Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

18 Jan 2007

Patriots Have Equation for Success

In this week's column I go into some of the reasons the Patriots have stayed on top, and I point out that they're not the cheapskates they're sometimes made out to be.

Posted by: Michael David Smith on 18 Jan 2007

103 comments, Last at 22 Jan 2007, 2:03am by Pat

Comments

1
by dbt (not verified) :: Thu, 01/18/2007 - 11:59am

David Terrell was signed as a free agent after the Bears cut him, and was released before the season. He didn't cost them anything.

2
by J.D. (not verified) :: Thu, 01/18/2007 - 12:07pm

I mostly agree with the perspective of this article; the Patriots have a firm player value structure, and won't overpay for players who value themselves about that structure.

That said, in the most recent Quote of the Week article, FO mentions "soon-to-be former Patriots cornerback Asante Samuel"... sorta contradictory, don't you think?

3
by harry (not verified) :: Thu, 01/18/2007 - 12:22pm

Mike Reiss made an interesting point in his Boston Globe online column a few days ago, a point no else in the media seems interested in:

And as for the millions in cap space, I've been doing some research on this area and believe I've uncovered some interesting information in regards to the team's cap spending that sheds a little bit of a different light on things. Because the team had such high cash spending the previous two years -- with the top-level Tom Brady and Richard Seymour deals leading the way -- the Patriots project to be one of a handful of teams who will actually be penalized by the league as part of the new CBA, and I believe will lose some cap space in a future season (possibly 2007) because of that. The Colts are also part of the small handful of teams who I think will be penalized; it's sort of like the luxury tax in baseball. I believe the Patriots would do a service to their fans by explaining this intricacy of the salary cap -- assuming I have it correct -- because I sense there is a perception out there that the team is not spending compared to other teams. In actuality, they've spent to a level that is actually going to penalize them.

The theme pushed by people like Bill Simmons, Mike Felger and others that the Patriots "screwed" Tom Brady by not paying for WRs after he "sacrificed" for the good of the team, appears to be complete hogwash, at least the Brady sacrificing part. I think FO has addressed this as well but the media loves that particular angle too much to let it die.

4
by Oswlek (not verified) :: Thu, 01/18/2007 - 12:33pm

#1

NE gave Terrell a $200k signing bonus, so he certainly cost that much.

5
by rk (not verified) :: Thu, 01/18/2007 - 12:42pm

#4 and #1, I think he may be confusing David Terrel, who they signed and cut, and Andre Davis, who they did actually trade for.

6
by Michael David Smith :: Thu, 01/18/2007 - 12:50pm

Re 1, 4, 5: Sorry. The point I was trying to make was that a) the Patriots don't have a perfect record with personnel decisions and b) the notion that they've never tried to get Brady any receivers is wrong. (As I was writing that I was thinking about something I once heard Tony Kornheiser say about how the Patriots don't pay anything for receivers and expect Brady to handle it, and I don't think that's true.) But I screwed up in saying they traded for Terrell and in not mentioning Davis. Thanks for the corrections.

7
by James, London (not verified) :: Thu, 01/18/2007 - 1:09pm

Nice piece. I think the most importnat point raised is the Pats desire to have the best 53rd player on their roster. New England's depth arguably won them their last 2 Superbowls. How many other teams would have dealt with the injuries they faced in their secondary?

Contrast that with the Redskin's desire to have the flashiest starting units in the NFL, and disdain for depth. I know which approach I prefer.

8
by MJK (not verified) :: Thu, 01/18/2007 - 1:47pm

I've long suspected that the Pats had a lot less salary cap space than the mainstream media has been implying. I don't know anything about this "penalize" thing, but they Pats have been quietly signing people like Dan Koppen (their center) and Stephen Neal (their excellent right guard) to extensions. O-linement extension rarely get media coverage, but they do cost money which adds up a to quite a bit, and are just as important to a team, if not more so, than acquiring flashy recievers.

9
by Pat (not verified) :: Thu, 01/18/2007 - 1:55pm

#8:

Honestly, there's a steady stream of "oh, team X is like this, and no other team is" stuff from the media. It's fairly insane. This is one of them.

All teams spend up to the cap each year (well, they assign all the cap money each year - money spent is another thing). Certain teams just don't do it as publicly as other ones.

Other things I can think of: "team X doesn't play their corners on the opposing team's best receiver like most teams do" (only 1 team in the league does), "team X doesn't overspend in free agency like most teams do" (only the Redskins really dump most of their money in free agency).

I think some of the things that MDS has in the article here are like that as well - without really knowing how the rest of the teams in the league work, we don't really know if the Patriots really stand out.

10
by Bill Barnwell :: Thu, 01/18/2007 - 2:09pm

The Patriots also use Likely-to-Be-Earned incentives in a real sneaky way. That opens up space for them year after year.

11
by Pat (not verified) :: Thu, 01/18/2007 - 2:14pm

#10: There's another one, actually. Basically all teams use LTBE incentives that way. My favorite one was one case where a Lions paper said basically that the Lions FO discovered a loophole in the salary cap, and were exploiting it.

Yeah. As if the Lions front office could discover anything.

12
by RCH (not verified) :: Thu, 01/18/2007 - 2:31pm

RE: 7 - I totally agree with you. When people say that the Chargers are more talented they are obviously talking about the top of the roster, and its true. But when you only dress 53 for a pro football game it means that virutally every one of them will be on the field with a chance to influence the game. Spending heavily at the top of the roster means skimping at the bottom - there is no way around that.

13
by TracingError (not verified) :: Thu, 01/18/2007 - 3:03pm

As the article mentions, the distribution of talent is such that there are a few "difference-makers" who will command inordinate percentages of a team's salary cap. The Pats know this. They just have different ways of evaluating who is worth it than most teams, and have had great luck that Brady and Seymour have not missed important playing time.

As to the rest of the roster, what the Pats do is try to not overpay the 10th best guy on the roster, and to make the drop off from 10th to 20th, and 20th to 45th as gradual as possible.

14
by Independent George (not verified) :: Thu, 01/18/2007 - 3:27pm

Is it me, or can you replace the words, 'New England' with 'Philadelphia' and get mostly the same story?

Out of curiosity, does anybody know the league rules on reporting salary numbers/contract terms? I recall reading somewhere that the NFLPA doesn't allow anyone to disclose the exact terms of player contracts, and that the numbers which are reported are all 'unofficial'. Given the complexity of bonus & incentive structures on the bigger contracts, I tend to automatically distrust any number except the current-year cap cost.

