Tuesday, March 25, 2014

NFL draft over-analysis

Over the years, the NFL draft has been one of my favorite topics to blog about. While most of my posts have focused on the Eagles, I've done lots of overall evaluations. And by the numbers, my evaluations have been as good as most NFL teams, and in some cases better. The evidence is right here in this blog, check it out! The Eagles would have Earl Thomas and Jimmy Smith starting for them instead of Brandon Graham and Danny Watkins. The 2012 Eagles draft looked like they were drafting from my board - Cox, Kendricks, Curry, and Boykin were all guys that I was high on (I liked Alshon Jeffrey a lot too, but c'est la vie.) Also, while everyone in hindsight seems to have identified JaMarcus Russel as a flop, you can find a before-the-fact post on this blog saying I would not draft him with the first pick.

I am wrong a lot as well. But when you consider that less than half of first-round draft picks are long-term starters for their team, the bar is not very high.

Here is what an average NFL team does to evaluate players:

  • Send multiple scouts live to college games. These scouts are looking to identify players that are scheme fits for the team. They talk to coaches to get a feel for the type of players that are coming out that year.
  • Identify through these live evaluations about 200-300 players that will be "targets" for their team.
  • Watch every play of every college game (up to 4 years) for those hundreds of players. (Other players who stand out on film may be added to the list of hundreds during this process.)
  • Attend the Senior Bowl, where the coaches can work hands-on with the players throughout the week of practice.
  • Attend the Scouting Combine, where the coaches and scouts can interview players (15 minutes each) as well as watch them execute various drills.
  • Attend Pro Days at each college, again watching the players execute drills.
  • Bring in up to 30 players for an individual workout at the team facility (usually a full day) where the team will put them through various physical and mental tests, as well as take them out to dinner.
  • Interview college coaches, trainers, equipment guys, high school coaches, ex-girlfriends, family, etc.
Here's what I do to evaluate players:
  • Watch a few college games during the year.
  • Compare college productivity against physical measurables (height, weight, strength, speed, etc.)
  • Incorporate some thoughts from outside sources I respect (Mayock, Cosell)
Given the huge discrepancy in resources and time spent, how could I possibly even compare to NFL teams' evaluations? A dozen scouts, employed full time, working ridiculous hours...coaches meeting players face-to-face...background interviews...reviewing every snap...vs. me, browsing the internet at work?

While I'd like to believe otherwise, the truth is that I am not some talent evaluation savant. There were lots of people who thought Earl Thomas was better than Brandon Graham, it was common wisdom at the time. When NFL teams make goofy, out-of-the-box picks that fly in the face of common wisdom, it does sometimes work out (ie: Bruce Irvin.) But most of the time, you end up with AJ Jenkins and Brian Quick instead of Alshon Jeffrey and Reuben Randle.

For starters, luck is a huge factor. Predicting future performance is not an exact science. You can make a list of X number of ideal qualities for a position, and even a player who has all X qualities may fail. So this levels the playing field to an extent, as even drafting by dart board would have some measure of success (in Detroit's case, more success.) I am willing to accept that there is a chance that I've simply been lucky over the years. Even if you consider me nothing more than a proxy for the wisdom of the crowds, it's possible we've all just been lucky.

But I believe there is more at stake, and NFL teams should pay attention. There is a definite Blink effect when evaluating talent. Most NFL scouts who have been watching players for years form first opinions that are as accurate, or more accurate, than months of over-analysis. A guy like Blake Bortles passes the 'eye test', ie: he looks like an NFL QB. He played some of his best football against the best competition. He has an excellent arm. Compare him to other players of similar build and college production - Big Ben comes to mind - and you can quickly see he has an excellent chance to be a quality NFL starter, with high upside. How much more analysis is required?

There is some evidence that watching slow-motion replays only reinforces pre-existing biases when attempting to derive intent. It may sound like a stretch, but I theorize that a similar effect happens when over-analyzing these draftees. Whatever your first impression of a player is, you will find select evidence confirming your impression if you dig deep enough and look at enough data. And the more you look, the more convinced you become of your thoroughness, and the more confident you become of your opinion - which was nothing more than a first impression confirmed by selection bias!

I'm not sure how else to explain the NFL's spectacular lack of success. Or even more strangely, the widely varied opinions of 32 NFL teams. If additional analysis got you closer to the 'truth', then you would expect teams would gravitate into a tight grouping of opinion as they analyzed more.

