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Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Aging DTs

It might be useful to wait for every puffed-out Panther to add to the
daily discussion on Carolina potentially having the #1 defense before I
address it - if I do - but I thought it was interesting that Chris Canty
reiterated that he wanted to be here in Carolina, and was forlorn that
nothing happened.

Which, lacking actual news, made plenty of people forlorn.

For one, I don't care if anyone grew up in Charlotte. Charlotte's not
Los Angeles or Las Vegas - there's not some massive badge of honor of
not being a transplant here. Past that, it's not something you make
business decisions on as a team. If that motivated Canty, great, but
it's not great business for him either; I like to see interest in the
team, because I don't believe everyone shares that interest. But saying
you'll give a hometown discount, and then making that happen, are two
different things.

I don't want to give a terrible impression of Canty, or not wanting him
because he wasn't signed here. The end result is that he might be
better than Dwan Edwards, but in a lot of ways, they're comparable.
Edwards, for what he produced, was signed to a reasonable lowball offer.
Edwards had plenty of chances to walk from the offer, and I doubt it
changed a whole lot. But he was a good deal, and the hope is, he'll
stay productive without as many snaps needed (especially against the
run, if I'm wishing).

Is Canty that much more expensive (3 years, $8 mil)? Not especially,
but it's clear that Carolina wasn't interested in going to 3 years on
either 30+ year old DT. Canty's year 2 and 3 salaries make up the
difference, and they weren't interested in the addition. So it's tough
for Canty to have regrets that he'll be on a contender, being more
highly paid.

Adding Canty to Edwards would've made no sense; Canty instead of
Edwards, that might be an upgrade; it might not be. You'd need to put a
lot into DT regardless of either, and it wouldn't have kept Carolina
from drafting two.

As well, Dave Gettleman had inside info on the former Giant, so it's
not an uninformed decision. Was it the right one? Hard to say, but
it's not worth getting upset over.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Offensive Trends

To go with the shortened verbiage of the offense, I wonder if Mike
Shula will be upping the tempo of practice.

It's not something that's been discussed in the media, but (sorry for
the constant media slams) it's probably not something that would be
mentioned if it isn't in an interview soundbite. So if Jordan Gross
says the tempo is quicker? It's quicker. If he doesn't say anything,
who knows.

It's a possibility, but if it isn't so far, I certainly hope it does
happen. It's another offensive innovation brought from college, though
the first guy to use it - Joe Philbin in Miami - is a longtime pro coach
(Mike Sherman might've been the motive power on that one from his failed
Tx A&M stint). Philbin upped the tempo, and threw in two scrimmages on
either side of coaches. Other teams haven't done that, but continue to
throw in as much scrimmage as they can.

But, philosophically, with concussion studies showing that it isn't
always the one big hit, it's often the hundreds of thumps you can get in
succession, is that better for the sport?

As it is, the NFL limits the total scrimmage allowed, and if too many
teams drill a lot of hitting in scrimmage situations, I wonder if that
will be sanctioned as well? A few teams are getting heat for excessive
hitting in non-scrimmage situations already, and constant drills in camp
won't help.

I don't want to be alarmist, but the idea of a constant stream of
once-every-30-seconds scrimmage plays over and over, to squeeze all you
can in? If a player's feeling woozy from heat or from taking a lot of
hits, chances are that guy's going to feel pressure to not step out.


There's a fine line with all of this. But, part of me still wants to
see the team push this philosophy, even if it's not hitting hard on the
lines. Drill two sides, have the linemen contact with just arms if
needed, and drill the rest like it's 7 on 7. And just do things over
and over again, with expert efficiency. There's just not a lot of
practice time out there.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Simplicity In Offensive Terminology

I've long been a Coryell guy. Offensively, I think it's so ingrained
in the NFL that it gets overlooked. It's been, in one form or another,
the way that Carolina's run its offense (excepting 98-01's WCO, and the
Ehrhart-Perkins from 07-10).

So compared to the two other major philosophies, in general I like what
it does, and that includes terminology. It tells each player what they
need to do (excepting sometimes the backs, where a non-mention is just
blocking within the scheme called to the line). Coryell emeritus Al
Saunders explains it better than I can, regarding why the WCO makes you
think harder about the call:

(link: http://hamptonroads.com/node/150111)

Queen Right Jet Right 940 F Corner Swing
"We've just told all 11 players everything they need to know," he says
proudly.
Queen Right and Jet Right set the formation and tell the line how to
slant its blocks. The 940 is only slightly more complicated. The
Redskins label their receivers X, Y, and Z, depending on where they line
up. The X receiver listens for the first number, the Y receiver for the
second, the Z receiver for the third. Even-numbered routes break in;
odd-numbered routes break out; the higher the number, the deeper the
pattern. F Swing tells the fullback to run a short corner.
"We don't even have to mention 'H,' " Saunders says, meaning the
halfback. "He knows he's always last."
Suddenly, he's drawing again; same play, different words. Brown
Right 2 Jet Flanker Drive

"Bill Walsh's West Coast version," he explains, hoping the visitor will
recognize the difference. He doesn't. "He's told the flanker what to do,
but no one else; they have to memorize their routes," Saunders
explained. "We tell everybody what to do on every play, yet our verbiage
is short and simple."

Interesting words, and in theory, a much better process. I believe in
that. It's a matter of creating a language moreso than having to
remember what each of 6-8 (or more) words mean and then translating that
to a separate ideal of what you're doing on that play. But Carolina's
changing that up – and working back toward simplification. Cam Newton
shared that in an interview this week, suggesting that a lot of the
concepts are becoming named terms instead of named lists of tasks.
And I'm getting on board with that. To me, it's part of the
collegization of the pro offense. When the spread showed up, it changed
some things. And with that came a bit more no-huddle concept, a bit
more hurry-up. And in college, simple is better. Quicker is better.

