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