After 7 games, Chip Kelly’s Eagles are 3-4. Incidentally, through 7 last season, Reid had also earned a 3-4 record. This parallel shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise: Despite a massive overhaul of the defense, the Eagles still can’t stop anybody. We expected this. DC Billy Davis has a long history of putting together middling to bad defenses, and he has very little talent to work with. On the other hand, there are few new faces on offense. Jason Peters returned from injury, Lane Johnson was drafted, and Jeremy Maclin tore up his knee (and nobody sane can call Riley Cooper an upgrade at that spot). All told, 8 of this year’s starters on offense also started last year, and 9 were active on last year’s squad.
So the defense still stinks, the offense is comprised of the same stiffs, and their W-L records are identical. Sounds like a perfect time to compare the two groups! And since we know both defenses were/are crap this deep into the season, I’d rather just focus on the offense. The raw numbers are after the jump, but this graph really says it all.
(A quick explanation of what you’re looking at: For every stat above, 0 represents the NFL average after 7 games. If you’re not familiar with standard deviations and z-scores, just know that in general a score greater than 0 is above average, greater than 1 is good, and greater than 1.5 is close to the top of the league. The reverse is true for negative numbers.*)
Like Orlando Bloom, Brian Urlacher has ruined everything. At the beginning of the season—bursting with the aroma of sour grapes after being let go by the Bears—Urlacher let a surprise out of the bag: NFL players take dives.
Yes, believe it or not, the tough guy American sport has more dives than Delaware county.
What I don’t understand is the amount of shock and awe involved with the realization. As if for some reason football players—the guys who kill people drunk driving and drive drunk again or have more kids than they can name—are above the idea of gaining a competitive advantage through acting. It’s not like we’re finding out that Austin Powers and Dr. Evil are brothers here (SPOILER!). Of course taking dives happens and it has been for a long time. There’s no reason to be alarmed.
The problem that I have with all of this is the witch hunting that’s been going on ever since. Every time that anyone on the opposing defensive team goes down the fans boo him and assume he’s faking.
Jerry Jones did this week one when he accused Cullen Jenkins and Dan Connor of flopping to slow down the offense. He said,
“I thought us experts on football were the only ones who could see that. I didn’t know everybody could. It was so obvious it was funny. It wasn’t humorous, because we really wanted the advantage and knew we could get it if we could get the ball snapped.”
The funny thing here? Connor hurt his neck on the play, didn’t return to the game in the second half, and was placed on IR for the year. Great call again, Jerry, as always.
Here’s what we’re talking about:
- Arguing how well the Eagles will/can do this season
- Eagles v. Redskins on Monday Night!
Play on your Mobile Device or Right Click to Download: Around the Cooler 09-06-13
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Musical theme written by Matthew Schwalm.
In what has become a super-scandal of sorts (Roidsgate, anyone? No?), the MLB could be suspending 20+ players due to their connection with a Florida group called Biogenesis. Assuming that most of the accused parties are suspended, this will be another damaging blow for baseball as it continues its quest to make the game clean.
Some of baseball’s biggest names are connected to Biogenesis. Ryan Braun of the Milwaukee Brewers, Nelson Cruz of the Rangers and the already disgraced Yankee Alex Rodriguez have all been listed as suspects thus far. This is great and terrible news.
On the surface, this is ugly. The war on steroids has been exhausting for the MLB as it fights to regain the image of America’s beloved pastime. The problem is that you need stars to sell every sport and when those stars appear tarnished (deserved or not) the casual fan shies away. Instead, they seek the stars who seem unquestionable, unbreakable, heroic…and from other sports.
The problem is that cheating is prevalent in all of the other leagues, they simply don’t have the guts to root it out.
For example, in the NBA eight players have been given suspensions for the use of banned substances. Ever. The most recent case being Hedo Turkoglu, who was suspended 20 games for using methenolone in February. However, the NBA is content with allowing cheating considering their questionable drug testing procedures and the presence of a star-loving, meddlesome commissioner in David Stern.
Read the rest of this entry
It’s time to upgrade our thinking – and our platitudes – for the 21st century. Screw inches. Our beloved pastimes are really all games of probability.
And Philadelphia’s teams are finally catching up. It’s about damned time.
The two most recent hires in the big four of Philly sports, Eagles head coach Chip Kelly and now 76ers GM Sam Hinkie, are not traditionalists. The foundations for their respective philosophies, Chip’s playcalling and Hinkie’s talent acquisition, are built on foreign, impenetrable, numerical concepts such as “expected values.”
