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Ludicrous Speed

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« : March 21, 2012, 07:25:26 AM »

As one who has said that given a choice of Claiborne or Richardson being there for us, that I believe Claiborne is the smarter pick given a probability of greater longevity and greater positional value, especially considering the record number of points our D gave up last year, I have to admit that the following article makes some great points on the opposite side of the ledger from my thinking and gave me pause for thought.  He specifically addresses the Bucs' situation and how Richardson could impact us, particularly in concert with players like Vincent Jackson.

I still think the corner is a wiser choice at #5 and then get the running back, but after looking at this from his point of view, I'll probably still be smiling with anticipation if we should take Richardson there (especially if Claiborne is already gone).  So with a desire to be even handed, seeing all sides of the discussion, here it is:

http://nflfilms.nfl.com/2012/03/20/cosell-talks-the-running-back-conundrum/?module=HP11_content_stream
 

The Running Back Conundrum
by Greg Cosell

It has now been accepted as gospel in the new NFL that running back is no longer a position of great value. The argument is usually presented like this: it’s a passing league, driven by quarterback play. You must throw the ball often, and effectively, to win consistently. More often than not, the conversation ends there.

A cursory look at statistics reinforces that notion: more attempts, more completions, and more yards than at any point in NFL history. Why? Here are just a few of the reasons: more passing in high school and college than ever before, more spread formations, bigger and more athletic receivers and tight ends, changes in the rules that encourage and promote passing. A dissertation could be written on the evolution of the passing game in the last decade.


The corollary to this passing explosion has been the de-valuation of the running game, and running backs in particular. That argument takes this form: teams can’t compete for championships with the running game as an offensive foundation. In this era of yards and points, you won’t score enough to win important playoff games against top level quarterbacks and high-powered passing games.

As a conceptual paradigm, this makes sense. I don’t necessarily disagree. It’s why teams often reach for a quarterback in the draft. Yet, I don’t believe it’s so unambiguous. Like all things in football, it’s a function of probability. Nothing is 100%. You can argue that it raises more questions than it answers. What do you do offensively if you do not have one of those quarterbacks? Is there no correlation between a strong rushing attack and an explosive passing game? What impact does throwing the ball 35-40 times a game have on the rest of your team? There’s much to consider, and it’s not as simple as reciting the quarterback-driven league platitude.

This rant resulted from my extensive college film study over the past month preparing for the NFL draft. I believe the best player in this draft class is Alabama RB Trent Richardson, not Andrew Luck or Robert Griffin III. Richardson is the best back to enter the NFL since Adrian Peterson in 2007. I know Richardson won’t be the first pick, and I know an elite quarterback is a far more important component. But as I said, there’s more to it than that.


Let’s transition from the philosophical to the practical, and look at some of the uncertainties I postulated a moment ago. The Cleveland Browns have the fourth pick this year. It appears Colt McCoy will be their quarterback. McCoy has limitations as a passer. He cannot threaten the entire field due to his average arm strength. Is it possible to put him in the shotgun as your foundation, and make first downs and sustain offense with the short quick rhythm pass game? Theoretically, yes. Is McCoy capable of that? Can he consistently execute a one-dimensional pass offense against defenses specifically designed to match up? How many quarterbacks can? Tom Brady, but he’s a Hall of Famer.

Why not draft Richardson, and add a sustaining, explosive run dimension? Think of it this way:  You align with run personnel in run formations with an elite runner. The tendency, in normal down and distance situations, will be for the defense to add that eighth player into the box. It’s always a numbers game. More defenders allocated to play the run, fewer in pass coverage. Better matchups in the pass game. Defined reads for the quarterback. You give McCoy a higher percentage chance to be efficient. I remember McCoy’s first start in his NFL career, against the Steelers in 2010. Play action was featured on first down, and it had success, against a very good defense.


