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  • Some interestin Myth's proven true

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    Buying Into Latest Myth Can Get Teams Burned
    There’s a really…reactionary article by Pat Kirwan on today that raises some questions about the draft. It raised a lot more questions with me.

    Kirwan starts the column by pointing out two previous “myths” about the NFL draft.

    Myth No. 1: Just manage the game. After Trent Dilfer led the Baltimore Ravens to a Super Bowl championship the idea that a team really didn’t need a great quarterback to win it all started circulating. The myth said that a QB who could manage the game was good enough as long as the defense was above par. That myth caused a few teams to skip on quarterbacks like Drew Brees and Ben Roethlisberger. The fact is, the quarterback position is the most important one on the field. Sooner or later, every offense is going to have to run a two-minute drill to pull out a win and no manage-the-game guy can do that consistently in the heat of battle.

    Oof. We have lots of lines to cross here. What’s a “manage-the-game” guy, and how do we define him? I remember Tom Brady being the ultimate “manage-the-game” guy in the Patriots Super Bowl season of 2001, and he did a fine job in the two-minute drill to win his first Super Bowl. Ben Roethlisberger was talked up as another “manage-the-game” guy in his first year. Jake Delhomme’s final drive in the Super Bowl ended with 1:08 left and with a touchdown pass. It’s not his fault he didn’t manage John Kasay into sending the ensuing kickoff into his team’s bench.

    No one has said you need an “above-par” defense and Trent Dilfer to win a Super Bowl, from what I can tell. If you have Trent Dilfer, a solid supporting cast around him, a good running game, and an otherworldly, best-defense-in-15-years-level defense, you can parlay a questionable holding call (I’ll always be bitter) into a Super Bowl. There’s a huge difference between the two.

    This is a self-fulfilling prophecy. If a quarterback doesn’t complete a prominent two-minute drill, he remains a “manage-the-game” guy, but if he does, then he’s a heat of battle hero.

    Myth No. 2: Don’t waste a first-round pick on a running back. The Broncos had great success with their running game with late-round backs like Terrell Davis and Mike Anderson, to name a few over the years. The prevailing thought was that other teams should be able to succeed with late-round picks, too. How do you think the six teams that passed on Adrian Peterson feel about that concept? The Broncos’ offensive line was pretty darn good and maybe, just maybe, teams made a mistake on their evaluation of Terrell Davis.

    This one manages to be both more and less egregious at the same time. Yes, people probably underrated Terrell Davis. Yes, Adrian Peterson is a very exciting football player. I will throw up for mention without further comment that Chester Taylor’s yards per carry (5.4) were similar to Peterson’s (5.6), and that it would have been silly for the Browns, Buccaneers, Cardinals, or Redskins to take AP considering their holes at running back were already filled.

    How could anyone actually believe that running back isn’t an eminently replaceable position after this year? Of the top twenty running backs according to DPAR, eight were first-round picks. If you go by yards, ten of the top 20 were first-rounders. The Super Bowl winner used a fourth- and seventh-round pick to put together their running back combination.

    Furthermore, first-round running backs had an average-at-best year. The 2007 crop of AP and Marshawn Lynch had good seasons, but the 2006 guys (Bush, Maroney, DeAngelo Williams, and Addai) were 50/50. Ronnie Brown, Cadillac Williams, and Cedric Benson, all top-ten picks, disappointed due to repeated injuries or general suck. Steven Jackson, Chris Perry, and Kevin Jones were all hurt or alternately mediocre owing to the team around them, which is the whole point of why you don’t need to spend a first-round pick on a running back. Larry Johnson was middling and Willis McGahee remained so. William Green is out of football and TJ Duckett was a backup. LaDainian Tomlinson was great, but Deuce McAllister missed about the whole year due to injury, and Michael Bennett was a backup. Jamal Lewis had a good year, but Thomas Jones and Shaun Alexander struggled mightily, Ron Dayne was Ron Dayne, and Trung Canidate is out of football.

    I could keep going back further, and I imagine that I’m probably preaching partly to the choir here, but how can anyone possibly make the claim that using a first-round pick on a running back is anything but at best a very iffy proposition?
    Bronco fan from Packer Land.
    Lefty Writer on The Sports Show with Woody Paige and Les Shapiro
    Tweet me @JoRo_5551

  • #2
    Kirwan’s myth of 2008 is this:

    Cornerbacks are only as good as the pass rush: The Giants’ Super Bowl victory has led some teams to conclude it was exclusively the pass rush with a bunch of average guys behind them in coverage that helped New York shut down the vaunted Patriots’ passing attack. This myth should fade quickly, but a number of people came up to me this week and tried to make a case for downgrading corners.

    Let’s evaluate Kirwan’s points one-by-one.

    1. You can’t play Cover-2 all day and have corners play the flat area every down. All an offense has to do is put trips (three receivers) to one side and the opposite corner is all alone. As for the pass rush, a three-step drop and a ball directed at the receiver who is being single-covered takes the pass rush out of the equation.

    Yes, if you stack three guys against a zone, the opposition has to adjust. That’s true, albeit a little obvious. His point about the pass rush is a little bizarre and ignores any of the other consequences. A three-step drop and a ball directed at the receiver who’s being single-covered is great in theory, but it means that your receivers aren’t likely able to get downfield and allows the safeties to push up closer to the line of scrimmage, which affects both the run and the short pass adversely for the offense. It also requires your offense to have a quarterback who can reliably get the ball out in three steps in a uninterceptable location on a pass-by-pass basis, which is rare enough that the idea that a pass rush can be totally removed from the equation with short drops is flawed.

