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Flog that pony.

If adding Revis and Goldson to last year’s 7th overall, Barron, wasn’t enough, Mark Dominik added 6’2″ Banks at #43 in this year’s draft.  The wisdom of d-backfield investment will be tested this fall in Tampa.

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I’ve been at this short d-back thing for months.  I know it seems like I’m beating this horse and I promise, I’ll let it go once my twitter timeline can go 24 hours without telling me that Leon McFadden was a smart pick.  More precisely, that McFadden represents addressing the issue at cornerback.

My problem is that I keep finding data that confirm what my gut already knew:  when you’re the 26th shortest d-backfield in the league, you’re not addressing the problem by becoming the 32nd shortest.

Without even talking about whether or not drafting a rush linebacker at #6 after signing two FA OLBs and converting a third so you’ve just drafted your fourth OLB at six overall… without even going there, let’s review the d-backfield thing.  Let’s review the number one need of this off-season.

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This whole exercise began with a simple observation.  A basic truth.  Water is wet.  Sky is blue.  Buster Skrine is short.  Short cornerbacks struggle against tall receivers.  There are more tall receivers in the league.

WRs 6′ 3″ or taller who started three or more games:

It just seems to me that a 5′ 9″ sorry, 5′ 9.5″, CB is going to have problems no matter how fast he is or how many games he started in the WAC.  I’m surprised this is controversial.  So I decided to look at the data.  How are other teams dealing with a short backfield? (more…)

Analytics? Shamalytics.

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You don’t need an advanced degree in Mathematics from MIT to read this chart.

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There are 56 6’4″ and better WRs today.  Five years ago there were 31.

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The Big Data promise of Scheiner.
Turns out he’s more of a scoreboard purchaser than an applying-data-to-talent-acquisition guy.

News item:  Huge cornerback Tharold Simon drafted by Seahawks two days after arrest for “public intimidation, resisting an officer and unnecessary noise.”
Lessons:  Big cornerbacks are valuable; the best defense in the NFL knows this; the Browns do not.

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After much ballyhoo about our team hiring an MIT Sloan Sports Analytics Conference stalwart as CEO, it’s apparent that Mr. Banner does not let the CEO in the draft war room.

Wasn’t there a whole lot of happy talk about advanced analytics helping the Browns?

Didn’t we all assume these principle would be applied to talent acquisition?

Maybe someone should have taken a harder look… because from here it looks like Scheiner’s contribution will be bigger scoreboards.

And by ignoring even the simplest set of data as shown at the top, the numbers on the scoreboard are likely to look the same as they have for decades.

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What was the #1 need of the 2012 Browns?

We’ve been through this.

Buster+Skrine+Cleveland+Browns+v+New+York+QYYvAWcpvonx

McFadden gonna cover some asses too.

But I’ll repeat:  our defensive backfield was bad.  Usama Young was horrible.  Sheldon Brown got injured.  Buster Skrine played hard but was exploited by tall receivers.  Say again:  Skrine was always in position; Skrine cannot cover NFL WRs because he’s too short.

There was no need to improve the strongest part of the team, but fine:  we have a one-year Defensive Coordinator who wants to run his special system and needs to acquire three free-agents and use the #6 pick to re-do the perfectly good front line.

But fine… we’re fans and you can tell us anything and we’ll believe it because we HAVE TO.  So… ok:

CAN’T HAVE ENOUGH PASS RUSHERS.

Fine.

Fine fine fine.

fine

(more…)

WWHE #3: Mingo fills biggest need.

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pre-draft depth

Red is need. We drafted a green.

Why we hate ESPN:  they don’t even read their OWN research.

And this is the good stuff.  Behind the pay wall.  INSIDER.

I know we’re all going to be alright, but think of all the twelve years old boys who rely on ESPN for their talking points in middle school.

On the pick:  I liked Mingo in college.  Was really disruptive in the Chik-Fil-A loss (even though his stats don’t show it).  Terrorized Boyd all game.

