Best of Billick 101: Chalk talks with NFL coaches

Good stuff:

<a href='http://msn.foxsports.com/video?videoid=ca002bd1-848c-4f15-9626-c8d9a3108a3e&#038;src=v5:embed::' target='_new' title='Coach Speak: Best of Billick 101' >Video: Coach Speak: Best of Billick 101</a>

After the jump are some full segments (note that it will load a bit slowly):

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Smart Links – Sabanization, Ball Security, iPads – 1/30/2012

This edition of Smart Links brought to you by Vanderbilt offensive line coach Herb Hand and his awesome vertical leap:

- Blutarsky and Michael Elkon on the “Sabanization” of the SEC.

- Gary Crowton to become the offensive coordinator of the Winnipeg Blue Bombers.

- I’m still now sure how I feel about this.

- The real secret to Nick Saban’s success.

- Drug testing for legislators. Hard to see why this shouldn’t be law.

- The world of Roger Scruton.

- BenJarvus Green-Ellis’s secret to not fumbling. Try here for a little more substance on the topic of ball security.

- A good way to waste time: Look up how much your favorite college professors and administrative officials make.

- Good analysis of the Supreme Court’s recent decision regarding the warrantless use of GPS tracking devices by police.

- LeBron’s “improved” post game.

- Football’s (the other “football”) best managers.

- Weaning off of “alternative” investments. Like so many things, what was once hot quickly cools.

- Human costs built into the iPad.

Former Texas A&M Coach Mike Sherman’s letter to Texas High School coaches

Sometimes things don’t work out the way you hope they do; that’s certainly the case for any coach that gets fired. But sometimes there can be victory in defeat. In that vein, I enjoyed coach Sherman’s letter, which is reprinted below.

I want to take this opportunity to thank all of you for allowing my staff and me to come into your high schools, recruit your players and share ideas with you. I am forever grateful for the access and opportunity you’ve offered me over the last four years.

Other than going to practice every day and being on the field with my players, the one thing I am going to miss the most is visiting with high school coaches, listening to you talk about your kids and your programs, and watching practices and off-season workouts. Since this will be my last letter to high school coaches, besides thanking you for the opportunities to visit with you, I wanted to share with you some of the things I learned over the years that might be of help to you down the road. Sometimes I think as football coaches we are so competitive we are reluctant to share ideas. This profession has been good to me. I believe giving back when you can is important. These are my ideas – not suggesting they are for you. They are some of the things I came away with.

I. Core Values

If a player learns anything from me, he’ll learn that you have specific core values to live his life. These ‘core values’ are his guiding light in the decisions he makes not just as a football player, but as a man.

Our ‘core values’ for our team were simple.

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The most popular Smart Football articles of 2011

The coming of each new year gives us a chance to look back, and 2011 was a productive year here at Smart Football. In addition to my pieces over at Grantland, I had a number of fresh pieces here on the site. Below are links to some of the most popular pieces of 2011, in no particular order.

- Dick LeBeau, Dom Capers, and the evolution of defense.

- Why every team should install its offense in three days (and other political theories on coaching offense).

- What is the inverted veer/Dash read?

- Buddy Ryan’s “Polish Goalline” Tactic.

- Bobby Petrino’s shallow cross concept.

- Snag, stick and the importance of triangles (yes, triangles) in the passing game

- The “Diamond” formation and other mult-back pistol sets.

- Teaching a quarterback where to throw the ball – Grass, leverage, and specific defenders

- Combining quick passes, run plays and screens in the same play.

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Smart Football’s NFL Playoffs Wildcard Review

Wildcard weekend features several important matchups, though some wide disparity in teams: In the same weekend that the 13-3 and record setting Saints must play, so too much the 9-7 Bengals, 9-7 Giants and even the 8-8 Denver Broncos. At different times I’ve written about most of these teams; the weekend provides a good chance to review some of the concepts that these teams hope to ride to victory.

Keys to success

Cincinnati Bengals at the Houston Texans. My pick is Houston by seven or so. Make sure to read my recent exploration of their outside “wide” zone, which they learned from the master himself: Alex Gibbs.

Detroit Lions at the New Orleans Saints. This is far and away the best game of the weekend, and, though I have to go with the Saints, I think it’s a tough one to call. The Saints are particularly devastating at home, so I’ll pick them by three, but I would not at all be shocked to see Detroit pull off the victory.

In a year of dynamic offenses, New Orleans may well have the best one in all of football. A key part of that success is all-purpose “space player” Darren Sproles, who frequently serves as the fulcrum player in the Saints’ multifarious attack by lining up all-around the field and being both a rushing and receiving threat. I wrote all about those varied skills earlier this season here, for Grantland. Of course, Drew Brees is pretty good too; I’ve previously written about his favorite play, four verticals (isn’t it everyone’s favorite play?), for the NY Times.

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Chart of the Day: Airraid bowl success edition

It’s no secret I enjoy some well executed Airraid, and this bowl season provided three great examples. The last three quarterbacks Dana Holgorsen coached — Case Keenum at Houston, Brandon Weeden at Oklahoma State, and his current quarterback, Geno Smith at West Virginia — all led their teams to bowl victories, including two in BCS games. (Keenum was primarily coached this year by former TTech quarterback Kliff Kingsbury while Todd Monken took over at Oklahoma State and led their attack.) And each quarterback put up very impressive numbers. How impressive? See the chart below:

Ho hum, another day at the office

Each had a monster game in his own right, and most importantly they each won, but I enjoy the final column: The “average” quarterback that emerges. Based on the numbers, I’d take that guy on my team. And better yet, tell him to bring his offense with him.

Smart Links – 1/3/2012

Why are movie revenues dropping, by Roger Ebert.

- Books that are never done being written.

- 10 New Year’s wine resolutions.

- Recap of developments in particle physics in 2011.

- Are brokerage accounts safe?

- Intellectual property feudalism.

- What was the least important event of 2011?

New podcast with the Solid Verbal on the BCS bowl games

I did a podcast with the great Ty and Dan of the Solid Verbal, previewing all the BCS bowl games. Listen to it here (and on iTunes as well).

Smart Links – 12/20/2011

Resources on the 4-2-5, TCU’s vaunted defense.

- How the “Cowboy” (corner blitz) killed the wildcat. It’s because the “Wildcat QB” was not a passing threat. It’s a good read on what the wildcat did and does well (covering similar territory as I covered here).

- Sean Payton, circa 1992, on quarterbacking.

- Inside the mind of a college freshman quarterback.

- Breakout players of the 2011 college football season. What Watkins and De’Anthony Thomas have been able to do as true freshman is just incredibly impressive, especially given how many roles each play for their teams. I could watch highlights of both guys all day.

- Defending trips: Disguising schemes and staying disciplined. Very good link.

- How pedestrians behave.

- Ian McEwan and Christopher Buckley on Hitchens.

Paragraph of the day, red zone playcalling edition

Red Zone Play-Calling

On a first down Red Zone play, teams are more likely to score if it’s a run than a pass if they are at the 8 yard line or closer. Anything between the 9 and the 20 favors a pass on first down. That doesn’t mean that 100% pass is the optimal strategy, just that the play calling should favor the pass (or run inside the 9). For goal to go situations after first down, second down is the ultimate OC’s choice. From anywhere 10 and in on second and goal running and passing have nearly identical touchdown percents. On third and goal, the run still holds up strongly. A called run is more likely to score a TD on anything from the 6 and in than a pass, which owns 7 and up. Again, not saying the strategy should be 100%, but there is real value to favoring the run inside the 7.

There is more data driven situational analysis here.