Monday, October 10, 2005

Titans-Texans Note

Two things from today's NFL game between the former and current football teams of Houston, Texas. First, from the former team, Jarrett Payton, son of Hall of Fame running back Walter Payton, elevated to the active roster due to the suspension of Travis Henry, scored his first NFL touchdown today, which was a nice moment. Second, I just want to say I feel sorry for David Carr. In 2002, he set the NFL record for most times sacked, with 76. This year, his fourth, through four games, he's been sacked 27 times, seven of them today. That's a pace for being sacked ONE HUNDRED AND EIGHT TIMES. Until the Texans can mange to keep him, or anybody else, upright in the pocket, they won't stand a chance. It's almost at the point where you wish for an injury to Carr, something season-ending but not too painful or career-threatening, just to save him.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Book Review: Pro Football Prospectus 2005

[IMPORTED MARCH 20, 2010]

Pro Football Prospectus 2005: Statistics, Analysis, and Insight for the Information Age by Aaron Schatz and the Staff of FootballOutsiders.com
As I wipe the drool from the previous book I read off my face, it's replaced almost as quickly as football drool. Baseball is so damn boring that statistics are the only thing interesting about it, but thankfully it's tailor-made for such statistical obsession, since almost everything that happens out there can be broken down into a discrete statistic. Football, by contrast, is like a constantly moving chessboard; there are lots of discrete actions, few of which can be, let alone are, broken down into the same sort of basic statistic that is the building block of baseball sabermetrics. This doesn't mean, though, that you can't learn anything from football statistics, and FootballOutsiders.com is about the best place to learn about what you can and cannot easily figure out. In terms of independent football analysis, this is about as good as it gets, and this book is their 2005 season preview. It has a lot of great information, with fairly in-depth write-ups of all teams and fantasy-players. Two complaints, neither deal-breaking: (1) player profiles for fantasy positions, i.e. QB, TE, WR, and RB, are in the position sections, separated from the team sections that have commentary on the rest of the guys on the 53-man roster. If you're like me and not a fantasy player, but instead trying to get a good feel for how a team's offensive might perform and thus how good a team would be overall, this is distracting. (2) Typos, typos, typos. Yes, coming from my lazy, half-cocked blog posts, this is like the pot calling the kettle black, but from me, you get what you pay for. From annoying things like "Matt Hassalback" on the cover to misidentifying Steve McNair's wife as a nurse rather than a nurse's aide or the score of the Titans-Packers game from 2004 (but getting it right another place), these are nigglinig and annoying errors. They don't get to the core value of the book, but they do detract from the overall reading experience.

The reason for the introduction, though, is that perhaps 40% of the book is taken up with individual fantasy profiles of people at the aforementioned positions. This is great if you're a serious fantasy football player, since projections are primarily for individual player statistics. As a football fan, though, you skim this information, since much of it is not particularly relevant. Still, I've read enough of it, and the rest of the book in enough detail, to believe that it merits inclusion in the 50 Book Challenge.* The same is not true, however, of the 2005 NFL Record & Fact Book. This book is literally a football junkie's dream, crammed full of statistical information... 2004 box scores and statistics, offesason rosters, historical data, all-time team v. team records. I could write a blog post a day on this, both independently and applying it to the current season, and not run out of material. Yes, my name is Tom, and I'm a football addict.

*-At a site I used to post at, there was this thing called the "50 Book Challenge" wherein you challenged yourself to read 50 books in a year and post a review of each. Since I was already in the habit of doing that, I decided to play along. This review is being re-published almost completely unedited from when it was first written, so make of it what you will.

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Titans Roster Prediction Results

A bit over a month ago, I predicted who would make the final 53 man roster for the Tennessee Titans. I offered some updated predictions a couple weeks ago. Now that the roster has been down at 54* since Saturday, it's time to see how I did. For ease, I'll do a position-by-position breakdown. Note, though, that I flubbed it. The roster is 53, of which 45 are active on game day. The 8 man practice squad is in addition to that. For some reason, I was thinking there was a 53-man roster, 47 of which were active on game day, 1 third quarterback, and a 5-man practice squad. I goofed, plain and simple.

Offensive linemen: Justin Hartwig, Eugene Amano, Benji Olson, Zach Piller, Jacob Bell, Brad Hopkins, David Stewart, Michael Roos, Daniel Loper, and Todd Williams.
I correctly predicted everyone but Todd Williams. Note, though, that Brad Hopkins is suspended for the first game against Pittsburgh, so there's an extra roster slot available. I have a very hard time seeing them keeping ten offensive linemen, and so when Hopkins returns for Week 2 against Baltimore, Todd Williams is quite likely gone.

