Prime Cuts

Slices of great NFL content from around the web

Legwold’s revenge?: Not all coaching pursuits make sense

Cowboys eye Monte Kiffin for DC

If Kiffin is hired, the Cowboys would be switching from a 3-4 defensive front to a 4-3, forcing pass-rusher DeMarcus Ware to play defensive end, with his hand on the ground for the first time in his career.

Kiffin resigned as defensive coordinator at USC, where his son Lane is the head coach, and expressed his desire to return to the NFL.

Jones, Garrett and Kiffin could not be reached for comment.

Andy Reid was interested in appointing Kiffin to be his defensive coordinator when he took over the Kansas City Chiefs but Kiffin was not interested in that opportunity.

Kiffin going to Dallas to coach the players they have there isn't actually too much worse a fit than a Peyton Manning/Norv Turner collaboration.  The Cowboys have CBs who are best at playing man coverage, and now they want to go to Tampa 2?  It would require a position change for DeMarcus Ware, and the indentification and acquisition of 2 quality DTs, and also a box safety.  It would also likely foreshadow the departure of OLB Anthony Spencer, which isn't a total surprise.  

I'm scratching my head, because if the owner wants to win now, a dramatic change in defensive schemes isn't the way to accomplish that.  This seems like chasing a big name, for the sake of doing so.  Maybe Legwold is right, and it is "possible" for the completely absurd to happen.

Knowshon Moreno: I’m running with my eyes now

Knowshon Moreno Says He Is No Longer Trying to Go Too Fast and It Has Been the Key to His Success

I feel better like I said earlier using my eyes and being more patient. The last couple of years I was trying to do too much and trying to run too fast and this and that and not let things develop. I feel different the way I’m using my eyes and letting things develop more.

For some guys, it takes them a little while to figure out the pro game. Remember, Knowshon was drafted following his sophomore season at Georgia, and even now, he's only 25 years old, with 605 NFL carries under his belt.

He's under contract with Denver at $1.7M next season, and the team holds an option on Knowshon for the 2014 campaign, although reports vary widely on its cost.

And then there were eight

Jaguars fire Mike Mularkey

The Jacksonville Jaguars dismissed coach Mike Mularkey after one season, the team announced Thursday.

Mark Mike Mularkey, we hardly knew ye.

DT and ED: Black and Decker

Decker and Thomas winning together

And how a white teammate from the far north, Eric Decker, has become best friend to a black kid from Georgia. (“Black and Decker,” they like to call themselves.)

You might become best friends, too, if you both had to deal with the joy and the hell of playing with a picky perfectionist like Manning every day.

“Our favorite,” Decker says, “is when he comes to you on the sideline after you screw up and asks you a question he already knows the answer to. He’ll be like, ‘Now, on the down and in, are you supposed to cut that up at 5 yards or 7?’ And you’ll be like, ‘Five,’ even though you both know you were at 7. And he’ll be like, ‘Oh, OK. Thanks.’”

We weren't particularly fond of the "Salt and Pepper" nickname, and while "Black and Decker" is still a reference to the color of Demaryius's skin, this is far more creative. Well done, guys.

Also of note is John Elway's claim that Thomas and Decker were a big part of his sales pitch to Manning.

Since we won't subject ourselves to reading Rick Reilly unprompted anymore, thanks to Reddit, via KSK, for doing so first.

News Flash: Von Miller is above average

Von Miller wants to become the NFL's Derrick Rose

“I’ve never been around a player like him,” said Denver defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio, who spent 11 years in the NFL as a player and the past 16 as a coach. “He’s incredibly quick, but he also has more strength that you’d expect.

Such a display was last season against the New York Jets when Miller made a quick move to the outside against 318-pound offensive tackle Wayne Hunter. As Hunter quickly backpedaled, Miller put his right hand to Hunter’s chest and tossed Hunter aside on the way to sacking quarterback Mark Sanchez. In all, the play took around two seconds.

“That’s why I like so many of those two-sport guys,” Fox said. “With Von, it’s like he’s running almost parallel to the ground sometimes, like his torso is almost six inches off the ground or something crazy like that and he’s going full speed.”

Fox then laughed and said, “Oh yeah, that’s all coaching.”

This piece by Jason Cole mostly concerns Miller's latest foray into athletic shoes, but the quotes about his athletic ability were too much to pass up.

It's also proof that there's good money to be made with your ass to the ground at full speed.  

Ravens already bitching and moaning—about bitching and moaning

Ravens say Peyton Manning's protests win over referees

“It’s known that they’re going to complain or if they get thrown down and look at a ref they’re going to get a flag thrown against the defense,” [Brendon] Ayanbadejo said. “We’ve seen that happen against us before with Tom Brady. We always teach the same rules, regardless of the quarterback: hit them in the strike zone. If you’re within a step of his arm motion, hit him.”