I’d be all in on Mingo if we hadn’t just SIGNED TWO FREE-AGENT EDGE RUSHERS AND MOVED OUR BEST PASS RUSHER TO THE POSITION MINGO PLAYS.

Grade: Harumph. (more…)

Reaches and values.

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Hours of number crunching has confirmed only one thing: The Enigma of Berkeley.

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After my Ogletree pick (and my earlier Rhodes pick), I got thinking about the idea of ‘reaching’ on picks in the NFL Draft.

After all:  the value of pick is established by an imaginary market comprised of dozens/hundreds of reporters/bloggers/analysts who know markedly less than the football people who are determined to be overpaying.

It’s absurd and we do it every year.

Tyson Alualu is a reach.  Brian Bulaga is value.

I thought I’d take a look at how it goes when we annually fall into this trap.  Let’s compare a mock database to the actual picks taken that year.  Let’s see if there’s anything to the ‘reaches’ and ‘values’ assessments that are laid down.

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The dicey part of this is finding old mocks.  Our friends at WalterFootball still have their old mocks up going back to 2003.  That is why I chose Walter as the arbiter for ‘reach’ and ‘value.’

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Credit where it is due.

On a quick tangent, let me take a moment to congratulate Walter on their accuracy.  

Out of 322 first round picks since 2003, 211 were +/-6 of the actual pick.  That’s 65.5% of the time they’re hitting the mark.  63 times nailed it.

There are no metrics on mocks so we can’t say with certainty that that’s great… but it seems great to me.  There are misses (mocked Quinn to the Browns at 3 in 2007), but there’s also a few hits (DHB to the Raiders at 7 in 2009).  And sometimes they get it more right than the pros (mocked all-pro Beatty 20th in 2009; he fell to the Giants late in second round).  

For the most inexact of sciences, I’ll give them a ‘job well done’ rating.

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For our purposes we’ll just say that if you pick someone twelve slots higher than the mock, it’s a reach.  Twelve slots lower, it’s value.

I only looked at the first round.  So if someone was mocked in the second or third round, I’m saying their mock position is 33.  That’s why Alualu (mocked at #53, taken at #10) isn’t far and away the Reach Champion.  Likewise, the best value picks are in the second, third, etc., rounds.  I don’t account for those here either.

If you’re interested in the raw data, here’s the messy spreadsheet.  

I’ll keep the whole list in the sidebar for reference for the next couple days.

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KKE #5. Euclid selects Alec Ogletree.

Euclid smiles.

 
Fifth in a series of collaborations with Reboot’s Dave Kolonich.  Earlier KKE’s:
KKE on cornerbacks: Kanick  Kolonich;  Pick your sleepers:  Kanick  Kolonich.
 
UPDATE:  Kolonich eschews logic in his demolition of my theorems, here.  He’s got Star Lotulelei.

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Dave and I can squeeze in one more KKE before Thursday, so let’s just cut to the chase:

Who will the Browns take and why?

Banner-Lombardi obfuscation successfully trips up draft wonks. Except for Kanick. I see you Alec Ogletree. I’ll take you at #6 if I can’t trade back.

We’re into the fun part.  The smoke show.  After months of top ten, Dee Milliner is now damaged goods.  Geno Smith could slide to second round if not taken by Jacksonville.  The Browns are intrigued with Tavon Austin and Geno Smith.  Fluker will go before Warmack.  Cordarrelle Patterson has not the math skills to run a curl route.

You name the name, there is smoke.

As pertains to the Browns, the smoke is most heavy and the path is unknowable.  In spite of their history, Haslam/Lombardi are hard to read.  New coaching staff, no one knows who holds sway in the draft room.  We’re not even sure if the coaches have great reads on the existing roster.

This has led to reports indicating the Browns will select Jordan, Ansah, Milliner, Austin, Eifert, Floyd, Lotulelei, Smith.  (And Rhodes by me.)  As well as endless trade-down scenarios.

