The Patriot Way: An Obituary

New England Patriots assistant coach Matt Patricia
New England Patriots assistant coach Matt Patricia
Photo: USA Today Sports Images

NFL Preseason Week 1 - The Patriot Way, the most successful and celebrated professional sports coaching/team-building philosophy of the 21st century, died this week of complications resulting from excessive hubris.

Personified by Bill Belichick and largely responsible for Tom Brady's rise to superstardom, The Patriot Way collapsed on Monday after a training camp practice by the offense described by veteran observers as " distressingly bad."

Despite multiple setbacks over the past three offseasons, The Patriot Way, an overarching culture and managerial structure which has endured for over 20 years and produced six Super Bowl victories, was thought to still be strong enough to overcome one miserable day of training camp. But then Patriots veteran David Andrews spoke to skeptical reporters after Monday's practice.

"Look, we'll see," Andrews said, per ESPN's Mike Reiss, who noted that the normally cordial team captain was trying to cut the media session short. "Nothing looks as good as it does those first couple of weeks. You just have to keep moving forward. The thing doesn't have to be its best Week 1. Obviously we want to go out there and win and compete. But it's that steady incline throughout the year. That's when you have the success."

The moment a veteran player was forced to admit that the offense might not be properly installed by the start of the season to a press pool suddenly emboldened to ask tough questions, it shattered the illusion that the Patriots are still guided by some unique ideology or ethos. The Patriots are no longer trendsetters, thought leaders, paragons of enduring excellence or "the team to beat" by any stretch. With The Patriot Way gone, they are just another team slogging through August like the Chicago Bears or New York Jets.

While the precise tenets of The Patriot Way were never explicitly codified, it has long been assumed that the philosophy is built upon a foundation of meritocracy (the best people get the most important jobs and most playing time), accountability ("Do Your Job"), and a clear delineation of duties (coaches, scouts, execs, and players all communicating clearly and sharing short- and long-term goals). Recent events revealed, however, that none of these vital signs were flickering any longer.

Meritocracy: Top offensive lieutenants Matt Patricia and Joe Judge failed disastrously outside of Foxborough and are rapidly proving woefully unqualified for their current coaching roles. Both were re-hired because they were trustworthy functionaries, not worthy replacements for departed coordinator Josh McDaniels.

Accountability: Not having an offensive coordinator means not having someone to take the heat when the offense sputters. Belichick himself ceased justifying his decisions with anything but grumbled cliches to a cowed press pool long ago. It appears that Patricia will not regularly meet with the media.

Clear Delineation of Duties: Patricia appears to be the offensive line coach, playcaller, and some sort of deputy general manager with a vague front-office role. The precise structure of the Patriots play-calling and game-panning duties is being kept a mystery. New offensive concepts such as a "Shanahan-style" running game are mostly hearsay. Players sound compelled to tap dance around direct questions about who is calling plays or making final decisions. It's secrecy for secrecy's sake, the sort of pointless paranoia more associated with failed Belichick assistants such as Patricia, Judge, or Bill O'Brien than with the legendary coach himself.

Other principles of The Patriot Way, such as the use of analytics to guide in-game decision making and exploit offseason market inefficiencies, appear to have been abandoned years ago.

The Patriot Way, which allowed the franchise to rule the NFL almost through divine right from 2001 through 2018, began to fall into decline when Brady left New England amid whispers of financial and interpersonal conflicts before the 2020 season. Nick Caserio, Belichick's long-time front-office majordomo, also left the organization for the Houston Texans in that offseason. The Patriots stumbled through a disappointing draft and uneventful free agency period on the way to their first losing season since 2000, with Belichick uncharacteristically blaming salary cap issues for the team's decline during virtual press conferences.

The arrival of Mac Jones in 2021 appeared to revive The Patriot Way, but coroners now suspect that Jones and the cadre of mostly B-tier free agents the team signed last offseason merely masked the symptoms without treating the root cause of the illness. Jones was prematurely crowned The Next Brady after the team's 9-4 start, lulling Belichick and his evangelizers into the belief that the coach had become infallible.

The condition of The Patriot Way became critical when McDaniels left for Las Vegas in January and Belichick left the offensive coordinator post vacant, promoting Patricia to his catch-all role and recalling Judge, fresh off his failure to develop a young quarterback named Jones, to serve as quarterback coach. Numerous executives also followed McDaniels to the Raiders. The entire Patriots org chart now looks depleted, as does the roster after another offseason of veteran defections and dubious draft decisions. It's a far cry from the days when Belichick was flanked by Brady, McDaniels, Caserio, Dante Scarnecchia, and what appeared to be a never-ending pipeline of promising defensive assistants.

Still, all of the Patriots' perceived losses and gloomy projections remained bulwarked by the The Patriot Way, which created an unwillingness—even among critics—to dare to question Belichick's mysterious wisdom. That illusion vanished this week, not just as players fumbled through questions about poor practices, but as Brady prepared for another deep playoff run, McDaniels demonstrated the wonders of his rushing-and-screens game plan in the Hall of Fame game, Caserio's draft class earned rave reviews in Houston, and the national media began finalizing their 2022 predictions with little attention paid to the Patriots, Belichick, or Jones.

If it was ever more than mere mythmaking by media members who ran out of things to say about a successful team over the course of 20 years, The Patriot Way was the result a collaboration among players/coaches/execs who were brilliant at their individual roles, with Belichick as president and chairman, not dictator. In that respect, The Patriot Way was suffocated by negligence: Belichick not only lost too many voices and collaborators but refused to replace them.

The Patriot Way is survived by the Patriots themselves, who are projected by Football Outsiders Almanac to win 8.7 games and are +160 to make the playoffs (tied with the Raiders, below the Dolphins at +140) at Draft Kings. The Patriots will make their preseason debut against the Giants on Thursday night and are sure to put on a brave face against a team in far worse shape than they are.

The Patriot Way is also survived by legions of fans who have already responded to this column by howling IT'S ONLY PRESEASON or @OldTakesExposed with a little pencil emoji. Give them their space: denial is the first stage of grief.

News 'n' Notes

And now for some news 'n' notes from around the NFL.

New York Jets tackle Mekhi Becton suffers kneecap/patella injury

A brief history of Jets first-round draft picks prior to 2022:

  • Zach Wilson, 2021: Posted the lowest DYAR in the NFL last year.
  • Alijah Vera-Tucker, 2021: Coming off a solid rookie season.
  • Mekhi Becton, 2020: Career getting swallowed by injuries/weight issues.
  • Quinnen Williams, 2019: Still on the team and playing well.
  • Sam Darnold, 2018: Saw ghosts. Got mono. Got Gase'd. Currently having his dignity vampire-drained by Matt Rhule.
  • Jamal Adams, 2017: Traded for picks that would become Vera-Tucker and Garrett Wilson. Adams wasn't traded because he played safety like a 215-pound defensive end; that transformation wasn't complete yet. The Adam Gase administration just didn't like him and didn't want to pay him.
  • Darron Lee, 2016: Last seen bouncing around Raiders camp in 2021.
  • Leonard Williams, 2015: Traded to the Giants for draft picks which became Ashtyn Davis and cornerback Michael Carter. Williams was traded because the Gase administration just didn't like him and didn't want to pay him. He's now one of the best players on the Giants, if a tad overpaid.
  • Calvin Pryor, 2014: Played four NFL seasons.
  • Dee Milliner, 2013: Played three NFL seasons. If you think the Gase administration was bad, we'd like you to meet some general managers named Mike Maccagnan and John Idzik.
  • Sheldon Richardson, 2013: Still knocking around the NFL as a disruptive defensive tackle for hire. The Jets traded him because they just didn't like him and didn't want to pay him in 2017, receiving in exchange Seahawks Twitter Mega-Binkie Jermaine Kearse and a draft pick that the Eagles ended up using on Dallas Goedert.
  • Quinton Coples, 2012: Four NFL seasons.

OK, that's a full decade and we're bored. By the way, here are all the second-round picks: Elijah Moore, Denzel Mims (busting), Marcus Maye (the Jets didn't want to pay him), Christian Hackenberg (all-time bust), Devin Smith (Mims 2015), Jace Amaro (toolsy tight end who couldn't block or catch), Geno Smith (lol Seahawks), Stephen Hill (supersized Mims). The Jets also traded a bunch of second-round picks away because that's how you rebuild.

On the one hand, it looks as though the Jets draft record has improved under the much-respected Joe Douglas. On the other hand, Adams, Williams, and even Darnold briefly looked like legit up-and-comers before they Jets'd out. Looking at the list above, it's often hard to tell where bad luck and poor performance by the prospects themselves end and where bad coaching and management begin.

Becton's injuries may save the Jets the trouble of trading him next year simply because they don't like him and don't want to pay him. But that will do nothing to stop the vicious cycle of disappointment.

Roquan Smith requests trade from the Bears

The problem with the Roquan Smith situation is that the new Bears braintrust should have anticipated a Roquan Smith situation. He's on his fifth-year option, as picked up by Other Ryan last year. He's a core young veteran starter. The Bears have $96 million in 2023 cap space and whistle-clean ledgers beyond that. So … they should have signed him to an extension in March.

Or, as Aaron Schatz speculated on Tuesday, Matt Eberflus doesn't think Smith fits his system or Ryan Poles just wants "his guys." If that's the case, the Bears should have traded Smith before the free agency period, just as they traded Khalil Mack.

Poles may not have wanted to pitch a pre-draft fire sale to either the fans or The Magnificent McCaskeys. So he chose what sounds like a like-it-or-lump-it lowball offer to play for a team headed for a five-win season. The Bears would be better off in 2022 with either an extra third-round pick (they could have TWO Velus Joneses right now!) and nine million on the books or a well-compensated Smith eager to set a tone in the locker room than they are with a disgruntled, holding-in Smith. All they had to do was something.

Smith will get dealt near the trade deadline to a contender for a fourth- or fifth-round pick in 2023. If the goal is to draw out the rebuild over multiple years—as it so often is—then Poles is right on schedule.

Baltimore Ravens kicker Justin Tucker signs four-year contract extension

Tucker is already a Pro Football Hall of Fame lock and can lay claim to the title of greatest kicker of all time. He's also only 32 and should be a Pro Bowl-caliber kicker for at least the rest of the 2020s.

