Sunday, September 18, 2016

Why Doesn't Everyone copy Bill Belichick?

I'm not sure how I missed it. But, it wasn't until I was watching the game last Sunday that I realized the NFL had moved the touchback line. After a kickoff goes for a touchback, instead of bringing the ball out to the 20, the team would get it at the 25. That seemed like a lot. As I watched the game, I noticed that not very often did the teams run the ball out that far. It turns out that the Patriots counted on this. Instead of booming the kicks into the end zone for touchbacks, they kicked it short to encourage/require the Cardinals to run it back. It was a field position game that was easy to play. Especially on the last drive when a return short of the 20 combined with a penalty to start the potential game-winning drive inside the 10 yard line. You may remember that those extra 15 yards were probably kinda important. I saw articles this week wondering if other teams would copy the Patriots strategy of kicking the ball short.

Well duh. Why wouldn't they?

It seemed like such an obvious call. Even in years past, how often did a return go past the 25 yard line? Why would you assume your team can't stop the other team before then? Is it because they don't have the special teams that the Patriots do? Is it because they don't draft good special teams players? 

Maybe they should.

After all, another draft choice the Patriots were laughed at over was selecting a long snapper. Who drafts a long snapper. But, I bet the Cardinals wish they had a really good long snapper on their team Sunday night. Again, it seems so obvious. So many times a game comes down to a field goal attempt. Those attempts need a long snapper. Why not have a good one?

Is it Belichick's cache? Can other coaches not afford the ridicule that would come with drafting a guy just for special teams? Is this where that first championship really did change everything? If Bill doesn't have a ring, can he not get away with drafting special teamers from Rutgers, or with stonewalling the media?

(Another thing I don't understand people not copying. Why on earth would you tell anyone how badly a player is hurt, or where, or how good he is, or what his weaknesses are? How does that help your team? Why do other coaches let that information freely flow?)

Whatever the reason, I don't get it. Sure, Belichick's a coaching genius. Sure, he comes up with ideas before everyone else. But, once other teams have seen the value in a Matthew Slater who makes the pro bowl every year just for his special teams play, why don't they go get one? Can't they show their fan base, or media, or owner, or whomever would give them a hard time that it works? Can't they say, "see...that guy drafted a return specialist and he beats us every year. It works like a charm." Isn't the NFL supposed to be a copycat league?

Why aren't they copying the best ever?

Saturday, September 10, 2016

Is This How Other Fans Feel?

As the Patriots get set to begin their season tomorrow night, I find myself in an unusual position. 

I don't know that they're going to win the game.

It's a little unsettling, since I'm not really sure how long it's been since I felt this way entering a game.

Oh sure, there have been times that I haven't been absolutely sure they were going to win. Naturally, any Super Bowl brings some level of competition that could beat New England. Or, say, going to Denver in the snow. That's always a question. But, through all of that, I always assumed that if the Patriots played their game, they were going to win. That might not be the case tomorrow. Their best might not be good enough. I might not be surprised if they lose.

I know.

Is this how Jets fans watch every game?

I'm really trying to decide when I last felt this way. Maybe game 2 of 2008? But, really, even then there was a feeling that any schmuck could throw it long and let Randy Moss go get it. There was a planned path to victory. But, no Brady and no Gronk? Against a good team? I don't know about this.

Don't get me wrong. This isn't the 90's. I'm not absolutely sure they'll lose. I still have faith in the game plan. There's no reason to think they can't pull it off. I'm just, weirdly, not so sure they will.

So, when I watch the game tomorrow, I'll actually be concerned if they fall behind. I'll have to wonder if they can make up a touchdown or two. I can't just count possessions and assume those will all be touchdowns going forward. I'm actually going to worry while the game is on.

I'm not sure I remember how to do that.

Monday, September 5, 2016

First Draft!

Last night I had my first fantasy football league draft in a long time. How long had it been? I was taking Tony Gonzalez first overall ahead of Randy Moss. So, a while. How did I do last night? Well, I'm not going to pretend that you care. But, as I've always said...it's my blog. So, I get to post what I want!

Here's the team I ended up with. Ten team head-to-head league.

QB Matthew Stafford (DET)
RB Jonathan Stewart (CAR)
RB Jeremy Langford (CHI)
WR Dez Bryant (DAL)
WR Alshon Jeffery (CHI)
TE Rob Gronkowski (NE)
FLEX Brandin Cooks (NO)
D/ST Patriots
K Steven Hauschka (SEA)
B TJ Yeldon (JAX)
B Julius Thomas (JAX)
B Kevin White (CHI)
B Marcus Mariota (TEN)
B Vincent Jackson (TB)
B Chargers D/ST
B Roberto Aguayo

So, how did I do? I had the third pick, and selected Gronk. I would have taken him first overall if I had that pick. For football, I usually go for positional scarcity. Most any decent wide receiver is going to get about 100 yards and a TD. But, the different between Gronk and the next TE is more significant. That's the theory anyway. 

The scheduled bye week caught me off guard. Unlike baseball, I knew when my bye weeks were coming. Took me a bit to realize that my whole team probably shouldn't all have the week five bye. So, I had to rethink my bench strategy mid-draft. 

I also realized that I don't know a lot of football outside of New England. Either that, or just about everyone is really about the same.

But, I did the draft, and now I can't wait to get the season started!

Any thoughts?

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