Tuesday, March 02, 2010

D-Fense!!!!!!!!! (Sorry, I don't have a fence symbol).

So much to talk about, so little time, so let's stop wasting it and get down to business: -- Thomas Jones of the New York Jets will be released from his contract this Friday, making him a free agent. This move is good for everyone I think. Jones is 31 now and the Jets have both Leon Washington and Shonne Greene to take over next season and between them I think they have the potential to be an explosive backfield duo. Jones meanwhile can now get a contract worthy of his skills. The trouble he had previously, and why he wanted to renegotiate his contract last off season (at which he was unsuccessful), was that his contract was front loaded, meaning he received approximately $13.1 million dollars up front, but last year took home just $900,000 in base salary (yeah I know, "just $900,000"). This year he was expected to take home $2.8 million in base with a $3.3 million roster bonus. Jones still has talent and teams like the Chargers and the Redskins could use a guy like Jones (yes, that is me officially rating Jones over Portis). -- It wouldn't be the 2010 combine weekend if I didn't mention Tim Tebow every single day, so here we go again. The most recent spat that's going around is that Florida Gators Head coach Urban Meyer and his staff did Tebow an injustice by not preparing him properly for a career in the NFL. Which is funny, because here was little ol' me thinking that Meyer and his staff were paid good money to help the Gators win football games and championships. I never realised that the University of Florida actually pays them to prepare players for a future career in the pros! There are just times when I want to grab peoples heads, often NFL personnel guys or coaches, and then ram them violently together. -- Talking of using your head (see that transition... smooth), let's talk about Myron Rolle whose draft stock has apparently plummeted a bit in the last few days. And get this, it's because he's intelligent. Yes, a potential NFL player is sliding down draft boards because he has the audacity to be smart and want to improve his prospects in life. The Florida State Seminoles safety was accepted on a Rhodes scholarship and has ambitions to become a neuro-surgeon when he leaves football. Which I think is highly commendable. On top of that, he's been know to work out in the off season with players from the Pittsburgh Steelers, which is a great thing on so many levels. The biggest knock that teams seem to have is that he will be too much of a thinker as opposed to reacting instinctively. Unlike Ed Reed of course, one of the best safeties in the game, who spends huge amounts of time watching film and using his brain power to break teams down, so that on the field he can react.... uh, instinctively. I've got high hopes for Rolle and if his fourth round prediction is true, that's a hell of a steal for someone. -- As my regulars will know, I'm a huge fan of the Bench Press (can you smell the sarcasm?). Watching the DBs was pathetic. I'm pretty sure there were one or two guys in there who didn't even notch one proper rep. Credit to Eric Berry and the top repping DB, Lucien Antoine, who seemed to lock out on most of their reps. I know I sound like a technique freak, but it's simple logic. If you're gonna make the guys do it and then analyse and compare them based on their results, then at least make them do it properly, otherwise what's the point? You're just letting guys inflate their stock artificially without putting in the work. -- Suh versus McCoy today and to be honest, both guys were pretty solid. McCoy got in a quicker 40 time compared to Suhs' higher bench press reps from yesterday. But other than that, they're still neck and neck for the first pick. Personally I'm still with McCoy. I think his lateral quickness and instincts will serve him a little better in a league where passing is the norm and most teams are starting to use zone style running schemes. -- As for the rest of the DL and LB who were out today, two guys stood head and shoulders above the rest for me. Derrick Morgan, DE out of Georgia Tech, showed fantastic movement on all the drills. I like his quick feet and fluid motion. Probably a little heavy to be a 3-4 outside rusher but put his hand in the ground and this kid is ready to roll. The other player who caught my eye was Sean Weatherspoon, LB from Missouri, did great on all the drills, pretty quick, but the thing I like the most is his change of direction. Most players when they want to change direction will plant and drive, effectively stopping then starting again. Weatherspoon has a different style, a much more flowing move that keeps his momentum and speed up. It's hard to explain, but he kinda places that outside foot down, then rolls his inside foot in and then back in the direction he wants to go. It's a much smoother motion. For comparison, look at these two symbols: < ( The first one represents the traditional plant and drive motion, while the second one is more like Weatherspoons footwork, only he's a little more circular than that. For a better comparison, watch Joe Montana when he used to drop back on some of the quicker pass plays. He kind of drifts a little to the side with his last step(s) and then comes forward to throw in one fluid move. In fact, being the generous guy that I am, here's a link to Montana in Superbowl 19: http://www.dailymotion.com/video/xa2usy_super-bowl-19-study_sport I don't know who posted this video, but the description is worth reading as well. Somebody posted it as a study project of sorts on the Bill Walsh offense, proposing that the 3 step drop was nowhere near as influential as the 5 and 7 step drop were (read my info on the side to get my take). So I actually took the time to sit down and watch it all and makes notes, so I'd like to present these to you here. There were 41 intended pass plays (regardless of their actual end result, such as Montana running). Of these, only 8 plays, that's roughly 19.5% were 3 steppers. There were nine 5 step plays (22%), and seven, 7 step plays (17%). Playaction in it's various forms accounted for 17 plays (41%). What's also interesting is that out of those 41 plays, 20 of them, almost half, were run from what Walsh called "Red" formation (known to everyone else as simply the 'splitbacks' set). This is interesting because if you look at modern WCO teams in the last ten years, they hardly used the splitbacks set and commonly go for a lot of 3 WR sets, whereas I only counted 6 such sets, 15%, in this whole game from Walsh, for passing at least. He also spent another 14 plays in other two back sets, notably the I formation. The key thing here is that over the years, the idea of using backs as dump offs and safety valves on 5 and 7 step plays, as well as play action, has been corrupted into the derisive idea of the WCO being a 'dink and dunk' type offense. But the idea is you run a seven step play or a play action play, then you throw to the open receiver. If the guy down field is free, that's great, give him the ball. But the key thing is, if he's not open, then at least you have a checkdown to go to who can help get you some yards. You have big play potential with ball control built in. And probably the biggest difference from then to now is that Walsh never demanded his QB should throw the ball down field regardless of whether the throw was there or not. He understood patience and the building of a series of first downs. I think this is key to the success of the Walsh Offense. Well, that's me spent for the day. Thanks for stopping by for a read and have a great day everyone.

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