Let's take a look at where Tucker ranks on some all time leaderboards:

Field Goals: 27th all time, 326. If Tucker kicks 30 field goals this year (he kicked 35 in 2021), he will pass Jay Feely, George Blanda, Steve Christie, Al Del Greco, and Eddie Murray, tying Olindo Mare for 21st place, assuming Matt Prater also keeps moving up leaderboards. All-time leader Adam Vinatieri is 273 field goals—about nine seasons—ahead of Tucker.

Extra Points: 52nd all time, 382. Tucker is down among not-so luminaries such as Dan Bailey and Mike Nugent in extra points, in part because he played on several Ravens teams that scored fewer than 30 touchdowns in a season. Blanda holds the all-time extra point record thanks to kicking forever and spending a decade in the high-scoring AFL.

Field Goal Percentage: First all time, 91.1%. Players' rate stats decline as they age, and field goal rates have been increasing for decades, so Tucker is unlikely to retire at the top of this list. But perhaps he will: 91.1% is really close to the unavoidable asymptote of 100%, and it's hard to imagine kickers sustaining accuracy rates in the 95% range. (The best kickers naturally end up getting more low-likelihood attempts, creating further drag on the upper limit). The young kickers just below Tucker on the all-time rate list include Harrison Butker, Younghoe Koo, and Daniel Carson, none of whom have a ton of ballast in their bulk stats right now or look like all-time greats likely to stay in the 90% range for years.

Who cares if Tucker loses the all-time field goal percentage crown in 2033 by going 6-for-15 when the Ravens don't have the heart to replace him? What's important right now is that he remains the NFL's best kicker, giving the Ravens an edge (they rank first in our special teams projections) that other teams cannot count upon.

And whatever Tucker does in 2033, rest assured that Lamar Jackson will have gotten around to negotiating a new contract by then.

Deshaun Watson to start in the Cleveland Browns preseason opener on Friday

There is no defensible football reason for this. Watson is suspended for a minimum of six games: it's not like a preseason shakedown in mid-August will impact how "rusty" he is on October 23. Jacoby Brissett needs ramp-up time with the starters right now, not Watson. Friday's game is in Jacksonville, so this is not a sap to Browns season ticket holders who want to gawk at the creepo they have chosen to root for. (Rooting for a team is a choice, folks). The Browns preseason broadcast team cannot be thrilled at the prospects of having to mutter and stammer through vague discussions of Watson's "situation."

Watson's preseason start on Friday is either:

  • A Haslam-level middle finger to the other owners, Rodger Goodell, and human decency;
  • A Kevin Stefanski-level decision somewhere between "let's see if this flies" and "frankly, I don't want Brissett hurt at this point;"
  • An effort to force Goodell and his "designee" to issue a verdict quickly; or
  • Further indications that no one in the Browns organization has the foggiest idea what they are doing.

At this point, all I want from the Watson Files is clarity and finality. Issue a clear suspension and let us stop talking or thinking about this scuzzwaffle for a while. One year would be a lot better than six games, but six games would be better than another week of Watson conversations. Those of us who talk about him on radio, write about him, and are forced to ingest a steady stream of media about him really need the break. And just imagine how his dozens of (alleged) victims feel.

Watson won't disappear on Friday. But Walkthrough promises to be a No-Deshaun Zone until his next meaningful NFL game. And I sincerely hope that doesn't happen in October.

Comments

173 comments, Last at 20 Aug 2022, 11:57pm

1 Since When?

Since when have you been waiting to write that Patriots column?  2002?

2 The moment a veteran player…

The moment a veteran player was forced to admit that the offense might not be properly installed by the start of the season to a press pool suddenly emboldened to ask tough questions, it shattered the illusion that the Patriots are still guided by some unique ideology or ethos.

The irony of Mike using a player admitting "offense might not be full-go at the start of the season" for the Patriots just cracks me up.

The Patriots are literally one of the only teams in the league that's consistently shown improvement over the season. They lost the 2003 opener 31-0. Thirty-one! To zero! (And then finished the year beating the same team 31-0, producing one absolute hell of an outlier on a plot of rematch point differentials).

To be clear, I totally understand that the point wasn't that this happens, it was the fact that a player admitted it. It's just the amusement of "player admits something that happens regularly with the Patriots" leads to "Patriots Way is dead!"

6 To be fair, it seems that…

To be fair, it seems that this year may be different in that respect.  Putting Patricia/Judge in charge of the offense does IMO merit red flag status.  And let's not forget Darth Hoodie is 70, which could easily be an issue if for no other reason than loss of flexibility in thinking.

 That said, it's far too early to make anything remotely resembling a final pronouncement on which direction the Pats are going - but there a lots of folks rooting for Mike to be right.

    

8 Eh, there have been Gigantic…

Eh, there have been Gigantic Red Flags before early in the season, with 2013 being a poster child (oh, the Angry Tom Brady memes...), and, I mean, it was warranted, the offense was fairly hot garbage early in the season and letting Wes Welker go for peanuts was a special kind of WTF. But everything basically worked out there. Well, in the long run, at least.

Don't get me wrong, I do actually think the Patriots dynasty is fading, but for me I see it more just from the fact that they still seem to act like they've got the margin for error that Brady afforded them. Like, aiming to be the Big Fish in the '21 free agent market was super-smart, but man, such a big giant WTF on Henry/Smith/Agholor. And then that just cascaded into letting JC Jackson go, too.

That said, it's far too early to make anything remotely resembling a final pronouncement on which direction the Pats are going

It's really all about Mac Jones. If he improves on last year, that just hands them back the margin to recover from those mistakes. If last year was basically his ceiling (which, for rookies, it rarely is) they've got a tough road.

19 Mac Jones

The problem with it being all about Mac Jones is that rookie QBs don’t just produce knowledge about the game by themselves. They need competent coaching to help them realize that knowledge.
 

If you have a coaching staff calling bad plays, it sets a QB up to call bad plays. If you have a coaching staff not holding every player accountable, it sets a QB up to not be able to holding other players accountable. 

27 The problem with it being…

In reply to by DocPossum

The problem with it being all about Mac Jones is that rookie QBs don’t just produce knowledge about the game by themselves. They need competent coaching to help them realize that knowledge.

They... kinda... do? I mean, all quarterbacks do independent offseason work, and regardless of the whole media "QBZ ARE RIVALZ" thing, they're... really not. It's a bit weird because we know that certain position groups work together in the offseason regardless of team (Tight End University, etc.), so it'd be a bit insane if QBs didn't actually get together, but that's kept a lot quieter than the others.

I'm not saying coaches don't mean anything - faaar from it - but really the best QBs in the game don't wait for the knowledge to come to them, they go and find it themselves. Sure, if the coaching staff is awful, it can totally screw stuff up, but unless Belichick's a zombie corpse or something, all Jones needs to do is listen to him and he'll be fine.

That's really what I mean - if Jones has the physical talent and drive to actually be better than last year, they'll be fine - the massive financial margin that a cheap talented QB gives you will win out. Maybe they won't have the best year this year, but it won't matter - that margin will ride forward and just make everything easier.

47 Erm, no

It's really all about Mac Jones. If he improves on last year, that just hands them back the margin to recover from those mistakes.

It really doesn't.

Look, I'm not dumping on Jones....he could still end up being anywhere between "fine" and "pretty damn good", and of course it's reasonable to look for improvement from last season.

But even an improved Jones...even one that falls closer to the "pretty damn good" end of the scale described above....doesn't return the margin for error Brady provided. It would give some of it back....but let's at least be honest with ourselves about how much, and whether that's enough to sustain the way the team has always operated.

It's fair to suggest the Brady Margin was entirely unique. If it turns out that much margin was necessary to sustain that team('s way of doing business), that team is probably toast eventually.

49 doesn't return the margin…

In reply to by OmahaChiefs13

doesn't return the margin for error Brady provided. It would give some of it back

Sorry, that's all I was saying. I wasn't saying he's Brady. But if he's a starter-quality player at a rookie price, that's $20M/yr+ right there, and that flat-out pays for the Smith/Agholor mistakes. And even once you extend him, if you keep him happy it's still like $5-7M/yr relative to market.

54 Yeah, I dunno

I mean, everything you've mentioned is legitimate, in the sense that having a cost-controlled starting QB on the cheap is absolutely an advantage. And Jones might even still turn out to be a very good starter.

But I think we're finding that advantage needs to be even bigger than that to really have much impact...quite a few teams have had legitimate starting QBs under cost control, and even the best of those don't carry one as far as the early Russel Wilson years led us to all believe.

I mean, Mahomes and Allen (the very best of the recently-cheap young phenoms) combined for 1 championship before they stopped being cheap. And Jones is unlikely to be either.

I guess my point was, I always saw the Patriot Way requiring a Brady-level margin for error. Jones will provide some leverage, surely...but I'm skeptical it'll be sufficient.

58 I think the Brady level is…

In reply to by OmahaChiefs13

I think the Brady level is what gave the Pats their unprecedented success, bc yeah, margin of error. 

I guess if the Pats had somehow ended up with a good but lesser QB(say Philip Rivers) and then drafted say Mac Jones I would put their championship over-under at about 1.5.  

Basically, getting a HOF coach who then drafted a low round HOF QB thus having him most of his career is incredibly lucky. 

That Pats Way works without Brady (they did decent last year, 11 wins with Matt freaking Cassel and they got 7 out of the corpse of Cam Newton...). But yeah, it's hard to build a SB contender without a QB. You pretty much have to make a nutty defence, have a good enough QB (Mac probably works) and super, duper lucky or have your QB go totally super-mode one year like Matt Ryan and not having something else tank it. 

76   I guess my point was, I…

In reply to by OmahaChiefs13

 

I guess my point was, I always saw the Patriot Way requiring a Brady-level margin for error.

Woah woah woah. The Patriot Way with a Brady-level margin of error flattened the league. I mean, lapped the field. The only other dynasty that even comes close required two Hall of Fame quarterbacks, and they still weren't even really that close.

You can't say that The Patriot Way was some big drag on the Patriots. With Brady they basically never missed the playoffs. Jones likely isn't going to get them there, but that's not a realistic standard for success. If Jones ends up being a top-half QB, they're likely going to be like the 2010s Pittsburgh Steelers - few ups, few downs, pretty much a constant pain in the neck for other AFC teams.

Well, except for the whole age thing, obviously.

121 This

I'm an enthusiastic, self-avowed Patriots hater - and I find this article extremely premature. 