Quarterback: Steve McNair and Billy Volek.
This was the shocker, only carrying two quarterbacks, both of whom have missed time due to injury in the past two seasons. I had Gino Guidugli penciled in at first, then Chris Redman, and I was surprised when I saw Redman got a visit from the Turk. My guess is they were hoping to see a good fairly young veteran whom they could pick up get cut; Brian St. Pierre looks like the closest thing to that, as the Steelers dropped him, but they haven't made the move to open a slot for him. Expect to see them add somebody at some point. Matt Mauck is on the practice squad, but I bet they want someone with NFL game experience for the third slot. Oh, and I correctly predicted McNair and Volek would both make the team. Duh.

Tight ends: Erron Kinney, Ben Troupe, Bo Scaife, and Gregg Guenther.
This was the prediction I sort of fudged. The Titans have held Troupe's readiness level very close to the vest. I ended up with 54 players on my prediction because I expected Troupe to be injured and not count, so figured they'd go with all four. I just didn't think they'd do it at the expense of a third quarterback. Based on Troupe's health, I would not be surprised to see Guenther shuttle between the practice squad and the 53-man over the course of the season.

Wide receivers: Drew Bennett, Tyrone Calico, Roydell Williams, Brandon Jones, Courtney Roby, and Troy Edwards.
I correctly predicted the first five, but didn't foresee the signing of Troy Edwards after he was released by Jacksonville. In fact, I thought it likely they would only carry five wideouts. Still, I can see why they did it. First, Bennett is the only receiver who has played more than 10 NFL games, aside from Edwards. Second, Calico has some NFL experience, but is injured and may not be at full speed. Third, someone has to catch punts, and Adam Jones, discussed more fully below, has not yet shown he can reliably do that under NFL game conditions. Still, I wouldn't be surprised to see Edwards cut before Pittsburgh on Sunday.

Running backs: Troy Fleming, Chris Brown, Damien Nash, and Travis Henry.
I flubbed the count here, expecting them to carry more than 4. Additionally, I had Jarrett Payton, who will spend another year on the practice squad, over Damien Nash. Honestly, Payton looks vastly improved, while Nash was injured for much of training camp and didn't show much ability. This was a bit of a surprise, but Nash was a 5th round draft pick, and it's tough to give up defeat on those quickly.

Now on to the defense:
Defensive linemen: Kyle Vanden Bosch, Travis LaBoy, Antwan Odom, Bo Schobel, Albert Haynesworth, Rien Long, Jared Clauss, and Randy Starks.
Easiest spot on the team to predict. Absolutely no surprises at all here. D-Line coach Jim Washburn had apparently made noises about carrying 9 instead of 8, but there apparently wasn't anybody who impressed enough to make them carry him.

Linebackers: Rocky Boiman, Keith Bulluck, Brad Kassell, Peter Sirmon, Rob Reynolds, and Cody Spencer.
Note that I listed Ken Amato here in my original prediction, but I'm listing him here as a special teams player. I called this selection perfectly, including the (somewhat surprising) dismissal of Rocky Calmus. The Colts were willing to give up a draft pick for him, for kudos to GM Floyd Reese for getting something for him. No, you don't enjoy trading a player to a divison rival, and they might use him for inside information and then cut him, as they did with a defensive back last year or two years ago (sorry, blanking on the name right now), but if not, he'll probably get hurt by the first head-to-head matchup in Week 4. Nothing personal, just a statement of probability.

Defensive backs: Tony Beckham, Andre Woolfolk, Rich Gardner, Michael Waddell, Reynaldo Hill, Adam Jones, Tank Williams, Donnie Nickey, Lamont Thompson, Justin Sandy, and Vincent Fuller.
I figured 9 of the 16 in training camp would make the 53-man, but they chose to carry 11. I chose the correct 11 players, but cut two. This wasn't that hard, aside from figuring out how many they'd carry.

Special teams: Rob Bironas, Ken Amato, and Craig Hentrich.
I essentially punted on the kicker question in my original prediction; I never thought Gary Anderson again was a particularly realistic possibility. In my second post, I thought they would sign the loser of Minnesota's kicking battle. Since then, though, Bironas has performed well on kickoffs and decently, though not particularly well, on field goals. Jay Taylor, whom they brought it, was absolutely awful; after the San Francisco game, I wondered if they'd even let him on the charter back to Nashville, or give him a ticket from SFO to a destination of his choosing. If Aaron Elling, who lost to Paul Edinger in Minnesota, didn't have the injury history he did, I think they probably would have signed him. As is, it's Bironas's job to lose, and he can lose it. Hentrich is the punter, of course, and Amato spends another year as the long snapper, overall special teams dynamo, and VERY occasional linebacker in some packages if enough people get hurt.

