Sunday, July 29, 2007

Football Around the Web

Some thoughts on football and football-related subjects, from waypoints around the web.

Chris from Smart Football, whose blog is linked on the sidebar, is now providing commentary to University of Texas blog Burnt Orange Nation. See his first post, on systems and personnel.

Deadspin gets a copy of an ESPN inter-office Q&A. Some of the complaints are the normal trivial crap you get from every workplace, but some of it is very intriguing from a coverage perspective.

For a preview of something like what's coming from UFR this fall, see special teams and offense on the 2005 Orange Bowl from Penn State alum and fan, and fellow FO commenter, Pat.

SMQ gets around to Ohio State in his incredibly detailed series of team previews. My national championship prediction of total darkhorses is Florida State-Ohio State, though my head says USC (undefeated) v. some 1-loss team, akin to the Miami-Nebraska Rose Bowl a few years ago. Yes, that thought depresses me.

More on ESPN, from EDSBS (love the first comment: "In the words of William Shakespeare–oh, SNAP." Kinda sums up EDSBS. See also this post from Dawg Sports, to which Orson of EDSBS was responding.

I know this relates to my day job in some general way, and a topic I'm vaguely interested in, but I really have no interest in writing about the proposed All American Football League and its legal status. But, thankfully, Michael McCann of Sports Law Blog did it for me. The degree requirement frankly stank to me, and is a clear market-segmentation move without any defensible rationale.

Great and joyous news! The NFL Network has released its schedule of preseason games. Of particular interest to Titans fans, the first preseason game, against the Redskins on Aug. 11 at 7 PM CT, will be shown live on NFLN, and is one of only two preseason games NFLN is producing itself (with the opening Hall of Fame game itself being the other). The second game, against New England, will be shown Friday night, Aug. 17, at 11 PM CT, with the third against Buffalo coming Aug. 25 at 9 AM CT, and the final game against Green Bay coming Labor Day Sunday, Sept. 2 at 8 AM CT.

Training camp has begun for the Titans, but as I'm in the Chicagoland area, I won't have any first-hand observations. But, I may make it to Bears camp this year. Then again, I said that last year, too, and never did. Anyway, more comment when I want to.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

2006 VY Passing Chart

In my previous post, I gave you an updated description of what all those passing grades on my UFR mean. Now that you've seen that, the question is, so, how did VY do?

@ Eagles1.
v Giants8222073
v Colts2146170
@ Texans3214263
v Jaguars0105003
@ Bills2117042
v Patriots323.583.525

Now that we have this chart, what does it mean? The basic rule of thumb I start with for evaluating a game is how many good (DO) throws did a QB make versus bad (IN and, particularly, BR) ones during a game? By this standard, the only game VY had where we can unequivocally say he was good was the Giants game. The Philly game was clearly one of his worst, as he had nearly as many Inaccurate passes as Catchable ones, and the Bad Read total was sky high. In the Colts game, the most dangerous aspect of VY's game was his scrambling, and he was very successful at that. The Texans game was the same way, though he wasn't quite as inaccurate. The Jags game wasn't a good one, as nearly half of his passes came out with negative grades, and there were no particularly good passes. Subjectively, I feel like VY played better against Buffalo and worse against the Patriots than this chart suggests, but those may simply reflect the wide diversity in what constitutes a (CA) grade and how much help he got from his teammates (i.e., almost none in the Pats game).

Add them up, and what kind of totals do you get?

Dead On: 19.5 (8.55%)
Catchable: 110 (48.25%)
Inaccurate: 39.5 (17.32%)
Bad Read: 13 (5.70%)
Scramble: 28 (12.28%)
Pressure: 18 (7.89%)

What does this tell us about VY's development? Almost nothing, I'd say. Instead, I think this will be most valuable from a longitudinal point of view. These are numbers, particularly percentages, I plan to revisit in 6 to 8 months, after the 2007 season is over. If the (BR) and (IN) percentages are lower, and (DO) is higher, then progress will have occurred. If the reverse is true, then be worried. Be very, very worried.

Updated Passing Chart Explanation

Back in December, I came out with Version One of the Pass Chart. I've since revised the definitions, and updated the actual chart with how VY did in each of the 7 games I've charted. So, here you go:

Brian at MGoBlog has been the inspiration (read rip-off target) for all of the UFR stuff. This includes his passing chart, which is the subject of this post. You've seen these weird abbreviations, like (CA), (IN), and (BR) in the play-by-play breakdowns. What do these mean? If you follow the link, you can see Brian's descriptions. Mine are a little bit different:

DO: Dead-On. Throws that are pretty much perfect. This is reserved for throws of rare beauty and perfection. It's rarely applied to throws less than 15 yards down the field--when it is, it's often a good 3rd down conversion. Finding a small hole in a zone, hitting a guy in stride on a deep pass, awesomeness emanating from the QB position. These are throws Peyton Manning would gladly claim as his own.

CA: Catchable. These are the run-of-the-mill accurate throws, neither particularly good nor particularly bad. This is the highest possible grade for easy throws barring some sort of Herculean effort. CA fits a wide range of throws, probably too many.

IN: Inaccurate. Deep balls underthrown by 5 yards or more. Passes thrown 5 feet over the receiver's head. Much of the oeuvre of Kerry Collins, or perhaps almost every pass thrown by Reggie Ball if you're a college fan.