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Let’s apply geometric logic to this problem and clear away the smoke.  Narrow the possibilities.  First:  the prevailing smoke.

1.  Can’t have too many 6’3″/300 d-tackles; pass-rushers; defensive front personnel in general.

This is preposterous.  Of course you can have too many pass rushers.  Of course you draft draft for need when you’re a 5-11 team.

Just look at the talent already assembled for Horton’s five man front.  The investments of dollars and draft picks.  It’s rock solid.

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Department of Redundancy Department.

If you’re the Niners or Seahawks and don’t have holes elsewhere, THEN you can do a BPA.  The Browns though?  More top defensive front personnel are luxuries they can’t afford.

We’re good at the defensive front.

It makes no sense to get another OLB, DE, DT with the other holes in the roster.

It makes EVEN LESS sense when you factor in there will be no trade down.  Hell, even the Dolphins are looking to trade back.

Browns have five holes and if they get three starters in the draft it’s a homerun.

Don’t be drafting guys where you have starters.

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No sex in the Champagne Room.

Euclid wouldn’t.

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2.  It’s a QB league; you have to find your franchise QB and if he’s there at six, you take him.

Has Chudzinski found his next Cam?

Cleveland Browns reportedly want to draft new QB

Pfft.  Let’s give last year’s first round pick a chance to work in a non-remedial offense.  The reports from the mini-camp are all positive. (more…)

KKE #3. Pick your sleeper(s).

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If I have to pick… give me Knile Davis in the 5th; Ricky Wagner in the 6th; Kenny Tate in the 7th. Sorry Denard.

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Time for another Kolonich/Kanicki Exchange.  This weekend, we thought it’d be interesting to explore the world of sleeper draft prospects.  For these purposes, we’re defining ‘sleeper’ as someone projected to be taken in rounds 5/6/7.

I couldn’t just take one.  (Sorry Dave.)  I’m going to rank my sleepers and they shake out like this:

  1. Knile Davis, RB, Arkansas;
  2. Kenny Tate, SS, Maryland;
  3. Ricky Wagner, OT/OG, Wisconsin.

with several honorable mentions.

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My method and pool.

For a pool,  I’m consulting Sobo’s Top 300 listing* and going with his names after 150 as my pool.  Bad idea, Sobo’s too good; precious few ‘sleepers’ residing sub-150 on his board.  Instead, I pulled Drafttek’s Top 400 and loaded them in a google spreadsheet here.

Let’s get one thing out of the way up front:  I’m the ultimate ‘casual draft wonk’ if that makes sense.  I’m not the guy looking at tape of a 100 players; but that won’t stop me from having a strong opinion on guys I have seen and like.  (For example, I was a major advocate for Justin Boren a couple years ago.  A rare miss.)  I know that doesn’t make sense on the surface, but with so many misses by the experts … anyone can be an expert.

Here’s who I liked in going through the back-end of that linked spreadsheet.

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Kanick’s eyeball sleepers.

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The prospect reviews.

Let’s work through these guys.

Knile Davis.  Dude weighs 227 and ran 4.37.  Injuries?  Broken ankle in 2011.  Well.. yeah, that’s why he’s 155 on your board.  But says here he picked up 1300 yards in 2010; tops in the SEC as a freshman.  I swear:  three hundredths of a second slower than Tavon Austin and 50 pound heavier.  And 31 bench reps.  Austin projecting in top 15; Davis fifth round (by this board).  Scouts cite fumbling and he plays, ‘soft and timid.’  After reviewing all the guys on this post, Davis is my top ‘sleeper.’  Good review of Davis here.

Denard Robinson.  This is a simple, ‘What do your eyes tell you?’  We’ve see him for four years in the Big 10.  He’s been nothing but baller.  Teams MUST game plan for him  We’ve established that there is no ‘playmaker’ position that you can draft.  But if there were, Denard Robinson would rate high in that positional ranking.  However, he would NOT rate highly if we were ranking baseball pitchers.