Overall, I think I selected 49 of the 54 on the roster correctly, including the departure of Rocky Calmus. There were no huge surprises, and if I'd known the precise position breakdown, I would have done even better. If I may engage in the slightly unseemly act of tooting my own horn, I think that's a pretty damn good job.

Sunday, September 04, 2005

Titans Roster Prediction Update

With the NFL roster now down to 53 players, the Tennessee Titans have made their final cuts, pending a few other possible moves. Here is the press release with the last round of trimming. I think I did pretty well in my predictions, as I hope to demonstrate in the next day or so. Anyway, it's time for me to sleep, so that's enough blogging for this late evening.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Titans Roster Prediction Update

About three weeks ago, I predicted what the final 53 man roster for the Tennessee Titans would look like. Considering yesterday the Titans released one of the players I had penciled in to make the team, quarterback Gino Guidugli, it's time to say a little bit more about who might make the team. I think for the most part I did a pretty good job. I really fludded Michael Waddell's spot on the roster; I had him cut, but he's a lock to make the team. I was probably a little premature in marking safety Donnie Nickey as a lock, though I still think he'll make the team. It's even possible they could carry nine defensive backs, with Sandy and Hill grabbing the last two spots as I predicted. As noted, I had Gino Guidugli penciled in as the #3 quarterback; well, he's been cut and Chris Redman has been signed, with Shane Boyd also on the roster. I think Redman is in the lead at this point for the job, but that if Shane Boyd is close and shows promise, he'll be the guy; no inside information, just a guess. I also underrated the improvement in Jarrett Payton's game; from practice reports and what I saw of the first preseason game, he looks like a different, much better back than he was at Miami or earlier in the Titans phase of his career. At this point, Damien Nash sounds like a potential cut, 5th-round draft pick or not, and I'll give that spot to Jimmy Dixon, who's been starting for Troy Fleming during the latter's absence, instead, though write that down in pencil. If they do take a sixth wide receiver from someone currently on the roster, it will likely be O.J. Small. As for the kicking slot, Bironas took the lead with a 53 yard FG to send the Tampa Bay game to overtime, but in the Atlanta game, Kimrin missed a PAT, and Bironas missed field goals of 37 yards and 44 yards, I think, and apparently rather badly. I think they'll sign the loser of Minnesota's kicking battle between Paul Edinger and Aaron Elling, who kicked successfully for the men in two-tone blue in the opening game at Miami last year after Joe Nedney went down with an injury.

I'll probably update this next after the roster is cut down to 65, though I might have something to say if I manage to watch Saturday's preseason contest against the San Francisco 49ers, being shown live on the NFL Network.

UPDATE (8/26, 5:34 PM CT): Well, the San Francisco game is tonight, not Saturday night. Oops, my badd. I won't have NFL Network access tonight, but will follow the game on NFL.com's excellent GameCast and/or the radio play-by-play. Hopefully, the game is being taped for me and I'll be able to watch it this weekend.

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Titans Roster Prediction

With the start of training camp last Thursday, I believe, and the showing of Camp Insider on NFL Network tonight (repeated tomorrow at 7 PM CT, in case you're interested), it's time to take a look at who might make the final roster cuts. Note that I have no inside knowledge as to how things will shake out. Note that this will almost certainly not be the final roster; indeed, a lot can change in the month before the season begins, particularly with zero of the four preseason games yet played. I should also note that when I did this analysis, I did not have cap numbers available, and those will undoubtedly play a role in some of the cuts. That said, here is a position by position look.

If for no other reason than it'll probably be the place with the fewest surprises, I'll start with the defensive linemen. The official roster shows 8 defensive ends and 6 defensive tackles currently on the team. Taking a look at who's there, I would expect 8 of those 14 players to make the season roster. Those 8 are Kyle Vanden Bosch, Travis LaBoy, Antwan Odom, Bo Schobel, Albert Haynesworth, Rien Long, Jared Clauss, and Randy Starks. That's seven guys who were on the team last year, plus Vanden Bosch, who was probably the biggest free agent signing. Six of those (all but Haynesworth) were drafted last season, and all of them played last year; I don't see any surprise cuts, and I expect everybody to make the team.

