• Zone Blitz Championship Week Edition: Power Running, a Bloodbath out west, Manning/Brady XV, and Your Official Championship Week Open Thread



    Date: Mon, 13 Jan 2014 1:04 PM
    From: Brian
    Subject: Re: Zone Blitz
    To: Amy



    Amy,

    Before we get started this week, I must give a shout out to the winner of the entire weekend. You know it must be either really good or epically bad when places like deadspin and foxsports.com are writing articles on a specific performance of The Star-Spangled Banner. Dr. Jesse McGuire straight killed the National Anthem prior to the start of the Panthers-49ers game. McGuire is one of the best jazz lead trumpet players out there, having played for the Lincoln Center Jazz and Tower of Power among others. While many others who attempt to perform a song as challenging as the National Anthem have their lack of ability/musical understanding exposed when performing it, McGuire kept his performance relatively basic, and hit it out of the park, simply by sounding ridiculously good. Honestly, even with 60,000, he barely needed a mic to pull of what he did. Kudos to Dr. McGuire for getting it right. I'm calling it now... I'd love to see the NFL take notice, and give him his shot at the Super Bowl. He's done it on a big stage before, having performed prior to game 7 of the 2001 World Series. More than a big name, the Star-Spangled Banner should be performed by someone who gets it, and who will do it right. It is meant to be a moving experience. There's no one out there right now who does that song more proud than Jesse McGuire. Kudos, Doc!

    The Games

    Like many others, I found myself struck at the physical style of play in all of this weekend's games. There can be a case made that 8 of the top 10 QBs currently in the NFL were represented this weekend. Yet, it was the power running of each winning team that stood out. 3 out of 4 winning teams ran the ball on more than 50% of their offensive snaps-- a remarkable total in today's NFL. Only the Denver Broncos dropped back to pass more than they ran, and their split was as close to 50/50 as you can get, with 36 passes compared with 34 runs. Maybe this will prove to be an aberration, and maybe it was just a product of the generally poor weather that we saw, especially on Saturday. But maybe what we saw this weekend was an admission by people such as Bill Belichick and Peyton Manning that power football and mistake-free defense is still the best way to win in January.

    I came off most impressed with Seattle and New England. Seattle is a nasty, physical team, and there is no player currently in the NFL more fun to watch than Marshawn Lynch. He is a complete load to bring down. I'm not sure how much longer he can continue with that style, but I'd surmise that he won't last another 2 seasons running the way he did on Saturday. Beast mode was in full force, and as soon as he got that head of steam going in for the game-winning TD, you knew the Saints didn't have a chance to keep him out. Of course, that spawned yet another Beastquake in Seattle, one that may actually prove to be bigger than the first Beastquake in that 2011 playoff matchup. The weather was nasty, which played a major factor in Seattle's dominance, as well as the struggles from Russell Wilson, but I left that game convinced that it's going to take a gargantuan effort to keep the Seachickens out of the Super Bowl.

    For as great as I thought Seattle looked, considering the circumstances, I cannot remember a more impressive performance than what I saw out of New England on Saturday night. Back when the Patriots were actually winning Super Bowls-- yes, there are 9 year old kids in New England who are still wondering when Tom Brady will finally win a Super Bowl-- they did it with an approach that featured a power running attack (Antowain Smith followed by Corey Dillon), and an opportunistic defense that relied more on guile than anything. This year's installment of the Patriots is honestly not even as talented as those teams, and certainly not close to what we saw from 2007-2012. So while everyone was trying to figure out how New England would be able to find a consistent passing game considering their lack of weapons, and the ridiculous amount of injuries they've had to deal with on both sides of the ball, by the end of the year, the Pats started to show some signs that they may be morphing into a different team altogether. On Saturday night, we saw that transformation take place right before our eyes. The Offensive Line was incredible in blowing the Colts off the line of scrimmage, and LaGarrette Blount, Steven Ridley, and company completely destroyed the will of the Colts' defense. With all of the innovation we've seen over the years, on Saturday night, the Patriots transformed themselves into a modern version of the 1970s Miami Dolphins, with Blount playing the role of Larry Csonka. It was one of the more remarkable performances I can ever remember, and considering they still have one of the all-timers under center, despite their clear flaws, I think New England has also transformed themselves into Super Bowl favorites. Somehow.

