An open letter to Jeff Legwold

Dear Jeff Legwold,

I understand that you’re in a tough position at the Denver Post, considering that you’re supposed to be their “analyst,” and that you’re so obviously ill-equipped to analyze football.  It’s not really your fault, because you’re a reporter, and your employer is asking you to be something other than what you are.

As Doug Lee tweeted today, your assertion that Norv Turner could be coming to Denver to be the offensive coordinator is patently ridiculous.  We don’t think you made the idea up; rather, we suspect that somebody who doesn’t know what they’re talking about told you that it may happen.

You told Doug that because Mike McCoy once worked for Dan Henning, who worked for Joe Gibbs, who worked for Don Coryell, the Broncos were already using some “principles” of the Air Coryell structure.  I’m here to tell you that Henning’s influence on the Broncos passing scheme is minimal, at best.  I didn’t consult a Rolodex to know this; I know it by watching games, and knowing what I’m talking about, because I’ve been studying technical football for a very long time.

McCoy became the passing game coordinator in Carolina for 2007 and 2008 under Jeff Davidson, who is an Erhardt-Perkins guy.  He was then hired by Josh McDaniels to be the offensive coordinator in Denver in 2009, and McDaniels is another Erhardt-Perkins guy, who had his offensive structure put in place.  Last season, McCoy adjusted to Tim Tebow, and this season, he’s essentially implemented the same passing offense that Peyton Manning ran in Indianapolis.

I know the Broncos like to say that Manning assimilated into the existing scheme, but that’s mostly nonsense.  They’re running the same 10 or so concepts that he ran for years in Indianapolis, over and over and over.  It’s about execution through repetition, and it’s worked better and better as the team has gotten more and more used to carrying out their assignments.

A key element of what Manning does on offense, maybe THE key element, is that he gets to the line of scrimmage, evaluates the look the defense is showing him, and adjusts the play and the protection to best attack what he sees.  This is obvious to everybody who watches football, that Manning is effectively calling the plays himself, regardless of what comes in from the sideline.

There are a lot of good reasons why what Turner likes to do on offense isn’t a good fit for Manning.  The drops are deeper, the outside routes are longer, the reads tend to be high-to-low, there are many plays to know and practice, and Turner loves to use 21 personnel (which means 2 RBs and 1 TE, as readers of IAOFM know), and is known for using 18-20 different offensive players in a game, based on their personal specialties.  None of that fits what Manning prefers or does best, and I even left out the two biggest reasons Norv doesn’t make sense, which I’m now going to cover.

Reason #1 - Norv doesn’t believe in using no-huddle offense, except in dire situations where it’s tactically necessary, and taking that approach with Manning would be beyond asinine.  The Broncos run a great deal of no-huddle plays, especially at home, and the Chargers are near the bottom of the league.

Reason #2 - Norv doesn’t believe in allowing QBs to audible at the line, or to even employ check-with-me plays.  He sincerely believes that any play he calls in from the sideline can work against any defensive call, and that there’s no reason to adjust anything at the line of scrimmage.

Can you honestly picture a situation where Peyton Manning isn’t empowered to audible out of a bad play, or check into a good one?  How about where he would be okay with huddling on every play, and foregoing the ability to keep the same defenders on the field, at altitude, and wearing them down.  It’s downright unimaginable, and that’s why I say that Norv, as good a play-caller as he may be, is the worst possible fit for Manning currently walking the Earth.

In football, there are two kinds of coaches; you have technocratic scheme guys, who think that their scheme is what wins, and you have fundamentals guys, who operate under the assumption that well-coached players do best when they keep it simple, and play fast. 

Norv Turner, Mike Shanahan, and Josh McDaniels are the first kind of coach.  They’re married to their scheme, and they’re oriented toward changing players before they change that scheme.  Schemes win games, and players are secondary.

John Fox, Mike McCoy, and Jack Del Rio are the second kind of coach.  They take the talent that they have, coach them up, and build their strategy around maximizing the effectiveness of the players.  Players win games, and schemes should suit the players.

Both ways can work, but only one way can work for Manning.  The coaching staff has built everything around letting Manning do what he does best, and as Fox often says, he raises all boats.  It is absolutely absurd to think that he’ll ever play quarterback for Norv Turner.  I know he’s a big name, and it’s fun to speculate on big names, but it makes zero sense.

In closing, Jeff, I’d encourage you to start reading sites where the writers know something about football, and where you might learn something.  I picture you as being this self-righteous reporter guy, who thinks he sits on a pedestal well above the unwashed bloggers in their mothers’ basements.  The truth is, none of the good bloggers are like that.

I’m an accounting manager who routinely kicks your ass as a football analyst in my spare time.  Chris Brown from Smart Football is a lawyer.  We both wrote articles in the spring telling our readers what the Peyton Manning offense would look like, and we’ve both been right.

You may not want to read IAOFM, because we make fun of your nonsense here from time to time, but I’d definitely recommend reading guys like Brown, Andy Benoit, and Chase Stuart.  Maybe you should listen to Pat Kirwan and Tim Ryan on Sirius on weekday afternoons – they’ve been saying for a long time that the Broncos 2012 offense would be the Manning/Tom Moore offense.  If you were seeking out and consuming the right information, you wouldn’t find yourself babbling about Air Coryell principles in an offense that couldn’t be further away from it.

If we’re wrong, and the Broncos hire Norv Turner, we’ll admit that we had it wrong without hesitation, and we’ll give it up to you and your Rolodex, and your passion, and your courage to write stuff that anonymous sources tell you.  (Then we’ll rip the Broncos for making a hire that makes zero sense, because we don’t need access to them, and therefore don’t care whether they like what we write.)  That isn’t going to happen though, so instead, we’ll just wish you a nice day.

Best regards,

Ted Bartlett

On behalf of all your friends at It’s All Over, Fat Man!

1.  I’m not in the arguing business, I’m in the saying what I think business.
2.  I get my information from my eyes.

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