Goodbye, oh ye of many numbers
Not a surprise, even with the late slide in production:
"I would like to thank my family, coaches and teammates for their support," Funchess said in a statement. "It's always been a dream of mine to play in the NFL, and I am prepared to take the next step in my journey."
Funchess has some mouths to feed and should get drafted high despite the indifferent performance this year. He has a size/speed combo reminiscent of Mike Evans and someone's going to take a shot at him in the late first round.
"Every football team eventually arrives at a lead play: a "Number 1" play, a "bread and butter" play. It is the play that the team knows it must make go, and the one its opponents know they must stop. Continued success with it, of course, makes your Number 1 play, because from that success stems your own team's confidence." –Vince Lombardi
As we discuss coaching candidates we'll invariably get into the same old discussions on what kind of base offense said candidate might want to run. There was some discussion on the board this week and I wanted to expand that discussion into some basic "Rock" plays of various offensive schemes.
It is incorrect to identify any one play (and even more incorrect to identify a specific formation or personnel group) as a complete offense. You always need counters to keep doing the thing you do, and the counters will often borrow directly from some other offensive concept's rock. All offenses will borrow from each other so no breakdown is going to describe more than 60% of any given offense. Most zone blocking offenses throw in man-blocked things (example: inverted veer) to screw with the defense. You can run most of these out of lots of different formations. You can package counters into almost all of them (example: The Borges's Manbubble added a bubble screen to inside manball).
Really what you're describing when you talk about any offense is the thing they do so well that they can do it for 5 or 6 YPP all day long unless defenses do something unsound to stop it (like play man-to-man, or blitz guys out of coverage, etc.). Some examples of offenses and their formation needs (where a need isn't specified, figure they can use any set or formation: spread, tight, 23, ace whatever). I've given the rock plays, and left out the counters and counters to the counters because that gets into way too many variants.
Finally, the terms "pro style" and "spread" are meaningless distinctions. NFL offenses have the luxury of getting super complex: they have passing game coordinators who teach the QBs and WRs Air Raid things then run zone or power blocked things. The spread refers to formations and personnel—it doesn't say anything about whether the QB runs, if it's an option offense, or what tempo it runs at, or even what kind of blocking it uses. What I've done here is break up the offenses into "QB as Run Threat" and "QB Doesn't Have to Run" since the construction of these base plays usually stems from that. Remember, however, that QB running offenses can (and often do) still use blocking right out of Vince Lombardi's favorite play.
QB as Run Threat Offenses:
The FB dive will hit too quickly for anyone but the DE to stop; once the DE bites, the RG moves down to the second level while the QB keeps and heads outside, with the RB in a pitch relationship to defeat the unblocked defender there.
Concept: QB makes a hand-off read then a pitch read.
Makes life especially hard on: Edge defenders who have to string out plays against multiple blockers and maintain discipline.
Formation needs: Two backs.
Helpful skills: QB who can consistently make multiple reads and won't fumble, highly experienced, agile OL, backs who can both run and bock.
Mortal enemy: The Steel Curtain. Stopping the triple option is a team effort; if everybody is capable of defeating blocks, challenging ball-carriers, and swarming to the pitch man there's nowhere to attack.
Examples: Air Force, Nevada, Georgia Tech, Bo's Michigan
[Hit the jump for ZR, QB power, Air Raid, West Coast, Manball, Inside Zone, and the Power Sweep].
I don't really have much today. Sorry. Monday must be trash night. Wait a second…
/takes out trash
never not funny
ANYWAY. Yesterday was notable for two reasons: the Football Bust and a you-dead Harbaugh press conference. Harbaugh's response to the inevitable Qs about his job:
“I don’t talk about any other job other than the one that I have,” Harbaugh told reporters on Monday. “And I’ve answered this question many times, even recently, so you’d know exactly what my priorities are. I get this from the Marines, ‘Leaders eat last.’ My number one priority is winning football games. Second priority is the welfare of our players, our coaches, all our staff, for the welfare of our team. And lastly is my own personal professional future.”
If that quintessential non-denial-denial was not sufficient, poke a Michigan insider and he's calling BS on reports that Michigan is out. Webb:
…the growing NFL sentiment that Harbaugh will remain in the professional ranks is an overstatement in our view, it does speak to the belief held by some that have talked to him in recent weeks that he will be tougher to lure away from the pros than previously thought. The source to which Harbaugh reported his ongoing uncertainty about the future to put the odds of his return to Ann Arbor at 50/50.
See also 247, Rivals, etc. The divergence between the Michigan people and the NFL people is massive. It would probably be even larger if anyone knew exactly what happened with Brandon and Harbaugh in 2010. In retrospect, the popular story about how he was in the bag and then flaked sounds a lot like Dave Brandon making himself look good instead of objective reality. Brandon blew everything else and was a pathological liar. If his version of 2010 events is the reason people are hesitant, I might increment myself from hopeful to optimistic.
WE DON'T HAVE FLIGHT AWARE SO GIVE US THIS AT LEAST. We're gonna extrapolate from minimal information and nobody can stop us. Block the plane, fly commercial: whatever, man. We've got body language.
Watch the relevant part of Jim's latest press conference here, from 7:40 to 8:35. http://mgovideo.com/jim-harbaugh-monday-presser-12-8-14/
Now watch this youtube video. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KiIP_KDQmXs
HE'S HIDING SOMETHING!!!1!
Seriously though, he tenses right up, starts using his hands/arms, sort of rambles, etc. You get a body language expert in here, and that's a Michigan coach at that podium.
Let's get a body language expert in here then.
SHORTLY AFTER, YOU SAY? Tyree Kinnel tells Scout's Dave Berk that a Michigan assistant contacted him and said that Michigan hopes to have a head coach in place($). "right after Christmas." Like, four days after maybe?