15
by bravehoptoad (not verified) :: Thu, 01/18/2007 - 3:27pm

I was listening to Chris Landry on the radio the other night, and he had a really interesting take on the San Diego-New England game. He said that New England had a *more talented* roster than the Chargers, from top to bottom. He mentioned the Chargers weaknesses on O-Line, in the Secondary, and at Wide Receiver. He said that the reason the Chargers played so well against New England was *superior coaching.*

That perception was so much the opposite of what most of the media says. That because of a few All-Pro names on the Charger, Meriman, Tomlinson, Rivers, etc., they have the media reputation of having better players, and therefore, lost because of inferior coaching. Landry's take--a scout's take--was a real eye-opener.

I hadn't heard such an interesting comment about football away from Football Outsiders in a long time.

16
by Phil (not verified) :: Thu, 01/18/2007 - 3:32pm

#8
I didn't see that the Pats re-signed Stephen Neal. Is this accurate?

17
by Rich Conley (not verified) :: Thu, 01/18/2007 - 3:36pm

17 Yeah, it is.

Hes signed through 2010 IIRC. As is the rest of the Oline and Dline.

18
by Rich Conley (not verified) :: Thu, 01/18/2007 - 3:38pm

"He mentioned the Chargers weaknesses on O-Line,"

McNeil looked great, but honestly their line DID look like it was getting pushed around a bit. The problem was, as many times as a linebacker got to Tomlinson in the backfield, they generally couldnt tackle him. This fits, as the Pats generally have bigger slower linebackers.

THere just seemed like a lot of plays where Tomlinson faked someone out 3 yards behind the line, and took it for 10.

19
by MJK (not verified) :: Thu, 01/18/2007 - 3:48pm

Re 16

I actually can't find any info on it now, but I was quite sure that I read that the Patriots had locked up their entire starting Offensive Line, along with a couple of backups, for the next two to three years at least. Since Neal was coming up on free agency, I assumed he was one of them. They actually may have signed and extension with him last year, not this year, and that may be confusing me.

20
by CaffeineMan (not verified) :: Thu, 01/18/2007 - 3:50pm

Nice piece, MDS.

RE: J.D. (#3)

That said, in the most recent Quote of the Week article, FO mentions “soon-to-be former Patriots cornerback Asante Samuel�… sorta contradictory, don’t you think?

I think that falls in the "FO writers don't share a hive mind" category. Besides, the weekly quotes thing is clearly about fun, wisea$$ humor, not serious analysis.

21
by MJK (not verified) :: Thu, 01/18/2007 - 3:52pm

Also, the LB's were getting held a lot when the got into the backfield. Bruschi was held pretty solidly a couple of times when LT bounced it outside, as was Warren. Of course, both sides were holding all day--the refs just weren't calling it. Which is fine--it was fair.

22
by MJK (not verified) :: Thu, 01/18/2007 - 3:57pm

I think that falls in the “FO writers don’t share a hive mind� category.

But wouldn't it be fun if they did. Imagine all the conflicting thoughts that would battle for dominance, especially between, say, Aaron and Mike Tanier when the Eagle played the Pats in the SB.

Do you suppose the Football Outsiders Hive Collective could use their unnatural powers to take over the world? Or at least the NFL?

"HA HA, GOODELL, YOUR PETTY HUMAN MIND MUST BOW TO OUR DOMINANCE! YOU WILL INCLUDE ACTUAL DATA IN THE PLAY-BY-PLAY, SUSPEND PLAYERS FOR DIRTY PLAYS, AND STOP PENALIZING CELEBRATIONS! RESISTANCE IS FUTILE!"

OK, sorry, it's a slow day at work and I'm very sleepy this morning...

23
by CaffeineMan (not verified) :: Thu, 01/18/2007 - 4:17pm

Haha...

24
by melissa (not verified) :: Thu, 01/18/2007 - 4:20pm

For more information than you could ever want about the Patriots players salaries. Of course this website stresses that it is unofficial and gives its media sources, but if you want to know what the media has reported about Neal. Its probably there.
http://www.patscap.com/

25
by Phil (not verified) :: Thu, 01/18/2007 - 4:21pm

MJK or others:
So, who is left for next years FAs, aside from Graham and Samuel. I thought this coming offseason was going to be a tough one as far as losing players, but maybe not?

26
by Vern (not verified) :: Thu, 01/18/2007 - 4:21pm

Re: 9 and others

I think the easiest way to capture what the Pats do well is (from this year at least)

1. Being willing to try out Doug Gabriel AND Jabar Gaffney.
2. Knowing the difference.
3. Being willing to lose/waste the 5th round pick by cutting Gabriel once they figured it out.

It's the difference between Antwaan Spann and Jeremy Mincey.

In other words, not many teams spend so much time obsessing over their last ditch fill in role players vs. other possible last ditch fill in role players. Many teams would have figured, they're both only role players so just keep the guy we spent a draft pick on.

27
by Rich Conley (not verified) :: Thu, 01/18/2007 - 4:35pm

25

Banta-Cain is the only one of real concern.

There are a bunch like Izzo, Bruschi, etc, who we know are either going to retire, or resign with the team.

28
by dryheat (not verified) :: Thu, 01/18/2007 - 5:18pm

#25,

Heading into the season, Branch and Koppen were the other two biggies. Both situations have since been taken care of.

29
by Pat (not verified) :: Thu, 01/18/2007 - 7:03pm

#26:

In other words, not many teams spend so much time obsessing over their last ditch fill in role players vs. other possible last ditch fill in role players. Many teams would have figured, they’re both only role players so just keep the guy we spent a draft pick on.

I really don't mean to criticize, but what makes you think other teams are any different here?

I mean, the team that cut Gaffney - Philly - did exactly the opposite. Except the players that they got instead of Gaffney (Baskett, Stallworth) were both better than him through the regular season.

I'm not really sure I believe that virtually every team doesn't debate constantly over every last player on the team. Heck, they probably debate constantly over every last practice squad player, as well.

30
by Rich Conley (not verified) :: Thu, 01/18/2007 - 7:08pm

"Except the players that they got instead of Gaffney (Baskett, Stallworth) were both better than him through the regular season."

They also played in training camp, which gaffney did not.

31
by Rich Conley (not verified) :: Thu, 01/18/2007 - 7:16pm

Also Pat, the Eagles are another great franchise. Saying that they do it to doesnt make it any less impressive.

If the lions do it, OTOH....

32
by Chris (not verified) :: Thu, 01/18/2007 - 7:19pm

I thought it was interesting to see Mangeni talk about the team awards in a recent press conference. He listed the winners for the weak and they gave out an award for the " Practice player of the week" and he introduced that as the most important award of them all. A lot of coaches live by the saying that " games are won on thursdays" which is the final day in full pads for many college and highschool teams.

It seems that the Pats take other peoples percieved trash. I like to think of it like buying a new car vs. buying a used car. The Bears might spend a high 1st round pick on a flashy new David Terrell, while after a couple years they think he's trash.

New England see's the potential in Terrell, and signs him to a cheap deal and hope for him to live up to some of his potential in a change of scenery.

