In case anyone has been comatose, MIA or oblivious this week, Peyton Hillis has been rapidly making a name for himself in camp. The past two times that Josh McDaniels ahs been on film being interviewed and was asked about the Arkansas product, he's laughed before going on to respond. Hillis is a name on everyone's lips, because he's showing everything that the MHR has talked about this offseason.
A while back, I posted some work relating to the principles of kicking that were laid out in Stephan Fatsis' book A Few Seconds of Panic. In it, Fatsis describes the process of learning to kick, and of extending the 'life' of the kicking leg. Despite media and fan rumors that kicker Matt Prater 'lost his confidence' later in the 2008 season, a more accurate analysis is simply that he over-kicked during the competition in training camp as well as in practice and experienced the kind of leg fatigue that is a normal issue among younger kickers. This also points to a weakness in the Special Teams coaching that year.
Years ago, when teaching western doctors about the principles of Oriental medicine, I taught my students about the three energies. There is Yang - the power of activity; hot and vital, sometimes called the energy of the heavens. There is Yin - passivity; cold and hard, the energy of the earth, and there is the interaction between yin and yang that creates the phenomena of our world. They call that energy 'The 10,000 Things'. Still later, I found that there are also names for similar phenomena in Sanskrit. Rajas is the vibration of action, similar to Yang. Tamas is the vibration of inaction, similar to Yin and Sattwa is the vibration in which those two come into balance (The 10,000 Things). A western discussion of the same basic principles from a philosophy standpoint was expressed by Hegel as thesis, synthesis and antithesis.
Our 2009 Denver Broncos Preview concludes with today's section on the Linebackers. This is, perhaps, the group that has seen the most change from the forgettable performances of the 2008 season. The move to a base 3-4, using an attacking two-gap approach (which several players have indicated that they are learning) and being varied at time in some hybrid form (such as a 4-3 under or over) is about the farthest thing possible from the speed-oriented base 4-3 approach of the Broncos' past. However, it harkens back to a day when Joe Collier pulled the strings on a fierce defense.
Going into the draft, a lot of folks expected that tight end was one position where the Broncos would stand pat. Before the first pick of the third round, that belief bit the dust. The Broncos shocked many observers by taking on second-round pick Richard Quinn. Having graduated from North Carolina in December of 2008, Quinn has a reputation as a talented blocker whose receiving skills were suspect, due to lack of evidence (12 receptions in his college career, which had several pre-NFL players on the roster). Tony Scheffler was the subject of trade rumors. Was Quinn a replacement? Where were the Broncos going?
Myth #3: Mobility and the Quarterback
"He makes plays with his feet!"
That's something that you frequently hear from color announcers on football games when trying to explain the value of a quarterback. They're talking about the guy who can move the pocket, who can gain you yards out of the pocket, who loves the bootleg and the roll out. There's not a thing wrong with that - in Elway Country, there had better not be if you want to avoid being spammed, flamed, tarred and feathered (in no particular order). But the quarterback who really makes plays with his feet isn't necessarily the guy who leaves the pocket.
Your recent post that mentioned the pass-happy ways of Josh McDaniels got me to scrounging around in my records and I found a few things that might interest you. The idea of pass-happy, to my thinking, has to involve what exactly the averages are and what is, therefore, unusual or extraordinary. Here's what came to light.
The Denver Broncos and Michael Lombardi
I was meandering through some old materials this weekend when I found a pre-draft set of concerns about the Broncos by Michael Lombardi. I had thought at the time that they were reasonable and a fair consideration, so I kept them around. Here is what he said:
Often, you hear someone say or post, "Yeah, he's this year's _____ (fill in your own blank)". It's a kind of verbal shorthand that can be useful if we are either on the 6th beer or clear on why a certain player has something in common with the one cited. Commonly, it's a just way to denigrate the player without giving any specifics, as in 'He's this year's Ryan Leaf'. Anyone who's followed football for a decade knows exactly what is meant by that - Player X is going to be an utter bust (and probably a felon as well). It's an easy way to say something. Sometimes he's just going to be this year's Frunobulax.
The Myth of the Short Cornerback
When the Broncos drafted Alphonso Smith with their first pick in the second round of the NFL Draft, a huge cry went up among the pundits. Smith? No! He's too short! Shorter cornerbacks are at too big of a disadvantage. The belief was that if a receiver is taller than the coverage guy, all the offense has to do is to have their quarterback throw the ball up out of the cornerback’s reach and they will have reception after reception. This is such a common representation that I started to fire up NFL Rewind and to look for instances when it was true. The more football I watched, the more I realized that it only infrequently happened. Receptions commonly occur when the receiver is in front of the cornerback (and height doesn't matter that that point) or when the quarterback places the ball perfectly out in front as both are running (in whatever direction) but I could count the receptions where the wide receiver snared a pass that was thrown over a shorter corner such that the receiver leaps for it perfectly on just one hand. If it didn't work with just one receiver (looking specifically at taller receivers vs. shorter CBs) or in one game, sure, but in game after game it was a rarity and in most it didn't happen at all. I started to wonder, 'Why?'