Leafing Through Pages: Analysis of Sports and Other Topics

09/23/2010

Quick Triple Option Primer

The “triple option” or simply the Option offense has been making a comeback recently with teams such as Georgia Southern adopting the offense in a show of tracing back to their roots. What comes with the offense is of course a singular name, Paul Johnson, who is currently the head coach of Georgia Tech.

The Option offense is traditionally predicated on heavily emphasizing the run. Often times upwards of 75 to 80% of the offense’s plays will be run oriented. The passing game is complimented by either Play Action passes or dropbacks with Run-and-Shoot elements as is the case with Triple Option teams.

The recent success Air Force had in nearly defeating Oklahoma, and Georgia Tech had in defeating Georgia, shows that the Option is still a potent offense that can be used effectively and dominantly.

So what makes the Option or Triple Option work? It is all about reading the defense and in particular, the edge rusher whether it be a DE or OLB. In the Triple Option, the QB has three options depending on how the defender plays the ball. He can hand it off to the FB for an inside run, keep it himself and go inside or outside, and finally pitch it to the Wingback/Halfback.

One big reason it allows for offenses to match up well against “bigger” programs is that they dominate the time of possession with a heavy ground game. Since the bigger programs are quite often better athletically, keeping their offenses off the field allows the Option/Triple Option teams to wear down defenses with sustained drives. The lack of a heavy dose of passes also largely takes the ball hawking skills of secondaries out of the equation and forces them to help more in run support, areas where they may be weaker.

Here are some video examples of Option offenses that have been working in the past and in the present.

1985 Georgia Southern vs. Furman
1995 Nebraska vs. Michigan State
2008 Georgia Tech vs. Georgia
2009 Navy vs. Ohio State
Air Force vs. Houston

06/24/2010

The Official Batman: The Animated Series Episode Order

Here is the “order” of the episodes of Batman: The Animated Series starting with the Volume I DVD featuring the first 28 episodes.

Volume I: 28 Episodes
Volume II: 28 Episodes
Volume III: 29 Episodes
Volume IV: 24 Episodes

01: On Leather Wings
02: Christmas With The Joker
03: Nothing To Fear
04: The Last Laugh
05: Pretty Poison
06: The Underdwellers
07: P.O.V.
08: Forgotten
09: Be A Clown
10: Two-Face Part 1
11: Two-Face Part 2
12: It’s Never Too Late
13: I’ve Got Batman In My Basement
14: Heart of Ice
15: Cat and Claw Part 1
16: Cat and Claw Part 2
17: See No Evil
18: Beware the Gray Ghost
19: Prophecy of Doom
20: Feat of Clay Part 1
21: Feat of Clay Part 2
22: Joker’s Favor
23: Vendetta
24: Fear of Victory
25: The Clock King
26: Appointment in Crime Alley
27: Mad As a Hatter
28: Dreams In Darkness
29: Eternal Youth
30: Perchance To Dream
31: The Cape and Cowl Conspiracy
32: Robin’s Reckoning Part 1
33: Robin’s Reckoning Part 2
34: The Laughing Fish
35: Night of The Ninja
36: Cat Scratch Fever
37: The Strange Secret of Bruce Wayne
38: Heart of Steel Part 1
39: Heart of Steel Part 2
40: If You’re So Smart, Why Aren’t You Rich?
41: Joker’s Wild
42: Tyger, Tyger
43: Moon of The Wolf
44: Day of The Samurai
45: Terror In the Sky
46: Almost Got ‘Im
47: Birds of a Feather
48: What Is Reality?
49: I Am The Night
50: Off Balance
51: The Man Who Killed Batman
52: Mudslide
53: Paging The Crime Doctor
54: Zatanna
55: The Mechanic
56: Harley & Ivy
57: Shadow of The Bat Part 1
58: Blind As a Bat
59: The Demon’s Quest Part 1
60: His Silicon Soul
61: Shadow of The Bat Part 2
62: Fire From Olympus
63: The Demon’s Quest Part 2
64: Read My Lips
65: The Worry Men
66: Sideshow
67: A Bullet For Bullock
68: The Trial
69: Avatar
70: House & Garden
71: The Terrible Trio
72: Harlequinade
73: Time Out of Joint
74: Catwalk
75: Bane
76: Baby-Doll
77: The Lion And The Unicorn
78: Showdown
79: Riddler’s Reform
80: Second Chance
81: Harley’s Holiday
82: Lock-Up
83: Make’Em Laugh
84: Deep Freeze
85: Batgirl Returns
86: Holiday Knights
87: Sins of The Father
88: Cold Comfort
89: Double Talk
90: You Scratch My Back
91: Never Fear
92: Joker’s Millions
93: Growing Pains
94: Love Is a Croc
95: Torch Song
96: The Ultimate Thrill
97: Over The Edge
98: Mean Seasons
99: Critters
100: Cult of The Cat
101: Animal Act
102: Old Wounds
103: The Demon Within
104: Legends of The Dark Knight
105: Girls’ Night Out
106: Mad Love
107: Chemistry
108: Beware The Creeper
109: Judgement Day