 

Yeah, there's a lot of cracks in the foundation from bad drafting, questionable roster building, highly questionable coaching staff, etc.  But they were competitive last season and it's truly stupid to make judgments about 2022 based on anything that happens in pre-season. Heck, the first month isn't all that telling.  If the Pats end up 5-12, Mac Jones looks like the next Daniel Jones, the offense is a rudderless mess...then Mike looks like a futurist, able to predict the unforetold.  

But my guess is Belichick will figure out a way to get to 8-9 wins and look competent enough that "if they can just find a QB this is a quality team".  

Could be wrong. 

17 There’s other evidence

The two assistants were pretty catastrophic failures where they coached. We’re not talking McDaniels coming back after drafting Tebow and still making the playoffs. We’re talking two embarrassing showings. Judge was tasked with developing a rookie QB and failed. There is no clear chain of command aside from it goes up to Belichick. He can’t micromanage and teach each player the proper techniques and subtleties of the offense. I think that’s more important because the personnel is not filled with athletic players that will just beat you. It’s an offense where each player must be excellent at their specific role.

The draft was bad too. Cole Strange was a bizarre pick, especially since they also had a hole at CB and some CBs were available at the original spot.

Additionally, the division is much better now. Slow starts were fine when you could count on 5-1 in the division.

 

3 91.1% is really close to the…

91.1% is really close to the unavoidable asymptote of 100%, 

 

   I'm so happy to see that after all these years you've finally recovered from the PTSD you got from the last time you used "asymptote" here.  :)

4 Fun times

As a Pats fan, I like the trolling of Pats fans. Not that there isn’t truth to this. It’s looking like the best case scenario is a lost season where Belichick finds better assistants and the org gets better execs. Of course, the worst case scenario is a total collapse without a quick replacement.

As for the FG% asymptote, one aspect that could push it even higher is the tendency of offenses to go for it rather than kick a long field goal and so we stop seeing 50+ yarders. These offenses will tend to be better too, so they’ll have less incentive to kick those FGs because they won’t be behind by just a FG and they will be more successful at converting 4th downs.

122 Good point

In reply to by DocPossum

Similarly, the chip shot opportunities should decline as teams go for it close to the end zone more often.  In short, we should see fewer field goal opportunities broadly across the league, but long attempts with lower conversion rates and short attempts with higher conversion rates.  

 

So maybe not a huge effect on conversion rate, but a general decline in total attempts. 

5 Billy B

Not having a nominal D or O coordinator is him just being different for different sake.

Not a fan of having less guys in the room in that regard. The fact they have the smallest staff is troubling in every aspect. 

7   Tucker is already a Pro…

 

Tucker is already a Pro Football Hall of Fame lock and can lay claim to the title of greatest kicker of all time.

Dear God, when will it end? Morton Anderson's in the Hall. So is Jan Stenerud. Vinatieri's been called a lock for so long that, well, he's a lock. Now Tucker. Ray Guy's in. Devin Hester's a damn finalist, so he's in. People crow about Shane Lechler because well, if Guy's in, Lechler's better. That's seven freaking special teams guys who play maybe what, 10-20 real plays in a game?

There's only freaking seven centers in the Hall! They're part of literally every offensive down! How much more obvious does it have to be that if you don't have countable stats, you don't exist for the Hall?

22 Good case

This is a good case for not enough centers in the Hall of Fame. Still think Tucker and Vinatieri should get in. One kicker per generation of players isn’t too much.

36 This is a good case for not…

In reply to by DocPossum

This is a good case for not enough centers in the Hall of Fame. Still think Tucker and Vinatieri should get in. One kicker per generation of players isn’t too much.

5 guys per year, max. If you want to increase the number of special teams guys (and Stenerud, Anderson, Vinatieri, Tucker is more like one kicker per decade, not generation), it has to come from somewhere else. And it sure as hell ain't gonna be QBs.

57 One of the kickers in the…

One of the kickers in the Hall was a QB!

I’ll put it this way. Justin Tucker has 100 more touches than Sterling Sharpe and has scored 1000 more points. Yet Sharpe is a borderline HoFer. Why isn’t Tucker?

70 um. what. Sterling Sharpe is…

  1. um. what. Sterling Sharpe is not a borderline Hall of Famer.
  2. relative value. Jon Dorenbos played in 201 games. He was directly part of scoring thousands of points too, and touched the ball tons as well. He's probably one of the best long snappers of our generation. He had next-to-zero value for the Eagles because a random guy from college would maybe screw up one snap more every 5-6 years. Kickers are not long-snappers, and Tucker absolutely adds value. He doesn't add nearly as much relative value as an above-average WR.
  3. peak vs longevity. You're making the "Fred Taylor and Frank Gore should be in the Hall" argument.

77 Sharpe absolutely is. Go…

Sharpe absolutely is. Go revisit the Tyreek discussion.

Tucker changes how Baltimore plays offense. His accuracy and accuracy at distance is like having a shutdown closer who is good for two innings every night. You can just assume you’re scoring once you cross the 40. It’s like getting 5-10 free yards per drive.

Your comp for something like that is someone like Mel Hein, who made the A formation work. Because he could snap in four different directions and no one else could.

Prater can match his distance, but has worked in much better kicking situations (domes and elevation) than Tucker (outdoors at sea level in the north) has. And Prater isn’t as accurate.

But it’s tricky ginning up an argument to exclude a guy with 5 AP1s. Who’s the highest-paid kicker.

149 Enabling

Tucker changes how Baltimore plays offense. His accuracy and accuracy at distance is like having a shutdown closer who is good for two innings every night. You can just assume you’re scoring once you cross the 40. It’s like getting 5-10 free yards per drive.

As a long-time Ravens fan, I might argue that Tucker enables Baltimore to continue to prioritize offense the way they always have.  A cloud of dust, 3 points, and then go back on D where you feel comfortable.  🙂

 

Prater can match his distance, but has worked in much better kicking situations (domes and elevation) than Tucker (outdoors at sea level in the north) has. And Prater isn’t as accurate.

That's the absurd thing about Tucker: he leads in career FG%, and he kicks outdoors at sea level (right on the harbor!) in a mid-Atlantic state.  Guys who lead in FG% are supposed to kick in domes, like Morten Andersen did for much of his career.

And it's not like Baltimore is “protecting” his stats, the way a baseball hitter in a race for the batting title might take the day off against a tough lefty.  They send Tucker out to kick 50 yarders routinely; hell, 60 yarders on occasion.  He probably has more FG attempts year-in/year-out that are “difficult” than any other kicker.  And his response is just to lead in career FG%.

Amazing.

146 I agree because

1. um. what. Sterling Sharpe is not a borderline Hall of Famer.

I guess I agree with that, but only because I think Sterling should be a clearly-IN Hall of Famer.  Not a borderline case at all.

155 God, if you think he is…

God, if you think he is opening one...

Sharpe had 2 years as a dominant WR, 89 and 92: the only justification I could ever give for Sharpe getting a third All-Pro in '93 was some vestige of the dead-ball era where just catching the ball was a miracle and TDs were basically the only receiving stat. Like, yay, you caught 100 passes two years in a row. Just, so wow. 4 more receptions, 190 less yards, meh team. Irvin by far deserved the All Pro nod more than Sharpe in '93. And this is an Eagles fan talking, mind you. About 1993, the start of the long, long years of sadness and the realization that by God, Kotite sucked.

Let me clearly state biases, though: the early 90s was when I started seriously paying attention to football and I bear quite a bit of resentment towards the Packers for getting Reggie White in '93 (although I was super-happy to see him get a ring).

But when the early '90s DVOA came out it really reinforced my opinion of Sharpe, that overall, his career wasn't that good, and it was just him being their only option.

By DVOA/DYAR:

'88: 114 DYAR (31st), 4.0% DVOA (30th)
'89: 425 DYAR (2nd), 25.5% DVOA (5th)
'90: 144 DYAR (24th), 1.9% DVOA (36th)
'91: 73 DYAR (38th), -3.1% DVOA (47th)
'92: 395 DYAR (2nd), 19.1% DVOA (6th)
'93: 183 DYAR (18th), -0.7% DVOA (39th)
'94: 258 DYAR (9th), 8.1% DVOA (25th)

That's 3/7 seasons as a top-10 WR, and 2/7 as a top-5. Not that impressive a peak, and no longevity.

This actually gets to part of my problem with countable stat players: there's multiple ways for them to rack up stats. They can either do it via rate stats, or counting stats. You can either be great on a play-by-play basis, or a volume basis. Sharpe racked up stats on a volume basis. He wasn't that epic. He's not the "running back Terrell Davis." TD lapped the damn field in 97 and 98. No one was close. At all. Sharpe was like "OK, we can talk about you with Irvin and Rice" for two years.

It's just so easy to make cases for countable stat players.

161 While I agree in general,…

While I agree in general, football is one of those sports where it's actually pretty hard to have a long career, so I don't mind as much in general. But yeah, I would call Sharpe a very borderline case. (out for me, I don't think the peak is high enough to cover such a short career but YMMV)

164 I get the sympathy for guys…

I get the sympathy for guys whose careers are ended, but if you go that route you'll have tons. Stuff happens in short periods. Davis is an exception, literally no one's doing what he did without actually being an all-time great.

For Sharpe though, he actually compares to Welker, for instance, with the exception that the Patriots had better red zone threats. Welker 07-13 went 4, 19, 3, 24, 3, 18, 25. Actually slightly better, since he had 3 top 5 years. 2 All Pros, 5 Pro Bowls (same as Sharpe really should've gotten). For the HOFm crowd, Sharpe's obviously higher but that's almost entirely because of that 1993 All Pro which still baffles me.

And Welker is really, really not a borderline HOF player for me.

165 Agree on welker, although it…

Agree on welker, although it's hard to balance peak and length. Frex: Larry Fitz should get in easliy despite only one AP and his number of times in the top 10/ top for DYAR is pretty similar to Sharpe and Welker. 

Of course...pretty big difference in the 'Zona qb situation there. He was last in DYAR 2012...with Kevin Kolb, John Skelton, Ryan Lindley? and Brian Hoyer at QB. 

168 Yeah, the QB situation is…

Yeah, the QB situation is what does it for Fitz for me. You could counter and say "well, it's not like Sharpe was playing with stellar QBs either" but Fitz played long enough that you could see the difference. Sharpe played 3 seasons with Favre and really only '92 was a top season. 