BR: Bad Read. VY's pick in the end zone by Jackson in the second Colts game is a good example. VY thought he had an open receiver, and missed the DB playing centerfield. Throwing into double coverage and ignoring the guy open 12 yards downfield also falls here, though this is harder to spot on TV. Basically, the QB doesn't see something that he should that was a better option than what he did. A low bad read total does not necessarily mean that a QB's decision making is nearly perfect, merely that I can't definitively tell you it should have been better.

SCR: Scramble. On a designed pass play, the QB takes off and runs with the football. If I think it's a designed pass play, I call it a pass play and scramble. Does not include designed runs. Note that not all scrambles are graded SCR: if I think it's clearly a bad decision to take off, I'll get it (BR).

PR: Pressure. These plays were negatively affected by people rushing the QB. Includes not just those throws graded PR, but also quarterback sacks. Before grading a play (PR), I try to take into account that there's almost no such thing as a coverage sack, particularly with a mobile QB like VY. Normally, this is either linemen blowing their blocks or rushers outscheming the protection.

With my next post, I will look at how Vince Young did in 2006.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

UFR Update

Hey, I'm actually doing work on this! I've completed the first half of the Giants game, and that may be found at the link for the Giants game. Note that only the first half of the game is up--i.e., I took down the 4th quarter that was my first work doing UFR. I plan to re-chart those plays, adding passing grades, and re-post, along with the 3rd quarter plays I didn't originally chart. That will hopefully be up tomorrow, and shouldn't be up any later than Tuesday.

Once I finish the rest of the Giants game, I will update the passing chart. I have decided I will not be posting any defensive breakdowns. I've worked on a couple, as I've been updating UFR, but I'm not at a stage where I have anything I want to post. Defensive breakdowns will continue to be a work in progress through the pre-season, but I have to have it in a form I like by the time the regular season rolls around. I also plan to chart special teams plays, though I'm not quite sure how or in what detail (particularly, if I'll have some metric like the VY pass chart), but it'll be there.

UPDATE (7/24, 2031 CDT): Whole of the Giants game is up. See link above.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Upon Further Review: TEN@PHI

On November 19, 2006, the Titans defeated the Philadelphia Eagles, 31-13. What's below is a play-by-play look at each Titans offensive play of the game.

