Reading and Thinking Football

Football, including books thereon and idiosyncratic thinking thereabout

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Wow, it’s been a while since I’ve posted something. A day short of two weeks, as it so happens. Naturally, I’ve continued to read stuff during that time. Some of that stuff has actually been both football-related and good, which is a rarer combination than I’d like but still one that exists.

In fact, I’ll start with a very useful piece-Tennessee college blogger Rocky Top Talk had a nice breakdown of zone blocking by linemen on inside runs, complete with helpful diagrams. Read, learn.

The thing about linking to Smart Football is I generally find the posts interesting, but I hardly ever have anything interesting to say about them. Take, for instance, this post on four verticals, all wideouts running downfield routes. In a way, it kind of reminds me of the Titans-Buffalo Wild Card Game (Frank !#$!@#$ Reich)-I caught the game on NFL Network last summer, and thought about doing a breakdown to see what went right in the first half (which I’d never seen, because my family hates me) and what didn’t go right in the second half. Offensively, though, I found I didn’t have much to say-the run-and-shoot’s true nature of sight reads by the wideouts and Moon finding open players on a quick read became clear. It’s good, but, as I said about Matt’s recent massive post at DGDB&D on sack rates and a bunch of other stuff, a quality response requires more time than I care to spend, a thousand or three words, and, in the case of Chris’s post, more knowledge than I can easily drop. So, what to do? When he wrote one post every two months, linking to one wasn’t an issue. Now that he’s posting regularly, I’ll just link to the particularly good ones, or ones where I feel like I have something to say. Take, for instance, this post on notes from Sid Gillman on the passing offense. Nothing revolutionary here, just some key principles to keep in mind.

PFR Blog had a nice series on how to find the most dominant running back of all time. Football Outsiders look at this in one of the PFP‘s, but it’s a topic that is easy to revisit simply because it depends on methodology and baseline. See methodology, top seasons (and I agree with OJ #1), top careers, playoff bests, and best overall.

One good reason to link to Smart Football is when he’s giving us information from somebody wise, preferably one who’s not around to give us information on himself. See, for instance, this post with notes from Bill Walsh. Of course, with a link to that, I also have to link to this find by Travis, a script by Walsh with explanations of why he runs different plays.

The failure of using median success rate, which reminds me of Mike Tanier’s fantastic Two Yards at a Time article from a couple years ago at Football Outsiders. That’s why I like success rate for rushing, and it’s something I’ve been meaning to apply to passing plays.

Over on PFR Blog, JKL continues his interesting series looking at the AFL v NFL with a post on how quickly expansion teams reached parity, and what implications that might have for parity. This is one issue I’ve changed my mind on the more I’ve thought about it-my initial inclination was to say the AFL reached parity perhaps as early as the mid-1960’s, but it’s now relatively clear that the median AFL team was worse than the median NFL team for the entirety of the NFL’s experience, except maybe, maybe 1968-69. See also the next post, on judging draft value.

A reason I wish I’d written this post earlier: among the links was this one to an article in Sporting News Today on the NFL opting out of the assistant coach pension plans, recently in the news for prompting the retirement of Colts OL coach Howard Mudd. See Mike Lombardi on the same.

Robert Boland of NFP had a very interesting series where he went through and ranked all the NFL organizations, from #1 Dan and Art Rooney to #31 Mike Brown (MIA’s Steve Ross got an incomplete). See parts one (9-17), two (18-22), three (23-31), and four (1-8), plus he responded to critics.

Andrew Brandt of NFP wrote about something I hadn’t thought about: the death of movement of restricted free agents. There were a couple offer sheets signed, but nobody moved. Brandt identifies one factor at play, that more draft picks are signed through their RFA year, but there’s another factor at play-draft pick compensation and salary cap numbers. The cap went up a ton a couple years ago, making it easier for teams to fit players. This applies in two places-higher tender offers, and easier to match any offer sheets. The higher tender makes the Texans can make Owen Daniels an offer that means another team would have to give up a #1 and a #3 to sign him, which effectively takes him off the RFA market. This is something the NFLPA may want to look at in their labor negotiations-RFAs are getting squeezed because of the level of draft pick compensation required to sign them. Sure, some of these guys will sign big extensions with their own team or hit the free agent market the next year and get a decent deal there. Not all of them will, though, and some players are clearly losing out now in a way they wouldn’t have five years ago.

Finally, for now, Robert Boland had a nice tribute to Jack Kemp incorporating the Henry V Crispin speech. Shame on the Olivier movie for cutting part of that, and great credit to Branagh for including the whole thing.

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Written by Tom Gower

May 12, 2009 at 01:53

Posted in Uncategorized

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