Everyone loved Wagner two years ago.
Was it playing with Zeitler, Konz, and Carimi? Or is he being underrated now?

Jake Stoneburner.  Always reliable, good hands, blocks… very Ohio State-ish tight end.  Who saw a 4.65 40 coming out of him?  If Stoneburner can run seam routes on top of everything else, that makes him Heath Miller which is terrific in the sixth round.

(I like Jack Doyle from WKU a lot too, but he wasn’t in drafttek’s top 400.  I checked with drafttek; they informed it was not an oversight.  Sorry, Jack.)

Ricky Wagner.  Two years ago Wagner so impressed with his dominating Rose Bowl against TCU, I screen capped the hole that John Clay got to run through.  He was playing guard on that team (Carimi, Konz, Zeitler were on that line too.  Mother of God, can you imagine??).  Anyway, I don’t know why Wagner is not beloved since that year, I really don’t.  This is another trusting of my eyes and I think Wagner will be starting in the NFL for a long time.  Maybe at guard?

Admitted: soft spot for discus-trained d-linemen.

Lawrence Okoye.  6’6″/280 308 and nothing but athlete.  I’m big on the pure athlete and I’m not the only one.  Last year’s recipient of Draft Highlight Video of the Year*** was taken in the sixth round by Bill Belichick.  Okoye’s got a track and field background and in an unpublished Margus Hunt paean, I checked into other track and field guy, here’s what I found:

  • Billy Winn, state runner-up (NV) in discus; state finals in shot-put;
  • Cameron Jordan (eight sacks last year for Saints), state champ (AZ) in discus;
  • Sam Acho (starting ROLB for Horton’s Cardinals), state champ (TX) in discus and shot put;
  • Jabaal Sheard, 4th in state (FL) in shot put, also threw discus;
  • JJ Watt, state champ (WI) shot-put.

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    Projecting the foreign 5tech prospects.

Just saying, it’s a positive.  Speaking of positives, check his stats:  4.8 40, 35″ vert, 30x 225 bench reps on THIRTY-FIVE INCH ARMS.  Added bonus: his age can be confirmed to be 21.  From Gil Brandt:  “Okoye looked like he could be drafted. He was unbelievably active and incredibly explosive in drills. It was a real, first-class show.”

Should also point out that the reigning top 5-tech DE (Watt) is a converted Tight End; this year’s top 5-tech DE prospect (Ansah) has been playing football for three years; this year’s third highest 5-tech prospect (Margus) has been playing football three year.  Why not this guy?  Especially if it just costs you a sixth rounder.  (more…)

KKE, 2: Do the Browns HAVE to Draft a Cornerback at Number Six?

So it turns out that 30 odd federal agents DO don bullet-proof vests to procure Lori McFarland’s emails.  

I admit, I find it disappointing that, when given the choice between:

  • building a landmark case that might protect the truly most vulnerable of our society and possibly strangle off the worst of the truck-stop sub-culture or;
  • demonstrating the how a truck-stop chain with 650 locations and expanding to 850 presents all manner of unfair trade practices leading to an effective monopoly within years or;
  • scaring up a case for one, or is it two? millions of dollars in non-paid rebates and kinda leaving open the door for speculation on politically motivated use of the Justice Department as there is precedent for AG Holder’s questionable discretionary use of his office;

your federal law-enforcement agencies chose to…

Oh sorry, wrong post!  This is part two of the Kanick/Kolonich Exchange (KKE) wherein I rebut Reboot’s indifference toward the drafting of a CB.

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I have not Reboot’s deep art gallery, but I can go toe-to-toe with him on Dr. Strangelove screencaps.
A prize will be awarded to the reader who comes up with Sterling Holloway’s classic line from this pic.
And that prize is the solemn pride that must be yours for your mastery of classic American cinema.

