Tag: Patriots

Old Man Easterbrook

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As Joe Morgan is to baseball, so Gregg Easterbook is to football.

Thus:

The Minnesota Vikings boomed a punt to Devin Hester of the Chicago Bears, most dangerous punt returner ever, and he repaid the favor by running the ball back 89 yards for a touchdown. As a result, football pundits everywhere are asking, “Why does anyone punt to Devin Hester instead of kicking the ball out of bounds?” Tuesday Morning Quarterback asks: Why do NFL teams ever punt to any returner, rather than deliberately punt out of bounds?

The stratospheric rise of special teams salaries from 2008-2012 can be traced to one amazing man - Devin Hester.(1) I didn’t see the game, so I’ll pay Mr. Easterbrook the Samaritan compliment of presuming that maybe Ron Franklin and Pete Bercich said something about it. Still, that hardly constitutes “pundits everywhere,” and without further citations I have to just roll my eyes.

(2) Because the (miniscule) chance of a punt being run back for a touchdown is offset by the (pretty good) chance that the kicking team will beat the receiving team to the spot of the ball, thereby waddling around it in what I call “mother hen” mode.

(3) Think about it for half of a second, Easterbrook – if this were a dominant strategy, wouldn’t more coaches do it? Easterbrook cites one time Belichick did it, as proof of the Mastermind’s Genius, and concludes it’s the way to go. That’s some crackerjack research, Easterbrook. Read More

The New Oakland Raiders – At Best

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I’m going to ask you all to close your eyes right now.  Go ahead, close them.

Well, OK, you can’t do that and read my post, but imagine an NFL team with the following characteristics:

– A Coach with a losing record every where he has been in the NFL takes over a team and suddenly he is a genius.

– A reputation for taking average to sub-par players and making them superstars.

– A reputation for taking “bad apples” on other teams and suddenly getting them to “toe the company line” but does so in a secret fashion.

– Revels in deception and trickery.

At this point, the team sounds like one that would strike fear in the hearts of its opponents and ultimately have success on the field.  The team would carry with it an aura of intimidation based on fear and on-the-fields results.  Now for the moment where Matthew McConaughey tells you to imagine that the girl is white.  Here are two more aspects of the team: Read More

The Game in Game Theory

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Two children have a slice of ice cream cake to share between them. The longer they debate over what a “fair share” would constitute for each of them, the more the cake melts. It is, in fact, entirely possible that the cake will have melted by the time they reach a consensus.

Keep that image in mind while I talk about the most exciting part of preseason football: contract holdouts!

Rookie QB Brady Quinn made headlines by holding out for weeks after signing. Larry Johnson (KC Chefs) held out until last week before signing a 5-year, $43.2M extension. Asante Samuel (NE Patsies) just announced his return yesterday, though he’s still ducking efforts to wear the “franchise” tag. And Michael Strahan (NY Football Giants) is, as of this writing (Tuesday, August 28th, 9:00ish AM), still undecided. The man might very well hang up his cleats (sources say).

So what goes on during a contract holdout? What are the costs and benefits of avoiding training camp? Is the risk worth the reward? To find out, we turn to one of the classics of game theory, Thinking Strategically, by Avinash Dixit and Barry Nalebuff.

Reputation

For decades, the nation of Israel had a policy of never negotiating with terrorists. The government declared this to discourage hostage-taking: if capturing a civilian, or a politician, will never pay off, why bother? Israel did this to build a reputation of not being someone to screw with. The downside to having this sort of reputation, of course, is that it turns potential hostages into instant victims. There’s always a cost to talking tough.

No GM wants to cave if one of his players pouts and refuses to show up for training camp. To do so would immediately send a signal that this sort of behavior works and would open the floodgates next summer. It’s in every owner’s interest to stay firm.

Asante Samuel knows his game theoryAt the same time, however, the players aren’t chess pawns. There’s a world of difference between an Asante Samuel and a Randall Gay (2 tackles in 3 games last year). Coach Belichick may play it off like Samuel’s return is no big deal, but the defense he spent the entire offseason crafting in his Fortress of Solitude probably hinged more on a guy who caught 10 picks last season than a guy who sat for 12 games.

Samuel knew he was valuable to the Patriots. The question was: how valuable? That’s the kind of question that a holdout is meant to uncover – by watching the management’s change in behavior as the clock ticks and the options narrow.
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Crazy Football Predictions

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As Perich mentioned yesterday, it’s the second happiest time of the year. There are many signs that are pointing to this fact: all the sports blogs are posting about football, everyone in your office is asking about this year’s Fantasy Football league, and Madden 2008 is available for purchase. I’m part of the first one now; I already consider my $50 a lost cause; and I’ve thought about renting the 17th roster update for EA’s largest game — They have this new “weapons” system that sounds a bit intriguing.

But football isn’t actually here just yet, but I will tell you what to expect from this year. (Note: I am no expert and I’ve only done about 2 minutes of research.)