    The final score of the Panther-49er game did not end up as the closest of the weekend, but on the field, it certainly felt like the most even matchup. Really, the biggest difference in this game was the San Francisco playoff experience. Carolina had their chances in the first half, and I thought looked like the better team. But when you are on the opponent's 1 yard line on 2 separate occasions, and come away with a total of 3 points, that's usually not the best recipe for a playoff win. I loved the call to go for it on 4th down their first time inside the SF 1, and I thought they made the correct call to kick the FG on their 2nd trip, considering it was toward the end of the half, and they had been pushed back to near the 5. The main problem was the play-calling. The strength of the San Francisco defense is up the middle, and against the run. My memory may fail me, but if I'm not mistaken, all but one of their plays from inside the 2 yard line were run up the middle. There was one play where Cam went to the edge, and nearly made a play, and I thought they should have done that much more. Or even better, why not spread SF out, especially since you have a bull at QB who could then take advantage of the extra space up the middle. I thought that overall Cam accounted for himself very well. The Panthers moved the ball, and really had many opportunities to take control of the game. But San Francisco's experience shone through in the 2nd half, and they were clearly the deserving team to advance by the end of the game. That sets up a monster battle next week in Seattle.

    Finally, we've both been critics of Peyton Manning's past playoff performances, so let me be the first to commend him on what I thought was a really solid effort. Too often, it feels like Peyton stiffens up in a big spot, and tries to do too much. Frankly, last year, he was kind of forced to try and do too much, since the Denver running game was nearly non-existent after Knowshon Moreno was lost to injury. This year, with the benefit of a healthy Moreno and the addition of Montee Ball, the Broncos were able to show some real balance on offense. I didn't feel like Manning forced a single pass, as even his INT was more a product of the ball bouncing straight up in the air off of Eric Decker's chest. He also dealt with about 6 or 7 drops.

    The Broncos were about as balanced as you can possibly be, running the ball on 34 of their 70 offensive plays. For all the talk about San Diego controlling the clock, and leading the league in time of possession, it was Denver who controlled the clock for nearly 35 and a half minutes. The Denver offensive line was incredible in their protection of Manning, and Manning was about as masterful as we've ever seen him when it comes to drawing a defense offside, with the Chargers being guilty of a total of 5 encroachments. CBS did a great job of amping up the sound so we could hear him at the LOS. The fine city of Omaha, Nebraska should be sending a pretty hefty residual check Peyton's way for all of the free publicity he gave them throughout the game.

    Distinguished in Defeat
    Finally, let's also commend a couple of other players who will sometimes take some heat on this site. Drew Brees was not good at all on Saturday. But for as frustrating as those conditions were to deal with, and as tough as the Seattle defense is, he showed a grit and resiliency that we don't often see out of him. The Saints should have been blown out, and their defense did an unbelievable job of somehow hanging on, and giving Brees a shot. But while he wasn't good, Brees showed zero quit, and somehow willed them to a couple of TDs, and a last-second shot that was then crapped away by Marques Colston. The other player to commend is Philip Rivers, who will retire as a borderline HOF candidate, and has just finished arguably his best season. Despite the San Diego offense struggling to find a rhythm throughout the game, and the Denver pass rush in his grill throughout, Rivers kept his fight, and nearly pulled off the unthinkable in the 4th quarter. Is there any doubt that if the San Diego defense does what they should have done, and held Denver without a 1st down on that 3rd and 17, that with 2 minutes on the clock and a time out, Rivers drives them right back down the field for the game-tying TD?

    I've touched on some of the great stuff from this past weekend, so I'll turn things over to you Amy. What are your thoughts on what you saw from this past weekend, and how confident are you feeling right now in your Patriots?



    Date: Mon, 13 Jan 2014 5:03 PM
    From: Amy
    Subject: Re: Zone Blitz
    To: Brian


    Hey Brian! Three games to go, and I'll happily touch on your comments. I didn't know who did the anthem at Carolina, so I appreciate your write up on him. I agree that it would be awesome for him to get the chance to play, again, at the Super Bowl.

    Now, onto the games…

    Seahawks/Saints:


    I was not overly impressed with Seattle this week. I expected them to blow the Saints out, and while they did win, I think it was the least impressive of the four wins. That does not mean it was a bad game at all. I liked it, I thought it was well played, and the Saints D did a much better job than I thought they would.