NFL teams have almost limitless resources, and scouts are often passionate about their profession. Everyone is afraid of being out-worked by another team, so over-analysis is inevitable. But maybe teams can create checks and balances to minimize the damage.

Thursday, September 06, 2012

Told you so

Quoting from  Gregg Easterbrook, who is one of the liberal writers that I read to keep a check on my conservative viewpoints.  Although his political leanings differ from mine, he is not a demagogue who lets his politics get in the way of reason.

Did you hear that U.S. emissions of carbon dioxide from fossil fuel combustion dropped to the lowest level in 20 years? That U.S. carbon emissions have declined in four of the past six years? Probably not, because the mainstream media studiously avoided this inconveniently positive development, announced last week by the Energy Information Administration. Neither the New York Times nor Washington Post ran stories in their print editions, both offering naught but brief Web-only blog items. So far as I could determine, President Obama has said nothing about the decline in U.S. greenhouse emissions. Environmental lobbyists haven't said much either. Check the Sierra Club announcements page.
For decades the establishment media have said that rising greenhouse emissions are a super-mega-ultra emergency. If last week's numbers had shown a carbon emissions rise, the likely response would have been Page 1 stories crying doomsday. Instead when the problem diminished, silence.
Needless to say, one factor is that bad new sells while good news is buried. Another factor is that the U.S. carbon dioxide decline is occurring without central control, owing to market forces -- more natural gas, a clean fuel, is being used to generate electricity, while individuals and businesses are deciding of their own free choice to buy higher-efficiency vehicles that use less oil, and to improve the energy efficiency of buildings. Had the new numbers been the result of some complicated, expensive Washington regulatory scheme -- in 2009, Obama proposed mandatory regulation of greenhouse gases, but his proposal failed in Congress -- surely mainstream news outlets, and the president, would have claimed success. Because what happened was a free-market result, OMG, don't say anything! [bold mine] 
Although his point about the silence from media and politicians is a good one, it's not what I want to focus on here.  Instead, I want to point to a post I made 4 years ago where I said that U.S. emissions would decline significantly without government regluation.  Read the whole post again, but one line in particular is telling:
government needs to be willing to get out of the way and let the markets do their job
It is possible to be pro-environment and still anti-regulation. Sometimes the wisest course of action is inaction.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Draft Day 2

Loved the Fletcher Cox pick, obviously.  He was #1 on my draft board for the Eagles.  And only giving up a 4th and 6th-round pick to jump up and grab him is a shrewd move.  He'll plug right in and contribute.

Props to the evil Cowboys, who jumped up for only a 2nd to grab the prospect I would have placed #1 on my board, if I thought he would actually fall into a range the Eagles could afford.  Claiborne has the potential to be an elite man corner, and solves a dire area of need for the 'Boys.  Most scouts agreed there were 5-6 elite prospects in this draft, and two of them went to the NFC East - Claiborne and Griffin III - so the division only gets tougher.

As far as day 2, there are several good prospects left from my list yesterday (Note: removing the DTs since the Eagles should not take the same position with their two top picks.)  I'll add a few more that I hope the Eagles will consider.

  1. Cordy Glenn, OL, Georgia.  Stunned that teams like the Jets, Bengals, and Giants passed on Glenn.
  2. Coby Fleener, TE, Stanford.  Probably going to reunite with his college QB in Indy.  No way he falls 14 more spots to the Eagles.
  3. Rueben Randle, WR, LSU.
  4. Stephen Hill, WR, GT.
  5. Lavonte David, OLB, Nebraska.
  6. Trumaine Johnson, CB, Montana.
  7. Courtney Upshaw, DE, Alabama.  Isn't your typical Eagles DE.  Upshaw plays more with strength and leverage than a pure 'fastball' who runs around the tackle.  But he's a quality football player with a first-round grade.  Will be one of the first five players drafted in Round 2.
  8. Vinny Curry, DE, Marshall.  More of the prototypical Eagles DE with lots of pass-rush ability.
  9. Janoris Jenkins, CB, North Alabama.  I worry about his off-field issues and general lack of focus.  With two second-round picks, I wouldn't be too upset if the Eagles took a risk on this kid with one of them.  Chances are he'll be long gone by the time they pick.
  10. Mychal Kendricks, ILB, California.  Ran the fastest 40 time at the combine of any LB, and was a productive player in college.  Should excel in coverage, might struggle against the run initially.
  11. Alshon Jeffery, WR, South Carolina.  Another big (6'3") receiver, Jeffrey has great hands and wins a lot of jump balls.
  12. Jonathan Martin, OT, Stanford.  I'd really like a back-up tackle at some point in this draft.  Martin needs to work on his strength, but has the feet and athleticism to pass block in the NFL.
  13. Bobbie Massie, OT, Mississippi.  More raw than Martin, but more upside as well.
  14. Josh Robinson, CB, Central Florida.  Ran the fastest combine (4.33) of any db at the combine.
  15. Andre Branch, DE, Clemson.  Would start as an undersized DE but has the frame to add good weight.  Natural and athletic pass-rusher.
After taking my #1 player yesterday, it would be too much to hope that the Eagles might come away with two players from this group in round 2.  But I'll be watching, and hoping, tonight anyway.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Draft cheat sheet 2012

