Football

Non-Eagles football

Great Year To Not Need A Coach

It’s a great year to not need a football coach.

craig-t-nelson-coach

He won an NCAA title and coached in the NFL, and no one wants him

The coaching carousel appears to be broken. Rex Ryan might have been the best coach available, and he was unemployed because he was deservedly fired. And he’d only be a good hire if you already had an offense but needed your defense to be completely rebuilt. That is the exact opposite situation of the Bills, who decided to hire him. Todd Bowles fits that description too but minus the experience, instead he takes over the disaster that Ryan was fired from. Doug Marrone quit his job in Buffalo to not be hired by the Jets and had to settle for offensive line coach in Jacksonville, hopefully for him just a stop before taking some ACC job next year. You should have just taken the year off Doug. John Fox takes his conservative-to-a-fault game managing to the implosion in Chicago, the Raiders spun the wheel of crappy retread head coaches and landed with Jack Del Rio, and San Francisco booted their best coach since Bill Walsh and replaced him with a guy who can’t speak.

Weak hires and bad fits. Great year to not need a coach. Not just a head coach but a coordinator too. When Todd Grantham is in a position to say no, it’s a really bad job market. That’s greatly illustrated here in Georgia, where there will be two “what the hell they doing” hires made, at the Falcons and at the University of Georgia.

First, UGA. Mike Bobo took the head coaching job at Colorado State, which was a good move for him and for the Rams. To replace Bobo, Mark Richt hired… Brian Schottenheimer. This makes no sense. His offenses were never good, play calling stinks, and he’s has no real track record of developing young players. What’s the appeal? That his dad was Marty? Nepotism runs high in coaching. Schottenheimer’s first five years of employment in the NFL was because his father was the head coach, he then worked for Eric Mangini, Rex Ryan and Jeff Fisher, three coaches who are even better at killing their own offenses than the oppositions’, in part because they hired Schottenheimer.

The only real appeal is that Georgia has a seemingly endless supply of running backs, and Schottenheimer likes runs the ball. But running the ball and being good at running the ball are not the same. Schottenheimer’s teams were good at neither. In five of his nine seasons as an OC, his offenses were at or below the league average in attempts. His 2009 and 2010 Jets were 1st and 2nd in rushing attempts, and 1st and 4th those years in rushing yards. But again, volume does not equate success, they were 11th and 5th in rush DVOA those seasons. Richt also named him QB coach, which is particularly hilarious because Drew Brees got good in San Diego immediately after Schottenheimer left. In New York and St. Louis he failed to develop anyone, Mark Sanchez and Sam Bradford are essentially the same players they were without Schottenheimer. In fairness only a handful of coaches would get improved play out them, but at the same time “garbage in, garbage out” isn’t a defense for hiring a coach. Virtually all of Schottenheimer’s “success” came with veteran players on offense scoring just enough points, the defenses of the Jets and Rams were the engines of the teams he was on. With underclassmen at nearly every skill position, that won’t be the case in Athens, though the defense should be good.

Mark Richt has a done a really nice job underachieving with the talent he has, this is a great way to continue that. He got a contract extension.

But hey, at least somebody wanted that job. That’s more than you can say about the Falcons. What should have been the most desirable head coaching job available was apparently the one that nobody wants. The Falcons have an established QB, a top WR for him to throw to, just drafted a top LT prospect, play in a winnable division and have a top 10 draft pick. That’s as good as you can ask for when taking over a bad team. And everyone is passed on them.

Rex Ryan didn’t feel like they really wanted him. Todd Bowles preferred to take the Jets job, which should had no appeal. So they are hiring Dan Quinn, mainly because nobody else will hire him. Quinn might turn out to be the best coach that was hired in 2015. The problem isn’t who they hired. It’s how they wound up with him.

And it shouldn’t be that much of a surprise. Thomas Dimitroff continues to live off his reputation from his first season. His drafts have been otherwise terrible. The Julio Jones trade didn’t hurt the Falcons, it helped them: all the picks they gave up meant less opportunities for Dimitroff to draft a bust. Instead of firing him, Blank waited a week or so and decided he was staying, but with a shifted role. When asked what that role was, he answered by rattling off Dimitroff’s bio and then Scott Pioli’s, even though the question had nothing to do with either Pioli or Dimitroff’s resume. Blank didn’t just duck the question, he answered a completely different one.