Heading away from the line of scrimmage on the defensive side, next comes linebacker. The Titans have 11 linebackers in camp. Locks to make the team are Ken Amato, Rocky Boiman, Keith Bulluck, Brad Kassell, and Peter Sirmon. Other returning linebackers are Rob Reynolds, cody Spencer, and Rocky Calmus. My guess is that no more than 2 of those 3 will make the team, except as a special teams player. The odd man out, as much as it pains me to say it, is likely Rocky Calmus. If he could stay healthy, he'd be the starting middle linebacker. Alas, that's proved way too much of a challenge thus far in his NFL career. He'd likely be a valuable guy on special teams, but you need to stay healthy there, too. Call it the first surprise cut.

Next out is the secondary. The Titans have 9 cornerbacks and 7 safeties in camp. I would expect 8 to make the team and probably 1 more on the practice squad. Given that between players from last year's roster and this year's draft picks, there are 11 players on the roster, this is probably one of the toughest places to make cuts. I also don't have a good idea of just who's better than who, which makes it even tougher. The best shots of making the team belong to Tony Beckham, Andre Woolfolk, Tank Williams, Donnie Nickey, Lamont Thompson, and Vincent Fuller. That's 6. If/when Pacman Jones signs, he'll be number 7. That leaves Michael Waddell, Rich Gardner, Justin Sandy, and Reynaldo Hill. If no more than 2 of those make the team, I'd expect them to be Reynaldo Hill on the roster and Justin Sandy on the practice squad. I don't really have a good explanation, and I guess I put Sandy on the practice squad because he went to Northern Iowa, while Hill (a) went to Florida, where he likely got better coaching, and (b) was a draft pick, albeit a 7th-rounder (the endowment effect, y'know).

Flipping over to the same progression on the offensive side of the ball, the offensive line rivals the secondary as one of the toughest places to make cuts. Not surprising, since they didn't cut the entire offensive line, then drafted three tackles this year. Sorry, five undrafted free agents, I don't think you have a shot. The returning starters are Justin Hartwig, Benji Olson, Zach Piller, and Brad Hopkins. The Titans, I think, only carried 7 offensive lineman at the start of last season; after last year's injury difficulties, I think they'll carry more. Call it 8 on the roster, and 1 more on the practice squad. That leaves 4-5 slots open. Jacob Bell is a lock, given how he filled in at guard last year. Second round pick Michael Roos will likely see some of the time at right tackle, as they groom him to inherit Brad Hopkins' slot as starting left tackle Week 1 of 2006. I would also expect them to carry a backup center; that will likely be Eugene Amano again, though it might be former Miami Hurricane Joel Rodriguez. I would also expect draft pick David Stewart out of Mississippi State to make the roster, because of his experience playing both guard and tackle. Finally, draft pick Daniel Loper will make the practice squad. The odd man out in that case would be Todd Williams, which hurts. Williams has such an inspiring story, going from homeless on the streets to All-American at Florida State, that you want to see him succeed. Still, I think the only way he makes the team without an injury to Hopkins is if he's by far the best right tackle, and given the lack of confidence they showed in him when Miller and Hopkins were out last season, I don't see that happening. Sorry, Todd.

As for the man under center, the top guys are clearly Steve McNair and Billy Volek. Whoever will be the third quarterback is less clearcut; they'd like for one of the three other guys in camp right now to win the job. Pencil in Gino Guidugli right now, but don't press too hard. Shane Boyd or Jason White could easily end up carrying the clipboard, or they could repeat last year and sign a one or two-year veteran who is released by another team.

Next, becauase it's easiest, I'll do tight ends. I expect them to carry three, as they have in the past. Those three will eventually be Erron Kinney, Ben Troupe, and Bo Scaife, in all probability. Right now, though, word is that Troupe will be out until October, so they'll need one until then. I expect that to be one of the two undrafted free agents currently in camp, and would give the edge to Gregg Guenther. At 6'8" 255#, he has good size, and he had the advantage of playing for Norm Chow at USC.

Next up is running backs. They have five running backs and three fullbacks in camp. Running backs Travis Henry and Chris Brown and fullback Troy Fleming are all locks to make the team. Beyond that, I have no idea. Damien Nash will likely make the team, since they used a draft pick on him. Joe Smith and Jarrett Payton both did really well in NFL Europe, and Robert Douglas has apparently impressed in camp. If they take five backs, I'd look for Nash and Smith to be in, while Payton is on the outside. Sorry, Jarrett, I don't care if you have the same first name as my best friend in elementary school, but you've probably maxxed out. Robert Douglas might have a shot at the practice squad, or even the team, depending on how Chow will run his offense at the NFL level, but my tentative conclusion is that he's out.

