The Dude Abides: The draft & field position

I don't drink Kool-Aid.  But recent things have come to light, man. 

First, I could care less about flashy draft picks or whether or not Denver's draft grades are high or low.  Steve Young can have his opinion (totally biased).  Jamie Dukes can have his (totally ignorant).  And Kiper can have his (with a little hairspray for good measure). Yeah, well, you know, that's just, like, your opinion, man. 

But acting as if this draft was without direction is both rash and without merit.  This, I mind.  The Dude minds.  This will not stand, you know, this aggression will not stand, man.

Take it easy,man, and realize winning football is about three things and three things alone:

  1. Time of Possession.
  2. Turnovers.
  3. Field Position.

The first two get a lot of attention.  One could wax poetic all day long about dominating the clock and about forcing more turnovers than your opponent.  But rarely do pundits and fans look at field position.  It's so much easier to focus on speed, sacks, and size.  Yet, as it turns out, there is a high correlation between where you begin your drive, where your opponent begins their drive, and winning.

If you doubt this, man, just realize that last year, Denver was 32nd in the league in terms of starting field position.  And it was 16th with respect to where its opponents started their drives.  The differential between these two stats put Denver at 29th in the league. Essentially, Denver started drives with a lot of ground to cover and gave their opponents short fields.  It's little wonder, then that Cutler amassed such gaudy passing numbers and the defense gave up points in droves. 

And what about those teams that actually won a lot of games?Where did they rank in field position differential (meaning the largest difference between where they started drives and where their opponents started drives)?

  • Tennessee,13-3: 7th
  • Carolina: 12-4: 2nd
  • Indianapolis: 12-4: 15th
  • NY Giants, 12-4: 6th
  • Pittsburg, 12-4: 18th
  • Atlanta, 11-5, 5th
  • Baltimore, 11-5, 3rd
  • Miami, 11-5, 17th
  • New England, 11-5, 1st

Of this group, Indianapolis, Pittsburgh, and Miami were not in the top 10, but still far ahead of a dog like Denver, and they forced many turnovers and often won the time of possession battle.  

The main point is that field position matters.  And it matters a lot.  Arguably more than a massive DT.

And this is where McJedi is pure genius.  If you missed this gem from this press conference yesterday, it is worth repeating again:

"I mentioned before, we were trying to add good players on either side of the ball. I think the perception was that we were going to do more on one side than the other, but if we could add good players on either side of the ball or, in many cases, we added players that can help on our special teams which is a big key for us. We have so much room to improve on special teams. We were 32nd in the league in field position, so anybody that can help us on a kicking unit, I'd love to have them in a Bronco uniform."

And he had this to say regarding the supposedly puzzling move of taking Notre Dame S David Bruton:

"He's one of the finest special teams players in the draft, period. He was a great gunner for the punt team, getting down there and getting to the returner before the ball was caught, many times forcing a lot of fair catches. He's got great speed. I think he's the fastest safety in the draft. He could really impact us on three or four teams; punt, punt return, kickoff, kickoff return. I think he's blocked a kick or two in his career, or certainly has the capability to do that. He's got great range in the deep part of the field as a safety also."

Wait a second, McJedi.  Aren't you supposed to talk about offense and defense and leave the special teams to 3rd and 4th team backups?  Aren't you supposed to be talking about DTs? What are you doing drafting a player because of Special Teams?  Gunner?  You're kidding me,right?  Nice marmot, man.

Amigos, McJedi doesn't think like other coaches.  It's genius. He thinks about details like no other.  He thinks about not just 1st and 2nd down, but drafting for 3rd down (this has already been mentioned in previous posts).  And he thinks about Special Teams just like he does for filling holes for Offense and Defense. Just like the signing of special teams stud Darrell Reid was no accident, neither is the singing of this special team's monster Bruton.

And next year, these small and puzzling moves will pay off with better field position for Denver, worse field position for Denver's opposition, and a better record.

I love reading all of this debate about Moreno, Ayers, and raging arguments about trading a 1st rounder for a 2nd rounder.  And the whole DT business.  But it's clear McJedi is thinking about the little details too.  And it's these little details like field position that lead me to believe  McJedi is going to lead Denver back to glory.

That, and a pair of testicles.

The Dude Abides.  Go Broncos!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Originally posted at MHR

I’m glad we had this talk.  Now, vaya con Dios, Brah.

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