The same thing happens with older veteran players. The media and fan base are very quick to judge a player as washed up. They sign older vet players to cheap deals and exploit that market discrimination.

We all know that Brady is the starter as well, but they sign these older quarterbacks to mix in there with Brady and Cassell. Flutie and Testaverda have a lot of experience. It's not just about getting playing time, but understanding the offense and running practice CORRECTLY for the practice players and spotting things in games. Nobody is gifted enough to break down an entire NFL play live as it happens. The fact that they have these vets around gives them an extra set of eyes to watch some specific aspects of the play. A lot of people credit Vinny T. as being one of the smartest quarterbacks out there and even though he doesn't play the Pats see his value.

33
by Chris (not verified) :: Thu, 01/18/2007 - 7:21pm

Oh, and I believe it is probable that Mangeni took that whole mentality that the practice player of the week is the most valuable player of the week from his days in New England!

34
by Pat (not verified) :: Thu, 01/18/2007 - 7:29pm

Also Pat, the Eagles are another great franchise. Saying that they do it to doesnt make it any less impressive.

Yeah, but see post #11.

The problem here is I'll bet I can find examples on every team for cases where they made a decision deep in their roster, and it turned out fantastic. There's an entire feature length motion picture about that that just came out on DVD. :)

All it shows is that New England isn't totally incompetent. It doesn't show they're better than any other franchise. You don't have any reference points.

35
by Pat (not verified) :: Thu, 01/18/2007 - 7:31pm

They also played in training camp, which gaffney did not.

Hmm? I'm pretty darned sure that Gaffney was in training camp with Baskett and Stallworth. Unless it was a Gaffney impersonator I saw on the field that day. :)

36
by Rich Conley (not verified) :: Thu, 01/18/2007 - 7:35pm

35

Okay, let me clarify. They played in training camp on the team that they played the season for. I list Gaffney's lack of production early in the season as the same as Jacksons: he wasnt there to learn the system. (jackson was hurt from the first day of training camp to about week 7)

37
by Pat (not verified) :: Thu, 01/18/2007 - 7:46pm

Well, Baskett and Stallworth were better than Gaffney in the preseason, too. It's safe to say, I think, that things worked out well for both teams.

And, oh, wait! Remember that "Now, if the Lions did it..." - except they did. They kept Mike Furrey over Carlos Rogers, after all. Worked out well for them, too.

I really wish there was a way to know what the successful franchises did better than the poor ones. Just finding stuff that they did that succeeded doesn't really help.

38
by thad (not verified) :: Thu, 01/18/2007 - 8:21pm

"The problem here is I’ll bet I can find examples on every team for cases where they made a decision deep in their roster, and it turned out fantastic."

ok Pat, I'll bite.
Find one for Dallas(not Romo)

39
by MFurtek (not verified) :: Thu, 01/18/2007 - 8:25pm

How about getting lucky in drafting Brady? Not many other 6 round draft picks can step in like that... that could be the luckiest draft pick in NFL's history.

40
by Pat (not verified) :: Thu, 01/18/2007 - 9:02pm

#38: What? Why can't I use Romo? Keeping Romo over Henson is a good one, isn't it?

41
by thad (not verified) :: Thu, 01/18/2007 - 9:22pm

Yeah fair enough.
Generally I think the Pats, Eagles and Steelers are a lot better at this than Dallas.

42
by B (not verified) :: Thu, 01/18/2007 - 9:35pm

"All it shows is that New England isn’t totally incompetent. It doesn’t show they’re better than any other franchise."

I submit for your approval the proof that because New England isn't incompetent, they are better than the Detroit Lions.

43
by sippican (not verified) :: Thu, 01/18/2007 - 9:35pm

Yes, I recall that they drew Brady's name out of a hat.

I think they pay him with money they won on a scratch ticket.

They have dart boards with pages from the phone book in their offices to search for kick returners.

No, really.

44
by RCH (not verified) :: Thu, 01/18/2007 - 9:51pm

Of course they got fortunate in the drafting of Brady. What was not luck was moving the low round choice, essentially a rookie, into the #2 QB spot over the young veteran brought in to back up Bledsoe (Damon Huard). It was also definitely not luck to have the balls to stick w/Brady over Bledsoe when he was arguably the most popular player in the history of the franchise. And don't forget, as the 2001 Patriots started off 0-2 that made Belichick 5-13 as the Pats coach - he was essentially coaching for his life at the time.

45
by Rich Conley (not verified) :: Thu, 01/18/2007 - 10:01pm

"What was not luck was moving the low round choice, essentially a rookie, into the #2 QB spot over the young veteran brought in to back up Bledsoe (Damon Huard)."

Exactly. Who's to say there aren't 6 or 7 Tom Brady's out there rotting because they can't get the starting spot, because a team can't afford to bench that underperforming 1st round starter.

Remember, Brady isnt all that physically impressive. Its his head thats what is most important.

46
by MJK (not verified) :: Thu, 01/18/2007 - 10:17pm

Nevertheless, Brady is a big reason why the Pats have been so successful from a front office point of view, just like Donovan McNabb and Peyton Manning are a large reason for their teams' front office success, while Tim Rattay, Jeff Garcia, Charlie Frye, Joey Harrington, etc., account for a large part of their teams' front office failures.

Every team needs a competent QB, and every team does better with a great QB. A good O-line, recievers, and running back can make up for a weak QB, but a good QB can in one player make up for a lot of deficiencies in many other positions. Hence, having the luxury of knowing the QB position is all happy and taken care of for the forseeable future frees up the front office to actually use its high draft picks, scouting energies, free agent searches, etc., on other areas of the team. If Joey Harrington had been Peyton Manning...OK, using the Lions is a bad example. If Tim Ratay had been Peyton Manning, then all the energy San Francisco spent trying to get a good QB a couple of years ago (and maybe still--they're still not sure if they have succeeded) could have been spent on improving the team in other areas, and maybe they win the West the last couple of years. By the same token, having your sixth round backup QB become one of the top 5 QB's in the game has allowed the Patriots to draft the likes of Richard Seymour, Ty Warren, Vince Wilfork, Ben Watson, and spend free agent dollars acquiring Rodney Harrison and Rosie Colvin. Obviously they could have gotten some of those players if they'd say, taken Rattay over Brady, but certainly not all of them, because some of their energy would have been spent on acquiring one (or more if their first one flopped) starting QB's.

47
by Tim (not verified) :: Thu, 01/18/2007 - 10:21pm

Here's a bit more on how the salary penalty works. The specific CBA area is is Article XXIV, Sections 3 and 4.

In it's simplest terms, the NFL compares the Player Costs against a formula resulting in a percentage of Total Revenue league-wide (which changes each year). If they are over or under the TR estimation, the PC vs TR is computed for each team.