Let’s take it a step further. You’re the Tampa Bay Buccaneers with the fifth pick in the draft, and you just signed Vincent Jackson. You have to understand where Jackson came from, and what he is as a receiver. He played for Norv Turner in San Diego. Turner is predominantly a base formation offensive coach. He utilizes “21” personnel (2 backs and 1 tight end) and “12” personnel (1 back and 2 tight ends). He is outstanding manipulating the safety as an add-in run defender. The result was a high percentage of what we call single high safety coverages, which is one safety in the deep middle of the field. Almost always, in that alignment, the corners play off coverage. Rarely do they play aggressive press man-to-man with only one deep safety.

That brings us back to Jackson. He’s a free access vertical receiver, a big long strider at his best when he’s able to release cleanly off the line of scrimmage. You put Richardson in the backfield, and you accomplish a number of things. First, you force the defense to defend the run first. You likely dictate eight in the box and single high safety coverages. Secondly, Jackson’s strengths as a deep receiver are maximized. It helps your passing game.

And this doesn’t even begin to address Richardson’s impact on the Bucs defense, arguably the NFL’s worst over the last half of the 2011 season. He’s a foundation back, a tempo setter for an offense. What that does is shorten the game. The clock moves when you run the ball. The ancillary benefit is your defense is on the field for fewer plays. A back like Richardson therefore not only makes your passing game better, he helps your defense.


For the Browns and the Bucs, and there are a number of other teams in similar situations (the Jets immediately come to mind), the value of a big-time runner cannot be overstated. It does not mean that Richardson is more important than an elite quarterback. But there are not many of those, and never will be. It’s a mistake to blindly accept the notion that running backs have less value in the NFL. Just like quarterbacks, it’s always a function of the player and the team.

PUBLISHED: March 20, 2012
FILED UNDER: From the Desk of Greg Cosell, Greg Cosell, Inside the Game

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Detrimental

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« #1 : March 21, 2012, 07:30:35 AM »

Oh what do you know another writer who thinks he is the best RB prospect since AP. Guess, I should stop being a Richardson fanboy now.....

Anyway, anytime you draft a SKILL position player that has a great chance to be top 3 or 5 at his position, its a great pick. Players that are top 3 are position in the NFL are HOF bound. Either way, the Browns will take Richardson so I've already envisioned us with Claiborne on draft day.

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« #2 : March 21, 2012, 07:34:23 AM »

Yes the Browns always take the player we really want...

What is your point? I was wrong? Ok. You win. I was wrong.

           

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« #3 : March 21, 2012, 07:41:47 AM »

considering every top 10 pick we have had since Sapp has been a disappointment  my opinion is as long as he is a all pro caliber RB I am not going to complain.  need to worry about actually getting a good player first before we worry about positional value and such things.


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« #4 : March 21, 2012, 07:43:32 AM »

considering every top 10 pick we have had since Sapp has been a disappointment  my opinion is as long as he is a all pro caliber RB I am not going to complain.  need to worry about actually getting a good player first before we worry about positional value and such things.
Yeah, lets actually just hit on a good player in the top 10 for once. Then once we shown were capable we can actually worry about positional value.

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« #5 : March 21, 2012, 07:44:42 AM »

I'm tired of Blount's blunders and really would like to see Richardson in the backfield. but our defense is so atrocious that it needs be the priority fix right now.  The league has changed over the last couple of seasons to a pass first, run second league and our defensive backfield needs to be given the highest priority right now - even more so because of Talib's deal.

Ludicrous Speed

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« #6 : March 21, 2012, 07:51:04 AM »

considering every top 10 pick we have had since Sapp has been a disappointment  my opinion is as long as he is a all pro caliber RB I am not going to complain.  need to worry about actually getting a good player first before we worry about positional value and such things.

And Sapp wasn't even picked in the top ten (#12), though he was a top three talent who fortunately slid to us due to a story about him leaked just before the draft.  So unless I've missed someone I've got to go back to Paul Gruber for a top ten quality pick by the Bucs.

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« #7 : March 21, 2012, 07:58:48 AM »

which was when late 80s?  and Selmon is probably the only other one.  Could be wrong.  Have only been a Buc fan since about 92.