Pioli appears to have more power now. Why? Blank praised the job Pioli did this year, while talking about the process to replace the head coach because the season they had was so bad. Pioli’s time in Kansas City was poor and also filled with terrible draft picks. He did a great job in New England, but without Bill Belichick he’s been a poor GM. Tyson Jackson did nothing in KC, and Pioli brought him to Atlanta where he predictably did nothing. Ditto Javier Arenas. Is Jonathan Baldwin next?

So with no clear direction from the owner and no clear direction from the front office, can you fault a coach for not wanting to work there? Can you blame Rex Ryan for not feeling like he was wanted?

That said, credit to the Falcons for not falling under the nonsensical trap of hiring a coach because he’s available after the first round of the playoffs because “that’s what teams do.” Plenty of coaches get hired a year later than they should have because teams are afraid to wait for their team to be eliminated. As if one or two weeks where there is no practice is going to make a difference, especially when the front office remains in place. Assistants were hired, including Brian Schottenheimer’s lousy nepotism counterpart, Kyle Shanahan, so it’s not like the team wasn’t represented at the Senior Bowl. Though considering how slow the Falcons were to do anything this off-season, and that coaches didn’t want to come to Atlanta, that may not have been by design.

As a neutral fan, these moves will be interesting to watch.

What a great year to not need a coach.

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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).

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Clear Eyes, Full Hearts, Can’t Lose

I like playing Madden as much as the next person, but it gets boring after a while because it’s too easy. So I decided to give myself a challenge: build a team around Tim Tebow. I thought about doing this with the Eagles, but I couldn’t bring myself to do so. So instead I will run the Jaguars because if Shad Khan isn’t going to take Tebow then I’m going to make him.

I did it and I'm proud of it.

I did it and I’m proud of it.

But how does one build a team around Tebow? Easy. By surrounding him with players with the highest intangibles, which of course is literally impossible. If it could be rated, it isn’t intangible. That’s pretty much the only criteria I will use. Actually being good is an afterthought. Tim Tebow has to put the team on his back and schlep them to glory 5.4 yards at a time. So I took over the Jaguars in owner mode so that I can’t be fired, and did a fantasy draft. The draft process was remarkably simple: sort by Intangibles, take the highest rated player. In the event of a tie, take the player rated with the highest Toughness. Draft 22 starters plus punter and kicker before drafting any backups. I laughed the whole time.

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Homework Assignment

Training camp has started and that has me excited for football, and motivated to write about it. I’ve got some things in the hopper but for now I wanted to share with you some things I’ve been reading.

Football Scouting Methods – Steve Belichick

A good team succeeds on the field by making up for its weaknesses on the field in other areas. A good team makes up for its weaknesses off the field in other areas too. For the past few years, the Patriots have made up for their poor drafting through coaching and scouting, and that all comes from Bill Belichick. Bill got his scouting knowledge from his dad Steve, who was a long time scout for Navy and wrote this book in 1963. While some of the specifics are outdated, such as single wing formations and defensive guards, much of it is still relevant. Books on scouting are far and few between to begin with, to get a literal how to manual from one of Bill Belichick’s biggest influences is a godsend. At $3 it’s an absolute steal.

The Tao of Chip Kelly – Mark Saltveit

I’ll have a full review later but in short, this is a must read whether you are all in on Chip Kelly or on the fence about him. Saltveit is a contributor at Fish Duck and his book is a compilation of Chip Kelly quotes and demonstrations of how his actions match his words. Oregon was one of my “must watch” teams on Saturdays for the past few years and thought I had read quite a bit on Kelly, but now I feel completely versed in his ways. I wanted Chip Kelly to replace Andy Reid since the middle of the 2012 season, and now I’m even more on board with Kelly.

