from pressure because his offensive line had more holes than a sieve, I knew he was a good rusher.

So where does Cutler rank among QB in terms of rushing?

I limited this this list with two caveats: 1) Is the quarterback starting for their team in Week Six / Will they start for their team in Week 7 because they are on a bye right now and 2) How good is that player right now. I will give you a sneak peak- Donovan McNabb is not on this list. He is one of the greatest QB rushers of all time but due to his age and decline of passing skills, he's terrible right now so I left him off.

10) Tarvaris Jackson (SEA)

Through five games in 2011 Jackson is fifth among quarterback in terms of rushing yards with 78 in order to go along with a rushing touchdown. Jackson has five career rushing touchdown and a career 4.5 yards per carry.

Jackson has the mobility to move and is often forced to move because he lacks the accuracy and passing skills needed to be a passing quarterback (a big factor I take into account) and because of this he lacks the ability to hit his receivers while on the move.

9) Jason Campbell (OAK)

Jason Campbell reminds me of an improved Tarvaris Jackson. Campbell has better rushing skills and better passing skills. Campbell will get into stretches where he's a really good passer and sink into long stretches where he just stinks- although this forces him to run more often.

Campbell ranks 9th this year with 44 rushing yards with two rushing touchdowns (and Campbell actually has a top five running back on his team in Run DMC, which Jackson does not) and ranked 8th last year in terms of rushing yards with 222 and one rushing TD.

Campbell has 6 career rushing TDs and a career 4.9 YPC.

Campbell can actually makes plays on the run and can be accurate and throw long distances while on the move which is a big factor I take into account rather than just running a lot.

8) Ryan Fitzpatrick (BUF)

Fitzpatrick doesn't fit the mold of a prototypical rushing quarterback but can run and run effectively on any given play. Just because he doesn't run as much as say a Tarvaris Jackson does not mean he can't be just as effective as Jackson can.

Last year Fitzpatrick was fifth among quarterbacks in terms of rushing yards with 269. Fitzpatrick has barely run at all through five games in 2011 but that's because he has been so good through the air he doesn't need to run. As the scouting report on ESPN states:
[Fitzpatrick] can improvise and move the chains with his legs but is best in the pocket
7) Jay Cutler (CHI)

All you do is have to watch Jay Cutler to see how good and mobile he is. As mentioned at the top of the post, Cutler is often scrambling because his line or members on the line are poor at blocking and thus he's forced out of the pocket. When Orlando Pace was with the Bears it seemed to be that every other play Cutler was forced to roll to his right (because his left tackle couldn't block a stationary bike) and make plays- and Cutler is above-average on those type of throws while on the run.

While the numbers do not really bear it out that Cutler is a runner, it is because he has a pass first mindset and only runs when he ABSOLUTELY needs to, and because Cutler is so cocky that he think he can make every single throw imaginable he rarely feels like he has to run.

6) Tim Tebow (DEN)

This selection was tricky. If you think Jay Cutler is a bad passing quarterback, look at Tebow's numbers (Under 50% completion percentage). I do not want this list to be full of QBs who tend to run a lot but do so because they are terrible passers, however Tebow has had an extremely small sample size throwing the ball and he's just been freaking amazing at running the ball that I moved him ahead of guys like Cutler and Fitzpatrick.

Last year, with only three starts, Timmy Tebow had 227 rushing yards (good for 7th in the NFL behind Cutler and ahead of Campbell and Big Ben) along with six rushing touchdowns. SIX! That rivaled only Michael Vick's nine rushing TDs as the most by a quarterback in 2010. With that kind of great rushing ability I had to put him this high. And this is just his floor.

As hinted at earlier, Tebow needs to prove himself to be a better passer and not pull an Atlanta Falcons Michael Vick in the sense of running first because he can't complete a throw. Like I said, anyone can run the ball but it takes a special skill to complete passes as a quarterback along with the great ability to run.

5) Josh Freeman (TB)

Last year Simmons' boy Joshy-Poo-Twinkle-Toes had the second most rushing yards of any quarterback with 364. Plus, what makes Freeman better than the rest was that he was effective at throwing the ball. He had 25 touchdowns (which was second best among the top 13 quarterback in terms of rushing yards) and only 6 interceptions. That's good for an outstanding 4.167 TD/INT ratio.

