Archive for the ‘Analysis’ Category

chris Johnson run2

Chris Johnson can be annoying. It’s annoying when he shuffles and scans in the backfield, blatantly missing an open running lane. It’s annoying when he slams into the hind regions of his offensive linemen, gaining something between little and nothing. And it’s annoying when he wastes his still game-busting speed.

But Chris Johnson can also give you — the viewer, the coach, or the general manager — a wide football smile. Even during a 2013 season when he averaged a career low 3.9 yards per carry, Johnson still sporadically found a way to go kaboom when given an opportunity in space, with two catches for 40 yards or more. That may sound meager and meh, but despite all the yardage he’s accumulated throughout his career and a 2009 season when he set the record for yards from scrimmage, two of Johnson’s five career +40 yard catches came in one year.

That’s an isolated example of his burst, and an intentional one. At this point in the career of a running back who turns 29 next September with 2,014 touches to his name, avoiding the annoying Johnson while harnessing the speedy Johnson is all about isolation. As a free agent he needed to land in a situation where the workload could be spread, and his legs would be kept fresh and optimized.

He needed to land with the New York Jets.

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charles2

The Kansas City Chiefs were a fun, scrappy team to watch in 2013. Under new head coach Andy Reid, his Kool-Aid wall busting ways, and a shiny new quarterback in Alex Smith, there was suddenly life in KC after only two wins the year before. And following nine straight wins to start the season there was hope for something far more than just franchise rejuvenation, however false it may have been with the five backup quarterbacks Chiefs pass rushers were able to chew up.

The source of that life was a west coast offense that didn’t ask Smith to do much, putting games almost entirely in the hands of Jamaal Charles who shattered his previous career touchdown high of eight while scoring 19 times. He also set career highs in total yards (1,980), receptions (70), and receiving yards (693).

He did all that on 329 touches, while the Chiefs averaged only 208.8 passing yards per game (24th) and 6.5 per attempt (27th). That formula for offensive success which ran through Charles with gashing runs and short passes needs a strong and stable offensive line to be successful.

That may not exist in Kansas City anymore, which is why the Chiefs are a leading drop-off candidate.

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clay2

The headlining quarterback during the 2009 draft has been inconsistent at best, and the draft overall wasn’t nearly as strong as the two years that followed. But it did give us a long-haired man now beloved in frosty Wisconsin, and another linebacker who disregards normal football conventions. Like wearing a helmet.

Our draft nostalgia journey continues…

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adrian2

Lately I seem to be contemplating the end quite a bit. The football end, first with Tom Brady. I’m not sure what that says about my current worldview, and I’m also not sure I really want to know.

Even if it’s just briefly, somewhere late at night behind a closed door in an office cave every general manager spends time in April thinking about the end for a superstar who’s either aging, or consistently absorbing a lot of abuse. Or both.

For Rick Spielman in Minnesota, the subject of his own quiet contemplation is Adrian Peterson.

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chris johnson again2

As a fan of the National Football League you have the right to be selfish. Most commonly that right is exercised when you wish for the best outcome for your team, and you hope rivals find only the deepest pits of hell.

But I prefer an even simpler existence: I want to be entertained.

Chris Johnson is an entertainer. His services in the entertainment field are now up for grabs. As a selfish fan, let’s indulge our wildest football fantasies with one question: which team gives Johnson the best opportunity to deliver football smiles?

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jj watt2

During this driest of NFL dry seasons, the draft is torn down, reassembled, and deconstructed again (rinse and repeat), we’re reminded that each draft takes on its own unique characteristics and reflects the current league climate.

In 2005 three running backs were selected in the top five: Ronnie Brown, Cedric Benson, and Cadillac Williams. Nearly a decade later we recall that draft as a crushing failure and the beginning of the running back draft spiral. In the nine years since only three other backs were selected in the top five overall.

This year’s draft will almost certainly be driven by the passing game, just as it was three years ago but in a very different, and very defensive way. Let’s look back on 2011, and what’s already known as one of the great pass rusher drafts of all-time.

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MJD2

When I took a long, sorrow-filled look at the NFL running back last week and the decline of this particular football species in recent drafts, the evidence provided by free agency was a footnote. That was mostly done out of necessity, because even in late March the sample size to draw from of running back free agent signings this year was moderate at best. It was Ben Tate, followed by Rashad Jennings, and then a bunch of bit players and veterans.

That last part is still true. As is expected of a position where body breaking is an epidemic, the available names beyond Tate this year often have a very specific role they need to play if their new team wants a favorable return on their investment. It’s still an important role, though, one that in theory deserves fair financial compensation.

Well, define fair.

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