Klosterman on the people who hate Tim Tebow

Chuck Klosterman has a strong piece on the people who hate Tim Tebow. I liked this piece because it inverted the usual structure of the Tebow discussion, which I can summarize as “TEBOWTEBOWTEBOWTEBOWHARFHARFHARF”. (Or, as Spencer Hall has accurately put it: “YOUR STUPID NON-COLLEGE-FOOTBALL-WATCHING RELATIVE SAYS: ‘Oregon has the uniforms and the colors and the things, don’t they? What’s with that? Hey, what do you think of Tim Tebow? ‘Cause I’ve got some real strong opinions I’d like to share.’”) From Klosterman:

The crux here, the issue driving this whole “Tebow Thing,” is the matter of faith. It’s the ongoing choice between embracing a warm feeling that makes no sense or a cold pragmatism that’s probably true. And with Tebow, that illogical warm feeling keeps working out. It pays off. The upside to secular thinking is that — in theory — your skepticism will prove correct. Your rightness might be emotionally unsatisfying, but it confirms a stable understanding of the universe. Sports fans who love statistics fall into this camp. People who reject cognitive dissonance build this camp and find the firewood. But Tebow wrecks all that, because he makes blind faith a viable option. His faith in God, his followers’ faith in him — it all defies modernity. This is why people care so much. He is making people wonder if they should try to believe things they don’t actually believe.

(more…)

Smart Links – Strategery Round-Up: two-tight ends, the 3-4 defense, rocket toss and “Iso” – 12/8/2011

Old school Green Bay Packers’ use of two-tight ends:

- Two good links from Ron Jenkins:

- Wisdom from Woody Hayes:

[W]hen I first starting coaching listening to Woody Hayes talk about designing an offense. He talked about you start with your schedule and rank all your opponents from one to ten in terms of toughness to beat. Then you base your offense on beating the top 3 or 4 teams. That’s it. Once you are done there you just make sure you’re sound against everything else.

- The importance of choosing your coverage in the 3-4 defense:

(more…)

The NFL doesn’t want you to have access to the “All 22″ film

The NFL doesn’t want “All-22″ game film — the “eye-in-the-sky” view that coaches use to analyze their teams and their opponents** — released to the public because “it would open players and teams up to a level of criticism far beyond the current hum of talk radio… [F]ans would jump to conclusions after watching one or two games in the All-22, without knowing the full story.”

It should be this simple

This is, of course, ridiculous. Obviously the argument doesn’t work, because if anything the All-22 would clarify the hasty conclusions fans and commentators already jump to on the basis of poor angles and little information. And even if it did open them up to criticism, so what? It’s an arbitrary game played for people’s enjoyment. If the First Amendment to the Constitution protects citizens’ ability to criticize the actions and policies of government and government actors, even during times of war — something that could potentially have a cost in human life — I should think that people who are paid millions of dollars to coach and play an arbitrary game can stand a little bit of heat. The whole thing is silly.

The proffered reason — that it would result in too much criticism — is so silly that it can’t possibly be true. But if it’s not true, then what is the real reason? I struggle with this (though I shouldn’t overlook the Occam’s razor-esque possibility that it’s simply that the people with decisionmaking authority over these kinds of things at the NFL are not intelligent, thoughtful people and do it for no real reason at all), as the only apparent conclusion is that it’s simply to insult the intelligence of fans and people who enjoy football. In short, it leaves two possibilities: first, either we really would fail to comprehend the complex array of movement on the field by twenty-two supremely athletic but human men, and thus we need the gentle paternalism of the cameraman and producer to show us, in a kind of cinematic baby talk, “See, with this close-up the quarterback throws a pretty spiral to the receiver!”; or, second, football isn’t even a game so much as it is a product to be branded in a particular way, and by restricting the All-22 the NFL can by Orwellian imagery of extreme close-ups and slow-motion shots emotionally convey to us the narratives solely how they want to in the way they want to. In either case, it’s all about controlling the message; the only question is why, and all the answers are depressing.

