Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Nick Saban Likes It Slow

So the story today is how Nick Saban, noted humanist and protector of the health and well-being of young men everywhere, is expressing concern over how when the pace of play is too much, it's a clear injury hazard. He's taken credit for a vote that there has to be a 10-second rule for not snapping the ball too quickly, all in the words of player safety.

Um, Nick? Small point while you talk about your logic. Playing football is the problem, not the pace of play. Pace might even make things better, since speed play might make defenders less likely to go for kill shots, or to encourage offensive players to take a knee or run out of bounds more, rather than fight for every possible yard.

What's really happening here is that up tempo play democratizes football in ways that the guys who want to protect the status quo... don't really like. If it's about more plays, then pure size and speed in a smaller sample size -- i.e., the things that monster schools recruit for, and inevitably get -- don't win quite so often. Maybe it's more about coaching, or cardio, or execution and intellect. You can see why Saban's got no use for that at all.

Oh, and one final thing. My Eagles ran as much pace as possible last year, with as little regard to time of possession as possible. They were also one of the healthiest teams in the NFL. Now, some of this was clearly good luck, and other parts might have been Chip Kelly's innovative sports science ideas.

I get that pace would seem to be a clear cause of injury. But what your mind tells you needs to actually be backed up by facts. Because otherwise, the only thing you'll get is more of the same. After all, the forward pass was also said to be nothing but an injury magnet, too.

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