This year Freeman ranks fourth among all quarterbacks in terms of rushing yards with 106. He has six less than third place (Chad Henne) but 28 more than fifth place.

The only reason Freeman ranks so low is because of how great the other four are, not because how terrible Freeman is.

4) Cam Newton (CAR)

Newton ranks second right now this year in terms of rushing yards with 160 along with five rushing touchdowns. That's crazy. Newton has more rushing touchdowns than: Matt Forte, Michael Turner, Frank Gore, and Darren McFadden (just to name a few). Newton is such a great runner that his offensive coordinator said that Newton is his goal line back.

3) Ben Roethlisberger (PIT)

In terms of rushing Big Ben is the superior Jay Cutler. Roethlisberger is 6'5" and 240 and shifty as shit. He is probably the hardest quarterback to bring down. Ben may not be the best runner, but he's most certainly the extremely mobile. Like with Jay Cutler, watch Roethlisberger play football (especially this year considering how terrible his offensive line is). No matter who is coming after Big Ben, Roethlisberger can outmaneuver any defender coming his way.

2) Aaron Rodgers (GB)

What can't Aaron Rodgers do? Seriously. The dude's a beast. 'Nuff said.

1) Michael Vick (PHI)

Was their really any doubt in your mind?

Sexy Rexy Is Dead

I am saddened to report that Sexy Rexy has been found in a ditch someone of the Edens last night...

OK, so I have not died and while this joke didn't work when The 'Bright' One and I did it on a earlier podcast when we said that I (Sexy Rexy) moved to Houston after Grossman left Chicago to become Matt Schaub's back up and it did not work now.

However, I am retiring the pseudonym "Sexy Rexy". As you may have noticed when you look at who write this post, it said "Adam Kaplan" and not "Sexy Rexy". That is because that is my God-given name and that is the name I would prefer to be called by from now on.

When the four of us started this blog a few years back, we did it in the wake of the Fire Joe Morgan blog shutting down. All four of us were huge fans of FJM and we wanted to model this blog after it. Since the FJM guys had pseudonyms, we decided we wanted to have them as well. However, there are two key differences between FJM and GOI (yes, two and only two): the authors of FJM actually had Hollywood jobs so their anonymity was somewhat important and they actually had readers read their blog. But since neither are true for me, I have decided to stop having a pseudonym.

That, and it's kind of embarrassing telling people that your nickname is "Sexy Rexy".

If you look out into the landscape, nobody uses pseudonyms. When I was competing in's weekly fantasy rankings contest, I was the only one out of 50 competitors using a pseudonym. Nobody from or or or really anybody else uses a fake name, so why should I?

Therefore, "Sexy Rexy" is gone and Adam Kaplan is here to stay.

For now.

Also, in case anyway cares, my twitter handle has also changed. It is now @AdamKaplanGOI

The Greatest Directors Of Our Generation

Let me read off some names to you of the last three directors who have won the Oscar for best director: Tom Hooper, Kathryn Bigelow, and Danny Boyle. Here are some other guys who have been nominated recently for best director: David O. Russel, Darren Aronofsky, Jason Reitman, and Gus Van Sant.


"Who" indeed. Unless you are an avid movie watcher and/or frequent seeker like I am, chances are you have never heard of half, or even any, of the directors I just mentioned. Chances are you have heard of some of their great movies, but not really the director. Van Sant directed Good Will Hunting. Aronofsky directed Requiem For A Dream. Reitman directed Juno.

I think in the past decade or so that a new class of directors has taken shape and prominence. The big names that your parents have heard of seem to be fading out and a new batch of great directors have started coming in.

Certainly big name directors are still making movies and get nominated for Oscars. Ron Howard was nominated in 2009 for Frost/Nixon. Martin Scorsese won Best Director in 2007 for The Departed (his second greatest movie ever made). Steven Spielberg got nominated for Munich in 2006. However, these big name directors and directors of yesteryear seem to be vanishing for no name guys with enormous talent.

It is these "no name" guys that I would like to give a face to and recognition for their great work. Guys who are becoming the next Scorsese, the next Spielberg, the next Howard. With the exception of the first name mentioned, this list is in no particular order of how awesome or talented they are.

