Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Florida's Urban Meyer says NFL coaches are retreads; Spread would work in NFL

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I love Coach Chris Brown's blog called Smart Football because it's the best place to learn what the the most effective and cutting-edge schemes are and how they work: Urban Meyer's spread, Mike Leach's Airraid offense at Texas Tech, and the "Jet" concept, to name some of them.

The Airraid Offense of Texas Tech

Most of the new plays and formations are at the college level and there's a buzz about "who's doing what" that I've never seen before. But now, college coaches are looking at the NFL as the lesser level of football, at least from a strategy perspective.

Today, I ran across a discussion about Florida Head Coach Urban Meyer's comments in the Sunday New York Times. This is what he said:

“I think it (the spread) would have worked years ago,” Meyer said. “No one has had enough — I don’t want to say courage — no one has wanted to step across that line. Everyone runs the same offense in the N.F.L. A lot of those coaches are retreads. They get fired in Minnesota, they go to St. Louis. They get fired in St. Louis and go to San Diego. I guess what gets lost in the shuffle is your objective is to go win the game. If it’s going to help you win the game, then you should run the spread.”

Florida Coach Urban Meyer

While Meyer's comment may be seen as arrogant, he's correct. Where college teams have become known for a wide variety of offensive variation - Navy has the Speed Option, Hawaii has the Run and Shoot, Stanford uses an older two-back pro style offense with two backs, Cal employs a hybrid H-back system, Florida's known for the Spread - the NFL offenses have a boring sameness.

The Wildcat was born in Arkansas

It's hard to tell one offense from the other. Every team uses the "I" formation. Or if it's not that, then it's the "Offset I" formation. Four wide receiver sets have receivers all lined up the same way, and one back behind the quarterback. The Wildcast's new? Yes.

Most teams have it but no team, except the Miami Dolphins who brought it into the league, have created variations of it. And the Wildcat was created at Arkansas by then offensive coordinator David Lee, who holds the same title with The Dolphins and brought the system to the NFL. Point here is that the NFL's newest innovation is a college-born scheme.

The Wildcat works even in Madden NFL 2010:

And while you may observe that the Wildcat's just a variation of the old single wing set, remember the passing game was not well known at the time; the passes out of the Wildcat are brand new, not a reinvention of an age old approach.

NFL Owners must encourage innovation

Given the fact that NFL players and coaches are paid to spend time on football, one would think the league would be the leader in the creation of new approaches to the game. It's not. I think Meyer's right that the reason is the "retread" coach with the "proven" approach, but in a recession that way can lead to a boring offense that doesn't sell tickets or win games.

Using the Spread, in all of its forms, is an answer but I don't think one should stop there.  Developing something new should be the objective just to keep NFL defenses on their toes.  

Defenses are made to quickly adjust and as I've written before the Baltimore Ravens have set the tone for the kind of flexible, aggressive styles that have a schematic answer for any offense. Offensive variation is important to counter these defenses.

Van Jones should run for Mayor of Oakland

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I had to take a time out to send a little message to my friend Jack Cafferty at CNN. He has a blog post focusing on Van Jones and asking if the White House should have so many czars.

Van Jones: Mayor of Oakland

Now a bit of background, CNN's been very good to me by giving me a platform to feature my video work, particularly during the Democratic National Convention last year, and putting me on live TV more times than I can immediately recall. CNN essentially "made me" so after so many appearances and headquarters visits, like the one below, where I met the iReport staff that's become family to me, I've got a pretty good idea what they're looking for.

Now, I know what CNN's doing - same thing I do - ask a question or go to a subject that I know will smack the hornets nest and get people emailing, commenting, and talking, er, like this one. It's called building buzz and generating new content by creating provocative content. People fall for it all the time, get pissed and write stupid things (which helps the cause), so I decided to help CNN out a bit and in a circuitous way and post something I knew would get others going and draw the attention of their producers:

Jack, leave Van Jones alone. You don’t know the man. He’s not as conservatives have painted him and yes, the Obama Adminstration should have vetted his past better, but he’s done a lot of good here in Oakland and could run for Mayor and win.

Knowing CNN as I do, I figured they'd post this and Jack would read it on the air, and they did and he did.  But I beyond the matter of New Media process and economics, I do believe what I wrote.  Van Jones can be an effective mayor of Oakland.  And now, he's got a good deal of name recognition that would help him raise money to run.

Yes, the current buzz about Van has been negative,  but the good thing is that now Van's been "pre-vetted" and can move forward and allow more Oaklanders get to know him.  But that's not a problem because the vast majority of us do and we know the real Van Jones. He's committed to improving the lives of those less fortunate, making goverment work for everyone, and improving the overall quality of life.  The good news is he's done it here in Oakland.

Van Jones is just the tonic Oakland needs to move forward.

After Jack read my message on CNN's The Situation Room, I got a few texts from people that frankly are in good positions to help him become Mayor if he wanted that.  That's not what they were texting about; it was to say "Way to go."

The conservative attack on Jones, a swift-boating and a smearing that left Jones with a new national identity to build from.  Yes, he's got to overcome the YouTubing he's gotten and he can do this with, well, new videos.  Van's not the radical he was in the past, but you know what, Sean Hannity's not cavorting with the White Supremacist Hal Turner anymore either right?