T29110I-Form, 2-TERun2HenryStretch
Short run right tackle. Mike Patterson really beat Mawae off the line of scrimmage, forcing him into the backfield and almost preventing the handoff.
T31283-WR, 2-WR StrongRun-3HenryLeft Tackle
Strongside running play to the left, out of a more spread out formation. LBs aren't visible at the snap, but Barber is able to shoot the gap and trip up Henry in the backfield.
T28311Shotgun StrongPass13JonesPA Rollout
VY fakes the draw to Henry, then rolls right and throws a rope right to Jones, covered by Sheppard. There was a very small window here, and VY put it right in there. (DO), and a great play to pick up the conversion on third down. Nit: timing is a little off here. If VY gets to his throwing position earlier, the window is quite a bit bigger.
T41110Shotgun Split BacksRun43HenryCounter Trap
This is just a beautiful play. It looks almost like a QB sweep at first, with VY moving right, the TE (Scaife, I think) blocking up the line. Then, BAM!, handoff to Henry, who lined up to VY's right. Darwin Walker's out of the play, Henry runs through an arm tackle by McCoy(?), Hall gets a chip on Short, and Henry's off, fending off Sheldon Brown for nearly 25 yards before being brought down.
Blah, run up the middle.
P1428Weak I,2-TE StrongPass14-TDTroupePA Bootleg
Well, this is supposed to be a bootleg, but Hall couldn't get the block on Howard, so VY has to improvise. He scrambles back into the pocket, which is in good shape, then throws one up into the end zone that Troupe is able to grab. (CA)
Drive Notes: Overlooked play: the third down conversion at the start that kept the drive alive. Henry's big run was a great playcall, then VY and Troupe made the plays they needed to to get the TD.
T18110I-Form, 2-TERun-3HenryOff Tackle
A run off tackle is often a fine idea. Sometimes it's somewhat less than fine in the execution, and that's the case here, as Roos can't seal off DE Howard, who forces Henry to run parallel to the line of scrimmage. If you're the Titans, that's not the direction you want to see Travis Henry running. Yes, contra Gamebook, this was a left side play.
T152132-TEPass0-fumbleBennettSlip Screen?
I don't really get the "7 step drop to throw a ball -1 yards downfield", but I think this is supposed to be a little slip screen for Bennett. #1 Why can't this play be set up with a shorter drop? #2 Why the hell do you throw the slip screen to Bennett, as opposed to, say, Wade? #3 Why don't you get blockers out in front of him? McCoy is able to hit Bennett quickly, preventing the possibility of any YAC. The fumble comes when Bennett hits Mawae after getting hit by Bennett. (CA)
Drive Notes: Um, turnovers inside your own 20 are bad, mmkay? The Titans were fortunate to get away from this without giving up any points.
T20110Weak IPassIncJonesIn
Straight dropback. Jones lines up outside right, runs an in route, and VY throws it behind him. (IN)
T20210Standard 2-TERun8HenryRight Tackle
Jeez, Howard is way the heck offside here. The play as called works pretty well, with Henry finding a lane after all the people collapse at RT. Fisher decides to take 2&5 over 3&2.
T2525I-Form, 2-TERun8HenryStretch
The PBP guys calls this a "stop and go," for no apparent reason. Good blocking here at the point of attack.
T33110Standard 2-TEPassIncHenryPA Checkdown
VY takes the dropback, but sees a rusher coming, so he tries to throw it to Henry near the LOS. And misses him. (IN) No clue if anybody else was open downfield. It looks like the Eagles stunted a little, and brought DT Patterson late and Bell didn't release in time to pick him up.
T33210I-FormRun4HenryRight Tackle
A familiar look for the Titans. Jones motions across the formation, and ends up off the TE to the strong right side, and it's a give to Henry in that direction. As with the 8 yard run earlier this drive, Henry doesn't take it outside, but instead finds a lane further inside, and he dives forward for a 4 yard gain.
T3736Shotgun BasePassIncWadeOut
Wade lines up in the slot to the weak left side, and runs an out route near the first down marker. Dawkins jumps the route, and should have had a pick-6. It's tough to tell from the TV, but VY looks like he may have been looking at Wade the entire time. Any time a safety follows a play like this, it's either a (BR) or (IN)--call it .5 of each.
Drive Notes: Remember how VY made good throws and good decisions the last drive? Didn't happen this time.
T24110Shotgun BaseRun3WhiteRead Option
Ah, the little read option. VY makes the correct read, what with Juqua Thomas lurking unblocked after Roos goes down the line, so White blows into the line for a short gain.
T2727Weak IRun1WhiteLeft Tackle
I admit it, I'm not sure I really get the Weak I in this scenario. It's a run to the strong (left) side, and MLB Trotter is able to fight through the junk and tackle White for almost no gain. Hall might as well not even be in on this play, as he hardly does a thing, and what he does doesn't seem to affect what happens to White. White doesn't do a great job on this play, either, cutting inside instead of following his blocks outside. But, I don't really blame him for this, as Bell and Roos didn't have a good seal on the edge, and, as I keep repeating, White isn't fast enough to be a good outside runner in the NFL.
T2836Weak IPassIncTroupeIn
Ok, Troupe runs a little bit of a delayed route, going 4 yards down the field and running an in. Why do you run that pattern on 3&6? Barber jumps the route and the Eagles just miss an interception for the second time. Ball was thrown ahead of Troupe, towards Barber. For karmic justice, .5 (BR), .5 (IN).