Christopher Nolan

Great Movies: Inception, The Dark Knight, The Prestige, Batman Begins, Memento.

If Christopher Nolan were a baseball player he'd be having the best season ever. Why? Because he's batting .833 right now with two home runs (OK so maybe not a perfect analogy because a 2 HR season is terrible, but just go with it. Technically he "only" has five hits). It's extremely hard to make the best movie of the year once and Nolan has managed to do it with his past two movies (Inception in 2010 and The Dark Knight in 2008). The only bad movie he's made is Insomnia and when you make the great work that he's made, that can be forgiven. Hell, Scorsese made Shutter Island and Casino. Spielberg made War Of The Worlds and A.I and the 4th Indiana Jones movie. All directors are allowed mulligans and kudos to Nolan for having probably the least amount of them out of any director mentioned in this post.

Nolan first emerged onto the scene with Memento. Call it a novelty movie or call it what you will, it's still brilliant. Sure, it has the hook of telling a story as the last scene first and the first scene last, but to create a complicated film noir-esque movie that's both compelling and entertaining while still being cohesive is damn impressive.

He unfortunately followed up Memento with Insomnia but then brought back the Batman franchise with a darker edge with Batman Begins. People forget how good Batman Begins is because of how amazing The Dark Knight was (in my book The Dark Knight is in the top two greatest action movies ever made along with Terminator: 2) but go back and watch Batman Begins again. It's great.

Nolan seems to be this guy who does one for the studio then one for him. He gave the studio Batman Begins so he got to do The Prestige. He gave the studio The Dark Knight so he got to do Inception- with each movie seemingly better than the next.

Sure I'll go see movies directed by a certain guy based upon what they've made in the past (I saw Jarhead which also had the same director as American Beauty- Sam Mendes) but I don't get excited for anyone else as I do for Nolan. All you have to tell me is that Nolan wrote and directed the movie and I'll go see it. You could tell me that the entire movie was one dude taking a shit on his toilet for two hours and I would still be super excited to see it because it was a Christopher Nolan movie. He has earned that kind of respect (even though for some reason the Academy hates him with a Richard Gere like passion. The Dark Knight neither got nominated for Best Picture nor Best Director in 2009 and Nolan failed to garner a Best Director nomination in 2011 for Inception. In fact, Nolan only has three Oscar nominations: Best Screenplay for Memento and Inception and Best Movie for Inception as a producer. He never has gotten a Best Director nod nor has taken home any golden statute).

One last note about Christopher Nolan and my love for him before we move on. Can everyone please stop complaining about any part of The Dark Knight Rises! I hear people complaining about Bane being the main bad guy and that Catwoman's suit sucks and that she also should not have been a villain. What!? You have not seen the movie yet or even read the script. You have no idea how Nolan plans to use the bad guys or how they interact with the overarching theme of the movie. Plus, has anything in Nolan's past four movies shown to you that he's not capable of making these "crappy" evildoers awesome or make a bad movie with these characters? Nolan, more than any other director in Hollywood right now, deserves the benefit of the doubt when it comes to his creativity.

David Fincher

Great Movies: Fight Club, Se7en, The Social Network, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button.

Fincher has absolutely made some stinkers- most notably Zodiac (Fincher has many more mulligans than Nolan has), but I think he's made some of the best movies of our generation.

While I personally do not like Fight Club (I think if you watch the movie again knowing the twist then it's just silly and stupid how everyone reacts to Tyler Durden [Brad Pitt] and Edward Norton's character. But I digress), it's probably in my generation's collective top five favorite movies of all time. Very few movies have had the kind of effect that Fincher movies have had on kids who grew up in the 90's.

Se7en is just a great thriller all around. It's got a great cast (Pitt, Morgan Freeman, Kevin Spacey, and Gwyneth Paltrow), a great twist ending and line (What's in the box!? What's the the boooooox!?), a great and engaging plot in general, amazing dark visual motifs that Fincher is known for, and the cherry on top is that we all know the seven deadly sins because of that movie.

However, I think The Social Network was the movie that really cemented Fincher's name as one of the greatest directors of our generation. Se7en came out in 1995 and Fight Club was in 1999. Both movies had a great influence on this generation but it's hard to be great yet not come out with an influential movie in over a decade. The Curious Case of Benjamin Button was good and extremely well made, but not really influential and kind of boring at times. But then to give us a movie about facebook, well then David Fincher, welcome back to the club! Here, let me send you a facebook event invite.