    And, to me, while Colston's end of game play was just stupid, there was a missed play that was worse. The onsides kick itself. New Orleans lines up for an onsides that is, literally, thier season. Seattle identifies the formation, correctly calls timeout, and lines up to counter it.

    As the Saints kicker gets ready, Fox gives us a great view. The Saints, as they have to by rule, have a balanced line. 4 to the top of the screen, then the kicker, then 6 at the bottom. (You can't have more than 6 on the on side of the kicker). The Seahawks have 7 on the bottom - which is allowed, but only one man to the top! They have one deep guy, in case, and two backing up the main line.

    The Saints kicker has to see that! He has to kick up, to take advantage of the 4 on 1! Not only is his team almost ensured of the recovery in a 4 on 1, but they have an excellent chance for a return that could score, or put them very close. As it was, only a fielding error by the 'hawks gave Colston that chance to be dumb that he so expertly took.


    49ers/Panthers:

    I can't argue with much of what you said. I think Ron should have gone for it both times, but that's me. I do want to point out that this was the only game of the playoffs, so far, that I thought the refs did poorly on. Cheffers crew called a very iffy holding on Carolina on a 3rd and 15 (or so), on the 49ers first drive that set up a FG, and on the next drive they called a legit, if ticky tack, headbutt vs 21 on the Panthers that set up FG2.

    However, later in the half, not only did they not call a worse headbutt against Q, but Cheffers himself went the 49er huddle and told them they had 12 men and let them walk one man off the field. However, while the 12 man on D is called at the snap, if the O has 12 men in the huddle, at any point, it's a penalty. On a drive where they get a TD and the 13-7 lead, 20 yards of fouls were not called on them. If was a very iffy performance. While *it did not decide the game* Carl Cheffers should not get another playoff game this or next year.


    Denver/SD:

    I can't blame the SD D. Yes, it would have been nice if they could have gotten Rivers the ball back at the end of the game, you have to look at the San Diego O. They did nothing for over half the game, and they need to take a good chunk of the blame. Holding Manning to 24 in that offense is not a bad defensive performance at all. Rivers should have gotten going sooner.


    Pats/Colts:

    I admit I was nervous when they made it 29-22. We pulled away, but, the game was much closer than the score shows. Luck, with a few more weapons, will be in the mix for years, and I want to give Indy kudos for not giving in when we were up 21-0.

    I am, as a Pats fan, super proud of this team. We could have easily mentally bailed on the season, and we did not. As I said in my write up, win or lose the rest of the way, I'm happy with this season. That said, I really want two more wins.

    I also want to do what CBS should have and given a shout out to Sam Berns. He was a 17 year old Pats fan who had the disease progeria, which ages you at an incredible rate. He had the body of an 80 year old. He was going to be our honorary captain at the coin toss against the Colts, but passed Saturday morning. CBS should have made that a story, or given it a mention, but, as they were too busy praising Dierdorf, I'm doing it. Links about him: http://espn.go.com/nfl/story/_/id/98...l-patriots-fan and http://espn.go.com/blog/boston/new-e...oved-sam-berns

    Even if people hate the Pats, they should read the stories.

    As for my confidence, well, two seasons ago, I picked Pats over Eagles in the Super Bowl in August. I hit the Pats, missed the opponent, but they made the game. Last year, I picked Ravens over Eagles. I hit the AFC Champs and the SB winner. This year, I picked Pats over Giants at MetLife. I'm not backing off my pick now. Well, the Giants part can't happen, as I seem to suck at the NFC side, but I'm 2 for 2 on the AFC side, with a good chance for 3 of 3.

    It comes down to Ridley, Vereen, and Blount. If we can run the ball, if Blount, especially, has a great day, we win. If not, we lose.

    And I think we win. I do not think Denver's D can stop our running game. I expect Manning, Welker, or both to come up small, and I expect us to pull it out. It will be close, but we win.

    And to think, we got a 1000 yard capable running back for Jeff Demps and a 7, cause that former coach, Greg Schiano, didn't like him.

    Back to you


    Date: Mon, 13 Jan 2014 11:58 PM
    From: Brian
    Subject: Re: Zone Blitz
    To: Amy


    Thanks for sharing the story Sam Berns. Very sad to hear about his passing, but that's a pretty sweet thing the Pats were going to do for him.