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In case you missed it, Kolonich is mezza mezza on whether a CB should be taken by the Browns at #6:

In the name of Cary Williams – NO, NO, NO, NO, NO, NO, NO, NO, NO, NO.  I contend the following:

1. If Dee Milliner was such a top prospect, why would he fall ALL THE WAY to Number Six?
2. Assuming that #1 was a grand bit of exaggeration, I give you the following:
3. They don’t make first round cornerbacks like they used to.
4. They don’t really need to.

I’m going to take the liberty of contorting Dave’s argument in a way that works for me.  It just makes it easier and at the same time this method of debate can serve as a demo should I ever need to present bona-fides on my potential as a radio talk show host.

  • Drafting by position of need is wrong-headed.
  • Cornerback as a position isn’t that important due to changes in offensive and defensive scheming.

Taking them one by one.

Drafting by position of need is dumb.

Buster+Skrine+Cleveland+Browns+v+New+York+QYYvAWcpvonx

Skrine side.

This, I think, is NOT Dave’s main point but a corollary one in need of attention.  I daresay, Dave and I agree that Buster Skrine, starting CB, represents the most vulnerable, exploitable starter on the team… thus CB is the greatest need.

Let’s play it out and see what happens if it is not addressed and in our role-play, Kolonich is Jay Gruden:

If DK is offensive coordinator for the Bengals, he has already started working on the many ways he can isolate AJ Green (6’4″), Mohammed Sanu (6’2″), and Marvin Jones (6’2″) on Skrine (5’9″).  And it’s still April.  By the fall, DK will have a play where Jermaine Gresham (6’5″) goes in motion wide to what is now called the ‘Skrine Side.’

Moral:  You gotta patch your holes.

Are there many ways to patch holes?  Theoretically, yes.

But my perspective is informed by our long regional nightmare at Right Tackle several years ago.  Ryan Tucker retired.  He was followed by Kevin Shaeffer, John St. Clair, and Tony Pashos.  They were acquired as free agents under thinking similar to DK’s:  ‘You don’t spend a high draft pick on a RT.  You just don’t.’  And while it’s true that Tyson Clabo was undrafted,,, some teams just don’t have that kind of luck.  We don’t have to do research on the number of undrafted-Browns-Pro-Bowlers to know that the Browns are among the unlucky.

The Browns have holes at CB, FS, TE, and OG.  The Browns are strong at defensive front, OT, WR.  I think CB is the biggest hole on the team; but I’ll be ok if they opt to plug one of the other holes at #6.

I will f***ing scream if, at #6, we draft a 6-3-ish, 300-lb-ish, DT/DE-ish guy to go along with Rubin, Taylor, Bryant, Hughes, Winn. (more…)

Kanicki/Kolonich Exchange: Do the Browns HAVE to Draft a Cornerback at Number Six?

Dave Kolonich from Reboot and I had the thought to collaborate on some drafty content.  We’ll be posting our stuff on each others’ sites because… well neither of our sites are monetized so just sit down CHS-1 and CHS-2…  just because we’re courteous like that.  

Here’s Reboot leading off.  I’ll be back in the AM with a contrived counter-point in the ESPN ‘Around the Horn’ mode.  

(Haha, just kidding.)

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I was trying to think of some halfway witty manner of introducing this segment, but instead I’ll just offer the following.

Kanicki and I are going to discuss some draft issues.

If you don’t know who Kanicki is, then shame on you.

Here’s the first question:

Do the Browns HAVE to take a cornerback with the 6th overall pick?

In the name of Cary Williams – NO, NO, NO, NO, NO, NO, NO, NO, NO, NO.

And to borrow from one of Kanicki’s go-to devices: “But DK, the Browns didn’t sign a cornerback in free agency and Dee Milliner is just waiting there at Number Six.”