I personally don't care that The Social Network isn't true at many points, the story Fincher tells about Mark Zuckerberg is just great. I knew Inception was going to get screwed at the 2011 Oscar's but I did not expect The Social Network would have as well. I believe in 50 years when we look back on the 2011 Oscar's we will be asking ourselves why didn't The Social Network win more and what is the plot of The King's Speech again?

Adam McKay

Great Movies: Step Brothers, Anchorman, Talladega Nights, The Other Guys.

Before we begin, I just want to say that for some reason it is really hard to get a good picture of Adam McKay. I didn't want to use the picture I did but it's also his photo so I guess it's OK but god forbid a comedy director is smiling in at least ONE photo.

As it turns out all of McKay's "great" movies are the only four movies he's directed. You can quibble with me that Talladega Nights was not a great movie but our generation still enjoys it and if you watch it again (go turn on your TV, it's playing on FX right now) it's still pretty funny and Will Ferrell's best sports movie. Also, history may not be kind to The Other Guys but it was still the funniest movie of 2010.

However, you can not fight with me that Anchorman and Step Brothers are not great movies. They absolutely are. Step Brothers seems to be pretty polarizing. Unlike Talladega Nights, nobody just kinda-sorta likes Step Brothers. They either can't stand the humor/Ferrell's and Reilly's characters or are like me and think it's the funniest movie ever made. I have found that most people are like me and love Step Brothers. Sure, it really doesn't make that much sense but it's just freaking hysterical.

I believe McKay is the best comedic director of our generation. I really wanted to put Judd Apatow instead but he's only made three movies (The 40 Year Old Virgin, Knocked Up, and Funny People) and Funny People blew. All of McKay's movies have been good. Plus, I feel like Apatow is better behind the scenes. He had a hand in Superbad, Forgetting Sarah Marshall, Walk Hard, Pineapple Express, and Bridesmaids, but directed neither of them.

Lastly, don't give me that "The reason these movies are great is because of Will Ferrell, not McKay" bullshit. Ferrell has made some pretty terrible movies without McKay (Kicking and Screaming, Land of the Lost, Semi Pro, and Bewitched to name a few) and part of the reason Ferrell is so funny is because of McKay. McKay will create scenarios for Ferrell to be in to be funny and will often shout hilarious lines for his actors to say. The reason guys like McKay and Apatow are great comedic directors is because they are funny guys themselves. Apatow is a former stand up comedian and McKay was Ferrell's writing partner on Saturday Night Live.

McKay's influence on comedy extends beyond movies. Along with Ferrell, he started the website and directed some of the sites best videos like "The Landlord"

Comedies define a generation just as much as dramas and action movies have and Adam McKay is the poster child of comedies for this generation.

Paul Thomas Anderson

Great Movies: There Will Be Blood, Boogie Nights, Magnolia

Some people will put Punch Drunk Love on P.T. Anderson's list of great movies but I will not for two reasons. First, holy crap was that a long and boring movie. Second, I don't think this generation really knows nor cares about that movie.

Anderson's a fantastic director and has made some really great movies but I feel like his movies has not had an effect on this generation say like even David Fincher's has. I loved There Will Be Blood and still contend to this day that it was the best movie of 2007, better than either There Will Be Blood or Juno. Nevertheless, because of the great quality and awesomeness of Anderson's four movies in the past fifteen, I think he deserves his props.

Nobody creates better three dimensional characters than Anderson. It doesn't matter if he focuses around one character like Daniel Plainview (Daniel Day-Lewis) in There Will Be Blood or like seven characters in Boogie Nights, all of his characters are more than cardboard cut outs and all multi-character driven movies (i.e. Crash, Adaptation) will be judged compared to Boogie Nights and Magnolia.

Zach Snyder

Great Movies: 300, Watchmen

To really cement Snyder's legacy he needs at least one more movie to add to his "great movies" list (and he will probably do that when the Christopher Nolan produced Man Of Steel comes out in 2013) but his style and vision has already earned him a spot on this list.