To an end, as well, while I love the Coryell philosophy's ability to
make 525 F Post into the 125 different plays that the defense might have
to account for? There's also a lot to be said for not making about the
coordinators. A cerebral play caller like Rob Chudzinski might spend
weeks setting up a certain play, looking to outsmart, say, Dom Capers,
another cerebral coach who notes everything (personal or professional)
in a notebook in what must be a huge pile of information. But in the
end, if the sabermetrics spit out that there's a tendency for the
offense to throw a lot of 12 yard routes on 2nd and 5-8 (as a brief
example) and the MLB looks at a lot of tape on that down/distance, it
probably doesn't matter how much window dressing is put on it. That MLB
might cheat to that side and jump that route.

I love Chudzinski's mind for the game. But he's had a tendency to
overthink. I've hammered it before, but the idea of Kealphoa Pilares'
five yards being your leading rusher in a game is an overthinking
disaster.

Mike Shula isn't that guy. He's not going to overthink, and so that's
a positive (it then becomes how far he takes it, and hopefully not too
conservative/simple/dumb). So then it reverts to what's better for the
players. And in the end, for players, adjustments are a lot easier
than a bunch of words you can't use at the line anymore.


I'll leave this at the end, from sports geek innvoator Chris Brown of
smartfootball.com on what the Pats have done with one of the more boring
offenses of all time:

http://www.grantland.com/story/_/id/8849439/how-terminology-erhardt-perkins-system-helped-maintain-dominance-tom-brady-patriots

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Should Godfrey Get Handed A Job?

Charles Godfrey has always been under the gun, having the necessity of
moving positions upon being drafted and getting labeled with Mike
Minter's #30. It's set unrealistic expectations - especially since, as
good as he had been, Minter's own performance was overblown over time.

He looked like he was starting to get it in 2010 with 5 INT; he was one
of many players on defense that rose to the occasion despite a horrid
offense giving them limited opportunity. Like many players at that
point, Godfrey got paid, and of that group, Godfrey's been one of the
lesser performers despite being healthy.

Ron Rivera suggested this week that the jobs in the secondary minus
Godfrey's were up for grabs. While I know that most of the competition
was thrown at SS, and Godfrey was installed at FS - which might be a
better fit, and definitely puts the experienced guy in the secondary in
a leadership/signal calling role, I disagree that the job should be
handed to him. If for no other reason, symbolically I don't believe
he's earned what he's been handed - not #30, not that fat contract, and
not a guarantee that he won't be ousted.

Opinions vary greatly on Godfrey. Most fans can't stand him, and yet
plenty of analysts love him. I remember Bill Polian going to bat for
the guy hardcore, and others have had praise as well. There's no doubt
he can make plays, but a supposed ballhawk with corner skills like
Godfrey seems to miss a lot more than he makes the big play. He's
never defended 10 passes in a season, and he's averaging just over 2
picks per season. It's just not enough.

So, there's little satisfaction to be had, and I've dumped enough on
Godfrey. In the end, he'll probably be the best DB on the field, and
it's not his fault he's never been challenged. But for six years
running, he hasn't been. And that needs an eventual remedy.

Friday, June 7, 2013

Play Calling

In almost every situation, an NFL head coach should be completely
informed and have input on all three phases of the game with his
coordinators.

The Cowboys' situation with Jason Garrett, an odd feud about
playcalling that hasn't actually changed anything other than the level
of pressure and awkwardness that Garrett's dealt with, underlines
something I believe in.

I believe that Garrett should have the ability to determine whether he
calls plays.

It's more awkward for a defensive minded coach to call plays, since
it's more reactive, but a head coach is a head coach. His team. I
don't like Jerry Jones' media feud with his head coach. Of course, the
fun irony is that his insistence on hiring Garrett as a man-in-waiting
took Norv Turner (beloved in that building) off the table for the Dallas
job.

It moved Wade Phillips over from San Diego, a move that cascaded into
Norv to SD along with a ton of current Panthers coaches and the ones
that just left to go be with Norv in Cleveland. It gave Ron Rivera the
coordinator job that prompted Carolina to hire him. So Jones' odd
insistence of forcing a coordinator on a new head coach, caused problems
for that head coach and cast a long shadow on other parts of the league.
For a coordinator he promoted and now wants to fire.

There was a leigitmate feeling that Jones wanted to hire Turner this
time as OC; Garrett definitely wouldn't have wanted that. There hasn't
been any real change; Bill Callahan might or might not take on more,
Tony Romo might or might not call more at the line.


But, all that said, my preference is that a head coach not call plays.
I have no doubt, for instance, that if you were to pluck a Jon Gruden
and pay big for a head coach, that Gruden's a better playcaller than
who's under him. But it's just a lot to do both in my opinion. Both
hats are tough to wear, and both together? You only have one head.

The West Coast Offense has a good model for that, to a point; the head
coach probably calls the plays in that system (it's been a while since I
can remember a newly hired defensive head coach that installed the West
Coast), the OC runs the offense administratively, and the QBs coach
helps gameplan. You have to have good coaches in those roles either
way, but egos have to be in check. There's also some remedy in
pre-scripting plays, which can get you through a quarter of the game,
but you have to be able to process the outcome, too.

In the end, as a head coach and coordinator, you have to be able to
think ahead while the play's happening. Can you really process mid-play
for both the next play and understand what's happening in the current
play? And if so, is it still value added to do so when others can?
You may have to choose between what's best for your O, or best for your
team. Is that a choice you should have to make?