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NFL Open Thread: Be first, be smarter, or cheat, or all of the above edition

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Glad to see Magary give a shoutout to probably my favorite movie of the last 15 years in the first Jamboroo of the year:

Margin Call, which pre-dates Succession in the “rich people desperately trying to keep themselves from being screwed” genre, but is a more than worthy entry in that canon. Also, Margin Call features an insane cast that you will never, ever see together again. It’s got pre-banishment Kevin Spacey. It’s got The Mentalist. It’s got new Spock. It’s got Stanley Tucci (The Tooch!). It’s got Paul Bettany AND Jeremy Irons both playing irresistible British scumbags. And it’s got Demi Moore playing a normal person instead of being forced to play a woman that every male character on screen wants to bone despite themselves. Fucking incredible cast, plus it’s got J.C. Chandor at the helm. Can’t recommend it enough.

I’ve been reading Ian O’Connor’s excellent Belichick bio, about which I’ll presumably have more in subsequent episodes. When it comes to the greatest coach of at least the post-merger era (and in my view ever), however, a lot of people can’t. hear. a. fucking. thing at this point.

Sherman:

And so, NFL teams have spent 20-plus years raiding the staff of Bill Belichick, widely regarded as the greatest coach in the modern history of the NFL. It has rarely worked out; Belichick has spawned a stunted coaching tree. Eric Mangini’s coaching career peaked with a cameo on The Sopranos; Charlie Weis did little more than bilk Notre Dame and Kansas out of tens of millions of dollars; Bill O’Brien kneecapped his own coaching ability with a disastrous attempt to mimic Belichick by pulling double duty as the Texans’ general manager. Belichick’s ex-assistants tend to offer weak imitations of their gruff mentor, bringing his trademark grumpiness and focus on team culture with none of his coaching brilliance.

In 2022, a strange new team has been tricked into hiring Belichick’s ex-assistants: the Patriots. Belichick has handed over critical offensive jobs to Matt Patricia and Joe Judge, two failed head coaches who have done little to prove they deserve them.

Tanier:

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.

Belichick has earned an enormous benefit of the doubt, and are coming off a solid year all things considered. But…Matt Patricia? As the de facto offensive coordinator and deputy personnel guy? Maybe once again he’s seen something nobody else can. Or maybe they’re all fucked.

Another lesser coaching legend appears to be about to torch his remaining career in spectacular fashion, but we’ll get to that on Monday.

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