When they add up the totals, they look at the teams that went over the trigger amount. These teams are assigned a pro-rata share of the overage. This overage is then divided by the remaining number of capped years, and an equal amount of the pro-rata overage is deducted from each of their subsequent caps. That means that a 2006 pro-rata overage results in a deduction spread out over ALL future cap years (2007-2011).

For example, if the league was 5% over the percentage, a team which comprised 75% of the overage for 2006 would take 20% of that 75% of the overage as a cap deduction for each of the next five capped years.

If the PC comes up LESS than the TR, however, the underage is split equally among ALL teams.

The overage/underage is adjusted as a running total for each year.. So if the league was 5% over in 2006 and 7% under in 2007, there would be a 2% underage applied equally to all teams for 2008-2011 of which the teams that were OVER in previous years can use to offset the previous cap hit.

So... Your head hurting yet?

48
by Gus (not verified) :: Thu, 01/18/2007 - 10:38pm

46: No love for Tim Rattay? He's actually pretty good if they can get him on the field.

49
by Chris (not verified) :: Thu, 01/18/2007 - 10:40pm

History lesson...

In the 6th round of that Draft, the Pats were either going to select Tom Brady OR Tim Rattay. Now Rattay has not had a career anywhere near as good as Brady, but I still think he's an underrated player.

Drafting Quarterbacks and receivers in the 1st round is so risky, I wonder why more teams don't take a chance on guys like Rattay though free agency, and build up there defenses with 1st round picks.

There are only so many guys names Manning, Brady, Brees,Mcnabb or Palmer in the NFL that chances are you have a better shot at building a contender through defense. Look at the final 4 in the NFL. Manning, Brady, Brees, and the Bears defense.

Think about a guy like Jamarcus Russell. Now everybody loves college players and casual fan loves to predict the next superstar. People say that Jamarcus Russell is going to be the next Daunte Culpepper. Is that such a good thing? Culpecker was traded for a 2nd rounder and couldn't do anything the past two years of his career. If Daunte was eligible for the draft this year, where do you think HE would be picked? Do you think Daunte would be a top 5 pick if he were eligible for the draft his year?

My point is that when you draft a Quarterback in the first round of the draft, the odds are stacked against you. Even if a quarterback is good, it might take 2 years as a stater to develope. A defensive player like Merriman or Demarcus Ware can make an immediate impact.

50
by Matt Weiner (not verified) :: Thu, 01/18/2007 - 10:46pm

Look at the final 4 in the NFL. Manning, Brady, Brees, and the Bears defense.

And the final 4 last year was Roethlisberger, Plummer, Hasselback, and Delhomme. Not sure where you're going with this.

51
by Chris (not verified) :: Thu, 01/18/2007 - 10:47pm

#46 your right on.

Economists call that concept " opportunity cost". The fact that the Eagles, Colts and Pats have a settled QB situation, means that they can use their other high draft picks building around that Quarterback.

I was trying to say in my previous post that teams waste to many of their resources TRYING OUT quarterbacks. They draft a kid, throw him out to the wolves, he fails, and then they draft another quarterback. I'm glad Drew Brees finally worked out in San Diego because I think teams have mistakenly have a quick hook with these quarterbacks.

A lot of people talk about abandoning Eli Manning and that's insane. Now he hasn't had a perfect first two years as a starter, but it's TWO YEARS!

52
by Chris (not verified) :: Thu, 01/18/2007 - 10:49pm

50.

The three final quarterbacks minus grossman are the three best quarterbacks in the league.

We have all heard that DEFENSE WINS championships and we all know that the quarterback is the most important player on teh field. The Bears are the example of good defense, and the other three teams have the best quarterbacks.

53
by Bill Barnwell :: Fri, 01/19/2007 - 12:00am

Pat - I meant to imply that the Patriots are a little more proactive/sneaky about using them than most other teams.

54
by Kuato (not verified) :: Fri, 01/19/2007 - 12:34am

`Drafting Quarterbacks and receivers in the 1st round is so risky, I wonder why more teams don’t take a chance on guys like Rattay though free agency, and build up there defenses with 1st round picks.`

While I agree with this somewhat, I do think drafting QBs early is a good idea. Think about all of th ELITE QBs in the history of the game. Almost every single one of them (with the big exception of Brady) was taken high in the first round or no later than the 2nd. Yes, you can get good QBs late, but your chances of getting one of the all time elite guys is pretty small. And if you get lucky and get one of the all-timers, your team will at the least be competitive every year for a decade. That is the stability teams are after in the first round. If you don`t have a great QB, you have to go looking for one, and the first round is your best bet to get one.

55
by Yaguar (not verified) :: Fri, 01/19/2007 - 12:45am

Football Outsiders conventional wisdom is right on about the Patriots model. They "overpay" for some players, but they overpay for the right ones.

Suppose Brady were on the Browns. Instead of making a good team into a great one, he makes the downtrodden Browns into a mediocre franchise. He'd be paid well. The Patriots, though, pay him like the Colts pay Manning. That's smart. Not because Brady Just Wins(tm) or anything. But because having a quality quarterback year after year is a huge asset. Does anyone really think the Bengals would be better off if they could use Carson Palmer's cap space for other players? A Brees/Brady/Manning/Palmer-level quarterback has tremendous value, whereas a Joey Harrington can set a franchise back for years.

They also probably "overpay" Richard Seymour. I think they'd be willing to pay more for him than any other team. But quality run-stopping linemen are all probably underpaid. Do you think the Vikings would let Pat Williams go because he costs too much?

Then there are the little things. Jarvis Green doesn't start, and unlike Brady or Seymour, he's not one of the top players in the league. But the Patriots pay him a very good amount for a backup 3-4 lineman. He probably wouldn't get as much elsewhere.

What those three players have in common is that "overpaying" for them doesn't kill a franchise, and in fact, it probably helps them. Franchises get killed by overpaying Adam Archuleta, Charles Rogers, and Kyle Boller, not by "overpaying" legitimate studs and quality backups.

56
by MFurtek (not verified) :: Fri, 01/19/2007 - 3:52am

So let's see... who are these "hidden" QBs that were drafted late and are so awesome?

Mike McMahon, Tim Rattay, Cody Pickett, Josh McCown, David Garrard (he started, but Brady-like?), Brooks Bollinger, Jaime Navarre?

After looking through PFP 2006... I can think of Stephan Lefors (who was still back-up to Weinke), Jim Sorgi... and uh... that's about it.

Brady, Bulger, and Romo are the main QBs who started this season as 2nd day picks. Maybe I overlooked Matt Hasselbeck, and Marc Brunell...

