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Super Bowl Open Thread: I Believe The Eagles Believe They Can Fly Edition

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Listeners to the podcast already know my basic take on the game. Obviously, Team Trump is the better team. Having a big edge at QB is obviously a very nice starting point, although not a dispositive one, especially since Philadelphia has an outstanding defense that can generate a pass rush without blitzing, and this edition of Patriots do not even have a particularly good one.  Belichick and his staff are an edge over anyone, but Pederson and his staff are excellent tactically in their own right. (The Pats have beaten their share of good-to-outstanding coaches in the Super Bowl, but they’ve coaches whose primary strength is team-building who in terms of in-game tactics are good enough (Vermeil,  Carroll) or outright bad (Reid.))  One factor that contributed to the Pats comeback against Jacksonville is that Marrone went mostly hyper-conservative starting with 55 seconds left in the first half, while Pederson went for the kill with a similarly limited QB against a better defense. So between the fact that the Eagles can certainly win and the possibility of another close Patriots Super Bowl win, I’d take the 4 1/2 points if I had to bet. And I’ll certainly be rooting hard for team-anti-Trump.

A couple other articles are worth reading. First, Dom Cosentino’s piece about the 1987 strike is superb. The routing of the players was caused by multiple factors: Upshaw’s inexperienced leadership, the structural difficulty of organizing a large group of players with short careers, the lack of support of some key stars (most notably Montana), and the tendency of fans to side with owners, the latter of which led to the scab games getting good ratings. (I’ve mentioned this before, but as bad movies in perennial TBS rotation go I’ve long been fascinated by The Replacements, a 100% anti-player movie about a football strike which not only portrays the striking players as greedy, pampered pretty boys but the owner as struggling, likable guy running a mom-and-pop operation rather than a CEO presiding over a lavishly taxpayer-subsidized monopoly.)  Some coaches — most notably Parcells (although, natch, not Belichick) and Buddy Ryan — hated the scabs, while Tom Landry embraced them. Very much worth reading.

And as a couple readers have observed, Rodger Sherman’s piece about the Josh Allen hype machine is terrific:

He measured as the tallest quarterback at the Senior Bowl, 6-foot-4 and seven-eighths of an inch. His hands are 10 and one-eighth inches, also the largest among QBs at the Senior Bowl. He possesses Uncle Rico–level arm strength, throwing the ball more than 66 miles per hour when the fastest throw ever measured at the NFL combine is 60 miles an hour. For these reasons, some evaluators believe the Wyoming quarterback is the top prospect in the 2018 NFL draft class. ESPN’s Mel Kiper Jr. projected Allen to go first overall in his initial mock draft of the year.

Josh Allen Hype Season is officially here. His games at Wyoming were sparsely televised, but now the entire football world is watching the cannon-armed mountain man, trying to determine exactly how talented he is. I just keep coming across one problem when I consider Allen as a prospect: He does not seem especially good at playing football.

We went through this during the Trevor Siemian Wars — remember when Broncos fans were earnestly arguing that it was unpossible for John Elway to misjudge QB talent? Good times! — but the way to look at college performance is as a minimum threshold thing. The most meaningful numbers — accuracy and experience against quality competition — will inevitably produce numerous false positives, because it’s possible to be a genuinely effective player in peonage ball without having NFL ability. There’s no substitute for careful scouting when it comes to choosing among plausible NFL starters, and projecting talent is always a very imperfect science. But looking at the meaningful variables generally doesn’t produce false negatives.  In the contemporary NFL, as far as I can tell drafting a QB who is as inaccurate as Allen because he’s a tall white guy with a good arm has never worked. And while I’m sure Allen doesn’t have great surrounding talent, he’s also facing Mountain West defenses, and he’s only competing 56% of his passes. (As Sherman says, when he’s played any kind of quality competition he’s been awful.)  Bad organizations think they can teach guys like Christian Hackenberg to throw accurately, but nobody can.

If a team’s scouts tell them that Mayfield or Darnold or Rosen is worth a top 5 pick, it may work out and it may not but I wouldn’t criticize the decision. But any team that uses a first round pick on Allen — let alone follows Kiper’s advice and makes him the #1 overall pick — is run by abject morons. Evidently, it wouldn’t be shocking if Cleveland does exactly this. If you love DeShone Kizer, you’ll like Josh Allen!

Enjoy the game. I’ll put up another thread at halftime if the game has been interesting.

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