The Loser’s Curse and the NFL Draft

In 2005, Cade Massey and Richard Thayer, two academics from Duke and the University of Chicago, authored a fascinating and statistically-heavy paper entitled The Loser's Curse: Overconfidence vs. Market Efficiency in the National Football League Draft.  While the paper is dated, and while it has received its fair share of criticism and analysis itself, I think the most fascinating sentence from the entire 59-page paper is the biggest and most overlooked truth from the modern-day NFL:

Buying expensive players, even if they turn out to be great performers, imposes opportunity costs elsewhere on the roster.

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Visions of sugar plums: the value of Brandon Marshall

Christmas comes only once a year.  And Pete Carroll isn't donning a santa costume.

While we all might have believed last week that Brandon Marshall was worth a 1st and a 3rd round pick,  two things happened in the last two days that say otherwise:

  1. The Denver Broncos themselves placed only a 1st round tender on Marshall
  2. The Anquan Boldin trade

The Boldin trade, in particular, dealt what could have been a giant blow to the idea that the Broncos will be getting what we as fans hope is a fair value for the player known as The Beast.   

After the jump, we'll look at the Boldin deal, it's consequences for Marshall, and what both Seattle and Denver might be considering as they discuss what Bradon Marshall is worth.

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Understanding drafting at the quarterback position

One of the most important abilities as a general manager, a coach or a scout is the ability to analyze talent. Each of these professions needs to understand what a players strengths are, what their weaknesses are, and what they will and won't be expected to be able to do. It's particularly important - and difficult - when it comes to talking about quarterbacks. What is it that makes a quarterback successful? How can you structure an understanding of how effective a player will be in 1, 2, 3 and 5 or more years from when they will be drafted? Why is it, historically, that so many quarterbacks have failed to make the leap from college to the NFL? There have been many quarterbacks who we can look at, to try to discover why it's such a difficult decision.

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Shake Me: How turnovers and penalties shook the 2009 Denver Broncos

Penalties and turnovers hurt, like a kick to the groin.  Every coach will tell you that they can kill a drive faster than a Darrius Heyward-Bey crossing route (the groin of the Oakland Raiders).  In fact, you hear about penalties and turnovers so often in post-game press conferences, you would think that play calling had little do do with the results of the game.  

And often this is the case.  The team that does the best job executing its own individual game plan is usually the winner. Penalties and turnovers are simply markers along the way.

But when you chart every offensive play in a given season, you tend to only focus on the big picture (trends, downs and distances, player values) and forget about just how large a role penalties and turnovers really play.  Each holding call, each interception and fumble, each turnover on downs, and each missed field goal--each one of them were a piece of what became the 2009 Broncos offense.  So I thought that I'd take a brief moment this week in the middle of all of the draft analysis, to explore, using expected points value, penalties and turnovers. 

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Talk Dirty to Me: The power of hyper-aggressive coaching & how stats can make Josh McDaniels dirtier

You know I never
I never seen you look so good
You never call the plays you should
But I like it
And I know you like it too.....

If you're ever in a jam for awesomely-bad 80s music, so bad that it's actually good, you don't have to look much farther than the band Poison.  This little ditty, Talk Dirty To Me, is classic lipstick metal, so shallow that it's profound. So non-existential, it's almost existential.  And it's a lesson for NFL coaches.

Be aggressive.  Don't play it safe.   Wear eye liner.

Well perhaps the third is optional (unless your the new Al Davis hire).  But the first two should be requirements for all NFL coaches.

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Major Kyle (Coming Home): The 2009 Broncos passing game & why Eddie Royal isn’t lost in space

4...3...2..1...Kyle behind us...

passing, hurling....floating weightless
calling, calling...(Denver) home...

When I put these weekly columns together, I have so much 80s music to chose from it's almost criminal.  This week it was a close competition between Motley Crue's Shout at the Royal or Falco's Rock Me Kyle Orton.  But ultimately I decided there simply wasn't a better way to introduce the 2009-passing game of the Denver Broncos than with reference to this song by Peter Schilling in 1984, which was also covered in 2009 by Shiny Toy Guns.  I personally could listen to either version 50 times in succession--the equivalent to the number of seasons the Raiders will wait for the playoffs--and never grow bored.

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I Ran (So Far Away): The story of the Broncos running game in 2009

He just ran....He ran all night and day....

...Knowshon couldn't get away.

Perhaps the most disturbing part of the 2009 Broncos season (aside from knowing that Raiders fans continue breeding) was the lack of a running game. You've heard the storyline, but let's review the major plot points again:

  1. The Broncos nab the top running back in the draft.
  2. The Broncos struggle in short yardage, but the problems are masked by a 6-0 start and one hell of a defense.
  3. A small offensive line begins the painful transition to a power-running game.
  4. Denver's best run-blocking lineman is injured.
  5. Denver finishes with a 4.2 average yards-per-carry and ends up 18th in rushing.
  6. The rookie running back shows flashes of brilliance, but, by most accounts, finishes below expectations.

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Bang Your Head: Sanity in the Marshall, Dumervil, and Scheffler debate

Well I'm a stat-grinder, play-cruncher.
Now can we really keep our wide receiver?
Got no brains, he's insane.
McDaniels says that he's one big pain.
Brandon's like a laser, a 6-streamin' razor
He's got a mouth like an alligator.
But I want it louder.  Sack power
Should we keep Elvis when it strikes the hour?

There are a lot of opinions on Brandon Marshall, Elvis Dumervil, and Tony Scheffler these days.  Despite Marshall's verbal group hug during the Pro Bowl, the prevailing wisdom is still that the Broncos are going to look to trade (after tender offers) both Marshall and Scheffler, while making their best effort to retain the man-child sack leader in the NFL.

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Linebacker: The Broncos’ scheme and needs

Understanding Linebacker Play Within the Broncos Scheme

One of the big questions going into the 2010 offseason is deciding exactly what, if anything, the Broncos are going to do about their linebacker position. Given that Coach Don Martindale has been named to the defensive coordinator position, it's clear that that Broncos both like his style of coaching and appreciate what he's done with a group that was cobbled together from continuing players, castoffs from other squads  and players from Denver moving from different positions.

It says here that Martindale has been one of the top coaches on the team, and if they move him up to DC, I hope that they can find someone nearly as good to take his place. By the way, for those who asked - the style of defense and the terminology were part of the package that Josh McDaniels impressed Pat Bowlen, Joe Ellis and Jim Goodman with. It's not going to change, so there will be continuity. 

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A Fistful of Bowlen: 27 years of cool

I'm going to be honest with you.

I haven't a clue who the Broncos are going to draft right now.

I don't know Tim Tebow's 40-yard dash time.  I'm sketchy on how many times Taylor Mays is going to bench press 225 pounds.  And Mike Iupati's biceps?  I'm guessing they are pretty large.

But a draft expert I am not.  Coincidentally, the real draft experts like Mel Kiper, Jr. aren't either, so I guess I'm in decent company.  At least I saved on the hair spray.

So if you wanna get mocked, I apologize in advance.

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