Fitz also had 5 total seasons in the top 10 of DYAR (and one other was 11) so it wasn't quite "pretty similar," it was basically double the number of seasons as a solid-to-top WR. With Fitz especially it's super-easy because his entire time with Warner he was basically a top 10 WR. Then Warner leaves, and I mean, it's a Chicago-level QB disaster at Arizona. And by the time Palmer shows up he's quite a bit older and that late resurgence is kindof even more impressive.

38 Totally agree on centers. I…

In reply to by DocPossum

Totally agree on centers. I'm fine with Tucker and Vinatieri.  In terms of game impact per play, Kickers are probably at the top, since they affect the score. 

I would actually be OK  with the only QB getting in for a while being Bree's, Brady, Rodgers, Mahomes and whoever of the young guys ends up being great. (ignoring the tiny chance someone could have a totally crazy tail to their career that puts them over the top)

41 I would actually be OK  with…

I would actually be OK  with the only QB getting in for a while being Bree's, Brady, Rodgers, Mahomes and whoever of the young guys ends up being great. 

Man, be careful, say that too much around here and they'll think you're crazy or something. Next you'll be saying things like "um, guys, Fred Taylor's kindof a ridiculous Hall candidate, why are we talking about him?" and "why, exactly, has a five-time all pro defensive tackle not even made the semi cut?"

edit:

In terms of game impact per play, Kickers are probably at the top, since they affect the score. 

It's relative difference that matters. Not absolute. The absolute is pointless. If no one on the team could hold, kickers basically couldn't score (drop kickers!!) but no one cares about holders because there's virtually no difference between the best and the worst. It's totally arbitrary that we assign the kick purely to the kicker. It'd be like assigning receptions entirely to the receiver and only giving incompletes and interceptions to the QB.

That's why kickers make so little even though they've got such a direct impact. Long snappers make even less, because there's even less difference!

43 To me, the cut off after…

To me, the cut off after those guys starts with Big Ben and Wilson.

At this point, I don't think Wilson's case is strong enough. And I suppose you could argue Ben is McNabb but with a gentler decline and a longer career + 2 Sbs.

The problem is, it felt like Brees was competing against 3 all time, inner sanctum QBs which depressed his totals. The trio have a combined 12 MVPs to their names. Just ridiculous. And then Ben was a step below Brees, so in that sense, putting the cut off at Brees feels rather punitive. Elway might have ended up with 0 all pros if he was in this era by comparison.

 

45 After taking a shower to…

After taking a shower to think a bit more. I don't think it's crazy to say that Manning Rogers and Brady are all probably in the top five all-time quarterbacks. I think Rodgers this season, to me, leapt past Marino, Elway, Tarkenton(tear), and probably Unitas though I don't know what to do with early 70s, mostly 60s QBs.

50 Not sure I would make Bree's…

Not sure I would make Bree's the cutoff(that's a high bar!), but it's a travesty if he doesn't make it on the first ballot. Wilson I wouldn't put in unless he has a really strong tail to his career(unlikely given his history but you never know I guess). 

Ben is in this group of guys that have slightly different cases but are hard to separate. Ben has the ringz,  Matt Ryan has the peak, Rivers has the awards(PB).  I would skip them all rather than trying to separate them, but that probably doesn't happen. 

Probably what they should is do 4 off and 4 def per year and add one floating slot that can be used for special teams or either. (Have they ever added slots as the league expanded?).  

52 They could also not fill all…

They could also not fill all of the slots. I think the hall voters need to take a serious look at how they've become captured by the same biases that infect everything else. Namely that they are too influenced by players who disproportionately touch the ball or put up counting stats.

59 I think they have filled all…

I think they have filled all the slots recently. (Only checked last few years). 

I wonder if the move to RB committes will help, as I don't think many RB will be putting up HoF stats in the future. (The only RB not in now who should be(will be) is Adrian Peterson)

128 Agree

It's hard to see any current RBs making the Hall.  Unless you're Terrell Davis (ahem) you have to have a minimum of 10K yards to even be considered and the way backs are used nowadays that's a hard bar to reach.  Unless you're Frank Gore or Ezekiel Elliott putting up pedestrian 1,000 yard season after season...which IMO doesn't warrant any kind of HOF inclusion.  

151 Oh man, don't let me get started

In reply to by MrMan

Unless you're Terrell Davis (ahem)

Annual reminder that there was a moment when Terrell Davis was the reigning League MVP and the reigning Super Bowl MVP.  He also is the all-time leader in postseason rushing yards, with over 1100 in 8 career games.

🙂

156 Terrell Davis (and Calvin…

Terrell Davis (and Calvin Johnson in some sense) just blow up Hall of Fame arguments. Davis and Johnson's careers were very short. Short enough that it should make you go "umm...." in both cases (which... it didn't in Megatron's case. But I digress).

But, I mean, Terrell Davis's career is just award, award, award, blow away the competition, rings... and then injury. And Johnson's career was like, quick ramp up then "best in the league, best in the league" and then consistently top 10 on a seriously flawed Lions team, and then retirement.

I mean, no one's going to have a peak like Davis. That's what you need to blow up the short career argument. And Johnson was just really, really consistently a top or solid receiver.

55 I think there's a debate…

I think there's a debate between Philip, Rivers and Big Ben. But I don't think there's much of one for Matt Ryan, who had one exemplary year and otherwise was pretty good.

What starts to sway Big Ben in my eyes is that. During the mid-2000s where the Steelers offense started to turbocharge. Yes the supporting casts were great then, but it still showed Ben was capable of leading a pass heavy yet efficient offense.

Rivers' issue for me is that while the first half of his career he was leading efficient pass heavy offenses, he has this bizzare mid career slump that went on way too long before reverting back just before aging out 

I'd probably put Ben in the Hall of Fame and everyone below him is out

154 Ben is in

I'd probably put Ben in the Hall of Fame and everyone below him is out

The idea that Roethlisberger won't make the HOF has always seemed absurd to me.  A face of the team, that team is the STEELERS, he won SBs with two different coaches, and his size made him a unique challenge.  Terrell Suggs and other Ravens used to say that you had to prepare for him differently: I can't tell you how many times I saw a Ravens rookie pass-rusher have Ben dead to rights, and then just bounce off him. 

There was a period of time where the Steelers won because of Ben.  Obvsly that time has been gone for some years, but it existed.  In his prime he was absolutely lethal on third down; you just couldn't get them off the field.  I think the opponent testimonials will do a lot for Ben; the Ravens-Steelers rivalry will give him a boost.

However.  Having said all that –

1.  I do not have solid, evidence-based reasons why Ben is a HOFer in my world, and Eli is not.  Ben feels like a Hall-of-Famer to me, and Eli doesn't, and I am not sure I can back that up.  It could be availability-bias comps: Eli is forever not as good as his brother, while Ben is better than Flacco.  It could just be divisional rivalry, as I am a Ravens fan, and Eagles /Cowboys / WTF fans would tell you different.

2.  Also I have some reservations around Ben: soft stuff, like the drama that always surrounded that team.  You'll never convince me that the Tomlin-Ben Steelers won as much as they “should” have.  It seemed like they weren't as focused / didn't press as hard as – well, as the Patriots, and Peyton, and even the Ravens.  Their “accomplishments-per-unit-of-talent” ratio feels low.  Not very scientific, more of a nagging impression.

Still, I think Ben's uniqueness as a player – the way his size and sandlot ability effected games –  will be decisive.

157 Ben vs Eli

In reply to by JimZipCode

Stats do show a difference, not huge but significant, for 2 players with careers of similar length (Ben 249 games, Eli 234) and equal in SBs.  Neither made 1st team All-Pro though Ben had 6 Pro-bowl invites to Eli's, for what that's worth.

Some stat comparisons:
                    Ben           Eli
Attempts    8443          8119
Complet.    5440          4895
Comp %     64.4           60.3
Y/A             7.59           7.02
TD              418            366
Int               211            244
Int %           2.50          3.01
TD/Int         1.98           1.50
All the rate stats favor Ben.  That said, on average he had better receivers.

158 I hate sounding like Bill…

In reply to by SandyRiver

I hate sounding like Bill Simmons, but looking at statistics and then trying to subjectively rate them based on the all pros of their teammates obscures the fact that I don't think a single person who followed the league would have chosen Eli above Ben for reasons other than postseason magic beans. 

I will admit; Ben is a little tricky for me. He was not particularly consistent, but he also reinvented himself a few different times and I think that mid 2010 surge was critically important to his hall of fame case. Otherwise, a lot of his hall of fame gravitas was getting spoken into existence like Eli or Russell Wilson. I think Wilson needs a similar mid/late career surge for me to entertain his hall of fame candidacy. 

But my larger point was; if you aren't going to have a tremendous peak; then what do you need to do to make up for it with longevity. I admit here; the moment you introduce longevity as a trade off for peak; it creates a very slippery slope. In that way, I've started to come around to Pat's view which is unless we apply this standard uniformly(which we clearly aren't doing at all); let's just see keep the standard at someone like Brees because that's effectively what we have done to other positions who don't touch the ball.

160 Mostly what Ben had going…

Mostly what Ben had going for him was...Fame, so in that sense, he belongs in the hall. (*) He was very good for a very long time with a high profile franchise. He would also make some cool highlights on occasion where he'd power a ball into a tight window or throw it 2 guys hanging off him. 
Ben: 131 wAv in 249 games

Matt Ryan: 144 wAv in 222 games

It's odd that Ryan actually being great for 1 year actually gets held against him. (well, that and 28-3, it's bad if that's your only chance. Players and teams get unfairly penalized for bad losses unless there is a bunch of success around them). 

*I don't actually dislike Ben's case and I think he fits in general, but if we're gonna raise the standards for QB to allow more for other positions, he's the guy who goes I think. Well, I think he actually gets in(Ryan will not), but I would say he was more Very Good +Famous rather than great. 

71 IMO

"Ben has the ringz,  Matt Ryan has the peak, Rivers has the awards(PB)."

 

none of these    are all-time greats.  Just because a     guy     started at QB for   ten years   should not   be   enough      to make him a HOFer.  
 

Rodgers  should   be ahead  of    all   three.

94 Rodgers gets in first ballot…

In reply to by Sid

Rodgers gets in first ballot, pretty much no matter what happens. My point was you don't really have to be an all time great QB to get in. Not sure I would call Warner an 'all-time-great' for example. Part of it is we live in high offence times so it's hard to compare. Like I said, I'd be ok cutting after Bree's. (Not saying he's the border, but I would put it somewhere between him a Ben, more toward the Ben side)

At least coaches and non-players get their own slots now.  Andy Reid and Belichick are in easy but I got no clue what the standards for coaches are beyond that. Not even sure who would be next (most of the obvious candidates have issues) Mike Tomlin?

