Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Blizzard: franchises without direction

When you look at the NFL, you see several franchises that don't seem to have any plan for success.

Look at the Lions: in Matt Millen's seven year tenure, he's hired three different coaches. They've had two different offenses installed, and now appear to be installing a third (how precisely are you supposed to draft and develop personnel when your offensive system is constantly changing?). They haven't had direction.

Look at the Raiders. We shouldn't forget the successes Al Davis has had in the past: from 1967-1985, the Raiders won 10 or more games 11 times (12 or more games seven times) and won three Super Bowls. But in the past six seasons they've had four different head coaches. What's the plan? What's the system? How are they developing a team?

And there are other teams without any sense of direction. From what I can tell, in 2008 Washington will be running its third different offensive system in four years. Other franchises have appeared to have plans, but had those plans unexpectedly disrupted by players and coaches (Atlanta, Miami).

If something isn't working, you can't always try to stick with it; sometimes you have to recognize that the plan isn't working and move to a new plan, changing your coaches, your quarterback, your system, anything. But continuity does matter. Having a plan and giving yourself time to put that plan into action is a good idea. I'm glad Brad Childress was just successful enough in 2007 to merit returning in 2008; the continuity of the system is good for both the veterans and the young nucleus of players. Teams don't generally have a lot of success turning coaches over in one or two years. I think a head coach needs at least three years to show that his direction is leading to championship contention.


Pro-football-reference.com does a Similarity Score for new quarterbacks in 2007. From what I can tell, this means that Tarvaris Jackson's career will precisely mirror Troy Aikman's. Right? Right?

Adrian Peterson talks at the Super Bowl (Pioneer Press, Star Tribune).

Al Jefferson put up a nice 40-19 in the box score (ESPN).

Outsports does its annual "Super Bowl for the Clueless."

Dave Zirin writes about women's college basketball. I read Zirin because he's addressing a lot of important issues in sports that few other writers address. However, I don't really care for Zirin's writing style (not particularly in this article, but in general). The tone is often very self-righteous: it suggests that everybody whose morals and politics do not precisely match Zirin's is in need of a lecture. He also has a tendency for caustic word choice, which has its place, of course, but generally turns me off. Still, he's always addressing good stuff, so even though the tone irks me, I keep reading (and more importantly, I'm thinking about the issues he's writing about, which is what I think Zirin wants most).

Michael Wilbon had a heart attack but is apparently doing fine (Ballers, Gamers, and Scoundrels).

According to The New York Times, the Mets are getting Johan Santana.

The New York Times also writes about Boston's sports success.

And finally from The New York Times, William C. Rhoden writes about Bill Belichick's relationships with Jim Brown and Bill Russell. Before we can just label Belichick a villain and be done with it, we might consider his work with Brown's "Amer-I-can Foundation, which works with gangs and youth throughout the United States to end violence by boosting self esteem, providing jobs and promoting self-worth and personal responsibility," and "a related Peacemakers initiative."

And finally, an interesting note (that wwtb? is likely writing on later this week): check out the similarity of Eli Manning's stats on the 2007 Giants and Phil Simms' stats on the 1986 champion Giants.

1986 Phil Simms: 55.3%, 3487 yards, 21 touchdowns, 22 interceptions
2007 Eli Manning: 56.1%, 3336 yards, 23 touchdowns, 20 interceptions

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous2:32 PM

    I feel bad for organizations that dont stick with what could become good coaches/strategies. The "we need to win NOW" mentality in sports is a bad mind set. Unfortunately with so many other entertainment options for people, teams need to be good in order to bring in the casual fan and therefore the money.

    I agree with you on the Vikings, I feel that by them staying with Childress, it is giving the team stability and gives the younger guys a chance to really grow into a system.