Category Archives: The NFL Is Your Friend.

The downside to using college football as a free farm system

Mike Mayock explains what the spread is doing to pro football’s draft analysis:  basically, it’s making it harder to judge kids at most offensive positions coming out of college.

“With so many college teams in the spread — and the spread can be a lot of things — what I’ve learned is how difficult it is to evaluate almost every position,” Mayock said. “It’s not just skill. Take for example the left tackle that never gets in a three-point stance. How do you evaluate his power? He’s also standing straight up immediately. There’s no such thing as a drive block anymore. Every position is affected.

If it keeps up – and you can expect it will as long as there are lots of college coaches who believe running a spread attack gives them the best chance to win – eventually Mohammed will have to go to the mountain.

… Every NFL team has scouts and personnel whose evaluations can affect how the team performs, especially a team with a top pick. That affects people’s jobs. Mayock says teams need to adjust to work with these players’ strengths, and they’ve started to.

I think in the NFL, all the teams have to do a better job of embracing some of these new-style players at every position,” he said.

It’s either that, or start paying to develop players coming out of high school the way you want.

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Roger Goodell wants you to know he is sensitive to college football’s issues.

As long as it doesn’t cost the NFL a dime, anyway.

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“The NFL is going to draft the best player at quarterback.”

There’s plenty of derp to go around in this Dennis Dodd piece (I know, I know) responding to this bit of criticism from Bruce Arians about spread option quarterbacks at the next level:

“So many times [in the draft] you’re evaluating a quarterback who has never called a play in the huddle, never used a snap count. They hold up a card on the sideline. He kicks his foot and throws the ball. That ain’t playing quarterback. There’s no leadership involved there.”

Wait, he’s not done.

Spread offense quarterbacks, Arians said, “are light years behind.”

Dodd chastises Arians for his boorishness, saying he should know better.  Why?  Because Tom Brady plays out of the shotgun… or something.

“I tell everybody I think the new pro-style is the shotgun,” Arizona coach Rich Rodriguez said. “You can take a sixth-grader and take 10 minutes to take a three-step drop under center. But to take a kid and teach him how to catch and throw a quick game out of the shotgun, now that’s a learned skill.”

Hey, look, this is all really stupid.  Dodd coaxes the obvious out of Rodriguez – “To judge the success or lack of success based on what system they’re in … it’s whether they can play or not.” – but Arians doesn’t necessarily disagree with that.  He’s just saying that it’s harder for purposes of the draft to evaluate players coming out of systems like Arizona’s.

The real issue here is that spread gurus like Rodriguez and Malzahn, whom we heard extolling Nick Marshall’s quarterbacking skills for any NFL personnel guy listening, want to have it both ways.  They want the right quarterbacks to run their systems so they can win at the college level.  But they don’t want to scare away talented kids with talk that their systems will be an impediment to playing on Sundays after that.

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Filed under Strategery And Mechanics, The NFL Is Your Friend.

Gus Malzahn, selfless and sensitive

Auburn’s coach wants you to know that his objection to the proposed rule change about linemen blocking downfield is more than just about him.  He’s doing it for the children high school coaches everywhere.

“That’s part of the creativity of the game,” Malzahn said. “I’m not into anything that takes the creativity out of the game. You know, you see a lot of coaches around the country, specifically high school coaches that are coaching in college, that’s very important to them.”

Isn’t that how life is sometimes?  One minute, you’re pulling down $4 million a year and the next the Man has a boot on your throat.

Speaking of the Man, here’s the NFL knocking his system.

The divide between offensive philosophies in the NFL and college football is still very wide, especially when it comes to the quarterback position.

Arizona Cardinals coach Bruce Arians was very critical of no-huddle offenses during last month’s NFL Combine.