He burst onto the scene with 300 and had everybody in the world screaming "THIS IS SPARTA!" and he earns a little bit of props for having a movie catchphrase become one of the great movie lines ever (Also, Paul Thomas Anderson did the same with "I drink your milkshake!" in There Will Be Blood) but more than that, 300 became a phenomenon. While I personally think the movie's a bit overrated, it still did (and still does) capture the minds of this generation.

He followed 300 up with Watchmen which I think is a great superhero movie. The concept is such an inventive idea (how would America react if we had won the Vietnam War) with its own Superhero twist. The style for both Watchmen and 300 (and probably Sucker Punch as well but I haven't seen it and it saddens me that it was critically and commercially panned) to me is just great. I can see where people think it's too novelty but I think it falls more in the line of Sin City's effect. When I watch a comic book movie I enjoy the feeling of actually watching a comic book as opposed to watching a movie that is based upon a comic book.

Snyder seems like the perfect Josh Wheedon-esque nerd to create awesome superhero and comic book movies for this generation.

Kevin Smith

Great Movies: Dogma, Clerks, Mallrats, Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back, Zach and Miri Make A Porno

I don't believe Smith has ever made a "great" movie and one that will define a generation or be long lasting within a generation's mind like any other director in this post has, but I think he earns a spot on this list for his longevity in the the sense that he's made a lot of really good movies- essentially all starring Jay and Silent Bob.

I remember in middle school and high school watching Clerks and Mallrats and just being fascinated by them. I actually went back and watched Mallrats again and it was pretty terrible and the "witty" banter just got annoying for me, but still, the movies were a part of my childhood and I'm sure played some role in yours whether it was laughing to the religious hypocrisies in Dogma or to Seth Rogen in Zach and Miri.

Other notable mentions
- Todd Phillips (The Hangover, Old School)
- Jason Reitman (Juno, Thank You For Smoking, Up In The Air)
- Darren Aronofsky (Requiem For A Dream, Black Swan)
- Frank Darabont (The Shawshank Redemption, The Green Mile)
- The Wachowski Brothers (The Matrix, V For Vendetta)
- Ben Stiller (Zoolander, Tropic Thunder)
- Danny Boyle (Slumdog Millionaire, 28 Days Later, Trainspotting, 127 Hours)

Influential "Big Name" Directors on this Generation
- The Coen Brothers (The Big Lebowski, Fargo)
- Quentin Tarintino (Pulp Fiction, Inglorious Basterds, Kill Bill)
- Martin Scorsese (The Departed, Goodfellas, Gangs of New York)
- Robert Zemeckis (Forrest Gump, Back to the Future trilogy, Cast Away)
- Peter Jackson (Lord of the Rings trilogy)
- James Cameron (Titanic, Avatar)
- Ridley Scott (Black Hawk Down, Gladiator, American Gangster)
- Steven Spielberg (Saving Private Ryan, Jurassic Park, Minority Report)
- Michael Moore (Bowling For Columbine, Fahrenheit 9/11)
- Peter Farrelly (There's Something About Mary, Dumb and Dumber)
- Cameron Crowe (Jerry Maguire, Almost Famous, Vanilla Sky)

One Movie Directors
- M. Night Shyamalan (The Sixth Sense)
- Greg Mottola (Superbad)
- Morgan Spurlock (Super Size Me)
- Brad Bird (The Incredibles)
- Guillero del Toro (Pan's Labyrinth)
- Nick Cassavetes (The Notebook)

My Fall TV Guide

I don't claim to be a TV critic or watch every single television show, but I do watch a shit ton of TV. Despite being in law school I tend to spend my days watching On Demand and evenings watching new episodes. I think there is a pretty good fall line up right now and I would like to share my insight of what you should and should not be watching. There are a lot of shows that people tend to pick up after a few weeks of hearing buzz about them. With the first few episodes of all shows now starting to trickle onto On Demand plus shows starting to show their true colors of what they are as opposed to just their pilot episode, I thought now would be a good time to help you kiddies decide what you should and should not watch.

