Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Required Reading

Yes, these are mandatory.  Given that we are stuck in May and many writers out there are forced to meet their deadlines by digging up any easy storyline they can find ("Hey did you know that Albert Haynesworth makes a lot of money and is a big jerk?") I hereby assign you a few recent articles that might actually, you know, increase your understanding of football or the Redskins.  Get started.

- If you lost track of all the roster moves in the offseason, Rich Tandler is here to straighten you out on who is currently under contract on the offense and the defense.  This is especially helpful given the switch in defensive scheme - you can finally get a clear answer on who is an end and who is a linebacker.

- Speaking of defensive ends who I assumed would be converted to linebacker, but then the Post said they would still be ends in the 3-4, which made no sense, but now it's finally settled that they really are linebackers... Greg of Hog Heaven is here to tell you not to worry about Andre Carter as he moves to the OLB spot opposite Brian Orakpo.

- You've heard plenty of speculation about how various high-profile draft picks will perform in the NFL. You know your football.  You know that Ndamkung Suh will allow the Lions to draw up stunts to spring a pass rusher.  Want to see one diagrammed?  Or want to see how the Broncos might block for a designed Tim Tebow run up the middle?  Or see Demaryius Thomas crack block a safety?  Of course you do.  Let me introduce you to Football Outsider Mike Tanier.  I believe Ben at Curly R refers to this sort of thing as "football porn."  Very apt.

- More porn.  You know that Cover-2 means two deep safeties play downfield coverage while the corners guard the flats.  If you're like me you have a vague idea that in this defense the linemen focus on penetration and disruption, and in the Tampa-2 version the middle linebacker often sprints downfield to fill the seam.  But for a real detailed understanding of what the linemen and linebackers do here, you probably need former Redskin Matt Bowen to draw it up for you.  Here's an excerpt to whet your appetite:

DE: Rush with contain principles. Force the QB to step up into the pocket
N: Rush A-gap weak with a two-way go on the offensive guard.
T: TEX (Tackle/End stunt) with the DE. Contain Rush. Tackle stunts first.

It gets better from there.  Seriously, read it now.  Then read his follow up post on the Cover-3.  While your at it just go ahead and bookmark his "Players Page" column.  It's good stuff for those of us who really want to understand the game rather than just watch highlights.

- Pretty much all of the statistical-analysis types agree that coaches should go for it on 4th down far more often.  There's been plenty of articles about this before, but Brian Burke of Advanced NFL Stats (bookmark this one too) puts it together in the most concise and comprehensible presentation I've seen on the subject.
- Finally, the holy grail of football analysis is figuring out how to divide the credit and blame for a rushing play's success or failure between the running back and the offensive line.  That will never be solved entirely, but Pro Football Focus takes a valiant step in the right direction.
There.  I hope that staved off some of the offseason blues.

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