22 thoughts on “NFL Notebook 2019 (Closed)

  1. Tsunami Effect Created by Great Ball Control and Great Defense

    That’s a lame title, but I’m going to use it for now. This effect is something I saw in several week 4 games–specifically, the Vikings-Bears and Saints-Cowboys. (I think the effect occurred in week 1, the Bengals-Seahawks.)

    Here’s a brief description of the phenomenon:

    1. Team A’s offense has a few long drives in the early part of the game, while Team B’s offense has several short drives;
    2. Team A’s defense is good-to-great;

    When #1 occurs, Team B’s defense becomes more ferocious and begins to overwhelm Team A’s offense, leading to shorter drives to Team A’s offense, starting a kind of vicious cycle.

    What’s interesting is that the points scored almost don’t matter. (The Saints-Cowboys game ended in 12-10 score.) As long as Team A’s offense is controlling the ball well, and their defense plays well, scoring isn’t so critical.

    The other interesting to me is that both the Saints used a more conservative game plan because Bridgewater, their backup, was playing. That is, they focused controlling the ball, using short passes and runs to do this. (The Steelers seemed to do this with their backup, against the Bengals in week 4, too.) I think the Bears did this as well, especially when Chase Daniels, the backup, came into the game. The Bears and Saints have good-to-great defenses so the formula is a sound one. So why don’t teams do this more often? Sean Peyton wouldn’t use this approach with Brees because Brees is capable of so much more. But what if Peyton channeled his creativity into being great at ball control, while taking fewer aggressive plays–even with Brees? What I’m wondering is if teams would have more success if they created a more conservative gameplan, similar to one for a backup, for an elite QB. This might make sense if the team had a good-to-great defense. (By the way, the Bengals defense may not be good-to-great, but they ovewhelmed the Seahawks offense in week 1. And I think this had to do with them controlling the ball well early in the game. However, the Seahawks offense also did poorly at ball control, and that’s a big reason the Bengals defense was overwhelming at times.)

    Note: This approach isn’t going to work if the opposing offense also controls the ball well. However, if a team has a really good defense, hopefully, the chances the opposing offense will do this will be less likely.

  2. New tactics for the onside kick

    In all seriousness, why not try this? And the kicker doesn’t need to hit the helmet–just blast the ball and hit the opponent, anywhere. If a kicker doesn’t have the kicking accuracy to do this, why not practice it? Shoot, I would think the frontline players of the receiving team would be really nervous. Of course, the receiving team could just try to dodge the ball, and if it went out of bounds, that would be bad for the kicking team. Still, there aren’t good alternatives.

  3. Idea to Prevent Tanking

    When a bunch of teams are eliminated from the playoffs, or close to it, of these teams, award the team that ends up with the best record the first round pick of the Super Bowl winner. Right now, this could be teams like the Bengals, Dolphins, Jaguars, Jets, Giants, Redskins, Broncos, Chargers, Cardinals, Lions, and Falcons. At this point, the incentive is to not have a good record, so that you can get better draft position. If you awarded an extra first round pick that would at least provide some incentive to keep winning. Additionally, I think it would make the games for these teams more meaningful and entertaining for fans.

    Now, the other idea I toyed with was to give an extra pick–maybe the first round pick for the runner up of the Super Bowl–to the team that had the second worst record. This would at least provide an incentive to not have the worst. This probably wouldn’t be a great idea, though.

    By the way, I chose giving away the first round picks for the Super Bowl teams as a way to increase parity. Make it harder for teams to repeat. Also, assist .500 teams with a way to make the leap into Super Bowl contention, without having to tank. Teams like the Lions and Panthers, they’re better off getting better draft picks, which means they’re better off with a bad W-L record. That’s not a good incentive.

    1. You think tanking is a problem in the NFL? I would have thought Miami was tanking and yet they won three games already. And Miami is not that close to getting the number one pick, with the Bengals, who also won one, pretty much wrapping that up.

    2. You think tanking is a problem in the NFL?

      I guess it depends on how you define tanking. There’s tanking in the sense of making giving up good players for draft picks. The Lions traded Quandre Diggs to the Seahawks. Diggs was a captain, and if the Seahawks make a serious playoff run, he will be one of the main reasons for this. The Dolphins also seemed to do this.

      Then there’s tanking in the sense of not really trying hard to win. I’m a little skeptical that this is going on.

      But if your an average team, missing several key pieces, why bust your hump when you’ll likely be 9-7 team at best? Wouldn’t it be better if you had a worse record to get a higher draft pick–especially if that’s precisely what your team needs. I think the Lions are in this position; maybe the Panthers. They’re OK, but they need an infusion of talent to make a leap. So there’s a natural incentive to have a bad record. My suggestion is trying to correct this. It’s for teams that are not terrible, but not really good. I think it can be hard to get over the hump, with the type of draft position such a team will likely get. Again, that’s what I’m hoping to address.

  4. I can understand why people, including teammates, would find Wilson annoying and unlikable. What he’s doing here is so positive it seems phony. But I really don’t think his words are simply a manifestation of his personality, not completely. Instead, I think the words reflect an approach–a form of self-talk that Wilson has consciously chosen to help him manage his psychological state. When you’re trying to perform well, certain thoughts can hinder this. For example, if the team gets down by several points or you make a big mistake, negative thoughts and words can naturally come up–“Oh no, we’re screwed. We’re never going to overcome this.” Or maybe you start getting worried that you’re going to mess up again. One way to counter this and get control of your thoughts is to talk to yourself in a certain way. Sometimes you keep repeating certain words and phrases, like a mantra, to do this. In a way, it’s a battle between negative thoughts and feelings from thoughts and feelings that will give the best chance to perform well.