Again with the NFL draft.  A year goes by, no blog posts, and then the draft comes and I'm posting.

I guess I'm an NFL personnel guy at heart.  I also find it interesting and instructive (in a Blink sort of way) that I'm really no worse at picking successful NFL players than the guys who spend countless hours watching film and studying trends.  For the most part, if someone looks like a player and acts like a player (ie: production in college), he's going to be good.  That's not a hard-and-fast rule, of course, but it is certainly good enough to nail the 50% hit rate that NFL teams have in the first round anyway.

Also, and I've mentioned this before, without actual documentation of my predictions, time tends to skew my memories of those predictions more to my favor.  This is common as a player flames out, many analysts come back with quotes like "I thought he was a risk because..." or "I didn't really like him..." conveniently forgetting that they had the player ranked 8th overall.  So three years from now I'll look back with amusement, or reverence for my sage wisdom, on my actual predictions.

And again, I disclaim any original scouting or research.  This is basically a compilation of writings, tweets, and interviews of draftniks that I respect - like Mike Mayock, Greg Cossell, Russ Brande, and Pat Kirwan.  If I happened to watch a player in college or listened to an interview, my personal evaluation creeps in.  These rankings reflect how I'd set up my draft board if I was working for the Eagles, and are not a reflection of how good I think the players might be on some other team.  Also I'm skipping players the Eagles obviously aren't going to get (Luck, Griffin III) because it's a waste of time (as if this whole process isn't a waste, but anyway...)

