Saturday, September 14, 2013

Screw You, Eagle Concern Trolls

They Care More About People, Too
I've made the mistake of reading the World Wide Lemur again, folks. And man alive, is that ever the Must Not Put Salt In Eye experience... but it made me good and angry, and that's when the blog has some Zazz. So let's smack down some Hateful Dumbness together, shall we?

Today in Pundit Puling is that the Blur Offense Can't Possibly Work (After We Said It Wouldn't, But Now See It Working) because, dammit, It's Just Not Human! You'll burn up your players in minutes and make them EXPLODE! Slow down and lose your dozen games like you are supposed to, you impudent whelps and monsters! In 20 years, the Eagles' offensive players are all going to be dried out husks and meth heads, all because you made them go no huddle a lot!

OK, time for a few facts. For funsies.

The average lifespan of an NFL player is less than four years. So, um, burn 'em. It's what they are there for.

In the last three years, the Philadelphia Eagles have averaged 64.3 plays per game. That is, by the way, sixth in the NFL, and 10 behind the leader, New England.

In their MNF game against Washington where, like Icarus, they flew too fast to the sun... they got off 30 plays in the first quarter, en route to a road win against last year's division winner. The pace slowed considerably in the second half, when they had a big lead, tried to run more clock, and the defense stopped generating turnovers and stoppages. So for the game, they had 77, and for the record, head coach Chip Kelly said they could go faster, and obviously wants to, but they didn't even run the most plays in the league last week. They just ran the ball a lot, and well.

Now, did the offense look tired in the second half? Sure. They've got five very good offensive linemen and a bunch of guys who are not at that level, and the offense didn't look better with time, the way you would expect. Did QB Michael Vick put himself in harm's way by blocking for RB LeSean McCoy? Mais oui. And if he had only done so while white and not a convicted felon, we'd be talking about how he's just a widdle kid out there and isn't it great, the leadership quality and how much funsies he's having. (Gunslinger Blocker!) But I digress.

If the Eagles give the ball to McCoy for over 30 carries a game, will they do serious long-term damage to his career? Sure. There are very few human beings who are capable of taking just under 500 carries in two years, let alone one. (We'll also leave alone the fact that, as an NFL RB with 866 carries for just over 4,000 yards at age 25, Shady's career is likely more than half over already, because that's just mean.)

But there is one other highly unsustainable trend at work. And that would be THE EAGLE DEFENSE GENERATING TWO TURNOVERS IN THE FIRST FOUR FREAKING PLAYS. Along with the offense getting the opening kick, driving the length of the field, then short-circuiting a response possession by giving up a 90+ yard fumble recovery for a touchdown.

Football players get hurt. Professional football players get hurt even more. Smallish speed players get hurt even more than those guys. Older smallish speed players with histories of concussion and injuries... well, you get the point. No one in his entire NFL career has figured out a way to keep Michael Vick from getting hurt, and Chip Kelly's not going to be the one to work out that conundrum, either.  McCoy was concussed last year under the kind stewardship of Never Work Too Hard (Or Fast) Andy Reid.

And here's the part that we're not allowed to say out loud: it's really not Kelly's job to keep his players healthy. The same as any other NFL coach. The job is to win games, and playoff games, and championships. If you pile up guys like cardboard around those wins, it just means you are even more of a genius, since you can overcome adversity and a talent gap. Kelly just won a game that the experts at the Lemur (you know, the same ones playing the Icarus Card this week) were certain that he was going to lose by a ton. Seems to me like he's doing what a good coach does: put his players in the best position to win games. Not prolong their careers to some theoretical optimum end date. (That they might not even achieve if they are, well, part of a losing team.)

If we well and truly cared about the health and well-being of NFL players, we'd outlaw the sport overnight. If Kelly's era as the Eagles coach is dependent on how long he keeps Vick upright, he should be polishing the resume for his next gig now, and wondering why the rules are different for him than everyone else. And if an NFL team can't keep its players healthy when it's not even running the most plays in the league, even when they've specifically trained for it for six months...

Well, um, that doesn't mean that the offensive system is irrevocably flawed, or more inhuman than anyone else's. It just means that some guys got hurt, and they need to get other guys in there. Preferably less injury-prone ones.

There's also this. When Kelly ran it so much, he was taking what the defense gave him -- which meant that McCoy was not always taking hits not from 300 pound linemen in the backfield or at the point of attack, but a lot more from 200-pound nickel backs 5 to 10 yards downfield, or running out of bounds after having gotten those yards. I'm not saying he can do that for 500 carries a year, but we're fooling ourselves if we think that he can't do that for, say, 300 to 350 without becoming Spent McDrooly overnight. Carries in a spread offense are a lot more like screen passes than fullback dives. You can probably do more of them before you fall right over.

So let's just call this what it is, folks: concern trolling and anatomy covering for a bunch of tired skeptics who don't want to admit that innovation can come from outside of the NFL. A rigorous defense of the status quo from men who fear change. And a repugnant rooting for the house at a blackjack table, since injuries in football are where you should always bet.

As if we all needed any more reasons to hope that Kelly's offense keeps winning?

No comments:

Ads In This Size Rule