Yes, Van's said some dumb things in the past and he's apologized for them, but this is 2009 and he's remade himself into a powerful person working for the good of all Americans. 

I think you see my point.

To my conservative friends at the conservative website Free Republic, er, Freepers, (and yes I do have Freeper friends and agree with them on not a few issues) which give me so much traffic (thanks!) I've got to let you know that people who support Van Jones, like me, aren't "commies" and in fact have some of you as friends.

I know it makes you feel good to haul off and trash people you don't know, but I think you're wrong about Van and would like him if you met him. 

Give him a chance.

To Van, I say this: run for Mayor.  For some weird, zippity-do-da, reason only the Lord knows, you've been given a powerful platform and an giant army of really pissed off supporters around America and certainly in Oakland. 

You can do a lot of good here. Run for Mayor of Oakland.  Strike while the iron is hot.

Governor Schwarzenegger talk to Joe Diamos about California's economy

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Is California becoming a "party economy"? Governor Schwarzenegger should talk to Joe Diamos.

Diamos says we're in trouble

Since our credit crunch of 2008 and the staggering wave of not just job losses but the dramatic drop in overall job creation over the last eight years, I've always believed our American economy was in trouble.

Rather than throw out a bunch of statistics, I decided to turn to someone who's in the middle of the economic storm: Joe Diamos of Diamos Funding Group in Redwood City, Ca.

Diamos' company is a law firm that specializes in representing you before the bank you have a mortgage with to get that bank to adjust your loan - called "loan modification" - so that you're better able to afford your monthly payments.

I asked Mr. Diamos how the economy was doing; I didn't get an enthusiastic answer. "It's terrible", he said. Diamos has a specific recommendation for Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and the California Legislature.

"Get business to stay in California. We're losing business left and right to other states, Nevada, and so on. We've got to keep businesses here."

I wondered if the Governor and other politicians really understood what was going on? "I think people in general are starting to wake up now," he responded. "People are hurting all over."

Does the Gov get it?

Will a great credit score make a difference in getting a home loan? "What's killing the economy is that they've lowered the requirements so much that anyone could get credit; now we have a wave of foreclosures because people aren't working. It's so bad now, no one can get a loan. If you had an 800 credit score, on the job for 10 years, but lost your job, now the banks will not take a risk on you."

Diamos says banks are out of trillions of dollars because of the foreclosure wave and the credit crunch and says that President Obama's program to help keep Americans in their homes does not have enough money in it. "When Obama put money aside he only put in $75 billion. That's not enough to solve the problem. Everyone's down in (housing) value. One step is to raise the amount of money in the program. The banks spend $50k to foreclose. Banks are between a rock in a hard place; they spend $50,000 to foreclose or that amount to maintain the loan."

"It's a complicated issue, he said. "I think we need to have the market take its course. California's businesses are being chased away; we've got to get them back."

Diamos does not recommend buying a home; his advise is buying real estate is not the best move. "Renting is better", he says. "Give the house back. Real estate's not coming back for 20 years. We've got trillions more foreclosures coming."

Then we have "option on loans" - payment should have been $6,000, after you hit a certain point, you have to make the payment over $7,000 - that will cause another wave of foreclosures." (Option loans are such that payments are calculated to "baloon" after five or ten years because payments are recalculated.  Without them, buyers could not easily afford larger, more expensive dwellings.)

Diamos continued, "Then we have commercial real estate and that's another wave of foreclosures coming.  I don't think anyone knows how bad the foreclosures are going to be," he said. "We have a big hole. Hold on to your cash; cash is king."

"We do the foreclosures, we've got a line out of the door. If you're behind on the mortgage we modify your loan. I can't get you a loan if you want one, but I can fix the one you have. It's getting worse and worse and worse. The banks don't need to issue loans to make money."

So if you want to have your loan modified, call Joe Diamos. But regarding the American and California economy, we're in trouble. There's no clear idea of what's fueling economic growth because we're losing so many jobs, especially manufacturing employment opportunities.

My personal contention is that our entire system is contracting under the growing weight of the offshoring of employment and we've got to take a measure of draconian protectionism.

Our trading partners will not like it, but on the other hand they need our active economy as a place to sell their goods and services; if our economy is weak it hurts them.

The stimulus package of $780 billion is not large enough; $2 billion would be more effective and I'm not listening to cries of socialism - that' really not the point. Governments running our economic competitor nations have no problem pumping money into their economies so we shouldn't either.

Diamos is correct in stating that the key to the recovery is small business, but we need to have programs to help our businesses grow and not tax them to death as they do it.

NFL Week One Injury Report: Tennessee Titans at Pittsburgh Steelers

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This is the first injury report for the 2009 NFL Season and for Thursday night's NFL Kickoff Game pitting the Tennessee Titans against the Pittsburgh Steelers at Pittsburgh's Heinz Field. This is provided by the NFL.



Practice Report



TE Jared Cook (ankle), WR Nate Washington (hamstring)



P Craig Hentrich (back), CB Ryan Mouton (ankle)


Practice Report



LB Lawrence Timmons (ankle)



QB Dennis Dixon (right shoulder)

Look here for more reports snd visit NFL Business Blog for the best podcasts in the NFL.