Ok, wide receivers. This might be easy: Drew Bennett and Tyrone Calico are the only returners, plus Courtney Roby, Brandon Jones, and Roydell Williams were draft picks. That's five, and they may well only carry five. If they do carry six, I have no idea who makes the team. I guess I'll pick Earvin Johnson, if only because he has a ready-made nickname.

Ok, special teamers. Ken Amato, referenced above, will be the long-snapper and Craig Hentrich will be the punter. They also need a placekicker; of the two in camp, I'd guess Ola Kimrin has the edge, but I wouldn't be surprised for Gary Anderson to end up with the job again, so he can continue with his quest to be the first full-time kicker ever not to try a field goal length greater than his age in a season.

If I managed to count correctly, I believe that's the full 53 man roster, with five practice squad players. I don't believe I've made any hugely radical predictions, and it seems likely every year there's somebody who comes out of nowhere to make the team, as Drew Bennett did a couple years ago. I also did not take into account the inevitable future injuries, or indeed any present ones, aside from Ben Troupe under tight ends.

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Titans Update

The Tennessee Titans have acquired running back Travis Henry from the Buffalo Bills, assuming he passes today's physical. Henry's a local favorite, since he starred for Phil Fulmer at Tennessee during his college days, and should provide a nice complement to Chris Brown. I should have more to say about the Titans and what this does and doesn't do when training camp starts up later this month.

Friday, April 29, 2005

Titans - WR Review

I read an online mail bag with a journalist, I think one of the guys on the Houston Chronicle, where he said something along the lines of, "After 30 years covering baseball, I may not be able to tell the difference between a curve and a slider. But I can ask the guy who threw it what it was." I think that's the nutshell of what journalism gives you, a way of managing the transaction costs of access, but that's neither here nor there, and it's time to tie this post to the title. When I did my review of the wide receivers, I really didn't have a good idea of what each one did. Well, ask the wide receivers coach; The Tennessean did, and told us the answers.

Thursday, April 28, 2005

2005 Draft Review-Day Two

A few days ago, I analyzed the Day 1 selections of the Tennessee Titans, and now it's finally time for Day 2. With their first pick in round 4, the Titans selected Vincent Fuller of Virginia Tech. He played both corner and safety at Virginia Tech, and I'd expect to see him in the same sort of role for the Titans, as a backup free safety to Tank Williams (health willing) and possible nickel/dime corner. The second pick of the fourth round, which the Titans picked up from the Lions for moving down a couple spots in round 2, was used on Mississippi State offensive lineman David Stewart. It doesn't look like he has the agility to play Left Tackle in the NFL, so he looks to me like a depth pick or someone who may be involved in the RT battle, along with Jacob Bell and 2nd-round selection Michael Roos. The third fourth-round selection, a compensation pick, was used on Tulane wideout Roydell Williams. With the two 3rd-round wideouts, it looks like Floyd Reese is applying his defensive lineman strategy from last year, throw lots of bodies at the position and hope you come up with something good, to the WR problem. Of course, if you only have two bodies at the position, one of whom barely played last year (Tyrone Calico), a few guys will stick.

Moving on to the fifth round, the Titans chose Damien Nash, a running back out of Mizzou. He's a little bit of a different runner, standing only 5'10", a good five inches or so shorter than both Chris Brown and Eddie George. With a 4.55 40 time, he has decent speed and looks like a possible 3rd-down back. No, this doesn't mean Eddie won't be coming back to the Titans, as the only back they had on their roster before the draft were Brown and Troy Fleming, who's more of a fullback-type. The Titans had a second pick in the fifth round, acquired from the Kansas City Chief in the Carlos Hall deal, and used that on Texas Tech offensive tackle Daniel Loper. Loper is described as a guy who can play both guard and tackle, making me think he's intended as a replacement for Jason Mathews.

Only one sixth-round selection, and that went on Bo Scaife, the Texas tight end. He has a bit of an injury history, having spent six years in Austin because of two medical redshirts, but has been back and healthy for two seasons. With Shad Meier gone, the Titans only had two tight ends on the roster, and it was pretty inevitable they would draft one. I assumed it would be more of a pure blocker type, since that's what Meier was and they already have Ben Troupe, and they've shown hardly any confidence in his blocking ability. We'll see if one of the free agents sticks.

The sole seventh-round selection went on Florida Gator defensive back Reynaldo Hill. He was a junior college player before spending two years in Jacksonville and was considered a good cover corner. I have nothing interesting to say about him.