Many people have a problem with probabilities – and by extension the study thereof, that mathematical voodoo known as analytics. The term ‘analytics’ often conjures a couple of images, and neither are particularly flattering. One is that of the pasty, bespectacled weakling with a pocket protector and a TI-89, jealously crunching numbers as he fantasizes about athletic prowess he’ll never have, cheerleaders he’ll never date, and popularity he’ll never achieve. The other, more sinister depiction is the business executive in a 15th floor office furnished with exotic hardwoods and floor-to-ceiling windows, dispassionately assigning numbers to real people from high on his throne and then buying, selling, or trading them as he might deal in rice futures or credit default swaps. But stereotyping aside, I suspect most fans simply misunderstand the concept.
There’s no one more annoying than that kid that runs the same plays over and over again in Madden. What’s worse is when those bullshit plays actually work. If you call a defense to stop one of the plays, he has a counter. It may seem simple, but it’s destructive, and you have no chance at ever winning.
Well, Chip Kelly is that kid, and he’s the Eagles’ coach whether we like it or not.
His offense at Oregon was not particularly complicated and it eviscerated most college defenses. With a variety of read options and screens, Kelly’s offense was easily adaptable and constantly created mismatches.
Obviously this move is controversial considering Kelly has no NFL experience and uses all these gimmicks at such an inferior level, with Heath Evans leading the charge against such lunacy.
Surely no coach would ever use such a Mickey Mouse offense against the best of the best in the NFL.
Well, now that I think about it, maybe one or two would… watch this video Hank helped me put together. Seriously. If you think Chip Kelly’s system can’t work at the NFL level, watch and explain to me why.
Produced by Hank Mushinski, Analysis and Commentary by Nick Carroll. The reproduction of game footage herein is for educational purposes only.
Mock drafts are stupid.
There, I said it. You and I know that as much as we all love them, they’re not consequential. They’re not inherently insightful. They’re often nothing more than speculative conversation pieces. At best, they’re educated guesswork.
Now I’m likely to be dragged to the town square and stoned for saying that, but so be it, it needed to be said. I’ll die a martyr for the cause of reasonable, retrospective sports analysis. A worthy ideal, certainly.
Sarcasm aside, I really was convinced that if there ever were a year when I could successfully prove that the draftniks really are all just soothsaying con-men, this was the year. There were no sure-fire top-5 quarterbacks, no stud wide outs or corners. No truly obvious picks. The consensus seemed to be that the real talent in this draft was along the lines, some of the hardest positions in the sport to scout. If there really is such a thing as a “draft guru,” this is the kind of draft that would expose him as either a true expert or a useless hack.
With this hypothesis in mind, I collected an assortment of 14 “final” 1st-round mock drafts published before the draft started last Thursday. As a control, I asked my buddy Frank to submit his own 1st-round mock. Frank watches far more college and pro football than anybody can reasonably consider healthy, but he’s not a paid analyst, nor does he have a support team, league sources, game film, nor any other resources that pro analysts or sports columnists can access.
Here’s what I found out.
During this offseason Victor Cruz has been a restricted free agent. However, not a single team in the NFL attempted to acquire his services. Not one.
ARE YOU F%&*@$# SERIOUS!
This is Victor Cruz we’re talking here! The 26 year-old Pro Bowl wide receiver that causes nightmares in the slot was available…and no one was interested.
Given his stats, it’s impossible to imagine why. Let’s take a look.
From the numbers, it’s obvious that Cruz is a playmaker (check some highlights here)—and a consistent one at that. In two seasons of play (he was developing his first year and recorded no stats) Cruz has managed 168 catches, 2,628 yards and 19 touchdowns while earning a Super Bowl ring. That’s a pretty damn good resume. In addition, his average of 18.7 yards per catch in 2011 was the best in the entire league for anyone with more than 45 catches and he had nearly double that number.
Simply put, Cruz is an explosive weapon and has already proven that he can be a vital cog on a championship caliber team.
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:
Pos: Outside Linebacker
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
Though some fans might be angry that the Eagles didn’t use all their cap space to add an “impact player,” the truth is there are very few players who will turn out to be worth the monster contracts they signed yesterday. While other teams were clamoring for “top talent,” the Eagles put together 5 signings that, while unsexy, will serve as a solid foundation for the new look of Chip Kelly’s team. Here’s the skinny on your newest Eagles.
Last Team: NE
Chung reunites with his former college coach after four decent but uninspiring seasons with the Patriots. While the Pats secondary has been one of the worst in the league since Chung was drafted in 2009, ranking 8th worst in touchdowns allowed and dead last in yards allowed, Chung rated pretty well on an individual level. He is a very consistent tackler. According to ProFootballFocus, in 40 game appearances since 2010 (including playoffs), Chung recorded 161 solo tackles and only missed 16. Chung can cover a bit too, allowing just a 56.4 passer rating against last season. The big knock on Chung is health. He’s missed 14 regular season games over the last three years due to various ailments, and this undoubtedly reduced his price tag. Chung won’t do much to make the highlight reel, but he’s a good overall player and should immediately supplant Nate Allen or Kurt Coleman in a starting role. Read the rest of this entry