05/18/2010

Quick 3-4 Defense Primer

Building a roster that is able to utilize a 3-4 defense is a tough thing, especially if you are a team transitioning from a 4-3 defense (such as the Buffalo Bills and Washington Redskins for the 2010 NFL Season). There is a greater reliance on size along the line of scrimmage, more emphasis on fast, athletic linebackers who have enough size to shed blockers, and the secondary has to have the ability to play effective man coverage to take away the deep pass.

One big difference is how the approach to the 3-4 defense is handled in terms of gap control. There is basically two options, one gap or two gap. With one gap, each player is individually in charge with being assigned a single gap to play through. For example, if you are a nose tackle, you may be lined up over the shoulders of the center and the guard, so you are in charge of that single gap. With a two gap system (See the New England Patriots), the nose tackle would be head up on the center and in charge of controlling the gap to the left and to the right of the center.

Defensive Ends
The Strongside DE is in charge of containment and often has to not only have enough speed to get to the outside on pitches but have enough strength to overcome potential double teams from the right tackle and tight end. Size is a necessity here due to being double teamed in the run game. The weakside defensive end also has to set containment in the running game on his side and will often need size and agility to get past the left tackle on passing plays.

Examples
– Ty Warren (New England Patriots) – 6’5 300 [Weakside DE]
– Richard Seymour (New England Patriots) – 6’6 310 [Strongside DE]
– Marcus Spears (Dallas Cowboys) – 6’4 309 [Strongside DE]
– Marcellus Wiley (Buffalo Bills) – 6’4 275 [Strongside DE] 2000 Season
– Bruce Smith (Buffalo Bills) – 6’4 262 [Strongside DE]

Nose Tackle
The biggest guys along the defensive line. They certainly need strength as they will often be double teamed throughout the game, but they also need to flash agility to force the interior center and guard to stay with them by penetrating gaps when a pass play is called.

Examples
– Casey Hampton (Pittsburgh Steelers) – 6’1 325
– Vince Wilfork (New England Patriots) – 6’2 325
– Jamal Williams (San Diego Chargers/Denver Broncos) – 6’3 348
– Ted Washington (San Francisco 49ers/Buffalo Bills/New England Patriots) – 6’5 365

Inside Linebackers
The toughest job is this role, as these two linebackers need to effectively have the speed and agility to hit the gaps when blitzing, drop back in coverage over the middle of the field, and need strength to shed blockers when coming up to stop the inside running game.

Examples
– James Farrior (Pittsburgh Steelers) – 6’2 243
– Jerod Mayo (New England Patriots) – 6’1 242
– Tedy Bruschi (New England Patriots) – 6’1 247
– Harry Carson (New York Giants) – 6’2 237
– Randy Gradishar (Denver Broncos) – 6’3 233
– Sam Mills (New Orleans Saints) – 5’9 229
– Vaughan Johnson (New Orleans Saints) – 6’3 235

Outside Linebackers
The strongside linebacker is the man often in charge of helping cover the tight end on passing plays and is usually the largest linebacker in order to stop the outside run game. He will often have to deal with the tight end or right guard on pulling plays as well, so his strength and size are important. The weakside linebacker needs enough speed and size to play the run but more importantly, they are usually the team’s best blitzer at linebacker. They need the speed to get around the edge and the agility and strength to beat the running back if their blitz gets picked up.