I am a true believer in judging a book by its cover when it comes to pilots. Those who make TV shows hate pilots because they feel like judging an entire television series by its pilot is like judging an entire batter's career by one at-bat. As Tiny Fey writes in her book Bossypants:
Pilots are extremely difficult to write because you have to introduce all the characters without it feeling like a series of introductions. You have to tell a story that's not only funny and compelling but also dramatizes your main characters' point of view and what the series would be about thematically.
Even though writing pilots may be difficult, I think because the show's creator is forced to encapsulate an entire series in one episode that a pilot is a great way to determine whether or not you watch the entire series. Tina Fey's show 30 Rock is a perfect example of why I like the pilot system. Her show along with Entourage (my favorite show of all time) and Mad Men (the best show of the past five years) are the three best pilots I have seen in the past decade. After watching the pilots to those respective shows I said to myself, "This show is awesome, I need to see more". And I have been proven right so far.

I'd like to think of myself as a good indicator of talent when it comes to pilots- whether that is true or not remains to be seen. Nevertheless, I am bringing my talent to you faithful readers. Enjoy!

New Girl
FOX Tuesdays
Grade: A-

New Girl is by far and away the best new fall TV show. It stars Zooey Deschanel and, surprise surprise, she plays a quicky, cute, likeable, girl-next-door. The show is about her character (Jess) as she moves in with three male roommates after she catches her boyfriend cheating on her within the first few minutes of the first episode.

Deschanel is funny and good in this role (of course, she's been playing this role for the past decade or so in movies) but the show would get stale and boring if it solely focused around her character. The reason the show works so well is because of her three roommates (well, really mainly two). Her roommates are Nick (Jake Johnson), Schmidt (Max Greenfield) and Winston (Lamorne Morris).

In the pilot episode, the black roommate was played by Damon Wayans Jr. who didn't continue with the show because he choose to star in Happy Endings instead (huge mistake, see below). His character, Coach, was funny and enjoyable and instead of filming a new pilot the show just wrote out Coach from the series and added in Winston. Winston is the one roommate who I think brings the show down. The show hasn't really written a personality or a part for him yet and I hope they can ease him in as the show moves forward.

Schmidt is the "leader" of this group and a huge douchebag (which works out great for the viewers, is not meant to be an insult at all, and something that can not be said for later episodes of Ted in How I Met Your Mother). Nick is more soft-spoken and down-to-earth and seems better and more prepared to help Jess get on with her life after the break up- which makes sense because he too is also struggling to deal with his break up. Coach's quirkiness fit in perfectly with this weird and strange dynamic and Winston is written (and/or played) so straight and uptight

In the three episodes that have aired so far the story lines (and even the resolutions) are pretty much the same and I worry that this schtick could get old, but right now I don't care. All I want out of a comedy is to laugh and this show does it for me. The characters are three-dimensional and enjoyable to watch. When How I Met Your Mother ends in a few years (and the way this season has started in can't come fast enough) I think New Girl has the best chance to take its place.

American Horror Story
FX Wednesdays
Grade: B

This show was the only other pilot of this new season that I was blown away by. OK, that is a hyperbole but this episode left me wanting more which is what I want out of a pilot.

The show follows Vivien and Ben Harmon (Connie Britton and Dylan McDermott) and their daughter Violet (played by Vera's sister Taissa Farmiga) as they move from Boston to a haunted house in Los Angeles. Ben cheated on Vivien after a miscarriage by Vivien and in order to get a new start Ben picks up his family to move across the country.

This show initially intrigued me because I can't remember the last time a horror series was made for T.V. and because FX has had great success with quality programming within the past three years (Justified, Always Sunny, The League, Archer, Terriers, Lights Out. Need I go on?).

I enjoyed all the horror scenes that went on throughout the pilot episode. As I've gotten older (and graduated from high school) I've grown to enjoy horror movies more and more. While I still can't stand gross-out gore used to fear purposes (hell I couldn't even get through a surgery scene of Nip/Tuck, also on FX, without cringing) I enjoy movies that build up suspense with music and tension. The best horror movies have great filmmaking along with superb acting and the right music (I know, I know you can say the same thing for all movies and that's true but I feel like not all great directors can do horror movies but all the great horror directors can do other movies. Whatever.) It takes a special skill to create a great horror movie (and a skill that M. Night Shyamalam clearly lost after 2000).