    This article, about Wilson’s mental approach, and the guy that helps him with this, sheds light on what Wilson is doing

    It starts with understanding “Power of the Mind,” the idea that no voice is more powerful than your own. Understanding the power of his voice, Wilson uses it manipulate his thoughts through “Internal Dialogue,” the idea that, in our mind, we say 800-1400 words per minute.

    Extrapolated over the course of a football game, that’s upwards of 150,000 words for someone like Wilson, and the QB has mastered thinking out loud to influence performance, blocking out all potential distractions.

    Later,

    The crown jewel of these principles is “Neutral Thinking.” Positive thinking Moawad said, “is more focused on the outcome: ‘We are going to win. I’m going to win. I’m going to be a success. I’m going to win the Heisman. I’m going to accomplish this. I’m going to be promoted.’

    “A neutral thinker is more focused on the behaviors required to get there. Fighting. Competing. Working.”

    I really like this idea of neutral thinking. An individual has far more control over effort, concentration, intensity than something like winning. Hence, focus on the things one can control, and block out the things that one can’t. And use language in self-talk in a concerted way to achieve this. This may not work or appeal to everyone, but I definitely think it would be effective for some.

    1. I didn’t find most of what Wilson said unusual.

      That being said though Wilson is always on Dan Patrick, and he is one of the dullest guys that come on regularly. Most of what’s fun when Wilson comes on, comes out of Dan’s mouth.

    2. It’s not unusual, but I’m responding to the “cringeworthy” remark. I totally understand why some would roll their eyes at this–it seems phony or just empty, meaningless words that an athlete will say to sound…like a good athlete I guess. I’m trying to suggest the purpose and utility behind talking this way. For example, the cliches are mantras that help put the individual in the right frame of mind, focusing on what’s important, and blocking out what can hurt performance. Like, “One play at a time, one play at time.” It’s very easy to worry about something that’s coming up. Forget about the future event, and focus on the next play. Forget about whether the play will be successful or not, focus on effort, concentration, execution of the play in front of you. That’s it. It’s about living in the moment. This is very difficult to do in general, and it applies in every day life. Spiritually, I think it’s also critical and difficult. (And religions have rituals and phrases to also help with this.)

      That being said though Wilson is always on Dan Patrick, and he is one of the dullest guys that come on regularly.

      Totally agree. Many of the Seahawk fans I interact with would use the word “robot” to describe him, and I think the press conferences and interviews are a reflection of this. It’s like he practices speaking to the press (Actually, he mentioned that he and his dad would practice this), and he’s practiced it so much, it’s canned and robotic. He’s very much like a long-time U.S. Senator in this way. And yeah, it’s dull.

      1. Yeah but with Dan, he’s not doing the “press-talk thing”. He’s seems sort of relaxed and Dan normally doesn’t ask a lot of “normal” questions. Yet he’s still dull, in general.

        Once Dan asked Earl Thomas about him and Sherm telling Brady, “You mad, man.”. Earl just started his answer with, “Well we were young then.” I thought that was a pretty funny question, and a decent response. Then Wilson came on the next day, and Dan mentioned his conversation with Earl, and Wilson said something unmemorable.

        1. Yeah. I want to say Sherm said it, but Earl may have, too. Did they mention the backstory about that–namely, that Brady was talking trash to them before the game.

          1. They didn’t mention the backstory, but not sure if it’s needed. That line and that picture of Sherm going up to Brady is very well-known.

            I believe, Brady told Sherm during a timeout during the Super Bowl with the Pats leading, “Come see me after we win.” That’s why Sherm went up to him.

            But Earl didn’t say any of that or didn’t put any blame on Brady, he just said, “Eh, we were young then.”

          2. I believe, Brady told Sherm during a timeout during the Super Bowl with the Pats leading, “Come see me after we win.” That’s why Sherm went up to him.

            During the Super Bowl? I thought Brady said that when he played the Seahawks in Seattle (I want to say 2012). In any event, the story is not as good without this detail.

    3. “Yeah but with Dan, he’s not doing the “press-talk thing”

      Yeah, that’s true. I think he’s more comfortable, not using QB-speak as much, although I think it gets in there, too. He’s amiable, but not not the type of athlete I would look forward to hearing from.

  5. I don’t recall seeing this pre-snap motion by a guard. (I’d guess it’s happened in the past, but I don’t have any memory of examples.) Kinda interesting.

    1. Seems like just a ploy to get the defense off-sides. They could have just put the TE in motion like most teams do, and it would have resulted in the same thing.

      I’m surprised that it was considered a pass play, though. That part of this is the interesting part. He handed it off forward so it is a pass play. I didn’t realize that’s how it’s scored.

    2. I think the commentary says the DL has to adjust to the different gaps that are created. That has to happen when the TE goes in motion, but because the guard moves maybe that throws off the defense a bit. Also, the matchups change. How the defense plays each individual linemen can vary, with this shift, the defenders have to guard different linemen–especially DTs. Do you recall any other team doing this?

      As for the pass, it’s basically a shovel pass. Remember when Denver starting doing a lot of this with Elway? You knew it was considered a pass back then, right? (Also, June Jones seems to like this in the run-and-shoot.)

      1. Wilson didn’t shovel the ball though. He handed it off. It’s just the receiver was in front of him. But I thought a hand off is a hand off. In RPO, there must be times where the running back is in front of the QB by the time the QB hands off the ball.

    3. He must have tossed it, which is not a shovel pass. From the side angle it looks like the QB is playing hot potato with the ball. You’ve seen those on the jet sweep, right? Otherwise, I don’t think it would be scored as a pass.

      1. Ahh okay, watched it again. Wilson could have like tossed the ball in the air, but from the angle you posted it just looked like a regular hand off. That would make sense and I would consider that a pass as well.

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