95 Let's entertain this a bit…

Let's entertain this a bit more. Brees, depending on how much you era adjust and dome adjust, falls somewhere in the 8-15 best QBs that ever lived. An all time great player who's career accolades are depressed because of who he was competing against.

So if Brees is too high a standard(and I think he would be); where is the the cutoff? Is warner more deserving or Big Ben? I think depending on who you say will reveal a lot about how much you adjust for consistence, peak, and longevity. 

98 Nice tradeoff. Warner had a…

Nice tradeoff.

Warner had a great peak(+ ring) at the start and was pretty good the rest of his career. Ben was just consistently good for a LONG time but never really great(he didn't really HAVE a peak). (He wasn't even MVP in his two SB wins, one at Warners expense even. lol). 

It's funny that Matt Ryan is pretty similar to Big Ben minus the rings and with one super year(an actual peak) and people say he has no chance. 

I would view them as kinda defining the line in different ways. If you wanted to stick the line above them and say you should have more defenders....I'm cool with that. 

 

148 Standards for HOF coaches

At least coaches and non-players get their own slots now.  Andy Reid and Belichick are in easy but I got no clue what the standards for coaches are beyond that.

Two years ago I tried to reverse-engineer a scoring system for coaches that would function like PFR's Hall Of Fame Monitor.  It was hard.  Don Shula and Bill Belichick break everything; and it seems damn near impossible to construct something that seems reasonable and puts George Halas & Vince Lombardi on a scale with Jimmy Johnson & Tony Dungy. 

In the end I came up with something I wasn't ashamed of.  Bill Walsh was my median HOFer, with a score of 113; Weeb Ewbank was next below, with a score of 96.  My lowest-scoring HOF coach was Sid Gillman, which makes sense as he's in more as a contributor than for his accomplishments strictly as a HC.  Next six lowest were:

  • Jimmy Conzelman:  66
  • George Allen: 69
  • Jimmy Johnson:  74
  • Greasy Neale: 79
  • Tony Dungy: 84
  • Marv Levy: 87

Belichick destroys the scale: his score was 295 (two years ago).

Andy Reid had just won his Super Bowl, bringing his score to 104, which seems comfortably in Hall territory.  But before Patrick Mahomes came along, Reid's score was much lower.
Here's some other names of interest:

  • Tom Coughlin: 84
  • Mike Shanahan: 82
  • Sean Payton: 78
  • Marty Schott: 71
  • Mike Tomlin: 69
  • John Harbaugh: 54

Coughlin & Shanahan come in pretty high; I don't usually think of them for the Hall, for some reason.  Harbaugh & Big Schott come in lower than I expected, esp Harbaugh.  One thing about Harbaugh's & Tomlin's scores, they each have somewhat fewer divistion titles than you might “expect” given their other accomplishments.  Taking them from each other, of course.  A slightly unusual situation.  Joe Gibbs & Bill Parcells were in the same boat, but not for as many seasons: basically their whole careers. 

One big X-factor for Harbs, I think if he wins a Super Bowl with Lamar, he would be in no matter what my “score” says (though of course the score would be higher then).   He would get some large bump from Hall voters for winning with two different QBs, playing two completely different offensive styles, etc etc.  Tomlin would get a “two different QBs” bump with another SB too, but I think not as much of one, because of the style-of-play thing.  Lamar is a lightning rod in a way that whoever plays for Tomlin likely won't be.

Anyway: this was an interesting exercise for me.  (I hope it's interesting for you to read!)  If I ever go back to this and try to refine it, I will probably throw out all the coaches who did the bulk of their work pre-1970, and maybe throw out Shula & Belichick too.  A system needs to calibrate more finely in the middle of the range, not on the extreme tails.

But I may not bother.  There's a huge subjective component to the Hall voting for coaches, and I think that's appropriate.  Marv Levy is in with his zero championships, and George Seifert is out with his two, and that's the right answer, scoring systems be damned.

163 Thanks for this. My really…

Thanks for this.
My really quick heuristic for coaches was:

.600+ regular season WP (higher is better), 200+ games, at least 1 ring and at least 1 award. 

That doen't cover everyone(you mentioned alot of the problem cases like Levy), but it does explain most of the guys who who have been around a while and not getting any consideration. 

Coughlin: His wp is low (.531), but I still would rather put him in than Eli if your going there. Probably doesn't have a chance bc he was bad at handling players as a GM(when the union tells players not to sign with your team....). 

Shanahan: Again, low WP(.552) an no awards, and I think the 2 ringz get discounted bc Elway. And he got overshadowed by his son. 

Shotty: No ringz.

Tomlin and Harbaugh would probably be next.  Payton also, depending on how much he gets discounted for Brees. He probably needs to succeed wo an inner cirlce HOF QB to really be a lock. 

169 Coaches scoring system

Two years ago I tried to reverse-engineer a scoring system for coaches that would function like PFR's Hall Of Fame Monitor.  

My really quick heuristic for coaches was:

For anyone interested, here's the scoring system I came up with.  This is profoundly influenced by the old Bill James HOF predictors.  Note that it's not trying to say who should be in the Hall; it's trying to read what the Hall voters have done / will do.

15 pts for every NFL championship
10 pts for every Super Bowl loss. (No score for pre-SB championship game losses.)
5 pts for every division title
4 pts for every season with a win% over .760
– (which would be 10 wins in a 12-game season; 11 in 14; 13 in 16 or 17)
4 pts for every Coach of the Year award
1 pt for every winning season.  (Shockingly low)
Pts for Reg Season win% as follows:
– 20 pts for pctg over .700
– else 15 pts for pctg over .650
– else nothing
Pts for Playoff win%:
– 20 pts for pctg over .800
– else 15 pts for pctg over .700
– else 10 pts for pctg over .600
– else nothing

Importantly, for the Win% scores, the coach gets the highest value from any of their team-stints.  So for example:
Jimmy Johnson had a playoff win% of .875 in Dallas, but “only” .692 overall.  He gets the full 20 pts for the playoff win% over .800 he had in Dallas, not the lower 10 pts for the career playoff win% of .692.
Tony Dungy had a reg-season win% of .759 in Indy, but “only” .668 overall.  He gets the full 20 pts for the reg-season win% over .700 that he had in Indy, not the lower 15 pts for the career win% of .668

No minuses.  

The idea was to have the average HOF coach come in around 100.  Or median, since Belichick & Shula destroy all curves.  That didn't happen; but it did line up the coaches in a fairly sensible, non-silly way. 

One thing I might do if I take this up again, is add a parameter for championship seasons per total season.  That would give a boost to Lombardi who absolutely does not need it, and also to Jimmy Johnson, who does.

Finally, just to underscore the limitations of anything remotely like this, I must mention that by this system George Siefert has a higher score than Bill Walsh, 114 to 113.  So, y'know, take all this stuff with a huge grain of salt.

23 HOF Special Teamers

I share your lament but IMO it's out of place when discussing Tucker.  In addition to his overall stats, the guy has hit 73% of attempts from 50+ and it's not a particularly small sample, 48-of-66.  Someone with stats already in hand could dial up the 50+ numbers of other elite kickers.

Looked up stats for the HOF placekickers and Adam V:
---Stenerud:  Retired 1985, Different era.  Comparing his stats to current placekickers would be like comparing pre-1920 home run hitters to the current crop.
---Andersen:  Retired 2007, hit 80% of attempts (top season 89%) and 48% of 50+.  His 84 tries from out there is probably tops.  12% of all attempts were from 50+.
Viniateri:  Retired 2019. hit 84% of attempts, 63% of 50+.  Like Morten, Adam V took 12% of attempts from 50+.

Tucker's 66 tries from 50+ are 18% of all attempts.  Maybe this is a new era with 50+ attempts rising toward 20%, or as posted above, maybe more of the 4th-and-5s from the 40 will now be go-for-it rather than kicks, unless it's right at the end of a half.

40 Me: How much more obvious…

Me:

How much more obvious does it have to be that if you don't have countable stats, you don't exist for the Hall?

You:

yes but look at all these countable stats for this guy

He's. A. Kicker. Top-end kickers get 3% of the cap. Top-end centers get well over double that. Teams do not consider kickers anywhere near as important as centers, guards, linebackers, defensive tackles. If we invent stats for long snappers and start giving them All Pros and Pro Bowls do they get in, too?

Kickers, punters, and pure returners entering the Hall are getting in more and more now. With only 5 guys getting in each year, someone else has gotta go down, and it's not gonna be the stat guys.

56 Balance elsewhere

I agree on the more centers point. I think that having four kickers eventually is not the problem. We could see more centers as running backs and maybe linebackers become inducted at a lower rate.

78 Oh, yeah, absolutely. I wasn…

Oh, yeah, absolutely. I wasn't suggesting money's a good way of doing it, although it's not like All Pros, Pro Bowls, passing yards, etc. are good ways either. It's just that when all you've got are bad options, you gotta do something.

87 Totally agree there.   I…

Totally agree there.   I think the real problem is line play doesn't have much visual impact relative to how much it affects the game. (i.e. most people are watching the ball). Heck, I was a statistician in high school. You need to be able to watch and write down stuff quick. No way to do that for 22 guys at once. 

Maybe all this will chance in 20 years when AI can chart games in real time. 

I've always thought the NFL should maybe pick one game a week and do it up with all the graphics where they explain what is supposed to happen, what did and make it easy to understand all the non-obvious but cool aspects of the game. Maybe when Belichick retires have him do it and call it "Coach Select" or something. Bill it as a football show rather than an actual game. 

89  Maybe all this will chance…

Maybe all this will chance in 20 years when AI can chart games in real time. 

Oh God, AI could chart games in real time right now. Honestly from a data science point of view it's a joke.

I've always thought the NFL should maybe pick one game a week and do it up with all the graphics where they explain what is supposed to happen, what did and make it easy to understand all the non-obvious but cool aspects of the game.

Belichick actually does something like this on a few plays, and it's sheer awesome. Peyton's Detail breakdown is similarly great. More on this would just be fantastic.

100 Having worked with this data…

Having worked with this data, I think its more complicated than you realize. Yes the sensor data is quite good, giving you an idea about who is where and what they are doing(sort of).