Understood. However, I contend the following:

1. If Dee Milliner was such a top prospect, why would he fall ALL THE WAY to Number Six?
2. Assuming that #1 was a grand bit of exaggeration, I give you the following:
3. They don’t make first round cornerbacks like they used to.
4. They don’t really need to.

But that’s enough from me – to continue my argument, here’s what Kanicki came up with a few weeks ago. It made sense then as it does now. (more…)

Is Rubin the new Vickers?

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You can’t have too many good d-linemen.

The news yesterday was that Star Lotulelei is coming in for a private workout in Berea.  He joins Ansah, Floyd, D. Jones, Jordan, Mingo, and Richardson.  In other words, every top rated d-lineman in the draft will have visited Berea.  It’s hard to see this list of visitors without concluding that the Browns aren’t done ‘fixing’ the defensive line.

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Close your eyes.  Picture the 2012 Browns.

Who did you piss off in your 50 starts where you played hard for the NFL’s most anemic offense?

Assess the weak links in need of immediate improvement.

Did you come up Ahtyba Rubin or Jabaal Sheard?

No, me neither.

So what in the wide wide world of sports is going on here with this defensive line obsession?

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Kanick is having a hard time reconciling this.

With the Bryant signing coupled with these d-lineman visits, we’ve been hearing a lot of conventional wisdom in the last month telling us we can’t have too many good defensive linemen.  Hearing it from reporters we respect (Sobo), radio talk show guys (Adam Gerstenhaber), and Jimmy Haslam.

After awhile you turn into Ralphie on Santa’s lap because it has that same patronizing feel:

Santa:  How about a nice… football?  

Ralphie:  [Nods.]  Football.

Santa:  Ok, get him out of here…

ME:  NO, NO.  I WANT A STARTING CORNERBACK WHO IS FAST AND TALL AND AN INSIDE LINEBACKER WHO CAN CRUSH AND COVER AND A GUARD WHO IS NOT SEAN LAUVAO AND A TIGHT END THAT CREATES PROBLEMS IN THE SEAM AND AN INTIMIDATING FREE SAFETY!

You’ll shoot your eye out kid.

But even with one eye, I can see that with Taylor, Rubin, Bryant, Hughes, Winn, Sheard we’re good on the d-line.

I can also see that with salary cap and roster size limits one can, IN FACT, have too many defensive linemen.

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Tavon Austin review.

Tavon Austin: taller than Harry Potter, shorter than Captain Jack Sparrow.

Tavon Austin: taller than Harry Potter, shorter than Captain Jack Sparrow.

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I’m a dinosaur.  I know.  I believe in great offensive lines and dominating front fours and 4-3 defenses.  I’m not prepared to refute Vince Lombardi’s quote, “Football is a running game …” from 50 years ago.

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The time is right for faster, smaller o-linemen running more sweeps. What’s old becomes new again.  Circle of life.

I think trends come and go.. West Coast Offense yields 3-4 defenses yield vertical passing routes yield ‘attacking’ defenses yield ‘read option pistol sets.’

There’s no right offense or defense; there is only right planning.

When I look at the greatest coaches, they break into two categories:  innovators (Paul Brown, Bill Walsh) and executors (Chuck Noll, Bill Parcells) and sometimes both (Belichick).

Your best bet in terms of addressing football system trends is to find an innovative coach committed to maniacal execution of fundamentals.  Your worst best is to follow (and by definition, be late on) the trends.

Click to find how to run fast like me.

The is all prelude to:  Settle the Eff Down with respect to newfangled offenses and also the new fangled personnel manning them.

Specifically, settle down on Tavon Austin.  He is not a sixth overall pick.

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But Kanick:  PLAYMAKER!!!!!

“Oh give it up Kanick.  You’re such a slave to moneyball type metrics.  Darren Sproles!  Don’t care what his height is:  he makes plays!”  

–representative synopsis of counter-points to Kanick’s expressions of skepticism

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