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The “crown of the helmet” rule doesn’t make it flag football

Crown of the HelmetJust shut up, Emmitt Smith. You’re standing in the way of safety and progress. You’re being an ass.

Despite my begrudging respect for the Hall-of-Fame worthy career of the man who holds the record for most rushing yards in league history, Emmitt Smith’s tirade following the announcement of the new “crown of the helmet” rule is playing havoc with the insecurities of fans and players. It’s also ignorant and shortsighted.

For those who missed it, the NFL Competition Committee passed a rule change prohibiting players from executing a “forcible blow with the crown of the helmet” while outside of the tackle box. (Video explanation of the rule here.)

Of course, before the full verbiage of the rule even became public (my case for calling him ignorant), Emmitt Smith was already spouting his misguided concerns in a very public way to the Dallas Morning News. He called the rule ‘ridiculous.’ “You’ve been taught since you were a little kid to get behind your shoulder pads to protect yourself and lower your shoulder,” said Smith in a phone interview on Monday. “The first thing you do is lower your shoulder but attached to your shoulder is your head. It’s not like you’re trying to go in there and really trying to deliver a blow but your head is part of protecting yourself.”

Sure, that sounds reasonable enough. Until you consider the specifics of the rule. Which won’t do very much to change the game at all.

Let’s break it all down:

1) What is the crown of the helmet?

The crown of the helmet is the top of the helmet (see graphic above). It’s not the whole helmet, as many fear it to be. Rams coach Jeff Fisher, one of the most outspoken proponents of the rule change, specifically indicated that the runner still has the opportunity to initiate contact with the face mask or forehead. So essentially this rule amounts to not “dipping your head” while you try to run through somebody. Dipping your head is how people get compression fractures in their vertebrae. Dipping your head is how you get bulging discs. Sure, you can break a tackle by doing it, but you run the risk of knocking yourself out (or worse) in the process.  Read the rest of this entry

Around the Cooler 03/15/13 – Weekly Recap

Here’s what we’re talking about:

What’s up with the Eagles’ newest free agent acquisitions? (0:00)
Are the Flyers done? (17:30)
Ransom eulogizes the 2013 76ers (32:30)

UPDATE: We taped this podcast just before news broke that OLB Connor Barwin signed a 6-year deal with the Eagles.

Play: 

Right Click for Download: Around the Cooler 03-15-13

What are you talking about around the water cooler this week? Leave us a comment!

Eagles add 3 more players, defense taking shape

After a slow second day of free agency, the Eagles picked up where they left off following the flurry of signings on Day 1. Here’s what you need to know about the 3 newest players in midnight green:

Connor Barwin

Pos: Outside Linebacker
Age: 26
Ht: 6’3″
Wt: 268
Last Team: HOU

Barwin reportedly signed a 6 year, $36 million contract earlier today. Primarily used as a pass rusher in Houston, Barwin is coming off of a down year (3 sacks in 2012) but is just two years removed from a 11.5 sack performance that ranked 3rd best among 3-4 OLBs. The numbers from PFF aren’t particularly encouraging. Despite rushing the passer 533 total times last season, Barwin managed just 40 total pressures (sacks, hits, hurries). That ratio is far below average. On the positive side, Barwin is a sure tackler and draws a fair number of holding penalties. He has also been decent when asked to cover on passing downs, but that really didn’t happen very often in his time as a starter under Houston DC Wade Phillips. All that said, Howie Roseman probably paid market value for Barwin’s services. His average salary of $6M per season is far from the top-dollar that’s been shelled out to other 3-4 pass rushing specialists in recent years. (Cameron Wake’s $12M per year average comes to mind.) Unfortunate as it may be, Barwin’s presence probably indicates that Trent Cole’s days are numbered, but given the amount cap space that the Eagles still have, it seems likely that Cole will get to stick around for at least this year. Barwin played with Eagles ILB DeMeco Ryans while in Houston.  Read the rest of this entry

Should the Birds target any big name safeties?

Despite his affinity for cuddly puppies, 49ers safety Dashon Goldson may not be the best fit for the Eagles in free agency

The Eagles need help in the secondary. This is well established. Considering that the Eagles are likely to replace at least three of the four incumbent starters, it’s safe to say that the team can’t really afford to go without signing somebody in free agency. But as the Nnamdi contract from two years ago regrettably taught our fair city, the big names aren’t always the best options.

This year’s free agent class doesn’t feature anybody with quite the same reputation that Asomugha carried in 2011, but the names are certainly as big. Many will get a paycheck to match. But do any of them fit well with the Eagles? Let’s start with safeties.