  • You can expect another well known football player to get arrested and fined by the NFL.
  • Michael Vick will spend a year in prison. During that time he will be able to work out more often, increase his strength training, and do some reading. The results of this will be threefold: 1 – there will be a football match against the guards that the prisoners win. 2 – The increase in strength will allow Vick to play as his own offensive line. And finally 3 – the increased reading time will allow Vick to earn his associates degree in both refrigerator maintenance and nursing.
  • Crowd noise will be on a rise throughout the league now that the crowd noise penalty has been stricken from the records.
  • Younger sister of Jets center Nick Mangold will be heavily scouted by colleges around the country until she tells them all football is just a hobby, she wants to be a doctor.
  • The New England Patriots are going to win every game they decide to play this season.
  • The New England Patriots will decide not to play their final game of the regular season.
  • Beckham will cry when he doesn’t make the playoffs Sorry, wrong “football”
  • ADD interruption: Check out this Slip & Slide.
  • LaDainian Tomlinson will rush for approximately one million yards.
  • Due to the Madden Curse, Vince Young will have 3 heart attacks, a broken arm, and catch malaria this season.

That’s all I can think of for now. What do you think is going to happen this year?

Am I Ready For Some FOOTBALL?

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Sure, it might be 90 degrees at night. Sure, Montana might be on fire. But August means the start of PRE-SEASON FOOTBALL – the second happiest time of year*

Right man, wrong uniformWillis McGahee has fit right in at Baltimore:

Break out the verbal trash with the Baltimore Ravens, though, and, well, you’re just one of the guys. For this talented and talkative team, shrinking violets need not apply. Led by mouthy, filibustering veterans like middle linebacker Ray Lewis, the Ravens aren’t shy about taking on players who unabashedly love to talk the talk.

The article’s surprisingly sparse on actual examples of trash talking, which leads me to believe that it’s unprintably filthy. Which is just how I like it.

Meanwhile, Mike Holmgren has apparently gotten over Seattle’s OT loss, though it took some time:

Here was his Pro Bowl quarterback, Matt Hasselbeck, scrambling unnecessarily, overlooking an open receiver and throwing incomplete to the wrong guy with the season on the line.The third-and-2 mishap doomed Seattle in overtime of the NFC playoffs, helping Chicago continue its Super Bowl march.

There were plenty of pivotal moments for the Seahawks to agonize over, but this one would linger. It was Seattle’s final offensive play in a season checkered with regrettable ones.

The sequence so exasperated Holmgren that he brought his wife into the office to check out the tape. Can you believe this, honey?

A winning combinationHis wife! What a story! What a scoop! A professional football coach demanding analysis – or at least sympathetic aggrievement – of his spouse?!? What’s next?

(And I wonder what Kathy said. Probably something along the lines of, “Well, Matt never had a damn’s worth of protection in the pocket and it almost cost him his fingers, so I can forgive him a little skittishness”)

Up Boston way, Belichick has worked to integrate Adalius Thomas and Randy Moss into his Byzantine strategies:

The irony is that people should be paying more attention to Thomas because he’ll have a bigger impact on the Patriots’ fortunes. Although Moss is supposed to make life easier for Pro Bowl quarterback Tom Brady, Thomas is the guy who is going to improve a defense that really didn’t receive as much blame as it deserved for last season’s finish. After all, it wasn’t the offense that fell apart in that AFC Championship Game loss to Indianapolis. It was a defense that surrendered 38 points and blew a 21-3 second-quarter lead.

Allow meAdalius Thomas should join the long and storied ranks of players who left the Ravens franchise to become hugely famous contributors elsewhere: Priest Holmes, Sam Adams, Chester Taylor, Brandon Stokley, etc, etc, ad infinitum.

I’m excited. Get those baseball players off the field! Quit talking about Bonds and A-Rod and all of them. I want the brutal hard hitting of pre-season second string football!

* The happiest being the playoffs race.

[Business Day One] Progress Report

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For starters, congratulations to Tom Glavine on picking up his 300th win. The man from Billerica has had a dominant career on a pair of durable legs, and when he’s ready to hang them up, people will see him as a class act and one of the finest of his era. Not a bad way to go out.

Now that that’s out of the way, let’s get to the meat and potatoes. With all the sports buzz bounding about in our beautiful burg of Boston, I want to give a quick snapshot of the four major sports (sorry, Revolution) for the benefit of you out-of-towners. What’s going on right now is a level of multi-faceted sports excitement that fans rarely see condensed into once city. With three teams widely expected to make deep playoff runs over the next year, there is an energy coursing through the Boston’s fans that have apparently nullified any bitterness or latent pessimism that longtime residents might expect to find. So here’s a break-down by team, and how each franchise is contributing to this buzz.

The Boston Celtics – Pierce, Allen, Garnett: The New Big Three. Read More

Randy Moss Will Make You Jump Jump

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Moss Moons Green BayMy original idea for a post was to make another All-Name team for the NFL Draft, but it’s been done. So I was looking at other things that happened during the draft when I find out that the New England Patriots traded for Randy Moss. I don’t know much about Moss other than he’s a pain in the ass and a good wide receiver. So I’m doing some research when a song idea comes to mind. So I will share the results of my research with you — through song.

Randy Moss Will Make You Jump Jump

Jump Jump
You should know you should know that ahhh
Randy Moss is now having anything today
As he stands there totally Mossed out
He commences to may you

Jump Jump
The Moss Freak[1] will make you Jump Jump
The Freak Moss will make you Jump Jump
Randy Moss will make you Jump Jump Read More

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