Another round of links.
One of the things that seems to distinguish the football-savvy from us amateurs is the use of the term “fire zone” to designate a zone blitz. Chris at Smart Football had a nice article, inspired by a Dr Saturday post on Utah’s use of the tactic in the Sugar Bowl against Alabama.
A little overtaken by events now, but Mike Lombardi has a nice analysis of the decision-making by both sides in whether or not the Ravens should re-sign Ray Lewis, and if made sense for Lewis to re-up. Of course, by now, Ray Lewis has been re-signed by the Ravens, to which I attribute the lack of willingness of another team to pay him the crazy numbers. Playing the Me game and losing… I wonder if it was a humbling experience for Lewis. I know it can be.
SI had an interesting piece a while ago on where recruits come from. I commend to you Dr. Saturday’s take on the same issue.
Also from Dr. Saturday, some of the annual fun with victory by the transitive property. All hail Gallaudet, obviously better than Florida!
Finishing a little trilogy from Dr. Saturday, some of the guiltiest pleasures of the 2008 college football scene.
Greg Cosell of NFL Films is probably best known as the executive producer of ESPN’s great NFL MatchUp show, and had a good column examining the different yet still successful styles of the Super Bowl quarterbacks.
A useful reminder for some people: the media has a job to do in covering a team, and you shouldn’t get mad at them for trying to do their job. Frustrating it may be as a fan, but Fisher really does an excellent job with the media-trying to play their game while at the same time keeping a very tight lid on things. I’m not sure it’d work in a different city, but it doesn’t have to.
Too depressing to actually read: why the Titans only had 1 TO on their final drive during Super Bowl XXXIV. Watching the replay on NFL Network a couple weeks ago was too depressing, and this analysis doesn’t get into the time they wasted on that drive. Fish may now be regarded as one of the best clock management coaches in the NFL, but he didn’t do a great job then.
A useful explainer from Dr. Saturday on how scholarships and stipends work.
Rick Gosselin did his annual ranking of the best special teams units in the NFL. The Titans came out second, ranking highly in kickoff return distance and opponents missing their field goals (something I’m really not sure they have much control over).
Another thing slightly overtaken by events: the Mike Leach contract saga. It’s interesting to see what kind of issues he and Texas Tech were disputing, and the various bonuses in the contract.
Some very nice advice from Jack Bechta of NFP on financial advisors, focusing on the cautionary tale aspect. One of his pointers reminds me of the sagest advice I got in my Bankruptcy class: “Never open a restaurant.” Over half of the actual Chapter 11 corporate bankruptcies, per the prof, were restaurants. Something like 90% fail in the first year or 18 months.
Mike Lombardi, in his preview of free agent running backs, has a number of useful factors to keep in mind in evaluating an RB. The first two questions get to the core of my problem with LenDale White-he gets the yards the blocking scheme gets him, and no more. He did the same for other positions, including tight ends, wideouts, centers, guards, tackles, defensive linemen, defensive ends, linebackers, and outside linebackers.
Ray Gustini of NFP had one of his typically excellent and highly amusing piece on the retirement of Brett Favre. His disparaging comments about Wisconsinites and Favre love are so on point.
Greg Cosell had an excellent column looking at Matt Cassel’s strengths and weaknesses. I listened today to the BS Report (almost always a mistake) with Mike Lombardi from last Monday. One of the things I disagree with most with Lombardi (and also Peter King) is affection for Matt Cassel. As Cosell points out, Cassel was effective the second half of the year because he was in shotgun. Key graf: “In the last seven weeks of the season, the Patriots were primarily a shotgun passing team. They did not call a lot of drop-back plays. Why? Because Cassel was simply not very good at it.”
You may have seen the news that the scrimmage kick exception that made the A-11 offense in its current incarnation possible was fixed. Chris at Smart Football gives his take. I particularly agree with him that the scrimmage kick exception isn’t the right vehicle, and the A-11 guys are free to try to convince teams to set up their own parallel leagues, but they don’t seem to be interested in lobbying for a rule change to get rid of the eligible lineman requirements. This is probably a losing cause, but it’s at least an honest one.
Chris had another nice post on thinking seriously about risk analysis, and in particular when and when not teams should be risky.
Finally, I can’t help but point out this little nugget courtesy of Andrew Brandt: the Pro Bowl came at about the same time as a matchup of the Lakers and Cavs, Kobe Byrant and LeBron James. The utterly meaningless and pretty boring Pro Bowl outdrew one of the NBA’s premier regular season games by 50%.
Enough for now. I’ll have more to say later.