    Immediately after the season ended, I would have given my coach of the year vote to Ron Rivera for closing the season by winning 11 of their last 12. However, upon further review, has there ever been a more deserving candidate than Bill Belichick is this season? That's tough for me to write, but it's true. I have no idea how the Patriots aren't an 8-8/7-9 team, other than to say that Belichick and Brady simply wouldn't allow it to happen.

    Also, am I the only person that gets the feeling that Belichick would actually be fantastic on TV? While famous for saying absolutely nothing to the media, we do get some snippets of his personality when he sits down for a one-on-one interview. Plus, he's been really, really good in contributing quite a bit to some historical NFL Films documentaries, including the AFL doc done a few years to honor the 50th anniversary, and the recent NFL Network "A Football Life" feature on the Forward Pass. Honestly, it all makes me appreciate and respect his press conferences even more.

    Prelude to a Championship

    Could the NFL have asked for a better championship Sunday? It's going to be so good, I even had to break out some classic Jim Nantz cheese sauce for the heading (all we need now is a "One Shining Moment" montage-- SING IT, LUTHER!!!...) Coming into the season, these were the consensus 4 best teams. Throughout the season, these teams mostly played like the 4 best teams. Now, at the close of the season, it's even more clear that the 4 best teams remain. There will be no Cinderella winning it all this year, and honestly, every now and again, it's nice to see the big boys square off to see who's the best. For all of the talk of parity, there's no doubt that whomever wins the Super Bowl will be a supremely deserving champion.

    The day will kick off with Brady v Manning. There's not another QB rivalry in history that comes close to this one, as it long ago surpassed the greatness that was Bradshaw v Staubach. Brady has famously gotten the better of Manning throughout most of their careers, but in championship games, neither has won on the other's home turf. This year, that plays in Manning's favor, as does the nice, mild weather forecast for Denver and their 1PM local kickoff. Plus, this is unbelievably New England's first road playoff game since the 2006 AFC Championship game. That was also the last time the Pats were an underdog in a playoff game, prior to this weekend.

    One thing to consider leading up to this game is that Denver is actually pretty good against the run, allowing just under 4 yards per rushing attempt. New England, on the other hand, allows 4.5 yards per rush. Denver's defense also wasn't as bad against the pass as you'd think, and over the last 5 weeks of the regular season, actually played pretty darned well, allowing less than a 6.3 YPA and under 56% completions. Denver will be without Chris Harris, who tore his ACL on Sunday. In his place was Quentin Jammer, who looked very bad against Keenan Allen. For Denver to win, they need to stick with the formula they used against San Diego, trying to keep that run/pass ratio as close to 50% as possible. For New England, I think they'll open things up a lot more. The return of Aaron Dobson would help them tremendously, since he's probably their best weapon outside the numbers, but if he doesn't play, I'd like to see them find a way to take advantage of moving Shane Vereen out wide and trying to create mismatches. Yes, Brady is now 18-7 in his playoff career, but he's only 8-7 since suffering his first playoff loss in the 2005 divisional round, ironically, against the Broncos in Denver. All signs point Denver in this game, but there's something gritty about this Pats team that I really like. I think that once again, Brady and Belichick will find a way to not allow the Patriots to lose, and they win in a bit of a shootout, 37-27.

    The nightcap will feature Seattle and San Francisco, the NFC's version of Baltimore vs. Pittsburgh. It is gonna be great! While the games in San Francisco have been close between these two teams, their recent history in Seattle suggests that this game could be a blowout. I don't think any of us can envision a blowout this week, but there is no homefield advantage quite like the one in Seattle, and chances are pretty good that at some point, Seattle will experience another Beastquake.

    San Francisco has struggled to score against the Seahawks, in large part because they don't have that one quick receiver to counter the physicality of the Seahawks' secondary. As I said last week, the Seahawks' pass defense may be the single best unit in the entire NFL, so if San Francisco is to have a chance, it seems like they'll need to use Frank Gore and the running of Colin Kaepernick to try and open things up a little bit in the secondary. Plus, with Michael Crabtree now back to full health and playing very well, they have a set of receivers, including Boldin and Davis, that will certainly not be afraid to mix it up and get physical with the Seahawks' DBs. For Seattle, Marshawn Lynch will once again be the biggest key. But the 49er front 7 is arguably the best in the game, and Russell Okung really seemed to struggle last week against the Saints' pass rush. Russell Wilson is going to have to play well, and they're going to have to be able to stick with Lynch, hoping that he'll eventually wear down the 9ers front 7, and break off a few big plays in the 2nd half. Recent history suggests that this game will be won by the home team, and I'm not going to bet against recent history. These are the two most physical teams in the NFL, and I think it's the Seahawks' time to shine. Seattle wins 20-17.