57
by dryheat (not verified) :: Fri, 01/19/2007 - 10:42am

#44-45,

Your argument is better if you go back in time one more year. It wasn't luck that the Patriots kept four QBs on the active roster Brady's rookie year. They saw something in him very early that told them that he was worth sucking up a valuable roster spot that a below-average team could've used to shore up one of the many weaknesses on the team. Four QBs, none of whom do any special teams save holding, on the active roster is unheard of.

58
by Bob Byrne (not verified) :: Fri, 01/19/2007 - 11:04am

Good article. But one you thing you failed to point out is that the Patriots are masters at identifying players that were not stars elsewhere, but who fit their offensive and defensive systems and who have the intelligence to play in complex schemes. Since these players were not stars on their previous teams, they come relatively cheaply. They're not always right (e.g. Doug Gabriel), but there isn't a tremendous financial downside when they're wrong and they're right often enough (Jabar Gaffney).

59
by Pat (not verified) :: Fri, 01/19/2007 - 11:36am

Pat - I meant to imply that the Patriots are a little more proactive/sneaky about using them than most other teams.

Really? How so? I mean, just about every team I've ever seen a salary cap page on has multiple millions pushed forward through LTBE incentives (save the Redskins most years). It's never really publicized until some random media guy finds out about it and says "ooh, lookie! how unique!"

I've just been realizing that most media articles and fan arguments about specific teams tend to follow this pattern recently - and really, MDS, no offense intended at all - you weren't really suggesting other teams don't do it:

1) Identify team that's doing well (or if you're you're a fan, pick your team)
2) Find something they do that sounds interesting. Maybe it won a game for them last week. Maybe it found them a good player.
3) Write an article praising said team for action, as if no other team in the league does said action.

In order for something to be a possible reason why the Patriots win, at the least, they have to be doing it better than other teams.

I mean, no offense to #58, as well: but - identifying castoff players that fit your scheme? Again - I can think of an example for almost every team. Definitely Philly. New Orleans. Seattle. Hell, Detroit did this with Mike Furrey. Even Washington did this when Gregg Williams first got there.

Is New England really "better" at doing this than any other team? Or do we just notice it because they're winning?

60
by Chris (not verified) :: Fri, 01/19/2007 - 12:19pm

There are basically 2 base defenses run in the NFL.

The Pats run the less popular defense that features only 3 lineman, but 4 linebackers. While some might say that they overpaid Seymour, he is playing defensive END, but it's not a traditional end in a sense of the rest of the league.

Do you think a guy like Dwight Freeney could play end in the Patriots 3-4? Not a chance. Even Ty Warren is a better fit in the Pats 3-4 at DE. I think there are only so many guys that can play Nose tackle in that set also. There are only so many Ted Washington, Jamal William, Vince Wilfork types out there.

I saw some draft projections that had Wilfork in the top 5 the year he came out, but he slipped to the Pats. I also saw Chad Jackson in the top 5 but he slipped in the draft as well. The Pats got super talent late in the draft.

If the Pats can keep Seymour, Wilfork, and Warren together, they can focus on other things like depth, secondary, linebacker etc.

61
by Chris (not verified) :: Fri, 01/19/2007 - 12:24pm

How do you think running the 3-4 impacts the Patriots?

I know more teams are running it now, but theoretically if less teams run the 3-4, there will be a smaller market for it's players.

If there are less dollars chasing the same ammount of goods, the price will be lower.

Would you rather get into a bidding war with a hand full of teams, or get into a bidding war with 20 teams over players?

The fact that they want to lock up key players, only solidifies their position. While they might be overpaying a little bit for any 1 current season, you also have to factor in the fact that they won't have to divert resoures ( FA money, draft picks) at those positions.

If you already HAVE a Tom Brady, Richard Seymour, and Vince Wilfork, you won't have to FIND a Tom Brady, Richard Seymour and Vince Wilfork. You can use your resources to find new stars in other areas.

62
by Rich Conley (not verified) :: Fri, 01/19/2007 - 1:22pm

49
"In the 6th round of that Draft, the Pats were either going to select Tom Brady OR Tim Rattay. Now Rattay has not had a career anywhere near as good as Brady, but I still think he’s an underrated player."

Bill Walsh, who is basically the father of the modern passing game, felt that quarterbacks were essentially fungible, if given the proper scheme. He felt that Defense was about talent, and offense was about scheme, planning, and execution. He developed Montana and Young, so people say he just had good quarterbacks... but thats not completely true, because basically every single quarterback that Walsh coached had numbers as good as Montana/Young, they just didnt play as long.

I really think Manning is a singular talent. Hes the rare combination of the Brains that Walsh was always looking for, and the cannon that scouts seem to love. Brady has the brains, but not the cannon. Culpepper has the cannon, but not the brains.

I'm really starting to think that there are a lot of quarterbacks who could be very good, but just got destroyed by a bad system (see everyone drafted by Detroit), or never got a chance to play because they didnt have the arm the starter did.

Lewin's projection seems to agree with me, with competion percentage being the most important thing, and Y/A and Y/C having almost no correlation.

63
by Pat (not verified) :: Fri, 01/19/2007 - 1:33pm

#62: Plus starts, too. Part of that is probably the sample size effect at the edge of a distribution, but I wouldn't be surprised if a large part of it is also just the fact that quarterbacks need to see as many defenses as they can to learn how to deal with them. In the NFL, no team is going to give a quarterback three years' starting experience carte blanche to figure out defenses unless his last name is Manning.

64
by RCH (not verified) :: Fri, 01/19/2007 - 1:39pm

57 - Excellent point. Wasn't Michael Bishop still around? There were lots of rumblings about using him in a "Slash" type role.

62 - Its not just QBs who are affected by a system. During the period of time that the Patriots were wasting Irving Fryar I often wondered how he would have done if drafted by a team like the 49'ers or Cowboys.

65
by Chris (not verified) :: Fri, 01/19/2007 - 1:45pm

62.

I agree with a lot about what your saying. Manning is super rare. One of the most overlooked parts of his game is his size. He's tall and BIG and you really have to beat a blocker or send a blitzer in unaccounted for.

There are 2 kinds of sacks. One kind is because a defensive player BEAT an offensive blocker. The other kind is where the defender was unaccounted for and comes to the quarterback without even being blocked.

For example, Julius Peppers might blow through a RT and sack the quarterback. The other example might be a team stacking 5 blitzers to a side with 4 blockers, or a delayed blitz, or two blockers wrongfully blocking 1 blitzer while another guy comes in free.

The fact that Manning reads coverages AND blitzes so well means that it is difficult to force mental mistakes on the line ( blocking the wrong guy). The fact that he's so big and gets rid of the ball in 3 seconds or less makes it also difficult to sack him from beating a block.

Manning is a MUCH more difficult player to sack than Michael Vick, and you can't say that Manning has a better line. Manning is about as immobile as they come, but his size and brains more than make up for his lack of footspeed. When you see him calling audibles at the line, they don't all have to deal with hot routes for his receivers, sometimes he's changing protection for his line or pointing out where the blitz is coming rom ( not every player can correctly read these plays).

