What Would Buddy Do?
Iggles Blog Vs. BountyBowl Blogstravaganza (#4)
Posted on July 10th, 2008 at 3:34 pm by Cheesesteak Hoagie

In case you haven’t been following, we’ve got some semi-witty repartee rolling with Derek over at Iggles Blog

Episodes you may have missed: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3

——

Derek,

Let me start by disagreeing a bit with your offhand comment regarding spreadsheets and traffic on sports blogs.  Sure, spreadsheets don’t drive traffic to Deadspin or TBL (shirtless pictures of Vince Young do!), but I think you’re underestimating the value of the data and analytics you (and other bloggers of your ilk) present.  You give us data to try to answer the barstool questions that, in the absence of data, never get past “Why don’t they run the ball more, that Andy Reid is a jerk, and McNabb is a choker.”  There’s demand out there for the next level of detail, and you’re meeting that demand.

It’s also the same thing that leads us to pre-order Pro Football Prospectus (and the new one is awesome by the way, and not just because they (a) predict the Eagles will win the most games in the NFC and (b) painstakingly analyze just how f*cking lucky the Giants’ Super Bowl win was) and take the Football Outsiders rankings as seriously as the standings.   And the byproducts of that demand aren’t just sites like yours, but the communities they create.  As in, not only do I learn a ton from reading you, but I also learn a ton from your freakin commenters (”Andrew,” take a bow!); the only people who comment on my site are mouth-breathing/ deranged f*ckwit Giant fans.  Seriously.  

</SuckUp.>

I like where you’re going with the hypothesis that it’s the increased resources in the Eagles’ scouting department that enables them to unearth those small-school treasures.  Within the strictly controlled competitive and financial conditions of the NFL (salary cap, revenue sharing, etc), coaching and scouting are one of the areas where the wealthier clubs can actually overspend.  (And the Eagles are definitely a wealthy club — sweet!)  Thus are we ahead of the curve on the BWests and the Gocongs (inasmuch as there’s a curve to be ahead of on Gocong).

I think we all agree that the small-college picks tend to a fit a certain type: guys who prove they have the physical tools at the combine and who dominate games at their level.  It suggests to me that the Eagles value the mythical ability to play football at least as much as they value pedigree and potential.  It also suggests that they acknowledge that there’s a developmental curve for young men and not everyone is fully ripe at 22 (much less 17, which is the age where your performance earns you a spot at a blue-chip program).  This isn’t to say that the Eagles don’t like blue-chippers (Patterson, Bunkley, Laws, etc), but it does suggest that they do have their own criteria and evaluation model.

All that said, all these small-college picks are starting to feel too cute by a half; kind of like the Super Fantasy Sports Nerd Guy (we all know one) that’s intent on taking some random rookie WR in the fifth round of your draft and then acting like he’s gotten the steal of the draft (”You mean you don’t know who Johnny Von Podunk is?  He’s tearing it up in Texans camp.”).   

And as such, I think the discusion of the small-college draft picks also fits pretty well into one of the more popular memes among the blathermonkeys over the past year: Andy Reid is arrogant and doesn’t respect the fans/ media.  To be honest, I don’t actually think that this is the sort of thing that most fans care about, but for the SuperFans and the blathermonkeys, it seems to matter a lot. 

The meme goes as follows: Andy Reid and Joe Banner think they’re SO SMART and SO SUPERIOR TO THEIR CUSTOMERS that they need not deign to even begin to try to translate the delicate and unique genius of their personnel decisions to us mere mortals.  How dare they NOT tell us exactly what leads them to take the small-college players?  Don’t they owe it to us to share their insights with us?

For the record, I think this is one of the more cockamamie ideas that the blathertariat have glommed on to in some time (not as bad as pushing for Kolb in Week 7 last year, but still pretty bad).  While I think Andy Reid may occasionally be stingy with his words in front of the press, I don’t think he’s arrogant in his decision-making.  Or, more specifically, I don’t see a reluctance to challenge his own assumptions and adapt to changing conditions that’s a tell-tale sign of arrogance. 

For example, the Birds stunk at special teams last year, and have since brought it a bunch of guys to fix that.  The year before, the defense got pushed around on the ground, and the receivers struggled to catch the ball.  Cue up an improved run defense and Kevin Curtis at wideout.  Just because Andy doesn’t dwell on these things and embarrass his players/ coaches by acknowledging them in public doesn’t mean he doesn’t see them.  More importantly, it doesn’t mean he’s arrogant; if anything, he’s protecting the sucky players/ coaches that work for him.  We can only assume he’s more candid behind closed doors. 

Also, um, don’t we prefer that he’s tight-lipped about things?  Isn’t his overall commitment to secrecy conducive to the Eagles winning more games?  I think this is a good thing.   

Of course, none of this explains why ANDY DOESN’T RUN THE FREAKIN BALL MORE, but hey, that’s another meme for another day. 

A couple more quick hits before I abruptly change topics on you: 

On innovation in the coaching staff: I’m going to argue that the defensive staff is significantly more innovative than the offensive side, and that the “mad genius” Jim Johnson is always “dialing up blitzes” and “bringing people at the quarterback from every direction.”  And it isn’t a stretch to assume that he placed an order for tweeners a few years back — I like to think it makes the Birds a lot more versatile, and not that it makes them small against the run and slow against the pass. 

On my ability to predict the future: aight, so maybe 50 percent was a stretch (and thank you for highlighting my outrageous claims!), but the screen passes, the draws to Buckhalter, even the shovel pass are all a bit obvious, no?  Steve Spagnuolo obviously knows what we’re up to.   I dunno.  Maybe it’s this Mark Whipple fellow (whom I initially thought was that goofy Texas Tech coach; not so much), or maybe it’s a big “re-invent the Birds’ offense” off-site meeting, but I really hope we’ve got some new ideas for Dunavin this year.  (NOTE: this would be a much more compelling argument if the Eagles were terrible on offense last year, but they were not.  But it does make sense in terms of the red-zone offense; also what happened to good ole Sprint Option Right, bastion of the Bill Walsh goal-line offense?) 

Kevin Curtis is not a True Number One Receiver.  This assumes that True Number One Receivers are fast, can run deep routes, and are a threat to score any time the ball is in their neighborhood.  If so, Curtis is not that, but I think he’s actually a really good fit for the Birds.  Also, he doesn’t drop the damn ball (and that catch against the Vikings definitely makes the top-ten-best-Eagles-plays-of-the-season list).     

Speaking of wide receivers (and other significantly brutal memes in the Illadelph), let me propose a theory: not only am I sick of the wide receiver discussion, but I’m even more sick of one of its most ridiculous offshoots — the contention that Donovan McNabb’s career is somewhat wasted because he “only played with a True Number One Receiver for one year.”  (GCobb loves this one.)

Um, how about this: Donovan McNabb is privileged to play with the best back in the NFL in 2007 (not my opinion, the results of the Football Outsiders stats).  Didn’t Dunavin get booed in 1999 because we all wanted a stud back?  And now we have the best one but that isn’t cool either? 

Feel free to use this to wax poetically about the general awesomeness of the 36 Chambers of Brian Westbrook; I’m saving my deep psychoanalysis on Dunavin for tomorrow.     

I’m still waiting for you to take back what you said about James David Ryan.

Gabe  

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