“So many times, you’re evaluating a quarterback who has never called a play in the huddle, never used a snap count. They hold up a card on the sideline, he kicks his foot and throws the ball,” Arians said. “That ain’t playing quarterback. There’s no leadership involved there. There might be leadership on the bench, but when you get them and they have to use verbiage and they have to spit the verbiage out and change the snap count, they are light years behind.”

Gus strenuously objects to that.

As the innovator of the Hurry-Up, No-Huddle philosophy, which utilizes play cards and signals from the sidelines and an incredibly simple verbiage, Auburn coach Gus Malzahn stood by his system.

“I think every coach has their own opinion,” Malzahn said. “Obviously I like what we do, I agree with what we do. That’s where the game is going, regardless of anybody’s opinion. But we feel strongly with what we do.”

Obviously.  And when quotes like Arians’ get thrown back in his face on the recruiting trail – it’s the SEC, so you know they will inevitably – what’s the rebuttal, especially when you see the pros looking at moving Nick Marshall to defensive back?  Why, it’ll be to place the fault on the NFL.

“I know he can be a quarterback at the next level,” Malzahn said. “It needs to be the right system. You’re talking about a guy who’s probably one of the best zone-read quarterbacks in the history of college football.”

If only some owner would just go ahead, bite the bullet and hire a high school coach…

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Filed under Auburn's Cast of Thousands, Strategery And Mechanics, The NFL Is Your Friend.

The suspend isn’t killing me.

Here’s what an NFL coach had to say about his impression of Todd Gurley at the Combine:

“He is a natural leader. Of course, we’ve all seen him play. But he is better in person than anything I’ve seen or read from afar. That kind of person stands out. Some team is going to rightly give him every chance to get well and be as great as he can be.”

Yeah, that whole autograph thing really seems to have set him back at the next level.

The NFL doesn’t care about players making money – at least if it’s not on the NFL’s own dime.  Manziel was a first-round pick.  If not for the injury, Gurley would be a slam dunk first-rounder, too.  (He may still wind up there, even so.)  The pros just care if you can play.  Which is why the Gurleys and Manziels of the college football world get paid under the table.  Talk about your vicious circle.  Good luck with that, NCAA.

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For now, Bill Hancock gets to take a victory lap.

Color me a little surprised, but it sounds like Roger Goodell has blinked first about the potential conflict between the CFP and further NFL postseason expansion.

Support has eroded for a proposal to expand the NFL playoff field from 12 to 14 teams, to the point that the measure no longer is viewed as likely to be enacted for the 2015 season…

… Several of those with knowledge of the league’s internal deliberations said Wednesday there also are concerns about a Monday night playoff game potentially conflicting with college football’s new playoffs.

When NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell addressed the expanded-playoffs proposal during his annual state-of-the-league news conference two days before the Super Bowl, he did not offer an endorsement.

“There are positives to it,” Goodell said then. “But there are concerns as well, among them being the risk of diluting our regular season and conflicting with college football in January.”

Now, I don’t want this to sound like it’s etched in stone, because if you look closely, the real reason the brakes have been applied is that the NFL is uncertain about how much money the networks are willing to pony up for the extra product at this moment.  When it comes to money, the NFL hates uncertainty.

But still, it’s hard to see this as anything other than a plus for the college football suits, who get to crow that Goodell acknowledges their interests.  That’s unusual.  We’ll see how long it lasts.

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No, no, no.

I don’t want to be part of a world in which somebody feels a serious need to address a question like this.  College football should be zealously guarding every difference between it and the pro game, if for no other reason than the enormous parity gap between the two.

And let me just say that if you’re looking for the canary in the coal mine about college football completely selling out to broadcast interests, this is a pretty good choice:

One change I fear may one day come to the game is the addition of the two-minute warning. Without attempting to give any money-hungry power conference commissioners any ideas, the addition of a two-minute warning in college football would quickly help bring in more revenue for conferences and television partners, and would likely be something given quick approval when the idea of more easy money is brought to the table. How it has not happened yet considering the rising media packages and contracts in recent years is really surprising to me.

Ugh.

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