Overall, the Titans chose 3 defensive backs, 3 offensive tackles, 3 wide receivers, 1 running back, and 1 tight end with their 11 selections. They did not choose a quarterback, a true interior offensive lineman, a defensive lineman, or a linebacker. So, what does this mean? First off, 3 offensive tackles is A LOT. They have two on the team right now: Brad Hopkins and Todd Williams. I would be surprised if Williams makes the 53-man roster; the only way he does it is if he's going to be starting. At the beginning of 2004, I expected it to be Hopkins' last year with the team, and I think if Williams had shown enough development, it would have been. I started to change my mind with they shut down Hopkins when he was injured last season (not shutting down Fred Miller only reinforced my (correct) view that he was gone). He's been a quality left tackle for a long time, and I'd expect him to be around for a year despite the recent public black-eye. This may also mean that Jacob Bell will not be moving outside to right tackle, but will be kept inside for general offensive line depth; I think this is likely, given that I can't see them possibly keeping 5 offensive tackles (Bell, Hopkins, the 3 draft picks). Then question then becomes whether Zach Piller, Justin Hartwig, and Benji Olson all make opening day. Throw in Eugene Amano as a backup center, and that's nine offensive lineman. They only carried seven last year, so I'd expect to see at least one of those guys cut. Alternative, Stewart (given Loper's versatility) may be a practice squad guy.

The Titans also agreed to terms with 36 undrafted free agents. It's basically guaranteed that at least one of them will make the team. I'd place the most money on former Cincinnati quarterback Gino Guidugli. He was rated as one of the top quarterbacks who went undrafted, and the Titans need a third quarterback. LSU QB Marcus Randall is also in camp. Having seen both of them play in college, Gino looks like a better bet to stick. It's possible they could pick up a "veteran" (read non-rookie), but I doubt they will unless both guys are busts. The only other thing I have to say about the free agents that's remotely interesting is none of them were kickers. I don't know if that indicates a great deal of confidence in Ola Kimrin, or they're playing a waiting game.

I plan to say more about who might make the team, but right now there's just a dearth of information. I probably won't tune in about my NFL team of choice until the probable June round of salary cap cuts.

Saturday, April 23, 2005

2005 Draft Review-Day One

Today was the first day of the NFL draft. After a 5-11 mark, the Titans ended up with the 6th overall selection, the highest they picked since they chose Steve McNair 3rd overall in, oh, 1995. After the salary cup purge of this offseason, the Titans came in with a number of needs, most notably cornerback, where both starters, Samari Rolle and Andre Dyson, departed in the offseason, and wide receiver, where there were all of two on the roster. When it came to the sixth pick, the Titans choose the first defensive player taken, cornerback Adam "Pac-Man" Jones of West Virginia University. There were a number of players they could have chosen with this pick. Many, probably most, of the mock drafts and player ratings had Miami (FL) Hurricane Antrel Rolle (no relation to Samari) as the top cornerback in the draft. Rolle has a height advance over Jones of maybe three inches, and good, tall corners come at a high premium in the NFL. This makes me think the Titans' personnel staff saw some things in Jones, or maybe didn't see some things in Rolle. I don't know how much straight coverage Rolle played, whereas that was one of the things Jones was known for. I also neither heard nor saw much of the ball-hawking play-making special quality that made previous Miami defensive backs such a coveted quantity. Then again, maybe I'm just saying this because I predicted they'd select Jones over Rolle. I think the other serious possibility for the sixth pick was wide receiver, with Troy Williamson of South Carolina, who went to the Vikings with the next pick, or former USC wunderkid Mike Williams, who went to the Lions with the 10th pick (yes, that's 3 receivers in the top 10 in 3 years for Detroit). It was reported in The Tennessean that new offensive coordinator Norm Chow lobbied heavily for his former pupil Williams, but lost out.