With the Eagles moving towards a 3-4 defense, I wanted to learn more about it. In particular, I wanted to learn about it from coaches to better understand their mindset and communication. I found these were very helpful:

2005 Ravens 34 Defense Clinic Presentation – Mike Pettine

I like Mike Pettine a lot and wished the Eagles had made him their DC. This is the power point of his presentation for the Frank Glazier Clinic while he was the OLB coach for the Ravens. There’s a lot of slides that are just plays, after all it’s the power point to go along with Pettine speaking. If you like Xs and Os, you’ll enjoy this and learn a few things about how a coach thinks.

3-4 LB Play – Al Groh

Groh’s been coaching defense since the Nixon administration, and has been the LB coach for Bill Parcells twice (including the 1990 SB winner) and for Bill Belichick. He’s not the greatest defensive coach (Georgia Tech fans might say he’s the worst) but he knows his stuff and this is his Nike Coach of the Year Clinic presentation from an unknown date, probably when he was HC at Virginia. A quick but good educational read.

That should tide you over for the weekend. Hope you enjoy.

Mock Draft Mock Draft

The 2013 NFL Draft begins in mere hours. You have been inundated with, and yet still yearn for, mock drafts, draft profiles, and prospect rankings. Your desire to discover the thinnest sliver of insight has led you here, to the 1st Annual Mock Draft Mock Draft, where mock draft mockers and mockees are unabashedly mocked with supreme bias. The brain child of three men with sources familiar to situations, the 1st Annual Mock Draft Mock Draft is an an attempt to spit in the face of the establishment, to buck the system, to break the monotony of the hundreds of mock drafts that provide no more and no less information to NFL fans than an NHL injury report.

This unique brand of mock draft mockery consists of twenty-one total selections, three picks per round for seven rounds. It’s the moment the mock drafters haven’t been waiting for and will never forget because it’s impossible to forget something you don’t know about. Each selection was thoughtfully and deliberately decided, and any mock drafter not selected was purposely not selected with unintentional intent.

So mock drafters beware. No reach is long enough, no stock too high or too low, no mouth loud enough, nor is any board big enough for the raw subjectivity illustrated below. Jordy, James, and Dave are not normal men. Normal men mock drafts. These men mock those men.

By virtue of a subjective order determined by Dan Klausner, who will also be providing post-draft analysis, Jordy has the first pick, followed by James and then Dave. Jordy is on the clock!

First Round

1st Overall – Jordy

Having the first pick in our “Draft Mockers Mock Draft” was a little nerve racking for me. I had the power to start off our mock draft as either light-hearted and funny or serious and informative. Needless to say, I became DRUNK with that power. I almost made the rest of the picks for Dave and James so theirs would follow suit. No I’m kidding, these guys are way more intelligent and witty than me, but without further ado my first pick in the “Draft Mockers Mock Draft” is MATT MILLEN!!! “WHOA, what a monkey wrench Jordan, he’s not even a mock drafter!” Yeah well he wasn’t a GM before the Lions made him one either! That’s the American dream right there.

This was really a no brainer for me. I need a guy who has made a TON of mistakes over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over again so he can eventually (10 years or so) learn from them. Now obviously selecting Matt Millen first overall can only mean one thing, my team will be drafting a WR in the first round! And most likely miss! ALTHOUGH there is a small chance he could stumble upon the next Calvin Johnson for me. Who knows?! NO ONE DOES. That’s the Matt Millen Magic. (Or M^3 as he likes to be called) The best part about this pick is in 5 years only 3 of his picks will remain. It’ll be like he never even existed!

Dave: Holy shit. This is bigger than when the Asians took Wu Tang Clan in the Racial Draft. Matt Millen, this guy is the total package. Terrible talent evaluator, terrible roster management and he’s actually done it. Is it possible to have the steal of the draft with the #1 pick?

James: How the hell do I follow that?

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I’ll trade you a 7th rounder for a 1st rounder. Deal?

Straight up. No extra picks, just a 2013 7th rounder for a 2019 1st. If you gave up the 1st, you’d be immediately fired after you made that trade, if you were even allowed to. But this trade could happen on Saturday at the draft. Sort of.

It’s easier when Josh McDaniels is calling the shots.


