When we started talking about third downs last week, I put up a set of numbers on how many third downs Brian Billick said that you could expect per game. Some readers found it light on total first downs, and they were right. Part of the reason the number seems low was that I left a set out deliberately - the number of third downs that you should expect in the red zone. It’s an entire area of study on its own, and I’m going to talk about it separately next time.
For today, we’re going to take on the offensive coordinator’s headache - third and long, both third and 7-10 yards and third and eleven or more. They are handled in much the same way, but the odds of success are understandably different.
There’s nothing surprising about it. The toughest third downs are the longer ones, just as you’d expect. When you’re dealing with a third down and more than ten yards, your odds of success are down between 12% and 18% for getting a first down. It’s a little better at 7-10 yards - about 20-25%. You can’t overestimate the importance of gaining your average of four or more yards on first and second down - how well you convert your third downs depends on it.
Now, PK writes a lot of stupid stuff, but this is really high on the list of Stupid Stuff PK Thinks He Thought to Think. Sproles is a versatile player for sure, and a dangerous one at that, but he's also more of a receiver and return man than he is a running back, and do we really want to go around ranking him on a list with Marshall Faulk, LDT, Thurman Thomas, and Marcus Allen?
As for which players should be sitting on this list instead of the Sproles type, that's easy. How about rushing/receiving threats Roger Craig, Curtis Martin, Tiki Barber, Edgerrin James, Warrick Dunn, and Ricky Watters, to name a few?
New York--Former Broncos running back Travis Henry today announced he is joining current Jets cornerback Antonio Cromartie in creating a nonprofit dedicated to advancing the cause of super fathers.
"It's like MENSA," said Henry via telephone from an undisclosed location. "Except for dudes with exceedingly high sperm counts."
The nonprofit, called KHAN (Keep Her Away Now) is named for the legendary warrior Genghis Khan, who it's thought is the ancestor to over 16 million people living today. It's estimated the Mongolian warlord fathered thousands of children with hundreds of women during his lifetime.
"Genghis is my boy," said Cromartie. "He really tapped that ass. The cat was the straight up pimp of 1206."
Good Morning, Broncos fans! An old, great Denver nemesis has decided to call it a day: LaDainian Tomlinson will sign what will presumably be a one-day contract with the Chargers this week so he can retire with the franchise he spent his first nine of eleven NFL seasons.
Tomlinson was drafted fifth overall by the Chargers in 2001 after the team traded down from the #1 pick (Michael Vick). Incidentally, that trade also netted them WR Tim Dwight, whose career highlight was a 94-yard kick return TD against the Broncos in SB 33. With their own second-rounder that year, San Diego drafted Drew Brees.
But, back to LDT: although Tomlinson's career against the Broncos amounted to just a 10-9 record in 19 games (including one as a Jet in 2010; he didn't play in last year's meeting), Denver's success against his teams mostly came early. To wit, LDT's Chargers went 3-7 against Denver before winning six of the next eight matchups following the ascension of Philip Rivers to replace Brees as the starting QB in 2006, with one of the two exceptions being the notorious Hochuli Game.
Updated 12:20 pm ET
Good Morning, Broncos fans! Ah, the NFL is so sly. After getting the football and sports blogosphere in a gigantic tizzy over the forthcoming availability of All-22 film to the general public, they've already pulled a fast one on us all by increasing the price by $10 overnight.
Obviously, it's still a great deal, and All-22 access will mean better football writing across the board. Charley Casserly and Mike Freeman think this will open coaches and players up to unreasonable criticism, but really this makes no sense at all. More information and knowledge is always a good thing, unless you're coming from the parochial viewpoint of someone like Casserly who probably figures lowly fans won't know what to do with the added info. Or, perhaps you're one of those fools who thinks that either film or stats alone is all you need, or you know...you played/coached the game in junior high school, so you have a feel for which guys have "it" and which don't.
Hello, readers. For the first time ever, I've taken down an article that I wrote. I got a rude email from a reader complaining about the one I wrote earlier, and my first instinct was to want to put a clown suit on the guy, but after thinking about it, I decided that the article was a little more self-referencing than I had meant it to be. Just because the guy was rude doesn't mean I didn't maybe go a few inches too far. I'm still going to write about what I want to write about, but I'll remember this experience, all the same.