The Titans traded their second-round selection, 37th overall, to the Detroit Lions for the Lions' 2nd and 4th round selections (41st and 113th overall). With the 41st pick, they chose the first Estonian ever taken in the NFL draft, offensive tackle Michael Roos out of Eastern Washington. This was a bit of a surprise; I had figured they'd choose a tackle out of the state of Washington, but I expected it to be Khalif Barnes of out of UW, who many people had as a first-round selection. Right tackle Fred Miller was one of the cap-induced departures, and they'd worked on making Jacob Bell, who filled in admirably for the injured Zach Piller last year, a right tackle. I think that plan is still in the works, and expect Jacob Bell to be the starting right tackle for the Titans. At the other tackle slot, though, Brad Hopkins is getting up there in age and cap number, and I'd be shocked if he was on Tennessee beyond the 2005 season. I think the plan for Roos is to spend a year grooming him as Brad's replacement and to see him starting at left tackle opening day 2006 and staying there for the next 10 years. The downside of the pick? You end up with another Todd Williams, someone who never sees the light of day. This would normally worry me, except a little tidbit I got out of this interview: his O-line coach at E.Wash. was none other than former Titan lineman Tom Ackerman. For them to be comfortable making this pick, I'd bet that not only did Munchak travel to Spokane, he also spent a few long distance minutes talking to Ackerman and got a lot of tape to look at. I'm cautiously optimistic with this pick, though I think if they had moved down another 5-10 slots, they probably could have still gotten Roos. One other thing about Roos: he's graduated already with a double major in Finance and Econ and twice made Big Sky All-Academic; the Titans have shown an occasional predilection for smarter players and Roos may fit that bill.

The Titans had two 3rd round selections, 68th overall and 96th overall, the latter a compensatory pick, and used both of them on wide receivers. The first went to Courtney Roby of Indiana, cousin of the late, great punter Reggie Roby. I don't have much interesting to say about him; were he a sixth rounder I'd say this is adding a body to the depth chart, but this guy seems to be one of the greatest receivers in the history of Indiana football. That probably sounds like damning with faint praise, and I don't want to be that unkind. Reading the scouting profile, he sounds like he'd max out as a number three-type receiver, or maybe a 2A/2B like Bennett and McCareins were behind Mason. With the 96th pick, they chose Brandon Jones of the Oklahoma Sooners. Jones was the third Sooner wideout selected, behind Mark Clayton (22nd) and Mark Bradley (39th). He certainly didn't put up the same stats Roby did at Indiana behind those two guys. He has a little bit of experience returning kicks and sounds like a deep threat more than an 8 yards on 3rd-and-7 guy, even if his 40 time isn't as good as Roby's. Then again, I'm basically pulling this out of my butt, so take it for what it's worth. One concern about Jones that the guys on the NFL Radio show raised is that at OU he never had the pressure of being a #1 receiver, and the recent history of the NFL is that it's tough to turn a guy who hasn't been a #1 into a #1.

Well, that's the first day of the draft. The second day should be a little bit more interesting, as the Titans have a number of picks... three in the 4th round (their own, the one from the Lions, and a compensatory), two in the fifth (their own and the one from Kansas City in the Carlos Hall Trade), and one each in the sixth and seventh (both their own). With those seven picks, I'd look for one quarterback, one wide receiver, one tight end, one offensive guard (guard/tackle or guard/center), a depth/special teams linebacker, and another defensive back. (Yes, I know that's six; I'm leaving them one wildcard selection.) I should be back tomorrow evening or Monday with a look at who the Titans choose on Day Two of the 2005 NFL Draft.

Wednesday, March 09, 2005

Days Go By

Just keeping the blog alive.

Monday, February 14, 2005

Offensive Mr. Food

(Imported 8/24/09)
I've done significantly less Tennessee Titans-blogging than I expected to do, but I figure I should finally mention that (1) offensive coordinator Mike Heimerdinger made a sudden departure to the New York Jets for a significantly higher salary than he had been making. I made my share of criticisms of Mike over the years, but he also had a key role in the transformation of Steve McNair from a scatter-armed running quarterback to the co-MVP team engine he was the three seasons prior to this one (yeah, yeah, he was only the co-MVP the 2003 season). It's always a little disheartening to lose coaches in a lateral movement, but it's always tough to tell someone he needs to turn down a couple hundred thousand extra dollars.
(2) The Titans hired former USC offensive coordinator Norm Chow as their new offensive coordinator. Chow has been a legend in the college football community for years, though I'd only say he broke out when he left BYU after nearly a quarter-century and had hits first at N.C. State with Philip Rivers exploding onto the scene as a freshmen, then at USC with Heisman Trophy-winning seasons by Carson Palmer and then Matt Leinart. Given the fetishization of "the next offensive genius" in college football, it's difficult to see why someone with a track record of offensive excellence like Chow hasn't gotten more of a look at a head coach position. Passed over for the BYU job when LaVell Edwards retired, only one year at N.C. State, possibly forced out at USC, hardly a sniff at a head coaching position... I mean, he interviewed at Stanford, which ended up hiring Walt Harris, a coach who went to a BCS bowl and still might have gotten canned had he not left first. In any event, it's tough to tell why he hasn't had more success at getting a better job, but it's also clear that he's basically maxxed out at the college level as an offensive coach, and I can't wait to see what he does with the Titans next year. Only 68 days until the draft!

