Excellent Video on Quarterback Drills from Ohio State OC/QB Coach Tom Herman

Good stuff:

On pseudo “Scoutspeak”

One 240-pound athlete who can move like a hungry leopard is pretty much like all the others, a fact that cannot be allowed to stand between the motivated draftnik and that coveted senior draft analyst title. Luckily, there is Scoutspeak, a language designed to baffle laymen with submolecular analysis of every high-cut, sudden prospect who can high-point, bucket step and take proper angles but gets upright, runs with poor lean, and fails to syncopate his duodenum while percolating the jabberwocky.

Every Scoutspeak term does correspond with some real physical attribute, and true experts like Mayock can pepper their explanations with jargon without delving into non-Newtonian football minutiae. Others use Scoutspeak to conceal ignorance. The Paradox of Draft Analysis states that the more detailed the observations about a prospect’s kinesiology, the less likely the writer-speaker is to have ever seen the prospect play football.

That’s Mike Tanier writing at the Fifth Down. Read the whole thing.

Not what the game is about

According to the investigation, the players regularly contributed cash into a pool and received improper cash payments of two kinds from the pool, based on their play in the previous week’s game.

Williams administered the program with the knowledge of other defensive coaches and occasionally contributed funds, according to the league investigation.

Payments were made for plays such as interceptions and fumble recoveries. But the program also included “bounty” payments for “cart-offs,” meaning that the opposing player was carried off the field, and “knockouts,” meaning that the opposing player was not able to return.

The investigation showed that the total amount of funds in the pool may have reached $50,000 or more at its height during the 2009 playoffs. The program paid players $1,500 for a “knockout” and $1,000 for a “cart-off,” with payouts doubling or tripling during the playoffs.

“The payments here are particularly troubling because they involved not just payments for ‘performance,’ but also for injuring opposing players,” Goodell said in a statement. “The bounty rule promotes two key elements of NFL football: player safety and competitive integrity.”

Read the full report.

On whether quarterbacks drafted early in the NFL are better than ones drafted later

From Phil Birnbaum:

As you’d expect, the early draft choices got a lot more playing time than the later ones. Even disregarding seasons where they didn’t play at all, and even *games* where they didn’t play at all, the late choices were only involved in 1/4 as many plays as the early choices. Berri and Simmons don’t think that’s a problem. They argue — as does Gladwell — that we should just assume the guys who played less, or didn’t play at all, are just as good as the guys who did play. We should just disregard the opinions of the coaches, who decided they weren’t good enough.

That’s silly, isn’ t it? I mean, it’s not logically impossible, but it defies common sense. At least you should need some evidence for it, instead of just blithely accepting it as a given.

And, in any case, there’s an obvious, reasonable alternative model that doesn’t force you to second-guess the professionals quite as much. That is: maybe early draft choices aren’t taken because they’re expected to be *better* superstars, but because they’re expected to be *more likely* to be superstars.

And:

(more…)

Combining the shovel option with a sprint-out pass

One of my favorite recent evolutions in offenses has come from the rise of “combined” or “packaged” concepts, which might combine both a run and a quick pass play or a quick shovel screen and a quick pass into the same play. Part of the motivation behind such concepts is that they are simply good ones: You can take things you are already good at, combine them, and make the defense wrong every time while executing simple ideas. But the other reason is that in the age of the no-huddle, they avoid the need for complex pre-snap audibles or convoluted calls in the huddle of multiple plays. With these “packaged concepts” you get both the quick call-it-and-go of a fast paced no-huddle without sacrificing the quarterback’s key role in putting the offense in position to succeed.

One of the most intriguing new concepts that I’ve been told teams have run this past season — if you have any film, please feel free to send it — is to combine the “shovel option” play that Urban Meyer made famous at Florida with a true sprint-out or roll-out pass concept. The “shovel option” or “crazy option” is a great play in and of itself: The line blocks the “power” concept, pulling the backside guard, while leaving the defensive end unblocked so the quarterback can option off of him. Typically, the defensive end cannot help himself but attack upfield for the quarterback, allowing the quarterback to shovel pass it upfield to the runningback who has slipped underneath and who has a lead blocker. Below is a clip of Tim Tebow tosses the shovel option to current Patriots stand-out Aaron Hernandez.

It’s a great play — and it certainly pre-dates Meyer, as I’ve even seen clips of Alabama coach Bear Bryant running the play back in 1976 — but teams have gotten better at defending it recently. And the defensive ends that have gotten better at defending it are able to squeeze and take away the shovel pass and to force the quarterback to extend the play to the outside. Sometimes, teams run the play as a true triple option, combining the inside shovel with a speed option to the outside. But the timing on this never seems to work out well, as the speed option isn’t particularly well complemented by the slower developing shovel to the inside. And even if it is a good play, it becomes significantly more expensive to convert it from a cheap way to run the shovel and not have to block some stud defensive end and to instead turn it into a true triple option. There must be some other way to run this.

(more…)

When Keeping It Real in the World of Warcraft Goes Wrong

Not football, but I found this rather, ah, dramatic:

Following a dispute over stolen “gold” in an online video game, Trevor Lucas devised an incredibly detailed and disturbing plan over the course of a year and a half to get revenge on the would-be “thief,” CG, a minor living with his mother in Wisconsin. Lucas discovered CG’s home address, drove twenty hours to CG’s home, and impersonated a law enforcement officer in an attempt to lure CG out of the house and kidnap him. When CG’s mother refused to allow Lucas into the house, he attempted to gain entry by pointing a handgun directly at her face. But CG’s mother quickly slammed the front door before he could react, and Lucas fled while she called police. He was eventually arrested in his home state of Massachusetts. Lucas pled guilty to brandishing a firearm during a crime of violence and the district court sentenced him to 210 months’ imprisonment. He now appeals his sentence, presenting a barrage of arguments claiming the district court committed error at sentencing and the sentence was substantively unreasonable. We find none of these contentions meritorious, and accordingly affirm Lucas’s sentence.