    That leaves me with a Seahawks-Patriots Super Bowl in Northern Jersey two weeks from Sunday. Obviously you'll be taking the Patriots as well, but why do you think they have the edge over Denver, and who will be joining them in the Meadowlands on February 2?


    Date: Tue, 14 Jan 2014 1:31 PM
    From: Amy
    Subject: Re: Zone Blitz
    To: Brian


    Out west I picked the 49ers just because most people were picking the Seahawks. I do think that Seattle has the edge. But, I think they are overfconfident, and, like the Pats, the 49ers are in NFC Championship Game #3 in a row. That's very hard to do. It's never wise to pick against a team that can do that.

    However, when push comes to shove, Wilson is the better QB. If neither team has a turnover fest, best QB wins, so I think Seattle will advance. Overall, however, I think you hit the salient points.

    And, yes, I'm picking the Pats. I would if they were 17-0 and we were 10-8 coming in, but, of course, we're closer than that, and your why is a good question.

    I want to start out by saying Denver can win, and I am not discounting them. They are a good team.

    Denver has the edge in special teams. Holliday has been great for them in the return game. Minitron's been good for us in PR, but except for the Bills game, Blount has been average or below. Even if Boyce plays and returns kicks, I think they have the return game edge. Kickers is a wash, and if our punter isn't ready, they have an edge there.

    Offense: Both teams have great lines. I'd call ours better, but that could be bias. We have the better QB. I won't get into the debate, but we do. They have the better WR group, but our RB group is much better. And Blount's got something to prove. A 1000 yard back traded for a 7 and Jeff Demps. Blount reminds me, a lot, of Dillon in 2k4. A power back who wants to show exactly what he can do.

    Defense: We're better. Hands down. Denver has good players, but there is no one on that side of the ball that scares me. When we played the Ravens, you always knew 55, or 52, or 20, could win the game alone on that side of the ball. With the Steelers, Troy or Harrison could do the same. With Seattle, you have, well, everyone, and close to the same with the 49ers. Even with us, Denard, Ryan, and Talib have just shown that they can dictate a game. There is no one Denver player that I worry about. Yes, they'll make plays, and good one, but there's no fear factor with that D.

    But, there are two other reasons I'm confident.

    First, there is *no* pressure on us. Denver was handed the Lombardi trophy the day after the Ravens won the last one. They have two key players - Manning and Welker - with a history of choke in the playoffs. They have the choke to the Ravens last year. All the pressure is on them. With us, just being there is enough with how this year has been. As soon as something bad happens - and it will - can they handle the pressure?

    Secondly, sometimes teams just have a look. The 2003 Bucs, your Steelers in 2006, the Saints in 2009. The 'we might not win it but we'll be there' look. The Pats have that look. I don't know if we'll win in New York, but I expect us to be there. It won't be perfect - it could have been the trifecta: Jets in the Divisional Round, Payton in the AFC Champs, Eli - at home! - in the Superbowl. But, the Jets and Giants didn't come to bat. Even still, a win, in 3 weeks, would chase away some ghosts. Getting Ring 4 on Eli's field would be sweet.

    We've beat them this year. We match up well, we have the better QB and Coach. We might not win, but I fully expect us to.

    Go Pats!

    Comments 56 Comments
    1. Patrick Sullivan's Avatar
      Todd Bowles has withdrawn his name from consideration as the Cleveland Browns' next head coach.

      Browns fans have decided to help:



    1. mkocs6's Avatar
      Ben McAdoo, Green Bay's quarterbacks coach and a guy who had interviewed with Cleveland for the Browns' head coaching vacancy, has apparently accepted a job as the offensive coordinator of the Giants. Things are shaping up like the Browns will be bidding against themselves for the services of Adam Gase, who of course has been a coordinator all of one year with Peyton Manning and with whom the Browns haven't really spoken yet.