Sometimes a team is looking to trade up and doesn’t have or want to give up picks that year. The rule of thumb in that scenario is that you give up a pick in next year’s draft from the previous round. Want a 5th rounder this year? It’ll cost you a 4th next year. Because of that, a shrewd GM can put himself in position to get himself a 1st rounder well down the road for peanuts… assuming he’s still around. (Working for an owner like Jim Irsay or Bob Kraft would greatly help). It all starts with having a 7th rounder and a team that really wants a guy, so you get them to give up a 6th next year. Or you could shorten the process by a year by starting with a 6th rounder and get a 5th. From there you just let it snowball over the years. Pro Sports Transactions has a list of all the trades made over the years, an incredible resource. Let’s take a look only at trades where a team gave up a single pick in the current year draft in exchange for a higher round pick the next year to illustrate that this is possible. It’s not easy.

7th for a 6th is relatively common. In 2003 the Eagles a traded a 7th to the Packers for a 2004 6th, in 2006 the Titans traded a 7th to the Colts for a 2007 6th (which the Titans got from the Colts in an earlier trade, so Indy wound up with it’s original pick), in 2008 the Packers traded a 7th to the Saints for a 2009 6th, in 2009 the Eagles dealt a 7th to the Colts for a 2010 6th, in 2010 the Lions traded a 7th to the Eagles for a 2011 6th and in 2012 the Vikings traded a 7th to the Titans for a 2013 6th.

6th for a 5th is rare. 5th rounders that are traded are almost always part of a package when a team trades down/up. In 2008 the Eagles traded a 6th to the Browns for a 2009 5th. I know I said I was only looking at one for one trades, but this is too good to pass up. You can also skip a step if you get lucky and trade with Josh McDaniels. The Broncos gave up a 2011 5th rounder for two 2010 7ths. Two 7ths for a 1st ain’t so bad.

5th for a 4th is more common. In 2003 the Colts traded a 5th to the Texans for a 2004 4th, then in 2005 they dealt a 5th to the Eagles for a 2006 4th and in 2010 the Jaguars traded a 5th to the Saints for a 2011 4th, which the Jags got from the Raiders got from the Patriots got from the Broncos got from the Cowboys. Whew.

4th for a 3rd is also rare. In 2002 the Texas traded a 4th to the Falcons for a 2003 3rd, and in 2008 the Cowboys traded a 4th to the Browns for a 2009 3rd.

3rd for a 2nd has happened a few times as well, all by the Patriots. In 2003 the Patriots traded a 3rd to the Dolphins for a 2004 2nd, in 2009 they dealt a 3rd to the Titans for a 2010 2nd and in 2010 they traded a 3rd to the Panthers for a 2011 2nd. Interestingly, the Patriots wound up dealing all three of those 2nd rounders. When Peter King needs to go to his happy place, he thinks of those trades.

And finally, 2nd for a 1st, also rare. In 2009 the Seahawks traded a 2nd rounder to the Broncos for a 2010 1st. Josh McDaniels strikes again.

As I said, it’s not easy. If it was easy, everyone would do it. But it’s fun to think that with a little luck, it can happen.

The Pre-Season is Useless

The Pre-season starts tonight (well actually it started on Sunday) and while yes it’s nice to have football again, these games will not tell you anything. Every year we see guys having nice camps/pre-season games and get cut. The year the Lions went 0-16, they were 4-0 in the pre-season. Schemes are vanilla, starters play less than a half a game, almost half the rosters you see tonight will be cut by the end of camp. But don’t take my word for it. Take a NFL head coach’s.

All you need to know about the uselessness of pre-season (from a fan’s perspective) you can learn in one scene from Hard Knocks with the Cincinnati Bengals. During a game, Marvin Lewis tells his offensive co-ordinator that he wants the next three plays to be runs that have the tight end and fullback block. This will give Lewis and the Bengals useful information on how guys on the bubble performed, but fans have no idea that was happening. A fan might even be annoyed they ran it on third and long. But the down and distance didn’t matter to Lewis, he wanted certain guys to get reps doing a certain thing. And that’s why you can’t take much of anything from these games: teams aren’t playing to win, they’re playing to evaluate.

So read into pre-season performances at your own risk. Or do I need to remind you of Na Brown?