Drive Notes: QB making bad decisions = drives not continuing. The 2006 Titans were not good enough to win without at least decent QB play. Get that, and they stood a chance. Not get it, and you see drives like the last 3 (though the Bennett fumble wasn't VY's fault).
A bit of a timing pattern for Bennett down the left sideline. Sheppard does a very good job of not letting Bennett run by him, so this play never has a chance. Not VY's fault this isn't completed. (CA)
Nearly the same call as the previous play, out of a different formation, and with some more disguising up front. Again, Sheppard has good coverage on Bennett and gets a hand in there to knock it away. A better receiver would have caught the ball. I'm torn on the grade on the pass-it hits Bennett on the hands, but I think the timing could have been better. Call it .5 (DO), .5 (CA), and I freely admit I'm being wishy-washy this game.
T12310Strong I, 2-WR Weak, TE FlexPass8HenryMiddle Screen
Since the formation isn't in my glossary, here's what it is. The Titans lined up in a Strong I, and Scaife flexed out wide, creating more of a Weak I, 3-WR look. The play is a middle screen, but Henry is stopped short of the first down. I actually don't mind the play call, in part because VY needed an easy throw after two passes that weren't really high percentage. (CA)
Drive Notes: As I allude to above, I don't really get why you run the same play twice in a row. This goes double if it's not a particularly high percentage play, and triple if it's not a play that seems to have any other options.
T38110I-Form, 2-TEPassIncHenryPA Bootleg
VY fakes to Henry, then bootlegs right weak. Henry runs what looks like a wheel route, and VY throws it across his body. Dhani Jones is in coverage, and S Michael "Not the Beer Man OR the Moneyball Guy" Lewis breaks up the play. Let me just repeat that: VY throws across his body way the hell across the field to a guy who's already being covered when there's a safety out there. This is, frankly, a DREADFUL decision, and VY is VERY lucky it wasn't intercepted. (BR)
T38210Shotgun 4-WRRun11YoungQB Draw
After the previous play, I really like this playcall. Your young QB has just done something stupid, so build up his confidence by letting him do something you know and he knows he's good at. Spread 'em out and hit 'em with a designed run. This is about an 8 yard run with most ballcarriers.
T49110I-Form, Standard 2-TERun-2HenryOff Tackle
May I just say how much I hate not seeing the start of the play? VY's 3 yards in the backfield after taking the snap from center before they show us the players instead of Jeff Fisher. I /think/ what happened here is that one of the Eagle DTs got penetration, at least enough to muck up the pulling linemen on this outside run. Trent Cole makes the play, but he appears to be the beneficiary of someone else's work.
T47212Shotgun StrongRun-2YoungRead Option(?)
It looks like a Read Option, only run up the middle. Mike Patterson, who might have mucked up the previous play, rushes to the Titans' left, and Olson follows, leaving a gap for the stunting Darwin Walker, who hits VY in the backfield. With this OL blocking, this play never had a chance. The really annoying thing is that if this play was really designed middle like I think, it was a great call. Patterson's move leaves him better equipped to take the tackle read option, but takes him out of the play here, and leaves Olson (assuming Mawae and Bell take Patterson) free to block Walker.
T45314Shotgun StrongPass20YoungScramble
The Eagles bring a heavy blitz here, 7 against 7 Titan blockers. VY sees this, doesn't have an immediate throw, and takes off. I think the TE or RB was a short route here, so with the other guys running downfield routes, there's lots of room for VY to do what VY does. (SCR)
P35110Standard 2-TE(?)PassIncWadeWaggle
This is another play where CBS doesn't bother to show us the formation. I think it was Standard 2-TE, but I'm not sure. VY boots after the play-action, and Trent cole is in hot pursuit. It looks like Dhani Jones did a good job to stay at home, so there's not much running room even if he can elude Cole. Wade on a drag about 15 yards downfield is the official intended target, but VY throws it into the ground 5 yards in front of him. He was covered, so this may well have been a throw away. It certainly didn't look to me like, say, his throw to Wade in the Colts game where Bobby got interfered with and the pass was probably too far ahead anyway. I was going to be generous, but then they showed Bennett was open by 5+ yards at the goal line. When you have a guy that wide open, there, you HAVE to hit him. Without Bennett, this is probably a Thrown Away, but he's out there, so it's a (BR). This is also instructive at showing the limits of television broadcasts.
P35210Shotgun Split BacksRun3HenryCounter Trap
This starts out looking a lot like the play they ran successfully for Henry's 43 yard gain, except with Scaife split out a little instead of flush to the tackle. The blocking doesn't work nearly as well, though, so it's only a short gain.
P3237Shotgun BasePassIncScaifeSeam
This is really a 2-TE set, with Troupe flexed out wide on the left instead of flush to Roos. Scaife runs a drag to the flat about 2 yards downfield, which seems odd on 3&7. What's even odder is that VY then throws the ball to him. The Eagles must be in some sort of zone here, as CB Lito Sheppard is right by Scaife, and jumps VY's HORRIBLE pass. If he catches it like he should have, it's a pick-6. Bad place to throw the ball, bad throw. (.5 BR, .5 IN), but as a letter grade, this play is like an F-minus.
P3247Shotgun BasePassIncBennettIn