So, here goes second take. For my longtime readers who didn't read the article from earlier, and who know me as a guy who lives in Cleveland, I've accepted a new job in the Tallahassee, Florida area, and I'll be moving in a couple weeks. It's a much better opportunity than the one I am leaving, and I'm glad to move on to a more motivating professional environment, in a place with better weather. Now, when I reference living in Florida, you won't be confused, and I feel like it's important to let those who know me know what's going on with me.
Big football news came out on Frday, and I decided to write about it until my girlfriend and I go out to dinner. The NFL announced that they'll be offering enhanced online game video, including all-22 coaches film, with a couple of different angles. The price is $59.99 per year, and it's available here. I'll definitely be buying it, and if you want to see the game in its most detailed form, I recommend you do the same.
Happy Friday, Broncos fans! The team wrapped up its mandatory minicamp yesterday (BTV, photos, more photos) with a demand from John Fox (video) that each player return to training camp on July 25 in the best shape of his life (ITBSOHL).
Former Colts OC Tom Moore was again in attendance, and had the following to say about his star pupil Peyton Manning:
Watching these three days, he looked excellent to me. There's lots of things that enter into it, obviously, accuracy, anticipation, touch, arm strength, you know, it's an all-involved thing. He looks good. He looks excellent.
Practice was highlighted by a couple of tipped interceptions of Manning, improving mechanics from Brock Osweiler, and more first-team reps for Rahim Moore and Sealver Siliga.
Looking through the library this week, I rediscovered a text by Super Bowl-winning ex-Ravens coach Brian Billick on the theory behind establishing an offense - a detailed discussion of the development of an offensive game plan. First published in 1996, some of the information in Developing an Offensive Game Plan might seem a bit dated, but I found that taking a walk through his wheelhouse is an exercise in learning how extensive the knowledge of the game has to be to coach on his level. As I read through the text, it occurred to me that most of the perspective would be new to the majority of fans. It was to me, as well. Billick laid out a remarkably thorough process for creating an offense, and it was one that I hadn’t seen in quite that way before.
One of the many things that stood out was his perspective on achieving success on third downs. Billick subdivided that down into multiple categories and talked about exactly how many plays he’d allocate to handling the various options of down and distance. Like Bill Walsh and many of his followers, Billick considers establishing your weekly offense to be a matter of pre-scripting plays and creating specific options on each potential possibility that are effective given the team’s personnel. It’s just one aspect of the overall process of charting your needs, but to Billick it’s an essential one.
Good Morning, Broncos fans! Denver's minicamp will conclude today, to be followed by a long spell of inactivity until training camp begins on July 25.
More deep passing from Peyton Manning highlighted yesterday's work, as did the progression of Knowshon Moreno to seven-on-seven snaps from the individual drills he'd been confined to by his rehab from ACL surgery. Rahim Moore and Quinton Carter continue to rotate with the first team, with yesterday bringing up Moore's turn; Rafael Bush practiced ahead of David Bruton.
Oh, and Peyton even spent some time working on his pass-rushing skills. Can anyone say Greatest Modern Player to Play Two Ways?
Ty Warren says he's feeling great but needs to improve his conditioning and absorb more of the new defensive playbook. He's weighing in at 310 pounds now - 30 fewer than he did a year ago - and expects to play at 300-305 come the regular season.
Ben Garland has been working with the third-team defense, considers himself a longshot, and says he'd embrace a trip to the practice squad.
Updated 9:45 am ET
Happy Wednesday, friends. There’s some big news in Tedistan, but I’m not able to announce it publicly just yet, so we’re going to return to Undervalued Positions. Today, we will look at the Matchup Safety, which I think will go nicely against our last edition of this miniseries, where we looked at the Move TE.
When an offense uses 12 personnel (1 RB, 2 TE, 2 WR), it forces a defense to choose whether to use Base (four DBs) or Nickel (five DBs) personnel. In most cases, that’s a situation of being damned if you do, and damned if you don’t. An offense in 12 personnel should have success in passing against Base defenses, and should have success running against Nickel defenses.
It gets especially interesting, offensively speaking, when one of the TEs has WR traits, and can be flexed out in a slot or flanked alignment. We’re talking about players like Aaron Hernandez, Jimmy Graham, and Jermichael Finley, who have the ability to release efficiently with a two-way go, and then separate in space (meaning outside the interior traffic that often helps TEs get open).