  1. Fletcher Cox, DT, Mississippi St.  Scouts, Inc. grade: 95.  The best pass-rusher at the DT position, Cox has ideal size and top-end quickness.  Highly productive in the SEC.  The Eagles will possibly trade up to #7 to take him, and I would applaud that move.  He is a rare talent and an ideal fit for their scheme.  DT is not an immediate area of need, but the starters are 31 and 28, so it's the perfect time to start grooming a stud replacement.
  2. Stephon Gilmore, CB, South Carolina.  Grade: 93.  Tall, fast, quick, productive.  Possibly the best press man skills in the draft, which makes him an ideal fit.  Would have a chance to compete for the nickel corner spot right away, also returns kicks.  Another candidate for a trade up.
  3. Luke Kuechly, LB, Boston College.  Grade: 96.  A true three-down player, he's a tackling machine who also grades out as the best cover LB in the draft.  Would start for the Eagles at OLB, and move into the middle eventually.  The last of the payers I would move up from #15 to draft.
  4. Melivin Ingram, DE, South Carolina.  Grade: 93.  Played DE, LB, and DT for SC and was effective as a pass rusher from all positions.  Considering the success the division rival Giants have had with Kiwanuka, I could see the Eagles trying to copy them with a freakishly athletic pass rusher of their own.
  5. Chandler Jones, DE, Syracuse.  Grade: 94.  Highly productive and with more size than the typical Eagles DE, he is ideally suited to play DE on run downs and DT on pass downs.
  6. Mark Barron, S, Alabama.  Grade: 95.  The Eagles are unlikely to draft a safety high for the third year in a row, but Barron would be an instant upgrade at a position of need.  I am a lot more confident that the Eagles could find one decent safety in their current group of Allen/Jarrett/Coleman than two.  Barron would give them that luxury.
  7. Dre Kirkpatrick, CB, Alabama.  Grade: 92.  Another tall, long corner with elite press man skills.  Also tackled well and excelled in multiple coverages.
  8. Michael Floyd, WR, Notre Dame.  Grade: 93.  The Eagles need a big red zone target (Riley Cooper's not cutting it, in case you haven't noticed.)  They also need to start grooming Jason Avant's replacement.  Floyd is a monster talent who could contribute immediately in the red zone and multiple WR packages.  A big body is the perfect complement for the two small speedsters currently starting.
  9. Cordy Glenn, OL, Georgia.  Grade: 90.  This is pure fantasy - at 345 pounds, Glenn absolutely does not fit the Howard Mudd profile.  And they aren't drafting OL in the first round again after Watkins last year.  But Glenn has the flexibility to play both tackle and guard, and from everything I read, is going to be one hell of a player.  If I'm sitting at 15 with the top 8 players off the board, I'll happily draft Glenn and let him beat out King Dunlap as my swing tackle.
  10. Jerel Worthy, DT, Michigan State.  Grade: 91.  Worthy interests me because he has elite quickness for a DT.  Is not the wide-bodied run-stuffing type, but a first-step penetrator who can get to the QB from inside.  Probably not worthy of pick #15.  From this point on my board, the players can be had if the Eagles trade back a few spots.
  11. Whitney Mercilus, DE, Illinois.  Grade: 88.  Another long DE with very good pass rush skills and first step quickness.  Would excel in the Wide 9.
  12. Coby Fleener, TE, Stanford.  Grade: 90.  Anyone watch the Patriots last season?  Celek/Fleener would be a pretty good combo in a 2TE set.
  13. Rueben Randle, WR, LSU.  Grade: 88.  Another tall (6'3") WR who would make the Eagles a much more dangerous team to match up against, especially in the red zone.
  14. Stephen Hill, WR, GT.  Grade: 91.  Size/speed numbers that are off the charts.  Has Calvin Johnson upside, but played in an option offense that didn't pass.  Has 49 career catches, so his downside is significant.
  15. Riley Reiff, OT, Iowa.  Grade: 90.  Sliding down draft boards, but was a good player at Iowa and the Eagles need a young tackle.
  16. Lavonte David, OLB, Nebraska.  Grade: 88.  Played fast and can tackle from sideline to sideline.  Athletic enough to run with a TE. 
  17. Trumaine Johnson, CB. Montana.  Grade: 86.  If the Eagles don't get a CB in the first round, Johnson would be a steal in the second.
At this point I'd be willing to take on boom-or-bust players like Quentin Coples or Dontari Poe, but they are likely to be long gone.  Devon Still is a reasonable second-round gamble as well.  Alshon Jeffrey in the 3rd round or Mohamed Sanu/Marvin McNutt in the 4th if they don't get a WR earlier.  Look for a RB who can catch passes and return kicks in the middle rounds, like Isaiah Pead or LaMichael James.  And based on two minutes of a radio interview and a one-page ESPN scouting report, I want QB BJ Coleman as a late-round flyer.

Enjoy the first round tonight.  Depending on just how stupid the Eagles are, I may post a standard tirade tomorrow.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Draft Board 2011

You might have already noticed this, but I love the NFL draft. If any single event is going to lead to additional blog entries, this is it.

I was going to create a cheat sheet - a draft board, if you'll allow my delusions of grandeur - to keep track of players during the draft. I was opening up TextPad to start my list, and it occurred to me that a place already existed where I could document this cheat sheet. A magical place that would save this cheat sheet forever, allow me to search for it and evaluate it years later...

Enough preamble. Here's my personal ranking of the players based purely on the order that I'd like to see the Eagles draft them. If you're wondering how this relates to your favorite team, it doesn't. While Cam Newton will probably go #1 to Carolina tomorrow, he doesn't crack the Top Twenty in this list, because there are a lot of players I'd like to see the Eagles draft before him.

Just as a note, I'm stealing the analysis from Mel Kiper and Mike Mayock. I don't pretend to have watched any tape on these guys and evaluated them independently.

1) Patrick Peterson - CB, LSU
The best corner in the draft fits a glaring need for the Eagles. He has ideal size and speed (6', 4.3) and is dangerous as a return man as well. He'd be the perfect complement to Asante Samuel.

2) Nick Fairley - DT, Auburn
I don't really care about the reports that this guy is sliding down NFL draft boards. He's a disruptive force, a real penetrator from the DT position that the Eagles have lacked since Jerome Brown.

3) Prince Amukamara - CB, Nebraska
Also reportedly sliding because he lacks top-end speed. Asante Samuel lacks top-end speed too, but the Eagles system employs a lot of off coverage, or press-and-release, both of which are right in Prince's wheelhouse.

4) Robert Quinn - DE, UNC
I know, another first-round DE would make Eagles fans groan. But he simply has too much talent to pass up. Spotless character and medical histories make him even more appealing.