Monday, February 07, 2005

Does This Make Me a Communist?

[IMPORTED MARCH 20, 2010]

I thought I should post this email I sent out yesterday afternoon:

From: Tom
Subject: Does this mean I'm a Communist?
Date: Sun, 6 Feb 2005 15:11:38 (PST)

Unless I change my mind in the next forty minutes or so, I'm not going to watch the Super Bowl: not on TV, not the online radio feed, not even an automatically refreshing scoreboard.

Even more than that, I think this decision can be rationally justified.
(1) I don't have a TV, so watching the Super Bowl is not an almost costless decision. Had I a TV, I'd be popping my keister in front of it and I wouldn't be sending this email. Note, though, that this doesn't distinguish the Super Bowl from, say, the Duke-Wake Forest college basketball game this week.
(2) Alternative sources of television
(A) Friends with TVs. I know if I asked people I'm sure I could find one who would let me watch the Super Bowl with them. However, (i) I don't like to ask people for favors and (ii) most of those people who I'd be more willing to ask live a little away from me. This means an additional hour's opportunity cost, on top of (iii) the ability to properly undertake in other productive activities while watching the Super Bowl at someone else's TV.
(B) Public establishments with TVs. (A)(ii) applies, albeit with slightly lesser force (round trip to bar perhaps 30-40 minutes, rather than a full hour), and (iii) applies as well. There are also a couple of factors specific to this. (i) There will be a guaranteed monetary cost; while if I went to a friend's place, I could bring and consume what I would otherwise consume during the 4-odd hours of the Super Bowl. At a bar, I would be spending money (scarcer, more versatile, and thus more valuable than my time) and obtaining fewer resources than I would if I spent the money at another time and place. This is to compensate the proprietors for various things, like showing the game and the like, I know, but it's a cost to me. (ii) The watching experience will be subotimal. At a bar, there are likely to be several uncompensated for externalities, i.e. crowds, cigarette smoke, noise, and the like.
(3) Alternative sources of media
I've listened to the football games for several years over the Internet. It's certainly not the same. Indeed, perhaps the greatest added value part of the Super Bowl over, say, the AFC Divisional Playoff between New England and Indianapolis is the spectacle associated with it (read commercials), and this specatacle will be missed online. Also, neither New England nor Philly's radio crew is very good.
(4) But it's the Super Bowl!
(i) There's some level of cachet involved in being a bit of sports nut and not watching the Super Bowl. I mean, I'll watch Arena Football, and I'm going to miss the Super Bowl. (ii) In context: I've missed almost every other football game this year. Hell, I even missed TWO entire Titans games (ok, I saw the first 90 seconds of one game, but missed the rest of the game and it was even nationally televised, to go to some shitty luau on Christmas that made me wish I had the power drink enough so that I lost the power to think before the power to walk), so missing the Super Bowl isn't really that big a deal. (iii) I HATE both teams, and want very badly for both of them to lose. The guaranteed result of this game is that one of New England or Philadelphia will win, so a bad result is guaranteed. (Yes, a good result is also guaranteed, but the negative value of a win by one of these teams outweighs the positive value of a loss, so a net negative is assured.) (iv) Related to (iii), the game will be filled with a lot of chatter about both teams. I generally don't like to hear people talk about stuff I don't like and place a positive value on avoiding it.

There's more, but let's just do a balancing test
Plus side of watching the Super Bowl: good commercials
Plus side of not watching the Super Bowl: everything else

Sunday, January 23, 2005

Titans Radio Crew Change

According to this Tennesseean story, former Titans stalwart tight end Frank Wycheck will replace Pat Ryan as the analyst on the Titans' radio broadcasts. Even since I started listening to the Titans' radio team during the 2000 season, I've been impressed with the quality of their play-calling and analysis. Being without a TV, radio is how I've followed the NFL this year and I've listened to a number of different teams' feeds and consider the Titans to be one of, if not the, top radio team. True, play-by-play man Mike Keith and sideline report Cody Allison remain, but what I always liked about Pat Ryan, even more than his propensity to say amusing things (he was fined during the 2000 season for calling kickers "foreigners") has been his ability, so rare in the broadcasting business, to watch a play and be able to pick out the important things in real time, without seeing a replay. This is incredibly valuable, and unless Wycheck can do the same thing, it'll be a downturn in the quality of the broadcast.

Saturday, January 15, 2005

Update

Still here. Still nothing to say over here.