Manning should have a longer career than the trendy mobile quarterbacks of today. The fact that he doesn't RUN and take unneccesary hits preserves him for a longer career.

Bill Polian was on ESPN radio today, and said that Manning has about 7-10 years left in him so stop talking about his "legacy". How many people honestly believe a Mike Vick has 10 more year left of playing?

I agree with Bill Walsh. Offense and particularly the passing game is about reads and smarts. There isn't as much thinking on defense as there is on offense, therefore there is more emphasis on physical athleticism.

Look at how a quarterbacks stats would jump up in a system under say a Mike Martz or Jon Gruden.

66
by Chris (not verified) :: Fri, 01/19/2007 - 1:58pm

Hey Maybe if the Patriots had drafted Ryan Leaf instead of Peyton and Rickey Williams instead of Edge.... NAHHH nevermind. Hahah.

67
by Chris (not verified) :: Fri, 01/19/2007 - 1:58pm

Correction: Colts

68
by KK (not verified) :: Fri, 01/19/2007 - 3:19pm

#33: Mangini did bring that over from Foxboro. The Patriots have had a "Practice Player Of The Week" for a while. Before Mangini left. The player wears a black jersey for a week. But their coach doesn't make a big deal of it at press conferences. Whether that's good or bad, I don't know, but that's why people outside of Foxboro might not have known about it.

69
by KK (not verified) :: Fri, 01/19/2007 - 3:23pm

59: I mean, no offense to #58, as well: but - identifying castoff players that fit your scheme? Again - I can think of an example for almost every team. Definitely Philly. New Orleans. Seattle. Hell, Detroit did this with Mike Furrey. Even Washington did this when Gregg Williams first got there.

Is New England really 'better' at doing this than any other team? Or do we just notice it because they’re winning?

If you're not winning, you're probably not doing it "better".

70
by Charles the Philly Homer (not verified) :: Fri, 01/19/2007 - 3:31pm

59:

THANK YOU. The magic beans of Belichick/seeing eye of Scott theory for the Patriots is simultaneously nauseating and infuriating. If you want to talk about using statistics to manage personnel, San Francisco is actually one of the leading teams in that area. They've not shown serious success yet because it's only been around for 2-3 years, but I'd bet my best horse they'll be in the playoffs next year.

It would be super if broadcasters and writers would stop pretend that the Patriots were the only ones to do this. While failing to mention that they do, in fact, get lucky.

71
by Pat (not verified) :: Fri, 01/19/2007 - 4:15pm

If you’re not winning, you’re probably not doing it “better�.

Circular reasoning. "The Patriots are winning. They do X. Other teams do X, but they're not winning. They must not be better than the Patriots at doing X."

Nowhere in that argument have you ever determined that "doing X better leads to winning."

There's no reason to believe that the reason the Patriots are winning is because they "identify castoff players that fit their scheme." Have the Patriots ever "identified castoff players that didn't fit their scheme"? Sure. Did they stop winning? No.

This doesn't disprove that it doesn't lead to winning, either. But it's the same argument.

What if a team has a 'coinflip-calling strategy' that they employ before a game? "The Patriots have a unique strategy for calling a coinflip before the game. What they do is obtain a copy of the coin used, and flip it ten times, to test and see how the coin flips in the elements. Whichever side ends up more, they go with that. Sometimes they're wrong, but the Patriots think it gives them an advantage."

72
by Gus (not verified) :: Fri, 01/19/2007 - 5:34pm

Frankly, I'm just not seeing what the big debate is about over the Pats bringing in underrated guys or cast-offs who fit the system. It would seem that they do this well, but they probably get more attention than anyone else for doing this. Is that fair? I guess not, but that's what happens when you win; people call attention to the little things you do because they seem to pay off when you're winning. When Peyton Manning doesn't throw a TD (as in 2004 play-offs) against a secondary that has Randall Gay starting, OF COURSE people are going to draw attention to that. When you hype up a pass defense as a weakness, and an undrafted FA is a big part of the reason it turns out to not be true, it turns into a human interest story about said player and how the coaches believed in him and such. Given that, well hey! They MUST be better at bringing in underrateds/cast-offs than the team they just beat! (that's tongue in cheek)

On the other hand, there are probably thousands of football fans who have no idea that Mike Furrey just caught 98 passes for the Lions.

73
by Phil (not verified) :: Fri, 01/19/2007 - 5:35pm

Pat:
"If you’re not winning, you’re probably not doing it “better�.

Circular reasoning. “The Patriots are winning. They do X. Other teams do X, but they’re not winning. They must not be better than the Patriots at doing X.�

Nowhere in that argument have you ever determined that “doing X better leads to winning.�"

I don't think that's circular reasoning at all. If you don't do something well, it will show through in the end product. I would think that "doing (X=player/personnel research) better than other teams leads to winning". Seems kind of self explainatory. Would you agree that the Pat/Eagles/Colts et. al. evaluate players better than say Detroit of Houston? And if so, would you agree that it translates directly to on-field results?

74
by Yaguar (not verified) :: Fri, 01/19/2007 - 5:46pm

60: Really? You saw Chad Jackson projected as a top five pick? In a class with Reggie Bush, Matt Leinart, Vince Young, D'Brickashaw Ferguson, Mario Williams and AJ Hawk?

75
by Pat (not verified) :: Fri, 01/19/2007 - 5:54pm

I don’t think that’s circular reasoning at all.

It is. Nowhere in the argument is "X leads to winning" proven. It's justified circularly.

Seems kind of self explainatory

Not really. How do you know that it isn't salary structure that leads to winning? Or how do you know it's not the fact that Richard Seymour is really, really good, and it doesn't matter who else is on the field - and likewise with Brady?

These are silly, but I can construct more reasonable arguments that exclude the minor points mentioned above.

Would you agree that the Pat/Eagles/Colts et. al. evaluate players better than say Detroit of Houston?

Yes. And "kindof" to whether it translates to onfield success. Who knows? Maybe it's just the starters that matter. But that's not what the statements here are saying. They're saying "the Patriots find castoffs from other teams that fit them." "the Patriots worry more about player #53" So on, so forth.

None of those things have to lead to winning - maybe the reason that the Lions suck is because they can't evaluate top-end players, but they can find castoffs better than the Patriots. Maybe the Lions spend the vast majority of their time debating player #53, and that's why they don't realize players #1-52 aren't really that good.

#72 really sums up what I'm trying to say: all the little stuff that people quote? It's silly. Probably all teams do that. It makes you think "wow, my team kicks ass, because they pay attention to all the little details" but every team pays attention to all the little details. What the games come down to are probably the major details.