5) Jimmy Smith - CB, Colorado
Craziness, right? A lot of mock drafts have this guy sliding to the second round. But his size/speed ratio (6'2", 4.4) is off the charts, and a tall CB is the Eagles #1 need by leaps and bounds. I can honestly only find four guys I'd rather see the Eagles draft than Smith. Who cares if he's smoked a little weed? The character concerns are overblown, and if somehow slides to #23, the Eagles should run the podium with his name.

6) Tyron Smith - OT, USC
The Eagles would be fortunate to draft the best tackle in the draft, another need position.

7) Marcel Dareus - DT, Alabama
Is not an ideal fit for the Eagles' scheme, but he's such a dominating force that I'd be willing to take a chance on him. Probably will be drafted #2 overall, so this is a moot point.

8) Corey Liuget - DT, Illinois
Although DT is not a huge need for the Eagles, the number of good DTs in this draft is astounding. And again, while their current DTs are solid but unspectacular, a true penetrator that can wreck blocking schemes would make the entire defense look better.

9) Anthony Costanzo - OT, BC

10) Nate Solder - OT, Colorado

11) Gabe Carimi - OT, Wisconsin
Any of these three linemen would be an instant upgrade at RT, and are flexible enough to play guard if needed.

12) Cameron Jordan - DE, Cal
A DE with size who could instantly replace Juqua Parker. Has the frame to play DE on running downs and DT on passing downs.

13) Aldon Smith - DE, Missouri
Once you get past the initial comparisons - another undersized DE? - Smith is too good a player to pass up.

14) Von Miller - OLB, VT
He's way better than this ranking, and will be long gone by the Eagles pick. But he's best suited for a 3-4 OLB.

15) Derrek Sherrod - OT, Miss St
Both Kiper and McShay rank him a bit below the other group of OTs, so what the hell, I did too.

16) Muhammad Wilkerson - DT, Temple
A very talented player who's probably more suited to a 3-4 DE, but I'd happily plug him into the DT rotation.

17) Adrian Clayborn - DE, Iowa
It's not saying much, but I watched him destroy Penn State for years, and I'm delighted his time in the Big Ten is over.

18) Mike Pouncey - C, Florida
Maybe he's not as good as his brother, but he doesn't need to be an All-Star to be an improvement. Has the flexibility to play guard as well.

19) Julio Jones - WR, Oklahoma
Much, much better player than a #19 ranking, but if the Eagles draft a WR in round #1, it likely means they won't re-sign DeSean...and that's not the scenario I'm hoping for. Should be long gone by the Eagles' pick anyway.

20) AJ Green - WR, Georgia
Like Jones, has way more talent than a #20 ranking would suggest, I just don't see a place for him on the Eagles.

21) Brandon Harris - CB, Miami
Did I mention that the Eagles really need a CB?

22) Ryan Kerrigan - DE, Purdue
Undersized again, may end up as a 3-4 OLB. But he's a very productive, high-motor player who would be helpful right away in a rotation.

23) Akeem Ayers - OLB, UCLA
A play-making LB would be a welcome addition to the defense.

24) Da'Quan Bowers - DE, Clemson
I really don't want another DE with injury problems, but at this point is worth the risk.

25) JJ Watt - DE, Wisconsin
Doesn't fit the scheme as well as I like, he's an ideal 3-4 DE. But he could play DE on run downs and DT on pass downs.

26) Cam Newton - QB, Auburn
Zero chance, barely even worth a comment. Still, it would be fun to have this guy learn from Mike Vick. And it sure would be easy to trade Kolb for a 2012 pick if he was on the roster.

27) Aaron Williams - CB, Texas

28) Ras-I Dowling - CB, Virginia
Two words: Dmitri Patterson.

At this point, I find myself ranking guys like Mark Ingram and Blaine Gabbert, who won't be around when the Eagles pick and would be no use to them anyway. So I'll stop here and pray that the Birds can somehow grab two of these 28.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Thanks and Good Night

Writing a farewell post, on a blog that no one reads, smacks of self-importance. But I prefer closure over an open and unfulfilled commitment, and besides, I've rarely shied away from self-importance. But even closure isn't necessarily permanent...I often had to break up with a girlfriend a couple times before it really stuck.

When I first started blogging, I was excited to share my opinion. Even if it wasn't a wide audience (note the understatement), the simple act of documenting an opinion forces an intellectual rigor that goes beyond casual conversation. When I'm standing around the water cooler, it's easy to rattle off statistics that I think are correct and quotes that I'm pretty sure I heard from a reliable source. But when I write an opinion down and post it publicly, where it will live forever, I'm much more likely to check facts and attribute sources. This rigor is conducive to forming smart opinions, instead of just regurgitating someone else's talking points. More than once I discovered, in the process of checking my facts, that my underlying assumptions were wrong.