The biggest problem comes from reactive positions, not so much proactive positions, becausew what they do works in concert with not only themselves but with respect to the other players and the play design(of which, neither you nor I will know about). It also depends on how one "defines" success. If a corner shuts down all passes but gives up one or two deep shots every game vs another corner who gets roasted repeatedly but comes down with an interception often enough?

I once asked Ben Muth; you have an left tackle that pitches mostly a shut out but suffers two humiliating plays where the QB gets sacked and fumbles or gets hurt. Does that make the left tackle bad? 

I've been fortunate to ask some people who are connected to the league about these circumstances and believe me; there is no consensus out there. I think the answer will depend on coach to coach.

So thus, traditional data science serves in search of an answer to a question; but if the answer keeps changing depending on who you ask; its not very helpful. 

101 I think we're setting…

I think we're setting different standards for charting: I was just more thinking of rough classifications of route and defensive alignments. Pretty sure Brian Burke demonstrated automatic route identification a number of years ago, for instance.

113 I'd actually push back on…

I'd actually push back on this a bit - money is a pretty good way of judging positional value. It's not necessarily good at judging who is good at those positions, but it's the best proxy we have for how teams value the positions themselves (when you average across the entire league and multiple years). So "Tucker made X million while this center made Y million" isn't very compelling, but "the top 50% of kickers take up X% of the cap while the top 50% of centers take up Y% of the cap" is fairly meaningful, imo.

124 Yeah, that's mostly my point…

Yeah, that's mostly my point. Like, yes, Trent Williams doesn't have the media accolades other tackles do, but he's a 12-season starter at an incredibly valued position and the only reason his first team gave him up is because they nearly killed him (which... kinda sours your relationship with a player). That in and of itself is a strong recommendation that he's an all-time great.

Then, of course, you need to go watch his film.

129 Not when looking at salaries in aggregate

The fact NFL teams don't spend money on kickers is a strong indication they don't see value in doing so.  If kickers were really difference makers than a smart FO would exploit that opportunity and spend money on a kicker who makes a difference.  I guess you could argue Tucker IS special, not because of his salary, but bc he's about the only guy who's been consistent and reliable enough that you WOULD spend money on him.  

85 Heck no. Look, for the most…

Heck no.

Look, for the most part, it's relative value. Tucker's the best kicker in the league by far. Adding 3% DVOA to your team for like, what, $2M/yr excess cost? Friggin bargain. If any kicker should get in, it's him. And Devin Hester absolutely made people change the way they approached him. If we're letting in returners, absolutely we have a discussion. Lechler too is way underrated as a weapon.

But the problem is that with the way they're inducting counting stats candidates now, special teamers just... shouldn't be. Let me remind you that not only are the total number of HoF entries fixed (5), the finalist and semifinalist slots are fixed. The number of nominees is not. Anyone can nominate.

The counting-stat position candidates even at the semi level is ridiculous. 

108 Hester forced a change

As did Gale Sayers many years before, though he also had a lot of rushing value as well.  Bob Hayes is another who changed the game, which is why I think he fully deserved the HOF despite a relatively short career.  He was bulky for a sprinter and not the fastest off the line, but once he was trucking there was no one who could keep up - DBs had to change how they covered fly routes as a result.  Hayes' anchor leg in the 4x100 final at Tokyo is one of the 2 most awesome feats I recall from the Olympics, the other being Beamon extending the long jump record by nearly 2 feet at Mexico City.  Hayes was about 3 yards behind the leader when he took the baton, but with the running start he made the rest of the field look slow and broke the tape about 3 yards ahead, being about 5% faster than any of the world-class opponents.  (I might add Katie Ladecky in the 800 and 1500 freestyle, but she's done it again and again so not the shock value of Beamon and Hayes.)

119 Hester was only a dominant…

Hester was only a dominant returner because the Bears couldn't figure out how the hell to use him as a WR, because they're an incompetent franchise. Practically every other really really dominant returner stopped returning because they were too valuable to use as returners.

And he only forced teams to change because handing the Bears offense 20 yards was totally pointless. It's like giving a dollar to someone $10k in debt.

130 I was going to make this point earlier

If Deion Sanders couldn't play cornerback and only returned punts and kickoff, he would have had a lot more opportunities and probably has a better career than Hester.  

 

If you're the best at something simply bc other guys were considered too valuable to be used doing what you're the best at...maybe what you're doing isn't all that valuable. 

99 If there were only one ST in…

If there were only one ST in the Hall, it would have to be Tucker. The fact that his numbers are better than everybody else's can be attributed to era, but he has dominated the position throughout his career in a way no one ever has.

109 but he has dominated the…

but he has dominated the position throughout his career in a way no one ever has.

No. He hasn't. He's dominated the position statistically. But throughout Vinatieri's career he was practically the only kicker anyone in the damn country could name. If memory serves for the longest time he had the best-selling kicker's jersey. I mean, people talked about him practically reverentially, like, oh, Vinatieri comes in, it's practically automatic (even though it wasn't, as FO has repeatedly pointed out - he wasn't really even the best kicker in the league). When the Patriots let him go and Indianapolis signed him, people acted like it could be the end of the Patriots dynasty

That's actually the issue with guys with countable stats. For those guys, you have two kinds of people who can get in: the statistically dominating ones (say, like Brees or Rivers) or the narrative guys, the ones who just have Those Things that people remember (usually championships - say, like Roethlisberger).  For guys without stats, you only get the narrative guys.

I've said elsewhere here that as it is right now I don't think any special teams guys should really get in, which is really poor wording by me. What I actually mean is that given how bad it is right now with WRs and QBs and even still RBs, for crying out loud (sorry, Fred Taylor fans, just... stop), I just don't see how you can fit in special teams guys without finally just screwing over the non-stats positions.

24 I would conclude from your…

I would conclude from your post that the issue isn't the number of special teams players that make it, but the fact that too few centers make it and too many everyone else does.

The standard for receiver and running back is way too low compared with other positions. Through this lens, Frank Gore making it is a joke.

33 Yeah, but you can't increase…

Yeah, but you can't increase one position without decreasing another. That's the downside of having a fixed number of people you let in. The number of special teams players going into the Hall has increased a ton recently. From the beginning of the Hall until 2014, there was exactly 1 special teams player in (Stenerud). In the 8 years since then, there've been 2, and in the next 8 years there will almost certainly be at least 2 more.

My comment really was the last line: if you put up personal statistics, it's getting easier and easier to get in to the Hall of Fame. If you don't, you're screwed. Safeties struggled for years, off-ball linebackers still do, defensive tackles still do, centers and guards still do.

Some part of me actually thinks the shine is even wearing off of tackles: while Joe Thomas will walk in first-ballot, the problem is that the only "stats" people tended to use for tackles (namely: awards) have gotten so spread around recently that even though Trent Williams has clearly been considered an absolute top-end tackle for basically most of his career (by the most reliable award out there - money) and he should be a shoo-in, I kinda doubt he will. And even Peters might take a few years, which is nuts.

64 There weren’t any special…

There weren’t any special teamers until 1960 or so, and there were still kicker-QBs or punter-QBs through the mid-2000s. 

Dedicated kickers are relatively new. You’re gonna see a slot receiver in the hall soonish, too.

\I bet in the mid-80s you were bitching about the prospect of a TE getting into the Hall at the expense of a blocking back.

73 Yes. I agree on all the…

Yes. I agree on all the points. Except I don't understand how this has anything to do with how players who are critical to the game and extremely highly valued by teams are struggling to get into the Hall.

79 That’s a separate problem…

That’s a separate problem.

If I wanted to use your criteria, I would argue TEs are just a combination of a slow WR2 and a shitty guard, are a paid more like a kicker than either position they can’t do.

\seriously. At 10.9 M they are closer to kickers (5.2 M) than OL (16.6 M) or WRs (18.4 M). 
\\No Gronk or Kelce for the Hall

83 That’s a separate problem.…

That’s a separate problem.

Not until they increase the number of players who get into the Hall.

\seriously. At 10.9 M they are closer to kickers (5.2 M) than OL (16.6 M)

It's almost like this implies that OL are more neglected for the Hall than tight ends. (also Travis Kelce is not being paid 10.9M/yr)

152 Fixed class size is stupid

Yeah, but you can't increase one position without decreasing another. That's the downside of having a fixed number of people you let in.

The class-size limit is absurd, and bad for the Hall.

I don't think of myself as a “large Hall” guy – well, I guess nobody does – but a 5-player limit just creates & perpetuates a backlog.  Silly.

51 I'm confused as to what your argument actually is

Is your argument:

  • Lechler and Hester shouldn't get in, and Guy and maybe Anderson shouldn't have?
  • Not enough linemen (centers in particular) get in because they don't have countable stats?
  • Having a fixed number of inductions per class is an issue and they really should at least increase the number (which, to your point, is mostly just a different way of saying number 2 above, because you're right....those center spots have to come from somewhere in a zero-sum system)?

I'm not dumping on any of them....in fact, I could get behind any of the above. I'm just not sure which argument you're trying to make.

Regardless, Tucker is entirely the wrong hill to die on to make any of those points....realistically, Tucker deserves enshrinement more than any of the names you mentioned. And probably more than most deserving centers you could name.

"Tucker isn't deserving" is just a non-starter, no matter how legitimate any of your other arguments might be.

61 Mainly the second one. I…

Mainly the second one. I think the problem is that as fantasy football in general becomes this dominant thing, stats are just taking over the Hall conversations. And if you're going to start recognizing these guys, that's fine, but you run smack dab in to argument #3.

 And probably more than most deserving centers you could name.

No. Just.... no. I just... no. My brain's literally misfiring on this. Like... no! 

I will totally give you Tucker's one of the best (if not the best) kicker in history. But he's a kicker. The relative impact he has on the game is small. Maybe 3-4% DVOA total. That's literally from the special teams page here. Top-end centers have quarterbacks pleading with the team to keep them. Just think about it. If I hand you a highlight reel from a season, which one's gonna be longer: a top-end center, or a kicker? It's not even going to be close. I might be able to rack up more from a game for a center.

I absolutely appreciate the "punters and kickers should be in the Hall, they're part of the game, too." But you've got to recognize that the Hall has a serious problem with guys that don't accumulate stats. It always has. You've got to equalize the guys who actually play the game before you add more, and then you need to deal with problem #3.

