Pat Kirwan writes a very informative article on the cat-and-mouse game-within-the-game between offensive and defensive coordinators. If you have any questions about personnel groupings, it's probably covered here. Kirwan also looks at two specific examples: Pittsburgh and Seattle, which immediately raises a question: How can we get our hands on this data? The game charting project tracked personnel groupings, but Kirwan seems to have information on what specific 11 players were on the field on every play, which is impossible to get off the TV tapes.
Certainly Mike Vanderjagt improves the Cowboy's kicking game, but I thought his quote from the article was kinda funny: "If you look at it, I guess I'm the reason why we expect [to be better] if nothing else changed..." Take that T.O. Vanderjagt is also quoted as saying, "I would love for somebody to write a story with facts. If you look at the numbers, I actually have a higher percentage outside than inside ... It's a major myth." According to the article, Vanderjagt converts kicks at a rate of 87.3 percent outdoors and 87.5 indoors. That's close enough for government work.
No surprise, an arbitrator has ruled that as long as Steve McNair is under contract to the Titans, the Titans have to let him work out at their facility. Which means he won't be under contract to the Titans much longer.
Here's what Pete Prisco says about the 8th best player on his list, Brian Urlacher: "After years of battling the overrated label, he finally played as well as advertised in 2005. He was the leader of that good Bears defense." I think I know why Urlacher battles the overrated label. Here's Prisco last summer: "Overrated: Brian Urlacher ... he's a good player, but not a great one. It's time for him to live up to his reputation." Thanks Pete. To his credit, Prisco does pimp Seattle's Walter Jones, another FO favorite.
Michael Felger has a question about WR Deion Branch, whose rookie deal is up at the end of the 2006 season: "There's no doubt Branch wants to be paid like a true No. 1 receiver. But does he qualify?" Well, he finished 12th in DPAR and 13th in DVOA last season ahead of guys named Harrison, Holt and R. Moss. If that's not good enough, I don't know what is. The fact that David Givens signed a deal with the Titans averaging $4.8 million a season with $8 million in bonuses means that Branch will be looking for at least that much (rumors have it at around $12 million in bonuses/guarantees).