Adrian Wilson - age 33, 6’3″ 230 lb, 5x Pro Bowler

A cap casualty for the retooling Cardinals, Wilson is an interesting candidate for one big reason: He is the closest approximation to Brian Dawkins that’s been available since… well… Brian Dawkins. Wilson is one of only five players in NFL history with at least 25 sacks, 25 interceptions, and 15 forced fumbles in his career. Although age is certainly slowing him down, in 2012 he still recorded 3 sacks, a pick and a forced fumble to go along with 6 passes defended. That’s more than any player in the Eagles secondary could say. He has never had injury problems, and has played at least 15 games each of the last 5 seasons and 10 of his 12 career seasons.

At his age, Wilson is likely looking to sign with an obvious winner that needs to shore up a hole in the secondary, so it’s conceivable that he could accept a contract from a team like the 49ers should Dashon Goldson leave in FA. He was only scheduled to make $5M ($2.5M base) in 2013 before he was cut, so it’s possible that he could be available as a decently priced, short-term solution.  Read the rest of this entry

Around the Cooler 02/10/13 – Discussion: Will the NFL exist in 30 years?

Here’s what we’re talking about: 

Bernard Pollard inadvertently creating the “Tom Brady rule” in 2008.

Ravens safety Bernard Pollard: “Thirty years from now, I don’t think it will be in existence. I could be wrong. It’s just my opinion, but I think with the direction things are going — where [NFL rules makers] want to lighten up, and they’re throwing flags and everything else — there’s going to come a point where fans are going to get fed up with it… Guys are getting fined, and they’re talking about, ‘Let’s take away the strike zone’ and ‘Take the pads off’ or ‘Take the helmets off.’ It’s going to be a thing where fans aren’t going to want to watch it anymore.” (ESPN)

Play: 

Right Click for Download: Around the Cooler 02/10/13

What are you talking about around the water cooler this week? Leave us a comment!

Why it doesn’t matter if Joe Flacco is ‘elite’

This article was originally conceived and co-written by our longtime friend Ray McCreavy.

Note: This post is not intended to further any argument, whether it be positive or negative, concerning Joe Flacco’s status as an elite NFL QB. Instead, it is meant to be a comment on the conversation that produces those opposing arguments, and more specifically, what that ongoing dialogue says about how instantaneous reactions affect the way sports fans think about professional football.

Photo by Will Brinson

During ESPN’s SportsCenter broadcast on the morning of February 5th, 2013, NFL correspondent Merril Hoge was asked to name and rank the league’s current top 5 quarterbacks now that the dust is finally settling on the 2012-13 season.

He ranked Joe Flacco as #1.

This nonevent is actually notable, but for reasons other than ESPN presenting a painfully obvious decision as a bold one by naming the Super Bowl MVP as the current number one player at his position just two days after he became a world champion.

It is notable because a) it seems to reflect that the 2013 playoffs are now definitively seen as a turning point in the relentless, obnoxious debate over Joe Flacco’s true talent level at the quarterback position, and b) Merril’s downright confounding list was a fleeting attempt at creating a season ending summary based on unspecified (or nonexistent?) metrics. I, for one, believe that these two points are intrinsically related.

It is not exactly breaking news to declare that the quarterback is the most important position in American football. Everyone who follows football knows that the last decade has seen quarterbacks who led offenses that threw more than ever before, broke nearly every passing record in the books, and succeeded at winning championships in the process. Possessing a QB who can perform at a championship level is undoubtedly the largest competitive advantage a team can have in the modern NFL, and thus it is rightly the most desired. In short, there are sound reasons for our cultural obsession with the best of the best, the “elite tier” of NFL QBs.

But when does an obsession become a problem? In this case, the elite QB discussion has become an issue because it undermines other essential aspects of the sport. Quick reminder: Those other aspects include the other 21 players on the field every down. Oh, and coaches seem to have some kind of effect on the outcomes of football games as well.

The debate over Joe Flacco’s status is perhaps the best example of the ‘elite quarterback’ narrative cheapening the entire dialogue about the sport, even among the most intelligent and informed fans. Read the rest of this entry

The Wooder Cooler Weekly Podcast – 02/02/13

Here’s what we’re talking about:
The Har-bowl! The Superbaugh! (0:00)
What’s wrong with the Flyers? (18:00)
Jrue Holiday is an All Star! (33:00)

Play: 

Right Click for Download: The Wooder Cooler Weekly Podcast 02/02/13

What are you talking about around the water cooler this week? Leave us a comment!

Just Shut Up: Eagles Coaching Search Edition

This post is going to make a lot of you mad. I don’t care. Think on your sins.
Love,
Hank

Are you disappointed that the Eagles haven’t hired Jon Gruden yet? Angry that they had the audacity to not just speak to but fail to sign three successful college coaches? Concerned that the public pursuit of said coaches is becoming embarrassing for a franchise that clearly doesn’t know what it’s doing?

Just shut the hell up. You sound like a petulant fool.

Read the rest of this entry

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