    2. Down in the red zone, the fade route to a tall receiver really means the corner has to make a play on the ball and the rush will not be a factor before the fade is thrown.

    My verbal response to this was “Meh”. Yes, this kind of play eliminates the pass rush, but how often does a corner actually make a successful play on a fade route? Much more often, it’s the quarterback making a bad throw or the wide receiver dropping the ball that makes a fade unsuccessful.

    3. Sometimes it’s the jam of the corner on the receivers that sets up the pass rush.

    A reasonable point. The idea is that one fuels the other, which Kirwan correctly mentions in Point #4.

    4. Corey Webster is one of the Giants’ corners who supposedly is just average. I asked Giants GM Jerry Reese about Webster and his first comment was, “Did you see the interception against the Packers?” Pass rush and corner play work hand in hand, just like an offensive line and a running back or a QB and his receivers.

    It’s funny. Corey Webster was miserable at the beginning of the year. Execrable. I can’t fathom someone watching him play and thinking that he was an NFL-caliber corner. He got benched and slowly got his confidence back, although he was pretty mediocre for the entire season.

    And then, he was great in the playoffs. He had some minor hiccups here and there, sure, but all in all, he was very good.

    To justify that performance, though, by saying that Webster had a great interception against the Packers? Really? Forget that Webster’s failed jam against Donald Driver allowed the Packers wideout to be wide open for a 90-yard touchdown earlier in the game. Webster slipped, which isn’t indicative of his skills as a cornerback. It was smply some bad luck at the wrong time, and not something you can really hold against him.

    The thing is, Webster’s interception was by no means a brilliant play. He was beat. The pass, to me, looked like an obvious miscommunication between by Favre and Driver, with Driver running an out and Favre throwing a curl. After the game, Favre said it was a poor throw. Jeffrey Chadiha wrote for ESPN:

    “In fact, he actually thought the pass was in trouble from the moment it left his right hand. Wide receiver Donald Driver was supposed to run a “shake” route on second-and-8 from the Packers’ 28-yard line, but Favre’s pass sailed behind the receiver after Driver made his out cut. All Webster had to do was step in front of the ball and catch it at the Green Bay 34.

    “I just didn’t throw the ball far enough outside,” Favre said later. “

    Alternately, Clark Judge of said:

    The pass was one Favre completed a thousand times in his career. It was a simple out route, with Driver pushing Webster 15 yards down the field, making a right-hand turn for the sidelines and turning for the ball.

    Driver had three steps on his defender and was wide open for the delivery. Only the delivery was three steps behind, hitting Webster between the 2 and 3 of his white jersey.

    “I just didn’t throw it outside enough. I just didn’t get it out far enough,” a somber Favre said afterward. “I didn’t rise up to the occasion. I have in the past. I expect more out of myself.”

    Suggesting that Webster made some sort of grand play to make that interception is disingenuous at best. The Giants corner played very well in the playoffs, but that interception is a poor example of it, and one of Kirwan’s jobs as a journalist is to be able to differentiate between what a GM tells him and what reality is.

    I wonder who actually starts these myths. Is it the team that wants a corner to fall to them? Is it an outside observer who never coached or watched film? Or does someone actually believe you can get by with average guys?

    Pat Kirwan, for those of who don’t know, was a coach on the high school and college levels, spent eight years with the Jets as a defensive coach, and eventually became director of player administration. He’s forgotten more about football than I’ll ever know, and there are things he sees and knows to be true that I probably disagree with. His thesis in this article is even correct: cornerbacks can certainly be worth first-round picks.

    His speculation and logic in coming to that conclusion within this article, though, is an example of a really disappointing piece from someone within the industry who could — and should — do better.
    Bronco fan from Packer Land.
    Lefty Writer on The Sports Show with Woody Paige and Les Shapiro
    Tweet me @JoRo_5551


    • #3
      agreed, good post, cp to you. It's almost as if he's being tongue in cheek with his article, everyone one of the myths are true!
      A few other points about his article, Brees was almost a third round picks (64th pick) so wasn't a first round guy (which was as much to do with his lack of height, not his game management skills)as big ben was. Second, while the 3 step drop and pass can negate a pass rush , if the packages are varied enough, (eg a def end goes into coverage and the rush comes from a safety at the line) the 3 step drop can be very dangerous and can lead to interceptions.

      Of course you can find examples of good bad picks in all positions to justify taking players in the first or last round of the draft, to make sweeping statements about where to take players is a load of rubbish.
      "You only live twice, once when you're born and once when you look death in the face"


      • #4
        I thought the running back one was a good one for anyone that wants Mendenhall to read
        Bronco fan from Packer Land.
        Lefty Writer on The Sports Show with Woody Paige and Les Shapiro
        Tweet me @JoRo_5551


        • #5
          Originally posted by JoRo View Post
          I thought the running back one was a good one for anyone that wants Mendenhall to read
          Average career length for a NFL running back : 3 years. Even if you take a first round back, you need at least one competent back up, if just to take the load off your $30 million investment.

          I think Ben Tate will be the best back taken in the 2010 draft. (5/3/10)
          SportsXPicks, check out the Rants and Opinions section


          • #6
            Originally posted by draco193 View Post
            Average career length for a NFL running back : 3 years. Even if you take a first round back, you need at least one competent back up, if just to take the load off your $30 million investment.
            And dont we have that with Henry and Young?

            CP's to you! I liked the whole thing even though I normally dont like Pat Kirwan's stuff.


            • #7
              I love Pat Kirwan. I listen to him every day on Sirius NFL radio. If there's a guy who really knows football and who's opinion I respect, it's his. I'd love to hire this guy as the Broncos GM. Frankly, it baffles me why he hasn't been hired by some team, yet. He's a football genius.