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« #8 : March 21, 2012, 07:59:00 AM »

You get 2 or 3 good seasons out of Richardson until he breaks down. UNLESS he is a get half the load guy, and if he isn't that you don't waste a top 5 pick on him. Unless you are positive he comes in gets 350-400 touches and plays through 2 contracts then yeah he would be a wasted pick. Hell if you think you can use him like Aaron Hernandez he would be really good.


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« #9 : March 21, 2012, 08:05:11 AM »

2-3 years?  give me a break.  The NFL is littered with RBs that have given their teams 8-12 years of solid production.  Even AP, who was injury prone in college and has a running style that exposes him to injuries has given the Vikes 5 years and counting.


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« #10 : March 21, 2012, 08:08:02 AM »

it is also not unusual for a RB to not only be a day 1 starter but actually be really good as a rookie whereas other positions can take several years for them to get to that point so are you really gaining anything extra.


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« #11 : March 21, 2012, 08:09:40 AM »


Whole argument is just awful filled with the usual cliches about running the ball. Let's look:

"What do you do offensively if you do not have one of those quarterbacks? . " You throw the ball. Blaine Gabbert and MJD are as big a variance in quality as you can have. MJD averaged a spiffy 4.7 ypa. Blaine Gabbert averaged a net yards per attempt (yards passing - yards sacked / attempts) of 4.2. That is as bad as it gets in the NFL. Unless you have one of THOSE QB's you throw the ball. Now take a more mundane scenario: Reggie Bush and Matt Moore. Bush averaged 5.0 ypc which is great. Matt Moore still averaged nypa 5.9.  In other words Matt Moore on any given play is getting you almost a full yard more than Bush.

"Is there no correlation between a strong rushing attack and an explosive passing game? " <-- No, there isn't Greg. None, zero, zilch nada correlation. As I've said before if this argument were true then all good running teams should be good passing when usually great running teams are terrible passing teams.

"The tendency, in normal down and distance situations, will be for the defense to add that eighth player into the box." <-- Yes Greg this is true, it is true no matter who your RB is. The only time D's don't do this is if you are spread out. See the next argument he makes.

"He utilizes “21” personnel (2 backs and 1 tight end) and “12” personnel (1 back and 2 tight ends). He is outstanding manipulating the safety as an add-in run defender. The result was a high percentage of what we call single high safety coverages, which is one safety in the deep middle of the field. Almost always, in that alignment, the corners play off coverage. Rarely do they play aggressive press man-to-man with only one deep safety." <-- Again, that is the formation dictating the coverage and not the actual man in the backfield. The same things worked when Tolbert was their RB and he's no dynamic threat,

"What that does is shorten the game. The clock moves when you run the ball. The ancillary benefit is your defense is on the field for fewer plays. A back like Richardson therefore not only makes your passing game better, he helps your defense." <-- Also not true, ToP isn't won that way and really isn't won in the NFL at all. You just don't get massive spreads of time in the NFL and ToP in a passing driven league matters less and less. You need to score not play keep away. Plus, he misses the relationship, you need the defense to keep you in games to be able to run.

All posts are opinions in case you are too stupid to figure that out on your own without me saying it over and over.
If you think Manziel is the best QB in this draft I can safely assume you are an idiot and will treat you as such.

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« #12 : March 21, 2012, 08:11:41 AM »

Yes we should draft a position where players last longer and don't get injured as much , like defensive tackle.....oh wait ....

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« #13 : March 21, 2012, 08:11:48 AM »

Shhhhhhh.....no we really want Khalil.... ;)



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« #14 : March 21, 2012, 08:15:19 AM »

I'm fine with whoever the Bucs take as I can see the merits of each player, but in terms of Richardson vs Claiborne, it always makes me think of the Clinton Portis for Champ Bailey trade.

Portis was drafted in 2002. Bailey was drafted in 1999. Portis is a few years removed from relevancy (2008 was his last big season). Bailey is still starting. I just think the discrepancy in the years each position can give you is so big that if you have them rated even, you have to go CB.

There\'s a very real chance the Bucs waive [Revis] before next season. At the very least, it will be a discussion worth having.
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