Merry Christmas, friends! As I write this opening, it actually is the afternoon of December 25, so, rest assured, I’m not being one of those passive-aggressive “War on Christmas” morons in saying so. I hope you have had a nice holiday season, whatever holiday(s) you may celebrate. By the time you read this, Kwanzaa will be well underway, so accordingly, Happy Kwanzaa!
You know, since I can’t just say Happy Holidays, and include both Christmas and Kwanzaa (and Hanukkah!) into one generic seasonal greeting. Because that oppresses people, or something.
Having just ended the ridiculously busy part of my accounting year (which lasted from July to December), I’ve been meaning to write an article about the Broncos defense for a few weeks, and the opportunity hadn’t presented itself until now.
Happy Friday, friends. I’ve been in Las Vegas this week attending some mergers & acquisitions training, and it’s a new and interesting experience being here for business. None of my buddies are here, and I have to get up and work each day, so the Vegas stimuli are confusing to my mind and body.
The lights and the music and the tables are saying party, but when I get back to my room, all I have are draft audited financial statements to review. Next time I’m here, I’ll party it up; for this week, it’s business.
I got a question on Twitter a few days ago from reader Jessica Deva about the Patriots.
Since it went so well, we decided to do it again. Tom also contributes to Football Outsiders, and we're pleased to work with him again, as we respect his work and thoughts about football.
Here are five questions that I asked, and Tom answered, about the Titans:
Q: The numbers suggest that the Titans pass defense is good. What have they been doing, and who is playing well in pass defense?
Happy Wednesday, friends. I watched the film of the Kansas City game Tuesday night, and I was pretty surprised by what I saw in the All-22 view, because it went against the notion I had from watching the TV feed in real-time.
That is, I thought the Chiefs played a lot of single-high safety with an eighth man in the box to stop the run, and crowd short routes. You can't see the alignment of the safeties very well on the live view, and the outcome of the game (lots of deep passing by the Broncos, limited success running the ball) supported my thinking.
After all, the previous week, the Patriots stayed in two-deep all game, and contested every short route in front of it, trying to beat up the Broncos' receivers. That's how you get Knowshon Moreno running 37 times for 224 yards; the offense takes what the defense is giving it.
Happy Sunday, friends. I had some time materialize on my calendar yesterday, so I used it to watch the Patriots’ last two games.
In Week 9, they hung a franchise-worst 55 points on the Steelers, and won 55-31, and in Week 11, they lost a hard-fought game to the Panthers, on what was frankly a screwjob call by the officials as the clock expired.
The Steelers game was a clear outlier among a ragged group of offensive performances this season, and everything worked well in that game, as they had for Patriots teams of past years. Against the better Panthers defense, the Patriots had a harder time stringing together the drives they had two weeks earlier.
Happy Sunday, friends. I'm into crunch time on studying for the tax section of the CPA exam, and I have some other stuff going on too, so I apologize for my recent scarceness. Since it's football Sunday, and since my brain needs a break from thinking about the calculation of taxable basis, I decided to answer a recent question from a reader. From Bryan:
Can Ted please do a write up about this "pick and rub" route thing? What the heck are pick and rub routes? Why are the chef fans all up in arms about them being illegal, and are they? Pleez to be 'splainin dis
Sure thing, Bryan. The first thing I'd say is that we need to level-set the vocabulary words, because the mainstream explainers of football tend to confuse the issues by using the wrong words:
Happy Thursday, friends. When you're the best team in the NFL, here's how you lose to a pretty good, but clearly inferior team, in chronological order:
1. Don't challenge a bad spot on third and short, on the opening possession of the game, near midfield, or better yet, go for it on 4th and 1. (John Fox)
2. Jump offsides (Shaun Phillips) on 3rd and 11 like your name is Elvis Dumervil. The Colts still went three and out, but still...
3. Fail to get proper depth in your zone drop on 3rd and 10, and give up an easy completion in the seam. (Danny Trevathan)
4. Overthrow Knowshon Moreno in the flat on 2nd and 1, after he got nine yards on first down. (Peyton Manning)
Happy Friday, friends. Our longtime reader Mike Birtwistle asked me on Twitter to take a look at the Broncos defense, and to try to get some perspective into the conversation. He's noticed a lot of hand-wringing by Broncos fans on Twitter, and his view is that this defense isn't really all that bad.
Before we try to evaluate the Broncos defense, let's try to understand what it means to have a good defense.
In order to do that, let's start with offense. All the time, we hear that the NFL is a passing league. When I Googled that, I got about 37 million results for it. The top result was an article by retired LB Scott Fujita (who is way too intelligent and reasonable to be working at FOX) about how the NFL got to be a passing league. Hit the jump, and we'll look at it.
Happy Wedneday, friends. I got started watching the All-22 video last night, but unfortunately, I got sidetracked from finishing it. For today, I thought we'd look at a key play from the Broncos/Eagles game, and break down why it worked.
It's funny, because I criticize Troy Aikman's broadcasting skills, but he actually didn't do a bad job of spotting what happened here, and explaining it live. I think there's a bit more to what he had to say, though, and that seeing the whole thing is instructive for our readers.
The play in question is Wes Welker's first TD reception of the game, which made the score 7-0, Broncos. It was 3rd-and-2 from the Eagles' six-yard line, and the Broncos ran a concept that was highly likely to at least pick up the first down. Based on Philly's defensive tactics, it became an almost guaranteed TD.
Happy Friday, friends. Rather than doing a Digesting article about the Eagles today, I decided to look at the big question: is their offense a fad, or does it have staying power? Nothing gets football talkers more riled up than speculating on whether new tactics can work over the long haul in the NFL.
Most of them are of the default belief that nothing new can ever work. I’m sure that, in their early days, that was said about innovations like the 3-4 defense, or the zone-blitz, or the shotgun. The reality is that some new stuff works, and some of it is relegated to the dustbin of history.
And then you have something like the Run and Shoot, that worked well for a while, and then ostensibly faded away, but quietly, its principles are still quite common to this day.
Today, I’m going to explain why the Chip Kelly design works, and why it will continue to work in the NFL on an ongoing basis. Hit the jump, and we’ll get to the bottom of this.