Examples
– LaMarr Woodley (Pittsburgh Steelers) – 6’2 265 [Strongside LB]
– Willie McGinest (New England Patriots) – 6’5 270 [Strongside LB]
– Lawrence Taylor (New York Giants) – 6’3 237 [Strongside LB]
– Greg Lloyd (Pittsburgh Steelers) – 6’2 228 [Strongside LB]
– Pat Swilling (New Orleans Saints) – 6’3 245 [Strongside LB]

– Kevin Greene (Los Angeles Rams/Pittsburgh Steelers/Carolina Panthers) – 6’3 247 [Weakside LB]
– Carl Banks (New York Giants) – 6’4 235 [Weakside LB]
– Cornelius Bennett (Buffalo Bills) – 6’2 237 [Weakside LB]
– DeMarcus Ware (Dallas Cowboys) – 6’4 262 [Weakside LB]
– James Harrison (Pittsburgh Steelers) – 6’0 242 [Weakside LB]
– Rickey Jackson (New Orleans Saints) – 6’2 243 [Weakside LB]
– Mike Vrabel (New England Patriots/Kansas City Chiefs) – 6’4 261 [Weakside LB]
– Elvis Dumervil (Denver Broncos) – 5’11 248 [Weakside LB]

Cornerbacks/Safeties
The cornerbacks need the ability to play man coverage both short and down the field. They need to have the size and aggressiveness to be willing to tackle the receiver on short passes and the running back on sweeps and pitches to the outside. The free safeties need to have the speed to play deep down the middle of the field, while being aggressive enough to help on outside runs. The strong safeties need to have the size to deliver a hit on receivers in the middle of the field, the speed to help cover deep, and the aggressiveness to come up and stop the run on plays up the middle.

Examples
– Ryan Clark (Pittsburgh Steelers) – 5’11 205 [Free Safety]
– Mark Kelso (Buffalo Bills) – 5’11 181 [Free Safety]

– Troy Polamalu (Pittsburgh Steelers) – 5’10 207 [Strong Safety]
– Brian Dawkins (Denver Broncos) – 6’0 210 [Strong Safety]
– Rodney Harrison (New England Patriots) – 6’1 220 [Strong Safety]
– Carnell Lake (Pittsburgh Steelers) – 6’1 210 [Strong Safety]

– Rod Woodson (Pittsburgh Steelers) – 5’11 205 [Cornerback]
– Champ Bailey (Denver Broncos) – 6’0 192 [Cornerback]
– Ty Law (New England Patriots/Denver Broncos) – 5’11 200 [Cornerback]
– Asante Samuel (New England Patriots) – 5’10 185 [Cornerback]
– Terence Newman (Dallas Cowboys) – 5’11 191 [Cornerback]
– Otis Smith (New York Jets/New England Patriots) – 5’11 198 [Cornerback]
– Eric Davis (San Francisco 49ers/Carolina Panthers) – 5’11 185 [Cornerback]

04/21/2010

NFL Draft and the Rookie RB Impact

Filed under: Pro Football — David Hunter @ 11:06 AM
Tags: , ,

Everybody watches the NFL Draft for that primetime running back who comes in with a staggering amount of highlights and will obviously make an immediate impact for his new team. All the success he had in college will instantly translate to the NFL and that RB will be able to duplicate his 6.3 yard per carry or score 9 touchdowns receiving like he did as a Senior (or Junior). How true is that, though and are the expectations unfair?

2005 NFL Draft
1.02 Ronnie Brown: Combined for 1,139 yards on 239 touches and scored 5 TD total.
1.04 Cedric Benson: Combined for 275 yards on 68 touches and scored 0 TD total.
1.05 Cadillac Williams: Combined for 1,259 yards on 310 touches and scored 6 TD total.
2.44 J.J. Arrington: Combined for 509 yards on 137 touches and scored 2 TD total.
2.54 Eric Shelton: Combined for 0 yards on 0 touches and scored 0 TD total.

2006 NFL Draft
1.02 Reggie Bush: Combined for 1,307 yards on 243 touches and scored 8 TD total.
1.21 Laurence Maroney: Combined for 939 yards on 197 touches and scored 7 TD total.
1.27 DeAngelo Williams: Combined for 814 yards on 154 touches and scored 2 TD total.
1.30 Joseph Addai: Combined for 1,406 yards on 266 touches and scored 8 TD total.
2.45 LenDale White: Combined for 304 yards on 75 touches and scored 0 TD total.
2.60 Maurice Jones-Drew: Combined for 1,377 yards on 212 touches and scored 15 TD total.

2007 NFL Draft
1.07 Adrian Peterson: Combined for 1,609 yards on 257 touches and scored 13 TD total.
1.12 Marshawn Lynch: Combined for 1,299 yards on 298 touches and scored 7 TD total.
2.49 Kenny Irons: Combined for 0 yards on 0 touches and scored 0 TD total.
2.50 Chris Henry: Combined for 172 yards on 37 touches and scored 2 TD total.
2.52 Brian Leonard: Combined for 486 yards on 116 touches and scored 0 TD total.
2.63 Brandon Jackson: Combined for 397 yards on 91 touches and scored 1 TD total.