      Yeah, nothing can go wrong here.
    1. Rich Gapinski's Avatar
      We should be reminded that Curly took a lot of shots to the head in "The Three Stooges." He probably suffered numerous concussions. I am not sure how it applies here, but the Browns comedy show is just getting painfully real and sad.
    1. Wordsworth's Avatar
      It makes me wonder what's wrong with the Detroit job when Whisenhunt skips over it for Tennessee. It was his job to turn down, and Tennessee is further from being a contender than the Lions are right now. Lovie Smith didn't even interview with them and went straight to Tampa. Detroit was supposed to be the best opening in the league this offseason, with the most playoff-ready roster of talent awaiting leadership. What happened?
    1. DaBearsFan's Avatar
      Quote Originally Posted by Wordsworth View Post
      It makes me wonder what's wrong with the Detroit job when Whisenhunt skips over it for Tennessee. It was his job to turn down, and Tennessee is further from being a contender than the Lions are right now. Lovie Smith didn't even interview with them and went straight to Tampa. Detroit was supposed to be the best opening in the league this offseason, with the most playoff-ready roster of talent awaiting leadership. What happened?
      Let's remember that just because Detroit's GM may declare his team as the best opening, and just because many people (or at least, many of the talking heads) may agree with that, doesn't mean it is the best fit for any situation. Lovie Smith is a great example. My (somewhat limited) understanding was Detroit wanted a head coach that has a track record of developing young QBs and building strong offenses. In other words, exactly the opposite of what Lovie offers. In Whiz's case, I thought I heard (can't remember where, maybe even here) he was looking to turn his defense into a 3-4, something the Lions front office was hesitant to do and something the Titans may have been more enthusiastic about. Or maybe he was turned off by the terrible track record that the Lions have had in the past few (or 50) years. We'll never know for sure.

      Now, that doesn't mean that I think Whiz made the best decision; I'd agree that from a talent standpoint, the Lions seem a whole lot closer than the Titans do. I also don't think the Lions are beyond criticism at emphasizing the wrong aspects in looking for a new coach (specifically, offense minded former head coaches). But who knows; maybe Whiz will flourish in Tennessee. Maybe Jim Caldwell will lead the Lions to many playoff appearances and wins. I have my doubts, but I've certainly been wrong before.
    1. Patrick Sullivan's Avatar
      The presence of Matthew Stafford may have been the single biggest deterrent to some coaching candidates. Like him or not, he is locked in as "the guy" for a lot of years. A coach would get run off before the QB. At least in TEN Whiz has an opportunity to evaluate Locker. If that proves to be a waste, the Titans can saw off the QB and let the coach at least participate in the search and selection of a QB. The Lions? Not so much. Detroit is not spending a high draft pick on a QB anytime soon. And, as Rich often points out, three guys (Staff, CJ, Suh) eating 45% of the cap had to be an issue as well.

      Frickin' Lions...

    1. Patrick Sullivan's Avatar
      Then there is this:

      "I also think this team, very much like our team in Indianapolis, there was so many offensive weapons in place that you want a system that can maximize that. I think what Jim believes in, in terms of offense, is just going to fall in line with the skill set of the players there. You have a young quarterback to develop in Matthew Stafford and it reminds me of when we (got to Indianapolis).

      "Peyton Manning had put up a lot of numbers in Indianapolis his first three years in the league, but his career really started to take off after Caldwell became the quarterbacks coach." -- Tony Dungy
      And this:



      If you are so up on the Lions, TD, why not come home & coach'em up?
    1. iwatt's Avatar
      There is one big reason why you don't want to coach in Detroit, and he wears #12 up in Green Bay.

      Winning the division is an uphill battle as long as Rodgers is there.
    1. Bengals1181's Avatar
      and then there was one. The Vikings have hired Mike Zimmer to be their head coach.
    1. Rich Gapinski's Avatar
      And... Cleveland is first to fire, last to hire. Well done.
    1. Nancy's Avatar
      Quote Originally Posted by Rich Gapinski View Post
      We should be reminded that Curly took a lot of shots to the head in "The Three Stooges." He probably suffered numerous concussions. I am not sure how it applies here, but the Browns comedy show is just getting painfully real and sad.
      Have they had Dave Shula in Cleveland yet? I hear he's available Or maybe my hometown boy Cam Cameron.
    1. Patrick Sullivan's Avatar
      PFT, Mort and Schefty are all reporting that Eagles QB coach Bill Lazor is headed to Miami to be their OC. This is amusing in that the interwebs last night were full of reports that Lazor was headed to DET with Caldwell. Someone even updated the guy's Wiki page.
    1. Trumpetbdw's Avatar
      I think the pickle that the Lions created for themselves was to not allow any wiggle room from their initial model of what their HC would look like. It's always good to go in with a gameplan, but to significantly limit your options in the name of that plan is not necessarily a good thing.