67 Your center argument is…

Your center argument is identical to arguing a defensive catcher who can’t hit should be in the Hall because Kershaw really liked him.

it’s just a bad argument.

If you want to change the world, figure out to how add line play to fantasy.

74  Your center argument is…

Your center argument is identical to arguing a defensive catcher who can’t hit should be in the Hall because Kershaw really liked him.

Where in the world did I say that was my central argument?? It was a supporting note. Not central.

Look, if you want to trash centers and say they're unimportant, we can just agree to disagree. Five years ago I watched one win the Super Bowl for a team, so I'll just happily enjoy the ride. Literally my central argument is that special teams players are getting into the Hall at rates higher than they should relative to non-stat players.

If you want to change the world, figure out to how add line play to fantasy.

Ooh! Ooh! I can.

It's called "stop playing fantasy."

93 I'm not angry at Tucker. I'm…

I'm not angry at Tucker. I'm angry at the Hall of Fame. When you start thinking "hey, maybe we've been too hard on special teams players, they deserve some recognition" and positions that are literally the core of the game are sitting there with 5-time All-Pros and they're like "eh.... I think I'd rather see Steve Tasker voted on." Yah. I'm gonna be angry.

I'm not even surprised to see everyone defending Tucker. Because it's easy. He's got stats. It's simple. It's just math. You basically can't argue with it. The difficulty is if you go back and actually watch say, Saturday and Manning interacting both on the field and off, or Kevin Williams just screwing over other teams, or Jason Kelce going all Gandalf in Moria... it's also inarguable that those guys should be in, too.

Mike Tanier in another argument made the comment that the Hall of Fame isn't really "opposed to statistics" or something, and it just absolutely cracked me up. The Hall's totally in love with statistics. It makes their job easy. And it's just depressing to see a game that's not baseball, that can't really be boiled down to statistics be reduced to that.

96 Probably a fun way to put…

Probably a fun way to put this is....who more deserving?

Take any player (Kelce, Kevin Williams, Tucker) and put them up against, say Big Ben*(Could go Kurt Warner also for an inducted version). Who do you pick?
 

*I wanted a good but not all-time QB.  

Curious how that would play out. 

 

86 Ok

Just think about it

I have...and I stand by the original statement that you struggled to process.

I mean, I think managing 3-4% DVOA from a position that sees so few snaps actually indicates a pretty high level of individual leverage for that position. Especially as compared to a center.

I also think using DVOA to exclude kickers...but then using anecdotes about QBs pleading for centers...is a bit weird. And that using DVOA as the cornerstone of a HoF argument, rather than a component of it, isn't really a very comprehensive view to begin with.

But if we're so far apart that saying arguably the best ever at a direct scoring position probably has a stronger argument than, say, the 10th best center ever sparks that level of cognitive rejection and a "think about it" response (that implies the converse to be self-evident), it's probably unlikely to be productive.

Like I said, I can absolutely get behind an argument against the conditions that make the Hall such an uphill trudge for centers and similar positions. How and why that translates to "Justin Tucker is less deserving" will remain beyond me.

92   I mean, I think managing…

In reply to by OmahaChiefs13

I mean, I think managing 3-4% DVOA from a position that sees so few snaps

It's the absolute value that matters, not the fact that it happens on so few snaps. The game just isn't about kickers that much.

I also think using DVOA to exclude kickers...but then using anecdotes about QBs pleading for centers...is a bit weird.

Kickers are one of the very few positions you can almost exactly compute their direct contribution to the team. Everybody else you have to infer, either from what happens when they're gone, from their contracts, or from comments from other players. That's why I referenced a number there. Because it's measurable.

I usually bring up centers because lots of centers are way more involved with a play than most other linemen, since often times they direct the protection. Not always, sometimes it's the quarterbacks. And sometimes it's not even that difficult, because the blocking assignments are easy. But sometimes it's not.

But if we're so far apart that saying arguably the best ever at a direct scoring position

This is exactly what's sparking the cognitive dissonance. I don't understand why calling a kicker a "direct scoring position" means anything. It's relative value. Take him off the team, replace him with an average player, what changes? That's the only way you can measure someone's value in a team game.

Like I said, I can absolutely get behind an argument against the conditions that make the Hall such an uphill trudge for centers and similar positions. How and why that translates to "Justin Tucker is less deserving" 

It's just because there are only 5 slots. Things getting easier for kickers (which they are) necessarily means it's getting harder for others.

104 “It's the absolute value…

“It's the absolute value that matters, not the fact that it happens on so few snaps. The game just isn't about kickers that much.”

Pat, we get what you’re saying, we just don’t agree. Justin Tucker gets $3 million per year. He should probably get more, but even still, there would probably be 5-10 centers who deserve to get paid more than him because their position is more valuable.

And there are also about 25 quarterbacks who get paid more than Aaron Donald, Cooper Kupp, Jalen Ramsey, JJ Watt, you name it. It’s the Hall of Fame, not the Hall of MVP, or the Hall of Value Added, or the Hall of Made Lots of Money. If all we cared about was helping the team win, then the only possible knock against the fifteenth best QB being more deserving of a HOF nod than Aaron Donald would only be that they prevented you through opportunity costs of having one of the top 5 QBs.

106 It’s the Hall of Fame, not…

It’s the Hall of Fame, not the Hall of MVP

Exactly! And the entire problem is that guys who rack up countable stats get recognized more. Primarily because of a game that's only tangentially related to football.

the fifteenth best QB

Yes - and that's what makes it so complicated, and also so difficult to find a balance! You can't go and say "look, we just want to find the best players at each position, the dominant ones" because, look, that's not going to be Ben Roethlisberger or Philip Rivers. It isn't going to be Isaac Bruce or Reggie Wayne. As I've said before, I'd be fine with a highly-restrictive Hall as well. Then, I mean, I'd be fine listening to Mack/Kelce/Pouncey arguments. Taylor or Willis being left out would be fine. And obviously a guy like Tucker would be in then as well, because you're trying to represent the game.

But that's just not the way the Hall actually works. There's clearly different bars for different positions. And when you look at it at first glance, the bars kinda make sense. Rivers, Roethlisberger, Ryan, god, even having the discussion on Eli is OK because quarterback's just so much more valuable that even though Roethlisberger was never really the best he was still super-important to the game.

Same with wide receiver, with defensive end. And then you see running backs getting devalued and it just mimics everything you see in the overall salary distribution. Except for linemen/off-ball linebackers. Linemen are getting more, and more, and more valued over time by teams... but even more and more ignored by casual fans, and to me, that just leaks straight into the Hall discussions.

Kickers, punters, return men: oh, geez, we can whip out stats left, right, and center for those guys. Justin Tucker gets in because he's objectively the best kicker... well, pretty much ever, but definitely this generation. Totally get that. And Vinatieri gets in because, golly gee he just looked so massively important for the Patriots kicking those Super Bowl winning field goals (eye roll).

Again. I don't have a problem with Tucker, because yes, you absolutely want to let guys like that in. But that's where the special teams guys should start. Guys who lap the field, year over year, versus their peers. That's not Vinatieri, that's not Hester, that's not Anderson. Those guys are in the discussion because of narrative more than ability. And this is the entire problem: once they started letting any special teams guys in (on narrative) guys like Tucker become automatic because it's inarguable.

But the problem is there is no "inarguable" for line-play positions. None. The only reason Joe Thomas is a first-ballot Hall guy is because everyone knows that fantastic OL from the Browns who never got a shot in the playoffs.

114 I don't understand why you…

I don't understand why you are bringing money into this discussion. I've said this before, the issue isn't about money, it's about what's easy. And like you have said, counting stats are easy. I get it, kickers have counting stats so they may end up leap frogging worthy centers. It seems, to you, Tucker doing that is a far worse sin that someone like Reggie Wayne doing that.

I disagree here. I think the right answer is to rail against the hall and remind them they are falling prey to the same blindspots that befall the casual fan.

If Tanier is reading this(unlikely) I would ask that he politely point this out to his Hall of Fame friends.

117 I don't understand why you…

I don't understand why you are bringing money into this discussion.

Because for guys like centers/guards/defensive tackles/linebackers/blocking tackles, it's literally the only stat they've got that's definitely theirs. 

I can't argue against Tucker being deserving because I've got literally decades of math education. I understand standard deviations and fluctuations and how far off the norm he is. Again. It's easy. It makes a hard job quick, so you take the easy route.

And then any time guards/centers/defensive tackles/linebackers/blocking tackles are brought up, immediately people start saying "well, yes, but". And there's no way to argue it because there are no real stats just for those guys. Except the fact that teams are willing to dish out millions for these somehow unimportant positions. It's literally the only thing that you can mention.

It seems, to you, Tucker doing that is a far worse sin that someone like Reggie Wayne doing that.

Uh. No.......? Like, super super super no? Absolutely not? The WR issue is much, much bigger. Give me an article about how Hines Ward and Anquan Boldin are already semifinalists (and people talk about Sterling Sharpe being borderline HOF) and I'll rail on that one even harder.

127 I would rephrase it a little…

I would rephrase it a little bit. There are now stats that are trying to quantify and rank offensive lineman. Pass blocking win rate, expected rush yards etc etc. 

 

But even if you didn't have access to this, there is the old fashioned Dr. Z method of polling the league and doing some study on the centers in question. Even Dr. Z knew he didn't have infinite time to watch every offensive lineman, so this was the approach he took.

But here's the crux of the problem as I see it. Much like the supreme Court is influenced by public opinion polls despite having literal job security, The NFL Hall of Fame is also swayed by the broader media. As Ben muth put it, our eyes are drawn to the football and all of the biases stem from that. I think with enough stern chidings the hall can be aware of this and start to take steps to mitigate it.

131 There are now stats that are…

There are now stats that are trying to quantify and rank offensive lineman. Pass blocking win rate, expected rush yards etc etc. 

Yeah, the funny thing about those is that in some sense, it's the same problem that I have with trying to assign individual stats to a team game anyway. Blocking isn't a separable metric, it's about how guys work together. I mean, in some sense, the entire idea of using statistics for a Hall of Fame discussion is kinda terrible.

I mean, maybe it's partly me. PFF famously has this weird hatred of Maurkice Pouncey, for instance, and I just don't get it. I've watched Pouncey a ton (see later comment). Great movement, great play involvement, always aware and always had an idea of where he needed to be. Not the strongest guy in the world, struggled with stronger rushers, sure, but none of that's super-important. It's like saying "yes, but Tyreek Hill's not 6'4"" or "but Peyton Manning couldn't run for crap." Doesn't matter. Steelers used Pouncey's intelligence and athleticism and man did it pay off.