2008 NFL Draft
1.04 Darren McFadden: Combined for 784 yards on 142 touches and scored 4 TD total.
1.13 Jonathan Stewart: Combined for 883 yards on 192 touches and scored 10 TD total.
1.22 Felix Jones: Combined for 276 yards on 32 touches and scored 3 TD total.
1.23 Rashard Mendenhall: Combined for 75 yards on 21 touches and scored 0 TD total.
1.24 Chris Johnson: Combined for 1,688 yards on 294 touches and scored 10 TD total.
2.44 Matt Forte: Combined for 1,715 yards on 379 touches and scored 12 TD total.
2.55 Ray Rice: Combined for 727 yards on 140 touches and scored 0 TD total.

2009 NFL Draft
1.12 Knowshon Moreno: Combined for 1,160 yards on 275 touches and scored 9 TD total.
1.27 Donald Brown: Combined for 450 yards on 89 touches and scored 3 TD total.
1.31 Chris Wells: Combined for 936 yards on 188 touches and scored 7 TD total.
2.53 LeSean McCoy: Combined for 945 yards on 195 touches and scored 4 TD total.

It becomes obvious that a true judgement of the impact of a rookie RB should not be focused on rushing but rather the combined rushing and receiving. Also most rookie RBs rarely touch the ball enough to “make” an impact running the ball alone (e.g. running for 1,000 yards). For the most part, rookie RBs can give solid production but scoring double digit touchdowns is more of a rarity.

Out of 28 RBs selected in the 1st/2nd Round in the past 5 drafts: Only 5 scored more than 10 touchdowns rushing and receiving. Only 10 broke 1,000 yards when combining rushing and receiving yards. 7 of those players were drafted in the 1st round.

04/05/2010

Winning and the Importance of Offensive Line in the NFL Draft

Everybody knows the recent struggles of the Oakland Raiders from the 2003 season through the 2009 season but let’s examine their drafts and see if there are any trends. Oakland has gone 29-83 (25.9%) over that stretch.

Out of those 55 picks the offensive line made up only 14% of those drafts.

Let’s compare them to another team that has been struggling year in and year out. The Detroit Lions have gone 28-84 (25.0%) during the stretch from 2003 – 2009 including an 0-16 season in 2008.

Detroit finished those drafts with a total of 57 picks and like the Oakland Raiders, seemed to avoid offensive linemen as if they were the plague especially in the early and mid rounds.

Offensive Linemen Drafted: 7 for about 12% of their picks in total.

The San Francisco 49ers haven’t been much better from 2003-2009 with a record of 40-72 (35.7%) but let’s take a look at their drafts and see if they were running into the same problems as the Raiders and Lions.

So the 49ers had 59 picks and only spent 7 picks on offensive linemen for a percent of about 12% of their 7 drafts. While they did draft them high, they also didn’t draft much in the way of depth at all.

Given those three teams and their relative struggles from 2003-2009, let’s take a look at three very successful teams. We’ll start off with the New England Patriots who are posterboys for stocking up on offensive linemen like they’re going out of style. Note that New England has gone 87-25 (77.7%) including a 16-0 season.

The Patriots finished with 63 total picks. Of those picks, they selected an offensive lineman 12 times for a percent of 19%. The Patriots aren’t afraid to select 2 or more linemen in a draft despite having what many would deem considerable depth already.

The Indianapolis Colts have also seen great success from 2003-2009 with a record of 89-23 (79.5%) so let’s examine their drafts. The Colts would have 60 draft picks and select 12 offensive linemen for a percentage of 20%. That also included drafting 3 centers in the 2008 Draft and at least 1 offensive lineman taken in every draft.

Worth noting is the Philadelphia Eagles from 2000-2004 who went 59-21 (73.8%) and were extremely successful. They had 37 draft selections over that period of time and selected 8 offensive linemen for a percentage of 21.6%. Their 2004 draft they selected an OT, two OG, and an OC with their last pick.

Winning organizations of the past including the Dallas Cowboys from 1991-1995 (12 offensive linemen), the San Francisco 49ers from 1987-1992 (9 offensive linemen), and the New York Giants from 1985-1990 (14 offensive linemen) all drafted well known stars but also were smart enough to know that you build your teams up front and offensively that starts with the big behemoths blocking.

So when you’re watching the 2010 NFL Draft, make a small note of those organizations that target 2 or 3 offensive linemen. Maybe jot a note down if they did this in the 2009 NFL Draft too and cross your fingers that team is the one you’re a fan of.

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