The fear and suspense building up is here in American Horror Story but it lacks good acting and a cohesive plot and characters. The lack of cohesiveness though I thought worked in the pilot (the only episode released as of the writing of this post) because I enjoyed the scary and creepy moments. The only way to have continuously scary moments is to suspend disbelief and just create reasons for new creppy shit to occur. The lack of structure worries me going forward and plays a huge part in any visual medium (and the reason I could not give the show any sort of "A" rating) but at the same time I will give the show its props for making a thriller T.V. show and thrilling me in the process. I can turn off my brain and except major plot holes if the show is scaring me like it should.

I will say though, maybe it wasn't the best idea creating a horror television show around a haunted house. Realistically, why would the characters continue to live in the house if it's haunted? Everyone would just move! Can the show really continue for five seasons living in the same haunted house?

NBC Thursdays

Grade: C

I was very uninpressed by the show's pilot and if The Office didn't air right before Whitney and if It's Always Sunny and The League didn't air at least half an hour after The Office I would have stopped watching Whitney by now. But alas, I have seen all three episodes so far.

The show follows Whitney (Whitney Cummings) and her boyfriend Alex (Chris D'Elia) along with two of Whitney's friends and two of Alex's friends. The first glaring problem is that the show has a laugh track (OK, it's first glaring problem is that the show is not funny but we'll get to that in a second). The show claims it is filmed in front of a live studio audience but I refuse to believe that. I had seen most of the jokes of the pilot in the ten bajillion previews NBC aired for Whitney and those jokes were made even worse with people laughing when I first saw the pilot. The show was telling me to laugh but I couldn't do it which just upset me further.

I have enjoyed Whitney's stand up career and her jokes so I was excited for this show but unfortunately it has not lived up to my expectations. This show has the potential to be good but I think creative control needs to be taken away from Cummings. She wrote the first two episodes and seems to be in charge of everything. I think if someone more talented came aboard and worked with the characters Cummings created the show would be better. Like what NBC did with Parks and Recreation. Parks and Rec's first season was so terrible I stopped watching, but then NBC retooled it and DME still for some reason kept watching and convinced me to do the same. Now the show is one of the best comedies on television right now.

But now back to Whitney. The best part of this entire series is Whitney's boyfriend Alex. D'Elia is funny and good in this role and plays well off of Whitney's character. The best episode by far of this short series was episode three- which focused a lot on Alex and less on Whitney. (Plus this episode was not written by Cummings).

The four other friends are tired, stale, two-dimensional characters that I don't care about which is another reason the show is pretty bad. However, because of how awesome D'Elia has been and because of its convenient time slot, I have and will continue to watch Whitney.

Pan Am
ABC Sundays
Grade: D

The first of two new shows trying to be like Mad Men and failing miserably. This show is set in the 60's and mainly follows four Pan American stewardesses: Maggie Ryan (Christina Ricci), sisters Kate and Laura Cameron (Kelli Gardner and Margot Robbie respectively), and Colette Valois (Karine Vanasse) and probably one or two pilots as well. I don't know, the show was so bad and boring I couldn't stay focused and started cleaning my apartment in the middle of watching the pilot. (haha pilot, Pan Am, airplines. Get it? As well you shouldn't have).

The show tries to do what Mad Men does- show a changing of the times; How the 1960's in America empowered women (even though all Pan Am stewardesses have to wear girdles and be hot in order to have the job) and how the 60's changed America in general. However, the first step to do this (in fact the first step for every television show) is to have characters that the audience cares about. I could have cared less about what any of these characters were doing.

The show jumps around all over the place as well which also takes the viewer out of it. While all four flight attendants (at least in the first two episodes that I have seen) are flying together, the show will make LOST-esque flashbacks that I also could have cared less about. Like LOST on the island, the stewardesses are all on a flight together which cohesively ties all the characters together while sporadically jumping back in time to try to develop and bring audience sympathy to these characters. But in the end it's all for naught. Colette is kind of a slut. Maggie is a rebel trying to be a part of the Kesey-ian counterculture. One of the Cameron sisters was gonna get married but didn't. Whoop-dee-do. I don't care, I don't care, I don't care.

On top of all of that, there's this weird spy, espionage, Cold War thing with one of the Cameron sisters (I seriously could not tell which sister was which. They both look like an indistinguishable hot, white girl to me).

Anyways, because of a lack of structure, a poor excuse to try to be Mad Men, and for characters I don't care about (did you get that I don't care about these characters?), Pan Am gets a poor rating from me.

