End of the Season Thoughts
Well, the regular season is over, as are the hopes of many of our franchises. Congrats to the fans who have teams who are still in the hunt, as for the rest of us, there's always next year. That's what's so great about this sport, there's always hope. One good offseason and some health, and good fortune and your team is right back in it. So let's discuss some themes of this season while also looking into the future.
-I'm always looking at what I call the evolution of football, and try to study trends in schemes and what direction the league is going in. One of the schemes that I've been surprised about for a couple of years now has been the pistol. For the life of me, I didn't understand why it took so long for the pistol formation to make it's way into the NFL. Once the wildcat started gaining steam, I thought the natural evolution of the wildcat would be pistol offenses in the NFL, and with the way the league is trending, I thought it would have been here sooner than it has.
Nonetheless, the pistol has finally made it's way to the NFL this year, and it should only gather steam from here on out. Even if you don't have a mobile qb, it makes sense to use this formation.
1. You can use 3 step drop concepts out of the pistol and allow your qb to scan the field quicker vs under center where he has to set up then scan.
2. You can use more 2 RB formations and still use some of the spread option concepts, while also incorporating easy bubble screens. It's much harder using a 2 RB set under center.
3. Easier for the qb to scan the defense when he's farther back from center.
It's a formation that we'll see throughout the league very soon. Not just with mobile quarterbacks. And quite honestly, it's been long overdue. The pistol should have taken the league by storm 3 years ago.
- So that begs the question, how do you defend the pistol? And the spread option concepts out of the pistol? Different coordinators from different schemes will obviously have different ways to defense it. There's always more than 1 way to skin a cat. For me, I think the hardest part of the spread option for players is all the thinking involved for them.
I've always felt that if you make your defense and your players think too much, they play slow, they miss assignments. Give them one job, take the thinking out of it, and let an athlete be an athlete. I'd blitz the A gap hard and try to blow up the option at it's point source, have my DTs 2 gap, and my DEs play contain. The pressure has to come from the blitz and run combinations of zone coverage on the back end.
- A hot topic this past week has been Tony Romo. You hear both sides of the argument, Romo isn't clutch vs it's not Romo's fault. For the longest time, I've been a Romo supporter, making for excuses for his shortcomings. But I've finally had enough. Enough is enough. How many excuses can we make? How many times must you see the same old story before we realize that it's not a coincidence, that it's a trend?
What really made me reevaluate my position on Romo was this. I asked myself to think of every reason why it's NOT Romo's fault. And I came up with the following:
1. OL didn't protect well at times
2. Defense didn't hold up at times
3. Playcalling was poor
And then it hit me. What have I been preaching is the excuses that every bad qb has when we try to stick up for them? The above 3 reasons. Every time we try to say it's not the qb's fault, we always use the above 3 reasons as why it's not his fault. And if it's not a valid excuse for the Mark Sanchez's of the world, why should it be an excuse for Romo?
That's when it hit me. I'm just making excuses. That's all it is. No qb is gonna have perfect protection, no qb is gonna have a lights out defense that comes through every time, and playcalling is only poor when execution is poor.
It's Romo. For all of his ability, when it's time to execute at the game's most critical point, this guy just wets the bed every single time. To a point where all of us were predicting the "romoception" in the gameday thread moments before it happened. It's like you can just see it coming. It's become that predictable.
If it happens once, you call it bad luck. Twice, ok, not the end of the world. 3 times, ok now you gotta shape up or ship out. For Romo, in his 7 seasons as Qb, he's choked in a big moment 6 times out of 7 seasons. 6 times! That's not a coincidence, that's a trend of failure.
Romo is still a good qb. But I think at this point, at 32 years old (only 4 starting qbs in the league are currently older) you have to understand what you have in him. He's a qb who will put up gaudy numbers, lead a productive offense, but you can't rely on him to deliver when you need it the most. And as a franchise who views every season as SB or bust, I think Dallas needs to evaluate whether this is the guy they want to invest in for another 6 years knowing that this is who he is. He's not gonna change. This is Tony Romo. You take the good with the bad. But this is who he is.
- Black monday. Every season it comes. This season we've seen an unprecedented amount of GMs get fired along with Coaches. We can point to multiple reasons why each was let go, but almost all of these fires share 1 common theme:
They don't have quarterbacks. That is the common theme with almost every fire we see in the NFL. Teams who don't have quarterbacks, see their coaches change. It's like clockwork. We see it every season. We'll see it next season. And we'll see it the season after that. The lesson: if you don't have a top 10 qb in this league, you should actively look to acquire one. It's that simple. If you don't have a quarterback, you're not going anywhere as a team. Don't fall in love with fool's gold. Those mid tier qbs, the guys from 12-16 in the league, they're fools gold. Don't fall in love with fools gold. Good enough is not good enough when talking about the quarterback position. Bc good enough gets you fired.
- Another common mistake made by teams that cost people their jobs is drafting for "need". Drafting for need is only a necessity when we're talking about the quarterback position. When you need a quarterback, get a quarterback. That's it. But any other time, you have to really take a long look at the talent on the board and decide if the need position is worth drafting for. A perfect example is the Denver Broncos.
At the time of the draft, the Broncos needed a DT badly. Marcel Dareus was sitting there waiting for them to pounce. And nobody would have killed them for taking Dareus. But what did they do? They identified Von Miller, who was widely viewed as a potential DeMarcus Ware as the player they wanted, and they took him.
Did they "need" him? No. They had Dooms, and at the time they still had hope for Ayers. They didn't need to draft Von. In fact many thought it was a reach and a bad draft pick from a value stand point.
Fast forward 2 years. Do you think Denver regrets drafting Von? Would Dareus impact their team the way Von has? Of course not. Not even close.
Many times the bpa winds up filling a need position anyway. I do believe in drafting needs, how else are you gonna improve as a team, but it's a tricky science. You can't strictly draft for need, you can't necessary strictly draft bpa, but you have to dance that line perfectly. And the good teams are the ones who have the foresight to see 2, 3 years in advance and draft the best available talent that will fit needs not necessarily this year, but 3 years from now.
I tend to lean towards the bpa approach. Especially for bad teams. When you're a bad team, you have a lot of holes, so don't worry about the position, just draft the highest graded players on your board. They'll fill a need by default.
-With the playoffs around the corner, I can see the Packers as the front runner to come out of the NFC and either the Broncos or Patriots out of the AFC. For me, I base my predictions on quarterback play. I firmly believe that the difference btw playoff teams is pretty much the qb position. The overall talent of all playoff teams is relatively the same, that's why they all made the playoffs. But more often than not, it's the teams with the elite quarterbacks who have enough throughout the tournament who can get to the SB and win it all.
You rarely if ever see an avg qb go all the way. It just doesn't happen. In the NFC, I don't see Seattle or Washington making it bc they're rookies. I don't see SF making it bc Kap is essentially a rookie qb, Minny won't make it bc Ponder sucks, so it's really btw GB and ATL bc they have the 2 best qbs from the NFC playoff picture, Rodgers and Ryans. And I'm betting on Rodgers.
In the AFC, you see the same story. I don't believe in Schaub, I think Dalton isn't ready, Luck is a rookie, and I don't believe in Flacco. It's either Peyton or Brady.
Mike vick needed the pistol 9 years ago.
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