But only one roughing-the-passer penalty has been thrown for a hit on Manning this season. Perhaps the lack of penalties can be explained by Manning’s knack for getting the ball away in time — Denver gave up 21 sacks during the regular season, second fewest in the league.

Other Baltimore players share non-specific resentment for the quarterback who had offseason neck surgery that forced him to miss the 2011 season. The Ravens weren’t penalized in December for roughing up Manning, but they think they have to walk on egg shells. “Peyton Manning is one of the best of all time,” defensive lineman Ma’ake Kemoeatu said. “We want to get in there and get him down. At the same time you have to try not to get a penalty for hitting Peyton Manning.”

This type of talk is utterly hilarious coming from a team who tried to bully its way to a victory in their first matchup against the Broncos.  Cary Williams and Anquan Boldin both learned that wasn't going to happen. 

So what's the next step?  Complain, of course.

The Ravens still don't get it.  It's not the year 2000.  There are eight teams left in the playoffs, and they are the weakest in the herd.

They're not the Ravens.  They're prey.   

The Manning offense is still the Manning offense

One Trick Pony

As they gained exposure to their new quarterback, though, the stance of Denver’s coaches grew more flexible. Offensive coordinator Mike McCoy noted that he’d “be an idiot” not to listen to Manning, and that the goal was to find a “happy medium” between the approach of Denver head coach John Fox and what Manning had previously done.

After watching Denver this season, I’m not convinced “happy medium” is accurate. While the terminology Denver uses might be its own, both structurally and in its specifics, the offense is strikingly similar to what Manning did for years in Indianapolis. Despite some early protestations, that opinion has spread throughout the league. When asked how similar Manning’s current offense is to what he ran in Indianapolis, New England coach Bill Belichick was typically candid. “It’s identical. It looks the same to me.”

From the Department of Great Timing, Chris Brown has an excellent article for Grantland, and not shockingly, he agrees with me that the Broncos are effectively running the same passing offense as he ran with the Colts for all those years.  He doesn't say whether there are any Air Coryell principles, but trust me, there aren't.  Brown also agrees with me that the Broncos have retained run game elements from the past offense, which is clear on film.  You should definitely check this article out, and maybe even tweet it to Jeff Legwold.  I bet he'd be thrilled to hear from you on the topic.

Since Brown didn't explain this, in the diagrams, MOFO means Middle Of Field Open, and MOFC means Middle Of Field Closed.  The inside receiver has a read to make - iIf there's a safety in the midde, he's supposed to keep vertical in the seam, and if there isn't a safety in the middle, he's supposed to go to the post.

Fun with graphs, Broncos/Ravens rematch edition

Remaining Eight Playoff Teams' EPA

I noticed an interesting thing about the eight remaining teams in the playoffs. They are currently the eight and only eight teams that are in the upper-right quadrant of the Team EPA visualization (on the main page or full viz here.)

Here's the visualization to which Burke is referring. What does it say relative to Broncos/Ravens?

Well, Denver fields the most efficient team in football, as Burke's data has said since Week 6. As the most northeast team on that viz, that means the Broncos are the best combination of offense and defense among all teams, and as follows, the best of the playoff teams.

Of the eight remaining squads, none are less efficient than Baltimore, which is most southwest in that first quadrant. They have, by far, the least efficient offense, and along with the Packers, the least efficient defense.

Official site continues to provide unparalleled Dove Valley access

Photos: Broncos player seen peeing behind Peyton Manning in team-produced video

Remember that golden moment from a November 2011 Denver-San Diego game when Chargers kicker Nick Novak was seen pissing on live TV? Apparently, the Broncos wanted a similar splash of magic going into their Saturday playoff game against the Baltimore Ravens. That’s our conclusion after seeing a team-produced video in which a player can be seen taking a leak at practice.

We had some fun when the team went all reality TV during the last coaching search, and when John Elway headed out into the Twittersphere.

But this...this is a whole new level of access, Broncos TV. You've outdone yourselves, and of course, we love it.

via Deadspin

More proof the Broncos shouldn’t be paying a kicker $4.25M

Altitude and Field Goals

But what about altitude? How does the thin air of Denver’s Mile High Stadium affect field goal success?

Kicks in Denver do indeed have longer range, to the tune of about 5 yards.

Anyone who's been reading here as far back as July knows precisely where this is going. Thanks to Denver's altitude alone, the Broncos don't need to pay any kicker $4.25M (as they are with Matt Prater this season), or $3.25M/year over a contract (Prater's average salary from 2012 to 2015), even less one of the most inaccurate ones in the league.

This is only compounded by the presence of one Peyton Manning, a man from whom John Fox we never want the ball taken away. All thirteen of Denver's wins this season have been by at least seven points, and none of them hinged upon a field goal attempt.