Happy Endings
ABC Wednesdays
Grade: D-

Apparently this show was a mid season replacement in April of 2011 and the episode I saw was not a pilot at all but the beginning of season two. That would help explain why the writers of the episode did not follow Tiny Fey's advice. The show centers around six friends. One of them is played by Damon Wayans Jr, one by Elisha Cuthbert (24, The Girl Next Door), and one by Eliza Coupe (the bitchy intern in the last few, non-NBC season of Scrubs) and well as three other people I couldn't care less about.

It's very difficult to have have more than four main characters that you should sympathize with in a sitcom. Sure there are comedies with more than four central characters (How I Met Your Mother, Scrubs, Cheers, Community) but in order for those comedies to be successful multiple characters are woven into the same story line or, especially in the case of Community, characters will just flat out not have a story arc. I felt like Happy Endings tried to weave in multiple story lines and multiple characters together which just created confusion and indifference for the viewer. The show wants you to care about all six of theirs and in the process makes you care about none.

Worst of all, the show wasn't funny. You can't make a comedy and then not make me laugh and because of the poor character development I wasn't entertained either. Plus, it made me even more upset that Wayans choose this show over New Girl.

Last Man Standing
ABC Tuesdays
Grade: D-

Imagine Home Improvement. Now imagine Tim Allen having three girls instead of three boys. Now imagine that Tim Allen has aged ten years, not done any good live action movies since Home Improvement (gotta give him *some* props for Toy Story), and is not funny anymore. Now you have Last Man Standing.

The fundamental family concept is there for Last Man Standing just like it was there for Home Improvement as well as most sitcoms prior to the cancellation of Everybody Loves Raymond but the jokes are not. To top it all off, the entire shows is cliche. The three daughters are all moody idiots (NOTE: Dear LMS, see Modern Family to how to write teenage daughter characters correctly) and Tim Allen's crotchety old man routine is tiresome. Tim Allen ends up creating and positing vlogs about how the younger culture is full of wimps and pansies and blah blah blah.

All of this could be forgiven though if the jokes actually made me laugh and, as mentioned earlier, the dynamic of the show creates potential for the show to be funny. But it is not like Last Man Standing is the first sitcom to be centered around a family and it most certainly would not the first sitcom that is family-centered to not be funny and get cancelled in its first season either.

The Playboy Club
NBC Cancelled
Grade: F

OK. So while you can not even watch this show anymore to judge for yourself, I did have to suffer through its pilot episode so damn it I am going to talk about it!

This is the second of two shows that tries to take after the Mad Men mold. Hell, the shows main character (Nick Dalton) looks like Don Draper, dresses like Don Draper, acts like Don Draper, and even SOUNDS like Don Draper. Though I hate to tell ya' Playboy Club, you were doomed from the start.

Though the show was neither smart nor charming nor funny nor entertaining in any way, shape, or form, even if the show rivaled Mad Men in terms of quality, as it turns out Mad Man gets piss poor ratings and if it was on any other channel besides AMC (like, say, the 4th rated network known as NBC) it would have been cancelled three and a half seasons ago. Shame on you America for not watching the greatness that is Med Men! Shame on you!

Other pilots I have watched:
- Up All Night (NBC, Wed, 8/7c) Grade: C-.
- Free Agents (NBC, Cancelled) Grade: F.

Television Shows I Am Currently Watching (Grade for this season only)
- How I Met Your Mother (CBS, Mon, 8/7c) Grade: C
- Glee (FOX, Tues, 8/7c) Grade: C-
- Workaholics (Comedy Central, Tues, 930/830c) Grade: B+
- Modern Family (ABC, Wed, 9/8c) Grade: A+
- Community (NBC, Thurs, 8/7c) Grade: A-
- Parks and Rec (NBC, Thurs, 830/730c) Grade: A
- The Office (NBC, Thurs, 9/8c) Grade: B
- It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia (FX, Thurs, 10/9c) Grade: A+
- Archer (FX, Thurs, 1030/930c) Grade: B (three episode miniseries)
- The League (FX, Thurs, 1030/930c) Grade: B- (one episode)
- Jersey Shore (MTV, Thurs, 10/9c) Grade: B+