Ronald Reagan was quite fond of the film Ghostbusters. Reagan believed that Ghostbusters glamourized the free market economics (Or Reaganomics, as some refer to it) he championed–can’t imagine what he would have thought of The Lego Movie. Surprisingly, the hollywood legend cum P.O.T.U.S. kind of missed the point. The film isn’t a celebration of the free market, so much as it illuminates the role of luck in achieving success in a, so-called, free market.
Ronald Reagan was particularly enamoured with the entrepreneurial success of the Ghostbusters. Led by huckster Dr. Peter Venkman (Bill Murray), the beleaguered parapsychologists became famous and successful, despite Dean Yeager’s assertion that the team’s brand of science “is nothing but a dodge and hustle” to them. One can see how Reagan would enjoy Dr. Venkman, considering they both embody their own lies (Venkman bought into parapsychology, Reagan believed deindustrialization would help the common man). Conversely, Dean Yeager represents the sort of beaurocrat, big government official that Reagan reviled. Reagan believed that those useful idiot types were killing the free market spirit of his great country–deregulation had nothing to do with it. So it’s hardly a surprise he took such glee in the Ghostbusters unexpected success as entrepreneurs.
Problematically, his reading of the 1984 film ignores the role of luck in his beloved great American success story–the Ghostbusters themselves didn’t expect that their methods would actually work. It’s clear to me, the Ghosbusters’ achievement wasn’t a matter of merit, but rather, a getting in on the bottom floor sort of thing.
What the fuck does this have to do with running an NFL offense?
So far during his first year and a half, Nathaniel Hackett’s offense has struggled. Under Doug Marrone, his offense languished in 2013, finishing 27th according to Football Outsiders (FO), however, last year he had a built-in excuse (EJ Manuel injury). EJ Manuel returned healthy in 2014, but during his four game stint this year, Hackett determined EJ couldn’t run his offense. Kyle Orton, Hackett’s proverbial Larry Bird walking through the door, has come in for EJ and played well–according to the eyeball test. The move from EJ to Orton has led to the offense dropping from 23rd in week 4, to 28th in week 7. I’m not trying to justify EJ’s return. I’m just saying Nathaniel Hackett’s is as slick as the rest of ‘em.
Hackett’s hustler shtick was at full throttle during in his press conference the other day. (Watch it here) “I love it,” Hackett said, responding to a question about how he feels about the criticism thrown his way. “It’s a challenge. You score 43 points, win by 20 points… I want more too,” he added, subtly implying the fans are crazy, while sounding like a totally swell guy–that you can trust at your doorstep while he’s selling you something.
His salesman shtick is buttressed by a great defense. Rather serendipitously, he has a 3rd ranked (FO) defensive unit to blame for his lack of legitimate offensive output. “They’ve been getting us so many turnovers,” he said with a smile. No one in the bated breath crowd could recall that in games that the defense doesn’t produce any turnovers, the offense doesn’t fare so well. (See: Patriots/Bills week 6).
Next, Hackett dodged questions on his shaky offense–the reporters asked them as if they were speaking for the crazed fan base they don’t agree with–specifically his penchant for calling runs up the middle. Hackett justified his philosophy Gladwell style with a historical anecdote: “When it just began, when football began, there was not a lot of explosive plays in the run game. The run game was about getting about 2 yards, 3 yards, 4 yards. Getting it to a manageable third down situation…” The adoring crowd of media members adored Hackett’s use of anecdotal fogging up the mind, while guys, like me, watched this horseshit on a laptop, wondering why none of the media members mentioned the overabundance of 3rd and longs the Bills find themselves in (The Bills are 27th in 3rd down conversions).
Hackett couldn’t stop hocking his wares. In addition to giving his quarterback(s) manageable 3rd downs–that they convert 30% of the time–Hackett claimed his 1-yard, and a cloud of dust, run plays opened up things down the field. The thing is, Hackett neglected to mention three things. 1. Genetically superior Sammy Watkins gained over 90 yards of YAC on 2 receptions.. 2. The Jets defense was hardly stacking the box. 3. Those ‘deep plays’ may have opened up for Watkins because of Rex Ryan’s famously aggressive blitz packages.
After that, I turned off the video because I was sick of listening to Nathaniel Hackett’s sales job. Though, I gotta hand it to him, he has all the–well framed–excuses in the world, which are particularly plausible to the pacified Bills media. But, to me, those excuses left me sympathizing with Dean Yeager. Like the Ghostbusters, who accidentally stumbled on a million dollar idea,* Hackett has stumbled on a million dollar defense, and wide receiver, that will keep him employed.
God bless the ‘free market.’
*To anyone who wants to challenge my argument about the Ghostbusters success: I’m sorry, the point is they got fucking lucky! And, if you want to believe that they were the only parapsychologists, in a country of 300 million, working on that ghost stuff go right ahead. You probably believe Bill Gates is the best at that computer shit.