      I agree with their approach to not want a HC that would be insistent upon running a 34. While I think Suh is a talented enough player that they could have found a way to make him effective in that scheme, by no means does a 34 DL justify the type of contract that Suh is earning, and could easily lead to him leaving Detroit when his contract is up. Unless you're AJ Watt, a 34 DL is not exactly a glamour position.

      Clearly they wanted to go in a completely opposite direction of what Schwartz brought to the table, but over-compensation is rarely a good idea. Schwartz's problem wasn't his intensity, it was the lack of accountability he demanded from his team, considering they continued to make the same dumb, undisciplined mistakes throughout his tenure. The counter to that is not to search ONLY for a more laid-back coach, it's to find a coach who is an expert in holding his players accountable, no matter whether his style is laid-back OR intense.

      Schwartz was also a "defensive guy" when he was hired, so they decided that they wanted to go with an "offensive guy". I really hate pigeon-holing this philosophy, since the best HCs are the ones that are great at overseeing an operation, and hiring the right people on both sides of the ball when it comes to scheme and development. The best example is Mike Tomlin, who was labeled a 43, "Tampa 2" guy when he came to Pittsburgh, but when he became HC, decided to simply put/keep the best coaches in place that would run a scheme that best fit the talent of the team.

      A good Head Coach with a defensive background is more than capable of bringing with him the proper staff that will challenge Matt Stafford, and best cater their offensive scheme to fit within his strengths and limit his weaknesses.

      All of that is not to say that hiring a laid-back offensive guy is the wrong move. It's to say that blindly hiring a laid-back offensive guy is the wrong move. If Ken Whisenhunt was considering a defensive scheme that doesn't fit your personnel, and will potentially alienate your best defensive player, then by all means, go in a different direction. But to limit yourself to a very specific model of leader (laid-back/offensive-minded) is bad business.

      It's very possible that the best guy for the job would follow that model, but to limit yourself to only interview candidates who fit within that specific model is a big mistake. If there's another guy who doesn't quite fit into their version of an ideal prototype, but proves to be the best person to lead your team moving forward, then you're doing a disservice to your organization and your fans by not hiring him. The best HCs aren't offensive or defensive specific, they're the ones who best lead, are the best at evaluating a roster, and are able/willing to bring in the proper staff that will be the best fit their team's schematic and motivational needs.

      What makes Bill Belichick a great coach isn't that he's a defensive coach, or that he's from the Parcells coaching tree. It's that he's willing to do whatever it takes each year to make his team perform to its highest potential, and he hires a staff that's willing to do the same.
    1. Rich Gapinski's Avatar
      Current rumors:

      -Gym Schwartz as DC in Cincy.
      -Ray Horton may be following Whiz to Tenn.
      -Tony Dungy loves everybody.
    1. Bengals1181's Avatar
      looks like Paul Guenther, Bengals LB coach, will get first crack at the DC job unless he leaves to go with Gruden in Washington or Zimmer in Minny.

      Schwartz, who has a history with Marvin, seems to be the backup plan.
    1. Patrick Sullivan's Avatar
      Quote Originally Posted by Trumpetbdw View Post
      What makes Bill Belichick a great coach isn't that he's a defensive coach, or that he's from the Parcells coaching tree. It's that he's willing to do whatever it takes each second, minute, hour, day, week & year to make his team perform to its highest potential, and he hires a staff that's willing to do the same.
      fixed
    1. Bengals1181's Avatar
      and Paul Guenther has been named Bengals defensive coordinator.
    1. mkocs6's Avatar
      You know, I've beaten up the Browns a lot recently, but one of the emerging criticisms of the first-to-fire/last-to-hire crowd is that it's going to be hard to find quality assistants. I think that's a little lame. The Browns had two top-shelf coordinators last year--and, if nothing else, solid coordinators with a reasonable amount of head coaching experience under Shurmur--and it certainly hasn't made a difference in the team's bottom line.

      I understand the media needs something to write about and the fans need something to talk about--because nothing is happening, even when the owner writes an open letter to the fan base to quasi-explain the coaching search--but I think the rest of the material is enough.