Rather than try a 50 yard field goal, or punt from the PHI 32, Fisher elects to go for it. Not a bad call, in my opinion. Bennett runs an in about 9 yards downfield, but Will James is able to bat the ball away because VY throws it a little behind Bennett, likely concentrating too much on the safety. A better throw and the drive continues. (IN)
Drive Notes: The sine qua non for offensive success in the current NFL is the ability to pass the ball successfully. If you cannot do that, then you have to be exceptional in other areas to win ballgames. VY showed his running ability this drive, but didn't have any success at all throwing the football.
T271102-TE StrongRun0HenryRight Tackle
The Titans try to run behind the 2 TEs. Unfortunately, all this does is tell the Eagles where the play is going, and Henry never makes it all the way to the tight ends.
T27210Weak IRun2HenryIso
Blah, short run up the middle. Another play where I don't get the weak I formation.
T2938Shotgun StrongPassIncJonesCurl?
VY with the fake read option, and a little bit of a rolling pocket. The pass is (IN) for Jones, as it goes sailing past where he's supposed to be right before he's there. Part of that was where the D-holding on James came in, but if the refs miss that or don't call it, then that play has to be completed or else the drive dies. From the replay, it's pretty clear that VY's window of opportunity was earlier than when he actually did throw the football, so I feel better about an (IN) grade.
T34110Strong IPass-5YoungSack
Cole attacks Stewart with an outside rush. Stewart mostly has good position, giving VY a circular pocket to work from (fine, it's technically more of an oval-esque cylinder), but Cole reaches out with his hand and bats the ball out of VY's grasp when he does that. This is something VY really needs to work harder on next year, avoding losing possession of the football. Thankfully, the Titans do get the ball back. (PR)
T29215Standard 2-TERun5HenryIso
Familiar run right up the middle out of a 2-TE set. The Eagle defense is interesting on this play-the LBs are shaded to the Titans' right, with Dawkins(?) covering nobody in the slot to the left side. Good blocking up the middle and Henry goes ahead for five.
T34310Shotgun 4-WRRun12YoungDraw
Troupe is in the slot right, so this is the familiar Shotgun Base with a TE flex. VY is running all the way, and there's a huge hole right up the middle and blockers in right of him, but he goes up the middle and immediately starts running right. That's not the sort of thing he's supposed to be able to do in the NFL, but he beats the Eagles defenders to the corners and gets the first down.
T46110Shotgun StrongRun4HenryCounter Trap
Decent gain on the same play we've seen before, with a minor formation wrinkle--Henry is offset to VY's right, almost like a TE would be, rather than the normal position next to the QB. The TE also on the left side is also off the line.
5026Shotgun BaseRun5WhiteRead Option
Roos free releases Trent Cole, making VY's decision to give the ball to White pretty darn easy. The O-line got decent push, so White starts looking for a hole rather than attacking the line and Cole tackles him from behind. Positively Ron Dayne-ian.
P4531I-Form, 2-WR WeakRun5WhiteIso
The 2 WR are Bennett split out and Jones over right tackle. Two Eagle defenders attack the middle of the line, to no avail, and Hall pops the man in the hole right side, giving White a nice place to run and pick up the first down. Thanks for attacking the hole on 3&1.
P40110Shotgun StrongPass9YoungScramble
Troupe is in the slot right, so this is really a 2-TE formation. It didn't look like VY had many reads on this play, or else he didn't want to risk a throw, because he took a quick look, pump faked, then took off and run. Decent gain, and he's aware enough to get out of bounds. With :55 to play, that's a very good move. (SCR)
P31213-WR, 2-WR WeakRun3WhiteRight Tackle
I don't get why the heck Eagle defenders keep running into places where there already are Eagle defenders. It just happened, and happens again here. White, to paraphrase Wee Willie Keller, runs where they ain't and dives forward for the first down. Maybe that's the key to him being an effective player.
P28110Shotgun BasePass18WadeOut
After a drive that's been almost all running plays, it's nice to see a ball actually thrown. Very good play, too, as Wade finds a gap in the coverage and VY puts it where it needs to be. I'm feeling generous, but will limit myself to (CA).
P101104-WR ClosePassIncScaifeSeam
4 players standing up, but it's really a 2-TE set with both Scaife and Troupe not in a three-point stance and Bennett and Jones close in. VY finds Scaife open, except for Brian Dawkins, who tips the ball away and could have had an interception. Don't throw this ball here. (BR)
P10210Standard 2-TEPassIncWhiteCheckdown
VY's first read is the fade to Bennett on the left side, but he's well-defended. Troupe in the flat is also covered, so VY throws a short pass to White. Behind him. White probably should have still caught it, but he was only 2 yards downfield and wouldn't have been able to do anything with the ball even if he had. (IN)
P10310Standard 2-TEPass-8YoungSack
Eagles defensive coordinator Jim Johnson is known for his aggressive blitzing. Here, the Eagles had 9 guys within 3 yards of the line of scrimmage at the time of the snap, including bringing Sean Considine up late on the Titans' right side. The only bring 7 of them, but Considine goes pretty much abated and prevents VY from getting away. The left side also had problems, because the Eagles brought 5 of the 7 from there, but Considine was the decider. I don't know if VY just didn't see Considine, in which case someone should have pointed it out to him, or what, but this play never had a chance. (.5 PR, .5 BR)