76
by Chris (not verified) :: Fri, 01/19/2007 - 6:35pm

#74-

At one point in time I saw Chad Jackson projected to the 49ers at 6th so I guess I should have said CJ was at one time a top 6 draft projection. They decided to go a different route with a freak of nature at tight end for A. Smith instead of a receiver.

The NFL combine has a huge impact to determine WHERE a guy goes. Jackson was clearly bigger and faster than the other receivers drafted around him and had equal to better hands. Sinorce Moss is 5'8, Santonio Holmes is 5'11 and those guys weren't even as fast as Jackson. CJ was a monster compared to the other receivers at the combine and was the class of almost every drill they all participated in. He looked like he could develope into the mold of a Javon Walker or Terrel Owens.

I know he had some injuries this season, and he had to learn that system, but he has a ton of upside potential. A lot of times they say it takes a rookie receiver 3 years to learn the offense. If you want a fantasy sleeper next year or in two years, I think Jackson might be your guy.

77
by Chris (not verified) :: Fri, 01/19/2007 - 6:44pm

To agree with an earlier point, I also hate how announcers hype people up.

They will say something like, Lineman X is just such a big guy, he's 300 pounds. ( Aren't most lineman? I thought Arizona's average lineman was 325)?

or they will say, Johnny receiver has speed, he runs a 4.4 40 yard dash. (I wonder how many other guys can run a 4.4?)

of they will state some quirky fact about a guy that they attribute his greatness too, Johnny player is good because of his training. He eats 5 meals a day instead of the normal 3.

78
by Pat (not verified) :: Fri, 01/19/2007 - 6:47pm

#77: Dead on. Drives me freaking nuts. Prove that it mattters, prove that they're better, then I'll believe you. Otherwise you're just spouting filler crap for the people who don't care.

79
by B (not verified) :: Fri, 01/19/2007 - 6:53pm

I just want to point out the the Lions also have an equation for success:
1) Draft a bunch of WRs in the first round
2) ?
3) Profit!

80
by Rich Conley (not verified) :: Fri, 01/19/2007 - 7:09pm

76
"The NFL combine has a huge impact to determine WHERE a guy goes. "

Which is absurd, because the 40 is essentially a guy with a stopwatch, waiting for the reciever to tell him to hit hte button. Its not exactly done in a professional manner.

81
by Pat (not verified) :: Fri, 01/19/2007 - 7:11pm

#80: No, it's not. The NFL Combine has been using electronic timing for 16 years.

82
by Chris (not verified) :: Fri, 01/19/2007 - 8:18pm

Did anybody see Marcus Vick at the combine? He had about 3 or 4 false starts in the 40 and had to have the facilitor come out and coach him. It looked like Marcus just kept trying to jump the gun.

The 40 shouldn't be such an ultimate measure of speed the way it is. I'd rather see it used like a tool.

I thought I heard last year that Vince Young runs a faster 40 than Reggie Bush and it might actually be true.

The 40 is just a straight ahead sprint which favors taller guys with longer legs.

However it is much easier for shorter guys with shorter legs to be agile and shifty. Reggie can move laterally a hell of a lot more than VY, but in a dead sprint who knows.

For example, I honestly don't think Tiki Barber is lightning fast with his straight ahead top speed, but the guy is shifty as hell.

but 80. it is kind of absurd that the draft can move a guy up or down entire ROUNDS. The NFL combine looks like a freaking meat market, where they try and quantify EVERYTHING about a player. They measure all of his physical attribute including his hands size.

Nothing will shoot a receiver up the projections faster than a good 40 time. Ask Dante Stallworth or Laverneous Coles.

83
by Chris (not verified) :: Fri, 01/19/2007 - 8:23pm

78.

It reminds me of the all that hype the Eagles had early in the year about 5 years ago for drinking pickle juice before their games!

Do you remember that? I believe they dominated their opponents early in that year and the media was acting like the Eagles were really onto something. They acted like the Eagles were cheating or something for drinking pickle juice.

Eagles drink pickle juice.
Eagles are undefeated with big wins,
therefore pickle juice = better play and a better record for all.

I was laughing my ass off. Same thing with Rickey Waters and his breathe right nasal strips!

84
by Pat (not verified) :: Fri, 01/19/2007 - 11:55pm

#83: They still talk about the pickle juice game every hot training camp, and every hot game. It's completely and utterly retarded.

85
by MFurtek (not verified) :: Sat, 01/20/2007 - 12:13am

Re: 76
Santonio Holmes is the truth... at WR.

I wish I really had bettors balls, becuase I would put money that he has a better career than Chad Jackson... or at least a better 1st 3 years.

I really don't know what this adds, I don't think they made a great pick on that guy... especially considering they've had to bring in a bunch of WRs due to his injuries.

86
by Chris (not verified) :: Sat, 01/20/2007 - 12:40am

Judging a receiver after one season is crazy. Now I think Holmes will be a good player as well, I just see Jackson with more upside potential.

Remember, Holmes also plays in a LESS complex Pitssburgh offense, and he also was drafted in round 1 while Jackson was a second round pick.

87
by sippican (not verified) :: Sat, 01/20/2007 - 1:30am

Hey, I've got framework for all that "luck" you guys are talking about all the time. Try it out on your team, see how it goes.

1. Build team around first pick in draft. You have first pick in draft because your team is a shambles.
2. Puncture said person's lung.
3. Plug in 6th round pick.
4. Kill his quarterback coach.
5. Put his offensive coordinator in a coma. Then he can rattle around on the sidelines on a cart for a while.
6.Keep hiring out all coordinators to run other programs, until a guy that doesn't shave yet is calling the plays. Not the fat guy that doesn't shave. The skinny kid that doesn't shave. And the Raiders might want him, too.
7.Don't forget to have the guy calling the on-field plays on defense have a stroke.
8. Have an eighth round slot receiver play cornerback, because the world ran out of Poteats.
9.Win three superbowls. What day is it? Maybe four.

Get back to me.

88
by Pat (not verified) :: Sat, 01/20/2007 - 1:32am

Remember, Holmes also plays in a LESS complex Pitssburgh offense

There's another unfounded statement. What is it with NFL fans?

Is there a complexity metric of NFL offenses somewhere I'm missing?

89
by ckj414 (not verified) :: Sat, 01/20/2007 - 10:38am

#76 - Chris, Chad Jackson looked horrible in the route running drills at the combine. Sure, he caught almost everything...because he tended to run AWAY from the ball to give himself more time to make the catch. Ill be interested to see how much the Pats can coach him up, because he sure needs it.

90
by Chris (not verified) :: Sat, 01/20/2007 - 2:29pm

88-Pat.

Do you think all offenses are created equal? Do you think it's easier to play in a read and react offense or in one like the Falcons run where they basically call no audibles and have no reads? The problem with option routes, is that the receivers don't always make the right read and run the right option.