      A theory I'd like to promote is that the Browns coaching search has an Al Davis quality to it. Not that Joe Banner or Jimmy Haslam have accomplished nearly as much as Davis did throughout his life or even that they've become quite so deranged the Raiders owner did at the end of his, but rather that Davis often hired young coaches. Madden was 33 when hired; Tom Flores, 32; Mike Shanahan, 35 or so; Jon Gruden about 35; Lane Kiffin, all of 32. It should be said that Davis even did this when the position of coach of the Raiders was a reasonably attractive job. What I'm suggesting, though, is that Davis liked younger coaches because he assume a dominant role in the room, over personnel decisions and the direction of the franchise, and sort of push these coaches around--or out, if he needed to. Banner likes to trumpet his participation in the rather successful hiring of Andy Reid, but the cynic in me says they're looking for someone they can push around in the front office. At least for now.

      I just want to know why I've heard nothing about interviewing Greg Roman. Even if you really want a younger coach with the potential to be something different, he's only 41 and he's coached at the high school, college, and pro level all within the last seven years. He's worked with quarterbacks of varying styles and abilities--Luck (in college), Smith, Kaepernick--and more or less succeeded with all of them. I don't get why there hasn't been more obvious and public interest in him in Cleveland (or elsewhere).
    1. xmenehune's Avatar
      Quote Originally Posted by Trumpetbdw View Post
      I think the pickle that the Lions created for themselves was to not allow any wiggle room from their initial model of what their HC would look like. It's always good to go in with a gameplan, but to significantly limit your options in the name of that plan is not necessarily a good thing.

      I agree with their approach to not want a HC that would be insistent upon running a 34. While I think Suh is a talented enough player that they could have found a way to make him effective in that scheme, by no means does a 34 DL justify the type of contract that Suh is earning, and could easily lead to him leaving Detroit when his contract is up. Unless you're AJ Watt, a 34 DL is not exactly a glamour position.

      Clearly they wanted to go in a completely opposite direction of what Schwartz brought to the table, but over-compensation is rarely a good idea. Schwartz's problem wasn't his intensity, it was the lack of accountability he demanded from his team, considering they continued to make the same dumb, undisciplined mistakes throughout his tenure. The counter to that is not to search ONLY for a more laid-back coach, it's to find a coach who is an expert in holding his players accountable, no matter whether his style is laid-back OR intense.

      Schwartz was also a "defensive guy" when he was hired, so they decided that they wanted to go with an "offensive guy". I really hate pigeon-holing this philosophy, since the best HCs are the ones that are great at overseeing an operation, and hiring the right people on both sides of the ball when it comes to scheme and development. The best example is Mike Tomlin, who was labeled a 43, "Tampa 2" guy when he came to Pittsburgh, but when he became HC, decided to simply put/keep the best coaches in place that would run a scheme that best fit the talent of the team.

      A good Head Coach with a defensive background is more than capable of bringing with him the proper staff that will challenge Matt Stafford, and best cater their offensive scheme to fit within his strengths and limit his weaknesses.

      All of that is not to say that hiring a laid-back offensive guy is the wrong move. It's to say that blindly hiring a laid-back offensive guy is the wrong move. If Ken Whisenhunt was considering a defensive scheme that doesn't fit your personnel, and will potentially alienate your best defensive player, then by all means, go in a different direction. But to limit yourself to a very specific model of leader (laid-back/offensive-minded) is bad business.

      It's very possible that the best guy for the job would follow that model, but to limit yourself to only interview candidates who fit within that specific model is a big mistake. If there's another guy who doesn't quite fit into their version of an ideal prototype, but proves to be the best person to lead your team moving forward, then you're doing a disservice to your organization and your fans by not hiring him. The best HCs aren't offensive or defensive specific, they're the ones who best lead, are the best at evaluating a roster, and are able/willing to bring in the proper staff that will be the best fit their team's schematic and motivational needs.

      What makes Bill Belichick a great coach isn't that he's a defensive coach, or that he's from the Parcells coaching tree. It's that he's willing to do whatever it takes each year to make his team perform to its highest potential, and he hires a staff that's willing to do the same.
      well said, all of it - you should apply for the CLE job or somehow get in their ears, but we're just "fan's" they'll never ever listen to the voices here at FP
    1. Rich Gapinski's Avatar
      Had to know this was coming, right?

      http://espn.go.com/nfl/playoffs/2013...line-scrimmage