Drive Notes: It was nice to get back the 3 points the Titans had allowed on the previous drive right, and go into halftime with a 4-point lead restored. It also would have been nice to be able to pass the danged football.
T30110I-Form, 2-TERun70HenryIso
This looks like a generic up the middle right, with better blocking than normal. Henry has a stiff-arm on Sheldon Brown, Brian Dawkins can't make the tackle from behind, and there's nobody who seriously challenges him for the last 50 yards. Solomon Wilcots actually does a pretty decent job of breaking down this play after a couple commercial breaks. The Eagles are in a balanced 4-3, 7 in the box. Cramer went in motion from right to left, balancing the 9 interior guys (WR split left). The play is supposed to go right tackle, and the blocking shifts that way. LBs Trotter and Jones flow to the right side of the formation, blocking off tackle and right tackle. The other LB, McCoy, takes over middle gap responsibility, but Roos is able to block him because Bell does a good job on DT Walker. Cramer has the Eagle DE on that side. S Lewis appears to have coverage responsibility on Scaife, and appears to take a poor angle to Henry, Henry stiff-arms Brown and gets position on Dawkins, and that's all she wrote.
Drive Notes: 1 play drives are fun to break down! Titans go up 17-6 here, and Pacman returns a punt the next time they would go on offense to go up 24-6. It's fun to win game even when you can't throw the ball.
T12110I-Form, 2-TERun2WhiteIso
The Titans start backed up at their own 12 after Pacman's punt return isn't nearly as good as his previous one, then he throws the ball at Mike McCoy after McCoy kicks him in the head when he's on the ground (no sign this was intentional). The play looks just like the Henry run for the TD, just blocking wasn't as good. The announcers thankfully just blather on about how Pacman has to show maturity, and don't seem to have realize he got kicked in the head.
T14282-TE, 2-WR WeakRun-4WhiteOff Tackle
Trent Cole gets leverage on David Stewart and drives him into the backfield, right where White is running with the ball. Blame for this play is easy to assign, and definitive. I wouldn't want to be Stewart when they show this play on film, and this is the sort of play you'll keep around for a while.
T10312Shotgun StrongPass11WhiteScreen
Middle screen to White, and a good playcall. White shows better power running than he normally does. Dawkins appears to be going for a strip, forcing White to cover up. This slows down White, but nearly proves costly for Dawkins as he probably could have had White sooner and nearly gives up the first down because he can't bring White down until Considine comes up. This play is originally called a first down, then challenged by the Eagles and called just short of the marker. This is a good reversal. (CA)
Drive Notes: It would have been nice to do something offensively this game, like successfully throw the ball more than 1 yard downfield.
Jones on a go route, and he's ahead of Sheppard. Naturally VY's pass is way the hell short. Jones jumps up, should have it, but doesn't, almost tips it to Lito, tips it away, and can't come down with it. If this is a well-thrown ball, Jones catches it in stride and it's a TD. And if your aunt had balls, she'd be your uncle. (IN)
Blah, short run up the middle.
T29310Shotgun StrongPass9JonesOut
Fake the counter/read option, then rollout. VY faces pressure, starts to run, then dumps it to Jones while being dragged down from behind. I'm not sure if this is a great play to avoid a sack, if it's a terrible play because he can't get the ball further downfield or get away from the defender, or if why Jones was open. Jones was down on the ground, right by the sideline, so it's not like he was lunging forward for the first down. (CA), I guess.
Drive Notes: See above. I guess the pass to Jones was more than 1 yard downfield, but I can't regard it as a successful play under the circumstances.
T35110Weak IPass28HallWaggle
Waggle action! VY fakes, then boots, and hits Hall on a checkdown. Scaife gets a chip on Dawkins, who's the closest defender, and the blocking downfield isn't too shabby. (CA) It looks like Hall could have avoided Considine if he's gone outside of the WR block instead of inside. Still a very nice gain, though.
P37110I-Form, Standard 2-TERun3HenryIso
Blah, short run up middle.
P3427I-Form, Standard 2-TERun2HenryRight Tackle
Blah, short run right side.
P3235Weak I, 3-WRPass-4YoungSack
Another blitz. Considine comes free again, VY has to step up, into more blitzers. C'mon, VY, be smarter than this. (.5 BR, .5 PR)
Drive Notes: A first down! A first down! I will love it and hug it and squeeze it and call it George, and it will be my friend. Most games you only have 1 first down the second half, you lose, particularly when you only score 10 points the first half. (Ok, maybe Henry's TD run counts as another first down. It isn't really, though.)
P49110I-Form, 2-TERun2HenryIso
Run left a little bit, cutback to that play where everybody's cracked down and created a lane, only S Michael Lewis was there.
P4728I-Form, 2-TERun3HenryRight Tackle
Blah, short run right side.
P4435Weak I, 2-TEPassIncRobyDrag
WTF is VY doing here? PA, then he looks and rolls out wide trying to find something open. At this point, he needs to figure out the game situation, and see that if he can't get the corner, he needs to just go down and kill the clock. Instead he tries to throw the ball to Roby, who's come clear across the field. He's fortunate this pass didn't get intercepted. (BR)
Drive Notes: Up 24-13 with 3:44 to go, Fisher opts to sit on the ball. So would I. I don't get the third down playcall at all.