While this enforced rigor was valuable, it also more and more revealed how unqualified I was to have an opinion. For instance, I wish we'd acted sooner in Libya to thwart the murder of civilians, but I appreciate Obama's reluctance to act without international support, especially after two long wars and nation-building efforts. Ok, that sounds nice, but is there any value at all in that opinion? Have I spent any time in foreign service, diplomacy, or international politics? Have I studied Arab culture? Have I researched historical precedents and drawn conclusions from their consequences? (The answer to all these questions, in case you're wondering, is 'no'.) So then, why should I add my opinion to the impossible clutter of valueless twittering available today?

Also through documenting my opinions, it became painfully clear that they had exactly zero predictive power, whether discussing politics, sports, or the stock market. When I'm not writing down predictions, I tend to 1) make a lot of them, and 2) remember mostly the ones I got right. But when they're all documented, it's obvious that a monkey with a coin would have a good chance to equal me. It was interesting to note that I generally fared no worse than professional political wonks, sportswriters, and stock-pickers...but that's still not good enough to be valuable.

On top of that, it began to feel extremely repetitive. There's a limit to how many times I can bash the fiscal irresponsibility of big government, the playcalling of Andy Reid, or hypocritical money-grabbing of Al Gore. There came a point where it was all familiar territory, where I felt anyone who'd read my blog over the years pretty much knew what I was going to say on a given topic before they even read the post. And that simply isn't fulfilling.

I realized that the only way I'd feel good about blogging is if I actually created content, instead of just repeating unqualified opinions. But that takes time and effort that I wasn't willing to invest. I could have DVRed every Eagles game, re-watched every play, diagrammed the personnel groupings and made notes on every player's performance. That's content - it provides value to the reader. Of course, Sheil Kapadia already does this. So for me to duplicate his effort, when he's already getting paid for it, seems utterly pointless (not to mention, it sounds like hard work.)

With no impressive skills, no unusual life experience, and no motivation to develop original content, there's really no reason for me to continue blogging. I'm fond of my writing ability, but only moderately so. On just about any topic, I can think of several writers who are wittier, better informed, and use analogies like...someone who is better at analogies than me.

So I'm done. I definitely got something out of this blog for a while, but that time has passed. Thanks for reading, and good night.

Thursday, February 03, 2011

Classic Andy Reid

You knew it too, right?

You knew that somehow, some way, Andy Reid would try to prove once again that he's smarter than everyone else. That a conventional move would never do for this Eagles organization. That they would find a way to do something so unusual, so shocking, so over-the-top stupid that even their own players are speechless.

When McDermott was fired, I wasn't impressed with the available crop of DC candidates. But as time passed, I became familiar with Mike Trgovac, who seemed like a perfect fit. A coordinator in Carolina for 6 years (including the year they beat the Eagles in the NFC Championship game), he ran a 4-3 defense, and would provide exactly what the Eagles needed: a fresh and experienced voice from outside of the organization.

Another intriguing option was Winston Moss, a younger (not nearly as young as McD) and hungry linebackers coach on the Packers who is ready to step up and become a coordinator. He's had experience in the 4-3 also, and worked with Jim Johnson early in his coaching career.

The longer the "search" dragged on, the more convinced I was that the Eagles were going in the direction of one of these two guys. They couldn't talk to either one until after the Super Bowl, so it was the perfect explanation as to why they seemed to be taking so long to find a coach. And I was relieved, because I thought as long as they're getting a defensive coach from a Super Bowl team, they couldn't possibly screw it up too badly.

But, of course, I misunderestimated Big Red again. His capacity to make clownish decisions is unparalleled in the NFL, since everyone else who makes decisions this poorly has already been fired. Andy decided to promote his offensive line coach to defensive coordinator.

So let's recap: On a team that won its division with a Top-5 offense, you're going to turn over control of the defense to a guy who hasn't coached defense in 25 years. You gave up on a young, inexperienced coordinator so that you could try to win the Super Bowl with someone even less experienced. Fucking brilliant.

Lost in this disaster are two great hires: Howard Mudd as the new OL coach, and Jim Washburn as the new DL coach. These two may be the best line coaches in the NFL. If only their bosses deserved similar praise, I might have a reason to feel excited about this team.