Still to this day think that if he hadn't gotten injured his rookie year they probably would've beaten the Packers in that Super Bowl. 

I just get this feeling that when people try to break up an OL to 'grade' the individual ones, they kinda miss the point. If the LT flattens his defender into the ground and  the LG gets blocked back straight into the QB... you lose.

there is the old fashioned Dr. Z method of polling the league and doing some study on the centers in question.

Yup, that's what I do! Except I can't poll the league, so whenever some OL gets some huge contract or something, I'm like "hm, that guy deserves some attention." Need to go watch Tunsil soon, for instance, I'm way behind on that.

125 Totally agree

Doesn't matter that Devin Hester was significantly better at returning kicks than his contemporary peers...his impact on a team's season results was not big enough to warrant HOF induction IMO.  

 

 

136 It was pretty big. Hester…

In reply to by MrMan

It was pretty big. Hester was worth around 300 surplus yards per year. Which is about 15% of the difference between the best offense and worst offense in a given season.

So in 2006, just his punt returns made the Bears a top-8 offense instead of a top-15 one.

9 Hey, every internet writer gets to do some clickbait.

1) No, not "IT'S ONLY PRESEASON". It's not YET! preseason. It's training camp. Really, dude.

2) The unit making the Pats offense look so bad is the Pats defense.

3) 'secrecy for secrecy's sake not historically associated with Belichick himself'  ?!?!?!?!?!?!?  This might be the most amazing one of them all, Mike. If you recheck your copy, you'll find Belichick's picture next to its entry in the Dictionary 'o Phrases.

13 To be clear

All things do come to an end. So of course the 70-year-old Belichick may never see another Super Bowl. Oblige me to one way or another, I'd actually choose that side of the wager.

But this article is Tarot Card/goat entrails stuff.

Training camp! Yeesh

10 I've always felt like…

I've always felt like Patriots were well mirrored by the Spurs in the NBA. Both teams had Superstars leading the way, but won in ways that showed that the whole was greater than the sum of their parts.

But eventually the Spurs fell into a deep malaise and may now have finally hit rock bottom.

I don't think that suggests the coaching has gotten worse, But it does show the limits of coaching after years of assistance being picked off and talent degradation.

On the other hand, If Jones performs well, this column becomes irrelevant.

18 As a fan of the Buffalo…

As a fan of the Buffalo Bills and Sacramento Kings*, I'd argue that the Patriots and Spurs have no idea what rock bottom even looks like.  They may have read about rock bottom in Time magazine 25 years ago and they recall some details occasionally but mostly they are just misery tourists right now.

 

*season ticket holder, because I apparently enjoy things that bring me pain in person

11 Joe douglass seemingly had a…

Joe douglass seemingly had a very good 2021 draft and gets rave reviews for 2022. But he still ran the show in 2020 and that draft looks like a historic failure even by Jets’ standards. Seven top 130 picks, and only one will see meaningful snaps in 2022 (Davis). If Wilson gets passed by fields and Lance this season, even 2021 will look disastrous in hindsight.

12 This article seems to be…

This article seems to be about what the media writes about the Patriots, as opposed to being about the Patriots themselves. 
 

I like Tanier’s writing when we writes about actual football, which unfortunately he doesn’t do about the Patriots anymore. Instead of writing about the Patriots, he just writes about narratives and statements about the Patriots. 
 

How about some discussion about how they’re trying to install a Shanahan style zone running attack but it’s not working because their tackles can’t pull it off?  How they have switched their RT and LT in an attempt to compensate?  How they’re installing new offensive terminology and moving away from their traditional Earnhardt Perkins scheme to simplify things for rookie WRs so they don’t flame out as often?  How they have tacked in the opposite direction from last year on defense making their off the ball linebackers and CB’s smaller but much faster?  How Josh Bledsoe and Tre Nixon are unexpectedly emerging and making for some difficult back end roster decisions?  

There’s a wealth of actual substance to talk about, and instead we hear about dead media narratives and a few jokes about how Judge and Patricia were terrible head coaches. 
 

14 I would also add, the…

I would also add, the narratives on Joe Judge and Matt Patricia being poor replacements for Josh McDaniels feels entirely a construct of recency bias.

Remember, at one point, McDaniels reputation was at rock bottom. Meanwhile, Patricia was seen as a valuable Belichick coordinator and the Joe Judge hiring was being compared with Jon Harbaugh.

In all three cases, none are rehired to be the head coaches of the Patriots.

28 I don't get why people keep…

I don't get why people keep hiring Belichick coordinators.  Have any of them ever panned out? The only passable head coaches his tree produced are ex-players. But yeah, there is a pretty strong trend of them being decent assistants and bad HC. 

I wonder if this whole "not having coordnators thing" is an attempt to train better assistants and get more support as he ages as well as give better HC training (gotta wonder if he has trouble finding coordinators at this point)

153 Patricia and Castillo

Meanwhile, Patricia was seen as a valuable Belichick coordinator

Remember when Andy Reid took well-regarded O-line coach Juan Castillo and randomly made him Defensive Coordinator?  And the "Dream Team Eagles" collapsed?

Making Matt Patricia the offensive play-caller feels like that.

Maybe Belichick should consider having a career offense guy be the offensive play-caller?  It doesn't seem that wild an idea.

15 I'll defend Mike on this one

No, M, Football Outsiders needs no discussion as to the Pats' new offensive terminology, or which emergees are making for some difficult back end roster decisions. Hard to think of something that would more bore 97% of us on here.

That's local coverage stuff, M. Purely.

16 I think it's the offseason…

I think it's the offseason. Mid-season if the Patriots are either super struggling or doing well, we'd get a film room going over it.

I would personally dismiss most training camp scuttlebutt about new schemes and their reasons because who knows if the team is actually going to stick to them.

25 Valid reasons for concern but...

But we've seen Mike make pronouncements before: footballoutsiders.com/walkthrough/2021/buffalo-bills-vs-chumpzilla.  A couple ugly bills games and the snark came out full force.  Of course they then reeled off 5 straight victories, culminated by an ungodly stomping of the Pats, then got unlucky with the OT coin flip.    https://xkcd.com/904/ is so true it hurts.

FWIW, this Pat's fan hopes "The WAY" is dead, so I don't have to hear uninformed family members go off about BB's magic 5D chess anymore.  Then they can just stick to election conspiracies... *sigh*

 

 

 

 

139 As always

xkcd takes complex issues and boils them down to their true essence. 

 

I had never seen that one before and it's truly brilliant. 

29 the last third of Brady's career in NE

is essentially the Steve Young portion of the 49er dynasty - 2nd and 3rd generation of coaches, players etc

which makes Mac Jones the Jeff Garcia

completely agree with MT - and saying Brady papered over margins isn't going far enough

even if Mac Jones becomes a top 10 QB (seems unlikely) that's not close to Brady's level

34 When you think about it,…

When you think about it, this period for the Patriots oddly mirrors their stretch between 07 and the 11. The defense that had long buoyed their run got old/retired and Belichick tried to do a full rebuild through the draft. Much of those picks were busts; but the offense was so strong that it powered them anyways until he finally hit on the draft.

Squint enough and you will see something vaguely similar to the Drew Brees led Saints mid career doldrums.

I think the lesson here is if you trust the coaching staff, busts are inevitable and you just need to ride it out. But because its the Patriots, there's this overwhelming need to declare it all over. 

 

35 Mac was 12 in DYAR last year…

Mac was 12 in DYAR last year, so top 10 isn't a huge reach given most people improve on their rookie year. But yeah, him hanging out around 8-12 is probably the best case. 

The Pats dynasty is dead, but that pretty much always happens unless you have GBs ability to draft HOF QB on command. 

Probably the best thing the Pats could do is bring in a non-BB crony be GM. But everyone would hate that. Luckily, they would never do it. 

44 "the dynasty is dead"

It's died before.  

After the loss to the Giants in the Super Bowl, the Pats went a full four seasons before winning another playoff game.  Aside from Brady and Wilfork, the 2011 team looked nothing like the 2007 team - different players all over the place.

Staying as a Super Bowl contender for 4-6 years is very hard: we've had roughly one team per decade pull it off (Steelers, 49ers, Cowboys, Patriots, and...Patriots).  

At some point, Belichick's going to slow down mentally to the point where reaching the top is no longer realistic.  But he's already shown he can rebuild a team to reach the top a second time, and that's something no other coach/GM has ever pulled off in the Super Bowl era.

Sorry, but these "is Belichick done?" articles have been a yearly tradition since 2003.  You think people might have noticed the false positive rate by now, and started to question whether bias is playing a role.

 

90 It's vanishingly unlikely…

It's vanishingly unlikely that the Belichick Pats can reach the top again. (like under 1%). But...that is pretty much expected. 

I think they are finally right, but it's not really a surprise at this point. Even that Packers, who have a pretty good argument as the NFL's best franchise got 2 SB out of back-2-back HOF QB (Favre->Rodgers). Winning consistently is super hard in this league. 

31 Announcer 1:  Has The…

Announcer 1:  Has The Patriot's Way lost momentum?

Announcer 2:  It has, it really has.  They're really struggling right now, you can see it out there on the field.

Announcer 1:  What do they need to do to turn things around?

Announcer 2:  They need to go with the hot hand and just keeping feeding him the ball.

Announcer 1:  Will their best players have to be their best players?

Announcer 2:  Absolutely they will!  That's the only way they'll get momentum back.

Announcer 1:  But is there enough time left?

Announcer 2:  They can't start thinking that way, they just need to take it play by play.

Announcer 1:  Well if we've learned anything, it's never count out Bill Belichick.

Announcer 2:  You are so right!  This is going to be a dandy finish.  The last team with Matt Patricia on their coaching staff just might win.  Wait, no ... that last part doesn't sound right.  Are we on tape delay?  I need an edit.

32 Someone needs to rename the…

Someone needs to rename the Monty Python skit "Mary, Queen of Scots"  to "The Death of the New England Patriots" and be done with it.

91 The good part of going Monty…

The good part of going Monty Python is you can follow it up with with the "Dead Patriot" sketch if the expected happens or "Actually, I'm not quite dead yet" if some miracle happens, so your covered either way. 

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