The Titans would later expand their lead to 31-13 near the end of the game, off a fumble return TD by Keith Bulluck after the Eagles snap the ball over QB Jeff Garcia's head. After the Eagles try lateraling the kickoff around, the Titans recover the ball and VY kneels the ball down to win the game and end one of the longer regular-season games you're likely to see.

Monday, July 16, 2007

The Best Divisions

NOTE: This post was written 7/25/07, 0051 CDT, and ante-dated so it was lower on the front page.

This post is a raw data dump of the best NFL divisions since the merger before the 1970 season. The divisions are ranked by their Pythagorean wins, using the exponent 2.37. All win totals are for a 4-team division (simple division was used to turn 5 or 6 team divisions into 4 team ones), and based on a 16-game season. This post is based on this Football Outsiders column.

1976 AFCC 39.75
2004 AFCE 39.28
1984 AFCW 38.96
1970 NFCC 38.92
1975 AFCC 38.88
2002 NFCS 38.51
2005 AFCW 37.84
2002 AFCW 37.26
1986 NFCW 37.05
1992 NFCW 37.04
1989 NFCW 37.02
1974 NFCE 36.88
1976 NFCC 36.83
1990 AFCW 36.74
1991 NFCW 36.65
1981 NFCE 36.60
1995 AFCW 36.39
1999 AFCE 36.32
1979 AFCW 36.21
1982 NFCE 36.20
1977 AFCC 36.03
1972 NFCC 35.96
1993 NFCE 35.85
1992 NFCE 35.74
1977 NFCW 35.67
2006 AFCE 35.66
1988 NFCW 35.64
1998 AFCE 35.52
2004 AFCW 35.33
2006 AFCN 35.31
2003 AFCE 35.20
2002 AFCE 35.20
2005 NFCE 35.01
1979 AFCC 34.96
1983 NFCW 34.90
1970 NFCE 34.82
1985 AFCW 34.77
1992 AFCC 34.72
1984 NFCE 34.71
1978 AFCC 34.68
1998 NFCC 34.67
1988 AFCC 34.63
1989 AFCC 34.57
1991 AFCW 34.51
1990 NFCE 34.50
1995 NFCC 34.47
1977 AFCW 34.45
1991 NFCE 34.39
1972 AFCC 34.37
1999 AFCW 34.35
1993 AFCW 34.35
2000 AFCE 34.27
1973 AFCW 34.19
1971 NFCW 34.15
1997 AFCC 34.14
1986 AFCW 34.10
1978 NFCE 34.05
1997 NFCC 34.05
1971 NFCC 34.01
2004 AFCN 34.00
2001 NFCC 33.98
1973 NFCW 33.96
1984 NFCW 33.91
1978 AFCW 33.85
2005 AFCN 33.81
1980 AFCC 33.68
1971 AFCW 33.67
1997 AFCW 33.63
1989 AFCW 33.62
2006 NFCE 33.54
1987 AFCE 33.48
1987 NFCW 33.46
1972 AFCW 33.45
1975 AFCE 33.39
1988 AFCE 33.36
1990 NFCW 33.31
1996 AFCC 33.26
1987 AFCC 33.22
2000 AFCC 33.19
1985 AFCE 33.06
1999 NFCC 33.00
1970 AFCW 32.98
1977 NFCE 32.95
1996 AFCW 32.85
1998 NFCW 32.85
1980 NFCE 32.71
1974 AFCE 32.69
2001 AFCW 32.66
1973 NFCE 32.64
1979 AFCE 32.61
2003 NFCW 32.57
2002 NFCE 32.56
1981 AFCW 32.48
1979 NFCE 32.48
1974 AFCC 32.42
1975 NFCE 32.41
2000 NFCC 32.41
2001 AFCC 32.38
2005 NFCS 32.32
1995 NFCW 32.31
1982 AFCE 32.26
1986 NFCE 32.21
1993 NFCC 32.19
1980 NFCW 32.18
2000 AFCW 32.17
1983 NFCE 32.15
1996 NFCC 32.12
1980 AFCE 32.11
1994 AFCE 32.09
1993 AFCC 32.09
2003 AFCS 32.07
1996 AFCE 32.06
1987 NFCE 32.06
2005 AFCS 32.05
1994 NFCC 32.00
1983 AFCW 31.99
1980 AFCW 31.97
1994 NFCE 31.97
1986 AFCC 31.94
1973 AFCE 31.90
1985 NFCC 31.90
2001 NFCW 31.87
1994 NFCW 31.87
2003 NFCN 31.87
1998 AFCW 31.80
1976 NFCE 31.79
1994 AFCC 31.78
1977 AFCE 31.77
1971 NFCE 31.72
2004 AFCS 31.72
2006 AFCW 31.70
1981 AFCC 31.69
1988 NFCC 31.69
1994 AFCW 31.68
1974 AFCW 31.54
2006 AFCS 31.54
1973 AFCC 31.49
1982 AFCW 31.47
2001 AFCE 31.46
1982 NFCC 31.44
2003 AFCW 31.40
1987 AFCW 31.38
1978 AFCE 31.33
1971 AFCE 31.30
1985 NFCE 31.20
1981 NFCC 31.17
1976 AFCE 31.16
1983 AFCC 31.11
1990 AFCC 31.10
1972 NFCE 31.10
1997 AFCE 31.08
1996 NFCE 31.07
2004 NFCS 31.00
2003 AFCN 30.99
1970 NFCW 30.98
1999 AFCC 30.97
2000 NFCE 30.94
1985 NFCW 30.91
2003 NFCS 30.80
1989 NFCE 30.79
1996 NFCW 30.78
1973 NFCC 30.76
1972 NFCW 30.75
1974 NFCC 30.74
2006 NFCN 30.71
1981 AFCE 30.67
1981 NFCW 30.61
1983 AFCE 30.51
1997 NFCE 30.46
1989 NFCC 30.40
2004 NFCE 30.36
1982 AFCC 30.26
2002 AFCS 30.24
2000 NFCW 30.14
1995 AFCC 30.09
2001 NFCE 30.05
1988 NFCE 29.98
1986 NFCC 29.85
1980 NFCC 29.85
1990 AFCE 29.79
1991 AFCC 29.79
1978 NFCC 29.71
1983 NFCC 29.63
1972 AFCE 29.59
1975 NFCC 29.49
1995 NFCE 29.46
1975 NFCW 29.43
1990 NFCC 29.20
1993 NFCW 29.17
1993 AFCE 29.16
1985 AFCC 29.16
1992 NFCC 29.11
1976 AFCW 29.10
2005 NFCN 29.09
2003 NFCE 29.03
1986 AFCE 29.01
1971 AFCC 28.95
1984 NFCC 28.85
1999 NFCW 28.83
1995 AFCE 28.80
1991 NFCC 28.75
1997 NFCW 28.62
1992 AFCW 28.61
1999 NFCE 28.58
2002 AFCN 28.57
2004 NFCN 28.48
1976 NFCW 28.29
1987 NFCC 28.28
1970 AFCC 28.08
1978 NFCW 27.98
2005 NFCW 27.95
2006 NFCS 27.70
1984 AFCE 27.59
1979 NFCW 27.58
1984 AFCC 27.56
1989 AFCE 27.45
1979 NFCC 27.35
1982 NFCW 27.28
1998 AFCC 27.13
1991 AFCE 27.11
1975 AFCW 26.98
1970 AFCE 26.95
2005 AFCE 26.89
1992 AFCE 26.83
2002 NFCW 26.59
2006 NFCW 26.56
2002 NFCN 26.46
1988 AFCW 26.41
1998 NFCE 26.05
1974 NFCW 24.66
2004 NFCW 24.23
1977 NFCC 21.89

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Content Update-Actual Update

Hey, I finally filled in those annoying blank spaces in the Indy game. See the updated post. Alas, I managed to toss the neat color changes, but I'll fix that tomorrow. Plus, I can now go back and do the Philly and Giants games.

I've done some work on breaking down defensive plays, but I'm not sure exactly how much I'll be doing still. Hopefully substantially more than just breaking down the actual plays in a basic fashion, like I've done with the offense so far.

UPDATE (7/11/07, 2236 CT): Fixed the Colts game. See link above. Pass chart still needs updating, but that'll happen sooner or later.

