A few quick points I want to slip in before Bounty's next offering:
Close games (continued) -- A couple good ideas came up in the comments yesterday. I'm working on post #2 in the close games series, which should be up tomorrow morning. The findings so far are pretty interesting.
Stacy Andrews -- The offseason "this guy's working hard and ready to dominate" features are, as noted in the past, a personal favorite of mine. Today, Les gives us the Stacy Andrews version.
There's a template to these, of course:
- Statement of problem in season N -- Last year, this guy sucked / hit the rookie wall / got injured
- Solution to problem -- Always hard work or improved / altered fitness regimen
- Expectations for season N+1 -- Domination / consistency / just hoping to work back onto the field
But what makes them great is that we get to then play armchair psychoanalyst or personal trainer: Does the explanation seem convincing? Could changing from machines to free weights really make a difference?
We also get a better understanding previous news: Oh, so that's why we fired all the strength coaches. And boy, his technique must have been abysmal.
As always, keep 'em coming, please.
Paul Posluszny -- Sort of a random point, but indulge the PSU fan for a moment:
Paul Posluszny won’t be as foreign to the 3-4 as Mitchell having played in a similar scheme during his college days at Penn State.
During his time with the Nittany Lions, Posluszny always played an inside linebacker position in the 3-4 and figures to do the same with the Bills under defensive coordinator George Edwards. The Bills leading tackler is eager to get his nose in the new playbook.
Yeah, that's not right. The Lions did play a 3-4 for awhile there, but that was because they had four good linebackers and only one halfway decent defensive end. The 4th LB basically played stand-up DE and rushed every play. There were still two DTs and the other LBs played pretty much as they normally would in a 4-3.
Get ready for even more fun roughing the passer penalties! -- This is not welcome news:
Green Bay coach Mike McCarthy is still not happy that the referee didn't flag Bertrand Berry for a helmet-to-helmet hit on Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers in overtime of the Packers' playoff loss to the Cardinals. And he thinks that an umpire in the offensive backfield would have seen it.
"I think it definitely would have helped [against Arizona]," McCarthy said, per Kevin Seifert of ESPN.com. "Our quarterback, I think, definitely could be protected more than he was last year [by officials]. There were a number of times that he was hit and penalties weren't called and fines probably followed."
The NFL has decided to move the umpires to the offensive backfield this season, and although the league hasn't detailed exactly how the umpire's responsibilities will change, some league observers believe the move will result in closer scrutiny of hits on quarterbacks.
Quarterback hits are already completely over-legislated. The last thing the NFL needs is one more guy checking to make sure no one every so slightly grazes the QB's helmet with a fingernail while he flies past trying to make a play.
I sort of doubt too much can be made of this, anyway. Someone has to be looking at the interior offensive line to see if there's holding going on. It's hard to do that while also watching the QB.
On the other hand, if guards and centers are now completely free to do whatever they want to DTs, Stacy Andrews might actually work out this year.
Weaver on McNabb -- I was pleased to see Leonard Weaver chime in on the QB question by saying he wants to keep McNabb. I get why so many people want to move on (sort of), but I've been a little baffled by the anonymous sources claiming the Eagles' locker room is ready for a change. One of the constants of McNabb's career has been that no matter what crap he gets locally, there have always been players leaguewide ready to step up and defend McNabb.
My personally theory is that there could be a bit of a young/old divide in the locker room. For a lot of the youngsters on this team, there hasn't been much adversity since they arrived in the league. The Eagles have been pretty good, they've had an established veteran and coaching structure in place, and making the jump from college to pros hasn't been all that hard.
It takes a guy like Weaver, who's actually experienced the demoralizing force of poor quarterback play to say, "Um, guys, maybe don't be so quick to throw away what you have."
That dude who says all that stuff -- I'm taking a little break from responding to that guy's nonsense every time he posts it, but I asked Tom over at Balls, Sticks & Stuff for his take on the question of if the Eagles or Phillies have been more aggressive. His response:
It's a hard comparison to make really, because talent is developed and procured so differently in the two sports. For instance, the case of the Phillies, their World Series title came predominantly from talent that they drafted and developed in-house -- Jimmy, Chase, Cole, Ryan, etc. Guys like Polanco and Halladay and Lee, they haven't contributed to The Cause at all really. Lee a little bit because without him, they don't have their WS run of 2009, but essentially, what makes the Phillies great is because of what the farm system developed [and as much as anyone hate's to admit it, including me, all those guys were drafted under Ed Wade, the only man who might be despised more than Andy Reid in Philly].
Also in baseball, you can take a flier on a guy cast off from another organization, like Jayson Werth or Shane Victorino, and if it doesn't work out you can let him go and it doesn't hurt your salary cap because there isn't one, or you can stash him in the minors, which isn't something that even exists in the NFL.
As a matter of fact, I would almost say that the Eagles run into trouble with their calculated risks, and they take a lot of those, to my eye. For instance, to me, Stacy Andrews and Kevin Curtis, I feel were brought in because they were good players that Andy & Co. felt they could get on the cheap because of the injuries they were coming off of. In other words, it was almost as if Andy was playing Injuryball [ala Moneyball], trying to find a discount on players that other teams might not necessarily want because of the injury. It's almost as if he gets into trouble when he's trying to outsmart people too much. Sometimes you see that with play calling too in my mind.
So where you get back to Gonzo's theory, "you feel as if the Phillies are trying harder than the Eagles" two things come to mind: 1, their sport and the system in place allows the Phillies to take a few more chances and 2, go back 5 years and you'd be much more likely to think it was the Eagles that were trying harder. It's amazing what winning it all can do to perception.