We are entering the seventh week of the season and it’s an opportunity to take stock of the league. It might be the strangest beginning to a season in recent memory.
— Someone’s An Idiot (@SomeonesAnIdiot) November 29, 2021
Feels like the big-ticket Bears items have been thoroughly discussed. So today, DBB takes a look around the NFL. (I’ll be writing more about my idol, the legendary Stephen Sondheim, in this week’s game preview.)
It has become common knowledge that passing is far more valuable than running in the NFL. But I have surprisingly seen very little data about how that changes as teams approach the end zone and the real estate tightens.
I found this excellent article looking at all goal-to-go plays, which found that passing is still more valuable than running and highlighted specific types of runs and passes that work better than others. But that groups plays from the 8 or 9 yard line together with plays from the 1 or 2, and those are drastically different scenarios.
I spent about 15 minutes on Google trying to find something detailing what’s most effective for teams to score a TD from the 1 or 2 yard line, and couldn’t find anything, so I decided to do it myself. I started by using the Pro Football Reference game play finder to get a basic look at how often, and how successfully, teams run vs. pass from the 1 and 2 yard line. The table below shows that information for the years 2016-19. I chose that specific time range to be consistent with available information from later in the study.
Every sports journalist or athlete who has ever expressed a political opinion has probably had this insipid phrase thrown their way. It’s become quite a common refrain, particularly after the media took note that Colin Kaepernick wasn’t standing for the national anthem a couple years ago.
Like most snarky retorts it’s not meant to be particularly clever or thoughtful. It’s meant to shut down conversation and put someone in their place.
It’s also bullshit.
Not only is it ridiculous to expect a person, let alone a public figure with a large platform, to solely talk about their profession and nothing else 24/7, it’s also disingenuous because often the person saying “stick to sports” doesn’t mean they don’t want someone talking about politics. They just don’t want someone expressing a political viewpoint opposing their own.
Last week’s decision by the NFL to amend their national anthem policy was not made in an effort to “stick to sports”, or appear nonpartisan, as some have claimed. The decision was explicitly political. They implemented this rule in the hopes it would appeal to the political and social leanings of those they view as their core audience: namely, conservative white people.
Let me get two things out of the way before I go any further.
I don’t remember ever being so confused before a draft.
It used to be — back when men were men and beat writers smoked four packs a day — that we’d have some sort of idea at least how the top five would go. We’d have a few surprises but they’d be minor. This year, the Cleveland Browns could blow everything up by taking the quarterback nobody thinks they should. If that happens, the Giants could take another quarterback, then the Jets another and, who knows what could happen with the fourth pick?
The only thing we do know is to expect the unexpected. Everything is on the table. Here’s how I think it might play out, Warning: I didn’t spend too much time on it.
I think Darnold has been the guy for months, but the NFL wants them to keep everyone guessing up until draft day.
Pretty much every old school scout says Barkley is the best player in the draft. The Giants are run by an old school scout. I think they’d take Darnold if he were available but aren’t enamored with the rest of the quarterbacks.
This has been the buzz for about a month. In my opinion, Mayfield is the best quarterback in the draft this year and they’ll sell him as the second coming of Broadway Joe.
The first big surprise, I guess, but their interest in Ward was rumored a couple of months ago before everything went quiet. Ward really is a top-level cornerback prospect and those guys tend to go very high.
Chubb is going to be a good player from Day One. I don’t think he’s ever going to be a premier pass rusher, but I do think he’s going to be terrific against the run and at least adequate at taking down quarterbacks. Don’t be surprised if the Bears moved up to this spot if the draft falls this way.
There is a lot of buzz about Roquan Smith being the pick here, but I think that’s Chris Ballard intentionally leaking information. I think Nelson is their guy but they don’t want to risk a team moving ahead of them to take him. They have to protect Andrew Luck at some point, right?
I think this is the first prime trade-up spot for teams. The Bills can move from 12 to 7 without giving up their second first round pick. The other teams possibly pondering a quarterback would have a hard time getting the ammunition to move much higher than this.
Here are a bunch of Around the League thoughts for this random April Thursday.
There were audible screams in the basement bar on Waverly Place. Zach Miller had caught a perfect Trubisky toss in the end zone but nobody seemed to notice anything but his leg. My God, his leg. On replay it was even worse. Maybe it was shown a third time on television, maybe it wasn’t. I wouldn’t know. I wasn’t watching. I went to the toilet, disgusted.
When I came out of the bathroom, Miller’s season was over and somehow the NFL had determined they had enough visual data to overturn the touchdown. Not sure which of the two sickened me more.
Animated GIF version of the angle that Alberto Riveron used to try to explain his bad call of Zach Miller’s touchdown. A clear TD. pic.twitter.com/HVrsr6CAht
— Your Boy Roy (@yourboyroy) November 1, 2017
The Zach Miller Touchdown illuminated everything currently dragging down this great sport and formerly great league.
Forget about anthem protests. They’ll be a thing of memory in a few months. Forget about declining ratings. Television ratings are plummeting everywhere, and will continue to as cable companies lose their monopolistic grip on home entertainment. Forget about head injuries and CTE. People will always play this game and people will always watch.
What will bring the league down?
Aaron Rodgers. Andrew Luck. Deshaun Watson. David Johnson. Dalvin Cook. Odell Beckham Jr. Julian Edelman. Joe Thomas. Jason Peters. JJ Watt. Eric Berry.
The following piece originally ran on DBB on May 19, 2014. Two years later the NFL is finally allowing players to showcase their personal causes on the field. It’s probably the best thing ever published in this space, non-game related.
Josh Marks liked to cook. He was good enough at cooking and handsome enough to land a spot on the television program MasterChef. He finished second. At twenty-six years old and with a seemingly limitless future before him, Marks took his own life Friday. In a CNN article Marks’ family recount the young man’s struggles with mental health issues, with the family lawyer going so far as to say “It is overwhelming to think that with proper, intensive treatment, Joshua may still be with us.”
He was found dead by his mother in an alleyway on Chicago’s south side.