(more…)

LSU vs. Alabama: The Zen Riddle

Can a game be great even though the quarterback play is only average (or even below average, depending on how you adjust for the competition)?

Your answer probably determines whether you thought last night was a good game or a bad one, or even whether it was fun to watch or was boring.

The gift that keeps giving: Buddy Ryan’s playbook

Check out this gem from the early pages of Ryan’s playbook (linked to in the prior post):

Brave New World: Watching film (game and practice) in real time on iPads

What do West Virginia coach Dana Holgorsen and Supreme Court Justice Scalia have in common? Answer: They both take their work home with them via their iPads. In Scalia’s case, the Supreme Court staff and his law clerks load the casebriefs and cases on his iPad for remote viewing. For Holgorsen, it’s film — practice, WVU film, opponents, film, and so on. As he explains in the linked clip (beginning at the 1:50 mark), coaches and even players nowadays frequently take video home on their iPads or even download it on the fly to review and continue the process of getting better. He even mentions that some schools give iPads to all of their players.

Very interesting, and increasingly available to teams at all levels. And, after the jump, is a photo West Virginia QB Geno Smith tweeted of his aforementioned iPad with game cutups:

(more…)

Funky name, good site: FishDuck.com’s breakdowns of Oregon’s schemes

This is a fan created site that does a good job breaking down Oregon’s schemes. What a huge advantage it is to be a fan of a team like Chip Kelly’s — very fertile material, and this site does nice work in analyzing all of it. Check it out.

Smart Links – 10/13/2011

Why have NFL passing yards gone up so much this season?

- Bill Belichick breaks down plays from the Patriots’ win over the Jets.

- Calvin McGee on the spread offense.

- Buck and strong safety fire zone, against both the run and the pass.

- Peyton Manning, dealing with his injury.

- Bruce Feldman joins Ty and Dan on the Solid Verbal.

Al Davis, 1929-2011

I will have more to say on the passing of Al Davis, but, for now, it’s enough to say that it’s unclear whether there was any more influential figure in the history of professional football, or ever will be. Al had his enemies and his grudges and there are many incidents that don’t always reflect so well on him, but those won’t be what I remember. I will remember the owner who was a coach, who learned from Sid Gilman, taught Bill Walsh, and hand picked and groomed John Madden (who was an obscure college assistant coach under Don Coryell — Al knew what he was doing). I will remember the man who was commissioner of the AFL and was never afraid to fight the system from within. And most of all I will remember the man whose teams, for the better part of four decades, lived up to not only his famous adage “Just win, baby!” but also to his more serious motto: “Commitment to Excellence.”

So blows the autumn wind.

New Grantland: Darren Sproles and the rise of the “space player”

My new piece is up over at Grantland. Check it out.

Scan the list of the NFL’s total yardage leaders and you’ll see their names. Most of them have the title running back — Matt Forte, LeSean McCoy, Jahvid Best, and Ray Rice, to name a few — but there is no one prototype for these players. Indeed, in the same group you’ll also see receivers, most notably Wes Welker of the Patriots, a “slot receiver” who is the undisputed master of the underneath route and the receiver screen (although this year he’s been doing all that and more). An older example is former Pro Bowler Eric Metcalf, who made the rare switch from running back (where he ran for more than 600 yards in two different seasons with the Cleveland Browns) to wide receiver (where he had more than 1,000 yards in 1995 while playing in the Falcons’ run-and-shoot offense), all while returning kicks and punts. But without a doubt, today’s top space player is the New Orleans Saints’ runner/receiver/kick returner/human Molotov cocktail Darren Sproles. Sproles is straight-ahead fast, but he is a great space player because of his other attributes: quickness, lateral agility, a second gear to blow by defenders, and a low center of gravity. Sproles returns kicks for the Saints but, then again, every time he touches the ball it’s like a kick return — he’s in space, and one missed open-field tackle against him might mean a touchdown.

Read the whole thing.