You can find the entire opinion here. The whole thing is troubling:
(more…)

The Life Cycle of a Blog Post, From Servers to Spiders to Suits — to You

Click to embiggen:

This is from Wired; click here for an interactive graphic.

Why Do We Have Spring Practice?

Football is a fall sport. As the summer cools, the air itself seems to change. And, to me, that fall air always smells like football. The games are then played for the next few months until, bleeding through the winter holidays, the championships are played and the final tallies are taken on another season gone by. Still in winter, coaches, players and fans all turn their eyes back to the hope of a new season, the next game: the fall.

Just a few more months...

Except that there’s actually some odd little mini-training long before the real one: spring practice. Colleges all have it — it’s considered a must, an outbreak of actual football bracketed by long, grueling months of winter conditioning — and even most high schools now have it. Urban Meyer, speaking to high school coaches, lamented that Ohio doesn’t allow spring practice for high schoolers and vowed to do his part to change that. Indeed, the importance of spring practice is questioned by almost no one, and it’s obvious to see why: In a world of time limitations on practices, anypractice — whenever it is — is good practice. But why is it for one little block in the spring?

In the NFL, the summer months are taken up with “mini-camps” and “OTAs” (“organized team activities”), where the basics in terms of schematics are installed and technique is addressed in relative leisure, before the intense sprint of fall camp and the season begin. Some of that timing is because, with free agency and the NFL draft, teams often aren’t quite sure what their rosters will look like until around the summer, but that’s not altogether different than in college. True freshman are increasingly important to the success of even top flight college teams, and they tend to arrive on campus around June. It may have something to do with the idea that most universities break their academic calendar years into semesters, but (a) players “work on football” in the form of conditioning year round and (b) almost all of them spend the summer term on campus as well. You don’t hear about too many star college players who spend the summer before their senior years at an internship with Proctor & Gamble or studying abroad in Barcelona. And in high school there are definitely oversight issues with allowing practices in the summer, but fall camp itself begins before the fall school year begins and presumably most of the high school kids stay local.

So there is something odd and maybe even anachronistic about “spring practice.” Obviously, no coach is ever going to vote against less practice, but why spring? And, given that it is in the spring, how important is it to player development?

In 1971, Texas sports information director Jones Ramsey famously said: “There are only two sports in Texas: football and spring football.” And it’s clear that this phenomenon has spread across the country, as fans pack in to see their team’s spring game — filling the stadium to watch practice — encouraged by hope. Spring practice is disconnected enough from both the prior season and the following one to exist only in a world of optimism: Everything is possible.

(more…)

Smart Links – Strategery Round-Up – 2/27/2012

Strong Scrape Fire Zone and Fire Zone Adjustments:

scrape

I have borrowed a lot from Manny Diaz when it comes to Fire Zone adjustments. There are many adjustments that can be run, which include having the DT being a dropper at times, but there are two adjustments that I think are the most important. Diaz talks about how the coverage needs to be the easiest thing as far as Fire Zones go, so it is important that we not over-complicate things. If a defender blitzes the wrong gap, you may have a bad play but it won’t be a disaster. Now, if there is a mistake in coverage, that’s a disaster.

Bill Belichick’s blitz package versus empty:

The Ravens have five potential pass blockers. It doesn’t take great mathematical abilities to realize that if the defense brings 6 rushers there will be a defensive player unblocked. New England gets a free rusher while only rushing 5 by having the Mike and SS execute a read out blitz based on the slide of the protection.

blitz

The SS is reading the block of the Left Guard. If the LG blocks the DT the SS blitzes and is unblocked. That is both what is diagrammed here and what happened in the video clip. The Mike is reading the guard to his side as well. If the guard is stepping toward him he will drop out, looking to cover the hot route from the opposite side. The Mike knows where the hot route is coming from because the protection and hot routes are linked. The offense can pick up 3 rushers to the defensive right of the center with 3 blockers. . . .

The offense is more likely to slide to the Mike linebacker than toward a SS. Bill Belichick is manipulating the pass protection by exploiting the offense’s expectation of the SS’s role on defense. A SS should be covering a receiver or a zone not walked up into the B gap to blitz. Where else can you find this pressure concept? In the Alabama playbook of former Bill Belichick assistant Nick Saban.

In defense of success rates:

(more…)

Is it worth it to actually go to games anymore? Yes, but not too many

Another broad problem: the younger the sports fan, the less they enjoy being in an arena where their smartphones can’t get a signal. “People don’t like to be out of touch,” said Doug Perlman, founder and CEO of consulting firm Sports Media Advisors and a Duke graduate. “They want to be sharing the experience with their friends.”

That is from this piece in the WSJ, about declining attendance at ACC basketball games. (H/T Senator and Elkon.) That’s a rather ridiculous reason not to go to a game. But I do generally agree with this statement:

Chris Bevilacqua, the founder of a media-consulting group and architect of the Pac-12’s nearly $3 billion TV-rights deal, pointed to another general culprit: the affordability of clearer, larger televisions. The at-home TV experience, he said, is better than ever.

The sports-at-home experience has gotten better and better while the stadium and arena experience — despite the incredible infusion of taxpayer money — has only improved at the margins, if at all. I can honestly say that I do not enjoy going to a lot of games every year in any sport, including football, and for me there is a high degree of diminishing returns: I make it to a few games a year, but after those few the idea of going to more — and to think of the transportation, parking, weather, etc — gives me a particular kind of nausea.

(more…)