#89- Jackson did look a little unpolished in the WR drills but he always seemed to do better the second time around, maybe he was nervous?

The best in the hands drills was clearly that white boy from I want to say Oregon. I know he ran a 4.6 and they were labeling him a "possession" receiver, but how many teams could use some good solid hands? I want to say that I don't think he got drafted either.

91
by MFurtek (not verified) :: Sat, 01/20/2007 - 3:48pm

Pat,
Didn't you get the memo? Complexity is directly related to the number of pages in the playbook... Al Saunders... 700... 5 wins... yeah baby!

92
by Pat (not verified) :: Sat, 01/20/2007 - 3:59pm

Do you think all offenses are created equal?

Do you have proof that they aren't? Or, to the point, do you have any evidence, whatsoever, that the Patriots offense is more complex than normal, or more complex than the Steelers?

The word that I used was "unfounded." I didn't say "baseless".

93
by Chris (not verified) :: Sat, 01/20/2007 - 5:30pm

So if all offenses are created equal, does a highschool offense have the same complexity as a pro offense?

Does an old Nebraska college offense have the same complexities as a pro offense?

The drafting or lack thee of of college quarterbacks would support the idea that some offense are more complex than others.

Do you think Vick running option keepers is the same as what Peyton Manning does? Do you think that anybody can do what Manning does?

Do you think being a receiver and running a decoy route on an option keeper is the same as reading the defense and not even knowing what route your going to run when you leave a huddle?

94
by Erithtotl (not verified) :: Sat, 01/20/2007 - 5:54pm

I'd like to see even more written about the Patriots Moneyball strategies. They have precisely done what the As do in baseball. They have analyzed the market for who is overpaid and underpaid, and built their team strategy around those underpaid positions. WR is a great example. They've clearly decided that unless you can get a truly dominating WR, it's not worth wrapping up a lot of money, because it's easy to get average or slightly above receivers. Every year in the league there are a bunch of WR who have big years then are never heard from again. They've done the same thing with corners. Corners have big INT numbers one year and none the next, because with a few exceptions its flukey. Conversely, safeties tend to be underpaid and drafted later in the draft, so they build their system around asking their corners to have simpliefied roles, and aquiring strong, veteran safeties who can take on more responsibility.

To me, this kind of thinking is the key to their strategy. That said, obviously a lot of things have had to go right for them as well, like Brady turning out as good as he did. No matter what they saw in him I really doubt they thought he'd turn out as well as he did.

95
by Pat (not verified) :: Sat, 01/20/2007 - 6:05pm

So if all offenses are created equal,

Did you read anything past the first sentence of what I said?

Regardless of whether or not all offenses are of roughly equal complexity (I don't know if they are, and I don't care) - by what standard are you judging the Steelers offense less complex than the Patriots?

96
by Chris (not verified) :: Sat, 01/20/2007 - 7:42pm

94.

Exactly. If you look at receivers value at the margin, there isn't a big difference between them unless you talk about the truly special receivers " TO, CJ, etc."

The problem with corners is that it is so hard to judge the position. Most fans use " picks" as a way to judge a corner but that isn't a very good measure.

A lot of picks, might mean that the corner had a lot of balls thrown his way, and he took a lot of chances and they worked out.

NO picks, might mean that teams won't throw at a good corner (like Deion in his prime).

97
by galen (not verified) :: Sat, 01/20/2007 - 9:42pm

Do you think it’s easier to play in a read and react offense or in one like the Falcons run where they basically call no audibles and have no reads?

I am not sure what a read and react offense is?
You mean like the run and shoot?
All the offenses that have links to Coryell do not have audibles.
Gibbs
Turner
Zampese
Martz
You might think thats easier, but when Wilkens left the Colts for the Rams he was benched cause he didn't understand the offense.

98
by dryheat (not verified) :: Sat, 01/20/2007 - 10:15pm

The best in the hands drills was clearly that white boy from I want to say Oregon. I know he ran a 4.6 and they were labeling him a “possession� receiver, but how many teams could use some good solid hands? I want to say that I don’t think he got drafted either.

That was Mike Hass of Oregon St. Not only did he rip up the drills, he was the best WR on the field at the Senior Bowl, or whichever one he played in. I thought he should have a Day One pick, but the Saints ended up with him either very late in the draft of Undrafted free agent. I don't know what happened to him. I'm guessing IR or Practice Squad.

As for Jackson, yes, on the one drill where the WRs sprint down the yard line catching bullets from either side, he weaved quite a bit. On the drill where you turn around in a square and catch bullets halfway to you already, he caught everything in sight. His hands definitely aren't the problem.

99
by Gus (not verified) :: Sun, 01/21/2007 - 12:19am

98: Hass was selected by NO in the sixth round with the 171st overall pick. He was signed to a three year deal, but was subsequently released in early. September. He now resides on the Bears' practice squad.

He had 90 catches for over 1500 yards and 6 TDs his senior year.

100
by Yaguar (not verified) :: Sun, 01/21/2007 - 5:07am

Here's a question: Why are safeties drafted so late? The only safeties to be drafted in the top ten have been Roy Williams, Sean Taylor, Michael Huff, and Donte Whitner, if I recall correctly.

The "safeties aren't worth high picks" group think has let Troy Polamalu fall to the 16th pick, and let Ed Reed fall to the 24th pick. Safeties are consistently lower-paid and lower-drafted than pretty much any other defensive position. Why? Why shouldn't it be just as important to draft future Brian Dawkinses as it is to draft future Keith Bullucks or future Marcus Strouds?

101
by RCH (not verified) :: Sun, 01/21/2007 - 3:55pm

100 - Like TE's, I think that safety's suffer from the fact that there are simply more college players with the measurables to play the position at a high level. Corners have to have unique speed and quickness, lineman have unique size and speed for their size, etc. Guys taken at the top of the draft have typically been very productive players who figure to improve in the NFL based on terrific combine numbers.

102
by Chris (not verified) :: Sun, 01/21/2007 - 6:34pm

Gus your right. It was Mike Hass and he was very, very impressive on pretty much every drill at the combine except the 40.

Did you see how Hass would reach out and catch it with his hands and then automatically protect the ball after every catch? That is exactly what receivers coaches teach.

Larry Fitzgerald ran a 4.6 and he isn't some boring possession receiver, but when Mike Hass runs a 4.6 he instantly gets labeled a possession receiver.

I would have loved for my team to draft Mike Hass in the later rounds because if you put him in a good offense, I think he can excel.

103
by Pat (not verified) :: Mon, 01/22/2007 - 2:03am

#100: Safety is an 'intelligence' position, like center (also a flat distribution in terms of who succeeds). There's no real way to tell who's going to pick up the ability to read NFL offenses fastest. There aren't any real measurables at safety (if you're a 'fast safety' you're... a corner).