Monday, July 09, 2007

Book Review: Instant Replay

My previous book review, of When Pride Still Mattered, notwithstanding, I'm generally a very nice person when it comes to book reviews. If a book is good, like with Pete Williams' The Draft, I try to give it as much praise as it deserves. Sometimes, though, I'm reminded that when it comes to book reviews, I'm still a rank amateur.

So it is with Instant Replay: The Green Bay Diary of Jerry Kramer. Kramer, the Packers' outstanding guard and a more thoughtful man than the average football player, collaborated with Dick Schaap on this diary of the Packers' 1967 season. It was perhaps the earliest good book on football, and still makes for an engrossing read. I'll turn the floor over to Washington Post book critic Jonathan Yardley, whose 2005 column on re-reading the book serves as the introduction for the newly-released edition:
[Instant Replay] has lost absolutely nothing over the past three and a half decades. It is funny, smart, evocative, honest and unpretentious. Its prose is Kramer's, dictated into a tape recorder and regularly mailed to Schaap as the season progressed. Schaap's role was "to organize, to condense, to clarify, and to punctuate," but he "did not have to polish Jerry Kramer's phrases or prompt his thoughts." All in all it's as good a job of collaboration between unprofessional writer and professional journalist as I can recall reading, and it is as vivid and engaging now as it was in 1968.

Seriously, it's that good. Now go read it.

Book Review: When Pride Still Mattered

One thing I discovered on The Other Blog is that my book reviews normally are much more insightful when they're written right after, or only shortly after, I finish the book. Close enough that the book is fresh in my mind, yet not quite so fresh that I'm still gushing over it or depressed over reading it, and thus can bring some perspective. I read so many books that if I don't review it relatively soon, many of the details fade into the passage of time. Yet that, too, may be a commentary on a book.

When Pride Still Mattered: A Life of Vince Lombardi by David Maraniss is, as the subtitle makes clear, a biography of Vince Lombardi, legendary coach of the Packers. Maraniss was, and maybe still is, with The Washington Post, and, as with many other books by WaPo writers and other similarly accomplished journalists, the books they write are well-done and well-researched. Reading this book, you learn a lot more about Vince Lombardi. Of course, the curse of journalistic books is also present in spades. Everything a journalist writes is about the people involved. And so it is here. Maraniss does well with the people involved. But, ultimately, Lombardi was famous (1) because he was a remarkable leader of football players and (2) he was good at football. (1) comes across in spades in this book. (2) might as well not even exist. This is emphatically not a football book. Assuming you know the basics, like 4 downs to get a first down, touchdown = 6 points, and field goal = a kick, worth 3 points, you won't learn anything about football reading this book. Since that's why Lombardi is really famous, I therefore have to regard this book as an utter failure.

In fact, by doing such a good job on writing this book, Maraniss has actually done the public a disservice. There's a clear space available for book that properly evaluates Lombardi in the context of his football career. But, because Maraniss did such a good job, that book is less likely to be written, and the world of knowledge will be poorer for it. Go ahead and read this book, if it sounds like something you'd be interested in. If you do read it, though, remember there's this other book about football that probably won't ever exist because of it.

Saturday, July 07, 2007

Content Update 2

While I muck around with the VCR and getting it to work with the satellite, some thoughts.

Apparently, LSU Coach Les Miles recently threw some more red meat to his fans, insulting USC. For Miles in some perspective, see this MGoBlog post, particularly
"Several players said the day [new OK State Coach] Gundy replaced Les Miles as head coach he established guidelines that players attend class, be on time for team meetings, adhere to workout routines, represent the program well and play hard."

Particularly, I'd like to point out LSU this offseason lost both their well-regarded coordinators, Jimbo Fisher to Florida State and Bo Pelini to Alabama, and replaced them with nobody particularly notable. LSU will still have talented players, but the great added value that distinguishes most national championship teams from near-misses is quality coaching. And Les Miles, in my opinion, will not provide that quality coaching. LSU may have good wins, and may even win the SEC, but they will not be a national championship contender this year, and will never be one so long as Les Miles is head coach. And, in light of that, that probably won't be more than 5 years.

Pacifist Viking, a fellow Football Outsiders commenter nails it, July before training camp is irrelevant controversy season.

Of course, I say that and one of my favorite blogs that's hardly ever posted on, Smart Football, had two new posts. The first is on the "death" of the run-and-shoot, and brings up something that I've noticed: there's generally an awful lot of offensive diversity. At the college level, a team like Ohio State lined up in everything from a true spread formation with 4 or 5 WR to a classic power set with an I and multiple TEs. And at the NFL level, we've seen just as much diversity. True, we probably won't see a team devote itself to the run-and-shoot like the Oilers and Lions did in the early 90's, but that doesn't mean it's gone. The second is on pass concepts, with a few links to some of his older posts.

One good thing has come out lately: USA Today has updated its salary database. Have fun with it.

Sunday, July 01, 2007

Content Update

Moving is annoying. I'm mostly unpacked, but not completely. The VCR was to be in a box until I found the power strip, at which point I would unpack it and do more UFR. Power strip still MIA, so one must be acquired. Multiple soccer tournaments + DVR = more watching of TV than expected. I hope to have the rest of the Colts game up Tuesday or Wednesday evening, probably late, with the rest of the Giants game and the Eagles game to come in the week or so after that.