Big Balls van Gaal

“van Gaal simply didn’t want to work with me, he treats players like interchangeable objects,” said Toni. “The coach wanted to make clear to us that he can drop any player, it was all the same to him because, as he said, he had the balls,” said Toni. “He demonstrated this literally (by dropping his trousers). I have never experienced anything like it, it was totally crazy. Luckily I didn’t see a lot, because I wasn’t in the front row.”

-Luca Toni, 2011

Louis van Gaal figuratively whipped his balls out on the biggest stage of the world, making out of left field substitution and it paid off brilliantly. It deserves special praise that go beyond 140 characters on Twitter, so it’s time to fire up the blog. Most of what you can read about the shootout is little more than “Krul rattled them.” He did, but how? By van Gaal–and Krul–giving his team some big advantages.

Marginal advantages can be the difference between winning and losing. Everybody loves an underdog but at the World Cup the best team almost always wins, in part because the have more than a few advantages over the weaker side.

(more…)

What If The Eagles Kept Trading Down?

In my most recent post at Bleeding Green Nation I looked at possible draft trades for the Eagles. The genesis for the post was a very different idea, one that as I kept going turned out to be really bizarre and not worth a post there. But I give you here, my loyalest of readers, the leftovers and unused bits.

The Seattle Seahawks won the Super Bowl this year with a roster stocked with late round picks. Nine players who started at some point in the season were drafted by the Seahawks in the first three rounds. 17 players who started were drafted in the 4th round or later. That is in part due to there being more picks in rounds 4-7 (plus undrafted free agency) than there are picks in rounds 1-3, but the Seahawks picked up more than their fair share of players this way: Richard Sherman, Kam Chancellor, Walter Thurmond, Brandon Browner, Byron Maxwell and Red Bryant were late picks or UDFA. With so many players on cheap contracts, the Seahawks were able to supplement their roster nicely with free agents. Some might see this as a blueprint to build a team. One way to go about setting the foundation based on this blueprint would be to trade back in the early rounds and pick up some extra late picks.

What if we took that to an extreme? What if we looked at the past three years and retroactively had the Eagles trade down and didn’t stop until their first pick was in the fourth round? What kind of team would you have?

(more…)

Let Them Eat Crow

The release of DeSean Jackson has been, unsurprisingly, massively unpopular. In the lead up to DeSean’s exit, there was also anger, at the writers who said that this day was coming. They’re professionals and it would be low class for them to gloat. I, on the other hand, have no such qualms or standards. It’s time for a lot of people to eat crow.

crow

But first, John my friend, you are off the hook on a technicality.

Now let’s get down to business…

(more…)

Moving on Up

Big news for the few, the proud, the loyal Southern Philly readers: I’m at Bleeding Green Nation now. Huge thanks to BGN Editor in Chief Brandon Lee Gowton and also his partners in crime, Mike Kaye and the on-haitus Dan Klausner for their support, along with James Keane.

My first step into the spotlight, Anti-Heroes Are Hard to Find is up:

The NFL, we like to say, is “a copycat league.” Someone has a great idea that works and they are lauded as a genius, in invention this is called “the hero theory,” that individuals are considered singularly responsible for extending man’s reach, and labeled as a genius, or hero. Football is not much different, one person’s idea rises above the rest and they are hailed a genius, then coaches around the league assimilate it and everyone moves on to the next big thing.

There is a counterpart to this theory: “multiple discovery,” that ideas spring up completely independently and simultaneously by multiple people. This is an usual occurrence in the NFL where at any given time a third of the coaches and GMs are on the hot seat. The league may be on the verge of another blueprint to copy. Should the Seahawks win, their approach will be lauded as the New New Thing that other teams would be wise to do until something deemed to be better comes along. What they will not realize is that some teams are already independently operating in a similar fashion.

 A front office making shrewd roster moves turning over every stone they can to build a deep and balanced roster, coupled with an ultra competitive coach with a trademark philosophy getting the most out of the castoffs and rejects given to him. That is not an easy combination to find, but it is not unique to Seattle. It sounds a lot like the Eagles.

As for this blog, I aim to have non-Eagles content here. Can’t promise anything.

Scrutiny now settling on shaky Browns CEO

What a difference a year makes.

No coaching search has been as meandering and bizarre as the Browns’ circuitous trek across America. If you are replacing your coach after one year, you might want to actually have a plan to replace him.

Chasing every lukewarm college coach, scrambling to the media to confirm some coaching interviews, obscure others; releasing skewed information about your whereabouts and resorting to day-late spin tactics after being repeatedly left at the altar isn’t going to fly in Cleveland. Not when the entire league knew Rob Chudzinski was praised in middle of the season then fired at the end of it, and not with a nominal general manager, Michael Lombardi, trying to fight a growing perception around the league that he is woefully out of his depth. (Say what you want about the Vikings exhaustive search, but they haven’t been strung out by college coaches who were unlikely to leave campus anyway).

(more…)

Youth Gone Wild

Age considers, youth ventures.

-Rabindranath Tagore

The 2013 Eagles season ended in disappointment, but that it ended in 2014 meant it was an overall success. There is a lot of reason for optimism for next season.

This is only Year One

This is only Year One

I have a general rule that a person or a team or whatever must be good or bad for two seasons in a row before I can really say they are good or bad. Anyone can have a singular great season, and anyone can have an isolated terrible season, and this is magnified in the small sample size that is an NFL season. But Chip Kelly has me second guessing myself. Beyond the obvious highs this season of winning the division, career years from DeSean Jackson, Shady McCoy and historical performances from McCoy and Nick Foles, something else stood out to me that gives me confidence for next year.

(more…)

It’s Blitz!

The Eagles clawed out a victory in a must win game against the Cowboys. One of the talking points of the game was the Dez Bryant touchdown on 4th down and how it reflects upon the larger picture of the job Billy Davis has done this season.

DAL 1A

While I am no fan of Davis, he and his staff do have positives. All of the young players on the defense, Cox, Thornton, Logan, Curry, Kendricks, Boykin and Wolff have all improved as the season has progressed, which is an excellent sign for the future and very good reflection of the coaching staff. The one positive constant during Davis’ tenure in Arizona was his defenses were good at getting turnovers, and that has been the case this season. The run defense is strong, and while that matters less than passing, at least they’re strong at something for a change after years of futility.

However there are demerits to be given, and they have been consistent all season long, which is troubling. But first, the play everyone is arguing about, Dez Bryant’s 4th down touchdown.

(more…)