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NFL Open Thread: The Whole Damn System Is Out of Order Edition

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Tanier has an excellent column about the decision by the Bills to bench Tyrod Taylor for extremely marginal prospect and catalog magnate Nate J. Peterman:

McDermott left Taylor in back-to-back preseason games behind a makeshift offensive line until he suffered a concussion. But Taylor came back, and Peterman flunked his exhibition audition as a starter.

McDermott and general manager Brandon Beane traded Sammy Watkins and other starters on both sides of the ball, weakening the Bills roster and gutting an already gutted receiving corps. But Taylor threw touchdown passes to people named Logan Thomas and Deonte Thompson, added some rushing touchdowns, and led the Bills to a 5-2 start.

It took a pair of blowout losses, the crumbling of the Bills defense and the buckling of their offensive line to finally give McDermott and Beane the excuse to do what they have wanted to do from the start: commit the two Cardinal Sins of Coaching in one fell swoop by inserting “their guy” the “pocket passer” at quarterback over the scrambler from the last regime.

Not familiar with the Cardinal Sins of Coaching? Oh, you know them when you see them:

Cardinal Sin One: Coveting the Pocket Passer over the Scrambler.

Cardinal Sin Two: Filling the Roster with Your Guys Instead of the Best Guys.

Cardinal Sin One is the great sin of our age, the one that brought the plague of Tom Savage and Mike Glennon types upon the league, among other issues far beyond the scope of this column. That the scrambler (or “athlete” if you really want to underline things) is often black and the pocket passer is often white is both too obvious to ignore and a little too incendiary to dwell upon here.

Icky racial semiotics aside, there’s a deep-seated preference among the control freaks who make NFL decisions for quarterbacks who throw three-yard passes on 3rd-and-15 over scramblers who escape the pocket for 16 yards in the same circumstances. Even if the scrambler, like Taylor, is pretty good in the pocket when there is one. Even if the coach, like McDermott, rose to prominence thanks to a big assist from Cam Newton.

As we have previously discussed, that going into the season NFL insiders ranked Russell Wilson behind Derek Carr, Phillip Rivers and Andrew Luck and barely ahead of a washed-up Eli Manning is another classic example of this. Anyway, the Bills set Taylor up to fail, and he’s finally had a couple bad games, so…congratulations? Maybe McDermott has seen something in Peterman that nobody else has; as Tanier says, the more likely scenario is that he gets scraped off the field with a spatula after 4 quarters with Joey Bosa et al. And Buffalo’s half-assed tanking will almost certainly squander a possible playoff spot without producing a really high draft pick.

Drew Magary has related observations about coaches who are committed to their SYSTEM:

The Broncos have given up 92 points in the past two games and should thank the Giants for providing them cover by being a tire fire you can see from fucking Mars. Letting Wade leave Denver is gonna go down as the second worst move of the past offseason (after the Chargers moving to L.A.). I’m still baffled by it. Like, I know Vance Joseph had the right to hire his own people and ran a different defensive system, but fuck all that. Guess what, Vance? Your defensive system is SHIT. I am sick to death of coaches and their precious systems. No more systems. Systems are why I gotta watch Nathan Peterman trip over his dick for a full Sunday.

In last week’s thread somebody said that Belichick couldn’t be the best coach ever because he didn’t create a system that heavily influenced the rest of the league, like George Halas. I think this is exactly wrong. In the contemporary NFL, you can’t win over the long-term by creating a fancy new system that fools people week after week. Precisely what makes Belichick great is that his game plans are driven by the available personnel and the opposition rather than trying to jam everything into a particular “system” whether it’s appropriate to the macthup or not. Get committed to any particular system and you will end up like Rex Ryan, going from beating the Pats in the playoffs at Foxborough with Mark Sanchez at QB to trying to impose an already-stale system on excellent personnel that fit the scheme badly and completely bellyflopping in Buffalo. Or Chip Kelly, going from parlaying Nick Foles into the 3rd best offense in the league to out of football in 4 years. NFL coaching as about adjusting, not creating One Amazing System that will beat the opposition year after year. When armies of assistant coaches spend 17-hour days poring over film innovations get adapted very quickly.

On Joseph specifically, is John Elway the least valuable executive of the offseason or what? Possessing what is still arguably the best defensive personnel in the league, he decided to go with a D- prospect who overachieved any possible expectation and was still pretty bad, a QB who is much worse than that, and his own massive bust at QB (although it must be noted all of these QBs are whiter, two are them are taller, ad three are less likely to protest the national anthem than Colin Kaepernick.) Then he let one of the best defensive coordinators in NFL history, who had done a splendid job, walk so that a new head coach with one season of mediocre defensive performance as a coordinator could impose his vision on the team. Maybe it’s me, but I generally prefer to avoid gambles that are pretty much all downside. The Broncos now have a worse weighted DVOA than the Jets. Heckuva job!

By the way, to unite our threads if I asked you who had the worst DVOA in the league I’m guessing 100% of you would say Cleveland, but nope — both weighted and straight up it’s the Miami Dolphins. I’ve said this before, but I will never understand how Gase became a red-hot coaching prospect after putting in some time fluffing Peyton Manning’s towels and then getting a typical Jay Cutler performance out of Jay Cutler. This year, he’s getting a Jay Cutler-who-retired-in-the-offseason performance out of Jay Cutler, but you have to admit — he really stands up in the pocket!

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