Monday, August 28, 2017

Is Jarvis Landry on the Block? Should He Be?

     Let's start with the obvious:  I love Jarvis Landry.  He has been the best Dolphin on the generally disappointing teams we have watched since his debut.  Last year, the team finally made the playoffs and Landry was the player I was happiest for:  he deserved to be respected, to win, to shine.
     And I think the Dolphins will now trade him.  And I think that they have known that they would, and for a long time.
     I am sorry to say it, but this explains the Leonte Caroo trade-up.  This explains the enormous sum the team committed to Stills.  And this explains how the team will eventually keep Jay Ajayi, sign a new linebacker, corner, and safety, and finally make the AFC Championship Game.  OK- how did we get all the way to this imagined reality?  Let's start, as Landry does, in the slot.
     Slot receivers can't be the highest paid non-quarterbacks on your roster.  The reason is that they are covered by the other team's worst defender, don't score touchdowns, and don't earn the "chunk" yardage that this generation of statisticians think win games.  Slot receivers average 8-10 yards a catch at best, and that means that they average 5 yards an attempt.  5 yards an attempt gets you a new OC (think Bill Lazor.)
     What wins in the NFL is generally the ability to take the lid off the defense.  This forces deep linebacking and safety play, which opens up the NFL's dirty secret: running games still win football games.  That is, get 7 men in the box, and you get 5 a carry.  Get 5 a carry, and you win games.  You don't get 7 in the box by having your best receiver playing in the box, where he draws congestion close to scrimmage.
      One team wins in the slot:  the Patriots.  And that is an effective rebuttal.  But few teams have a passer who can complete 80% of his passes to slot receivers.  So- if you don't have Tom Brady, take the lid off.  And if you are taking the lid off, you can't afford a premier slot man.
      And if you can't afford a premier slot, you drag your feet re-upping a contract for your best player.  You (over) draft a replacement.  And you invest fearlessly in the surrounding cohort, knowing where your savings are coming.
     The Dolphins will try to trade Landry out of conference.  They will try to get a handsome package in return and reload with young players who are in their first contract or yet to be drafted.
      We fans will be dismayed, upset, and possibly wrong.  Good front offices tell fans what to think, not the other way around.  One thing we won't be is surprised.  We took care of that just now.

Jay Lopez

Sunday, August 27, 2017

Dave's take: Tannehill

Okay, so maybe I have another two cents in me.

I really don't understand the devotion to Tannehill as the QB from the coaching staff.  He's average, and hasn't won jack.  He has exactly one 4th quarter comeback win in his career and the team declined to invest in anyone to even consider a future that might be different.

And that's after he got injured late last season and declined surgery.  That's his choice, of course, and team doctors must have signed off on it.  But it was a risk - given that he could have re-injured the knee, and later did.  Why not at least plan for that being a possibility?

So he goes down, and then the team makes a decision to sign Cutler, which is just fine.  Tannehill has often been compared with Cutler.  Overall, they have similar skills and abilities.  But the odd thing is that its a 1-year deal with really no plans for the future.  He's a stop gap for this year.

And that leaves the team in potentially an odd place next season.  Consider the possibilities:
* Cutler does well and the team does well
How could the dolphins justify replacing him?  How would chemistry work?  We've seen Tannehills upside, and its limited

* Cutler does well, and the team doesn't
If the team finishes below .500 but you have a QB with great stats and great ability to lead, once again its the dilemma of why you would change that.
* Cutler does poorly, and the team does well around him
If this is the case, then perhaps Tannehill would make a difference.  Maybe.  But team chemistry can sometimes be a weird thing.

* Cutler does poorly, and the team falters
Are we going to be led to believe that somehow Tannehill coming back will magically cure all the problems and the team will win?

* Cutler gets injured or benched
Then we're right back where we were at the start of training camp.  In that case, why not promote the young guy to get a shot.  

My broad point is that I think its time to move on from Tannehill.  Maybe he makes it back next season, but he should not automatically be the starter.  He should have real competition, and be given "an opportunity" to start again.

Actually, I'm hoping that the team does really well this season, along with Cutler, making it a tough call by the coaches on what to do next season.  We get the benefit of a fun season, and maybe stop having to talk about Tannehill.

(okay, so I'm a hater....)

Dave's take: standing up

I have to say that I find it weird the way Colin Kaepernick has been essentially blackballed from the NFL. He is an above average QB (albeit with a limited skill set), but has been to a SuperBowl, which is something most QBs can only dream about.

And yet, he's not on an NFL roster.  Sure, teams are reluctant to draw negative attention on what would surely amount to a backup player.  But the bigger problem is that he essentially brought it on himself.

As I've said in the past, I don't have an issue with a player taking a stand against whatever they want.  But Colin made two mistakes: (1) he didn't back up his stance with demonstrable actions (yes, he does give to charity, and has quietly support some of his views) - like actually voting, or working to get people engaged as anything more than a curiosity.  Had he "walked the walk" and actually demonstrated that using his platform FOR something, he would probably have fared better.  And (2) he kept adding more into his repertoire that brought odd attention - like the Che shirt, and the pig socks.  Individually, those things might have drawn a yawn, but in the frame of him being a wanna-be-social activist, it came off as a pattern of ... obnoxious behavior. Personally, I think he was well-intentioned, but it wasn't handled right.

And so he's not in the NFL.

Meanwhile, the protests for social justice continue, with more players taking a seat, taking a knee, or raising a fist.  We are in what might be the most politically charged environment we've had in this country in more than 150 years.  So everyone has an opinion about whether this is right, wrong, or indifferent.

I've heard several pundits say the NFL is in a no-win situation.  People will (over)react if it continues,  or if the NFL or owners decide to put a stop to it.

Frankly, I see one option for the NFL: stop playing the anthem before games.  I've talked about this before, but there is no real history here.  Around WW2 the tradition of playing the anthem started as a means of patriotism - but is there really  a need to have it at games?  Its tradition, sure, but why keep it there if it becomes a rallying point - and stops the focus from being on the game.

Or, barring that, change the order, so the players are in the tunnel when the anthem is played, so we don't see them.  And then go through introductions and what not.

In short, remove the distraction and play the game.

That's my two cents for today.