MILES? Webb also reiterated what Les Miles himself said a couple days ago: unlike everyone from Steve Addazio on up, he hasn't heard anything from Michigan. Lorenz thinks that's not a death knell for his prospects($) if Harbaugh doesn't happen; John U Bacon had a similar take in a post-Bust interview with the local Fox station that MGoUser michgoblue provided Cliffs Notes for on the board. I'm still skeptical, as you know.
AS FOR THE BUST. Not much of interest coaching-search wise, just Hackett saying he has been "blown away" by the level of interest in the job and Reggie McKenzie advocating Mike Trgovac.
Trgovac was an interesting candidate in 2007 while he was in the midst of a pretty successful run as the Panthers' DC, but he's been stuck as the Packers' DL coach since 2009. It is kind of surprising that we hear about Teryl Austin but not him; neither is likely to be plan B… or G.
PLAN B? OKAY. I've heard Bob Stoops may be available as familiarity with an .800 win rate breeds contempt at Oklahoma; Lorenz echoes that strongly($) in his latest, and you begin to wonder if there was something real behind that Stoops-should-leave moment we had a few weeks ago, as unlikely as that seems. Chris Petersen was never going to go anywhere until he did; Bob Stoops could be in a similar boat.
It still seems highly doubtful. It's just plausible enough to kick the tires and see what happens, which at least makes it a lot more sensible than Sean Payton.
Meanwhile: this is yet another spread coach. In Stoops's case it's an Air Raid so prolific that seemingly half the country has an offensive coordinator from the Stoops tree. Stoops famously installed Mike Leach in his first year as a head coach because he hated defending Kentucky's offense and wanted to hire it, and he's never waved. That shouldn't be a problem, but recent history of Michigan etc etc etc. The Air Raid is a better fit with Michigan's current QB corps, but if you want a pro-style guy this is not it. (If this does not make you reconsider your pro-style dogmatism, I cannot help you.)
COORDINATORS? I'd be fine with a coordinator if he came with the correct combination of impressive performance, recruiting output, and long-term upside—I've got a brief post later today on how frequent the promotion is even for big time programs. Sam's starting to poke around those guys as well, mentioning a few NFL guys($) even outside the obvious Teryl Austin. IRL troll Colin Cowherd brought up Seahawks OC Darrell Bevell, a former Wisconsin QB who's been an OC in the NFL for about a decade. If Michigan is going to make the dubious decision to grab an NFL coordinator, he is one of the guys who makes some sense.
I'm not too interested those gentlemen, but Sam also says that one of the 14-man list Hackett told the team he was evaluating is a current Big Ten coordinator($). That can only be one of two guys: Pat Narduzzi or Tom Herman.
Who's up for decades of Herman's Head jokes? Just me? Oh.
This site is highly intrigued by Herman, who Urban Meyer yoinked off an uninspiring three-year tenure as Iowa State's OC to his great profit. Since, he's coordinated consecutive top-ten offenses by any metric you care to name. The latter is an incredibly resilient year in which Herman lost four OL, his QB, and his top RB without batting an eye, then lost his second-string QB and still turned Wisconsin into a radioactive, glassy plain.
Herman is a Broyles finalist this year and was the 2013 Rivals Big Ten recruiter of the year—he's the total package.
Narduzzi is a bit less exciting because it's hard to tell exactly how much he is the MSU defense and how much is Dantonio. That's less of a concern for Herman because Dan Mullen went on to succeed at Mississippi State and Florida cratered under Steve Addazio; Meyer is also less insanely involved in the day-to-day after his UF freakout period.
There were also some signs that MSU's defense was beginning to get figured out this year. Oregon and Ohio State took advantage of MSU's aggressive cover-four safeties by blazing guys down the slot until the Spartans didn't know what to think; I'd prefer the guy who put up 49 this year on the MSU defense instead of the guy who ceded same.
Either would be preferable to a low-upside head coach, be he an older gentleman or a debatably good idea.
PLAN Z. File this under "agent": Washington coach Jay Gruden, who has done nothing in his coaching career of note other than be named Gruden, is getting fired soon. You will not be shocked what is being floated out there by his agent, then:
One source I trust tipped me off to a potential landing spot for Gruden: The University of Michigan. This source, who is intimately familiar with the Wolverines’ rapidly emerging coaching search, informed me on Thursday that initial contact has been made between the parties and that Gruden’s representation was enthusiastically open to the potential. I can’t put a figure on the likelihood of Gruden fleeing to Ann Arbor, and another UM source I trust refused to confirm anything I asked, but it’s an interesting leverage point nonetheless.
Never trust a sentence with "rapidly emerging" in front of words that need no adjectives. Gruden is 3-10 with Washington and most of his coaching career prior was spent in the Arena League; this snippet means that Gruden's agent called Michigan and was not quite laughed at. The only thing this means is that he's out the door in Washington; it has no relevance to Michigan's search.
Etc.: I agree.
Michigan 0 OSU 1 EV 10:09 Johnson from Niddery and Stork
Ohio State catches Michigan in transition. Niddery has the puck in the neutral zone and banks it off the boards. Serville is too slow stabbing at it, and the puck gets past him to Johnson. Downing is the lone defenseman back who can make a play.
You can see from the above screencap that Johnson skates the puck out as wide as possible. He’s trying to draw Downing to him and open up space in front of the net because he sees he has a trailing teammate charging the net hard. Downing doesn’t bite, or at least he doesn’t bite entirely. He starts to dive to take away the pass.
Regardless of what happens with this shot Michigan’s not in a good position. It just so happens that the shot it perfect, so the danger of a rebound or a redirection in front is moot. This is obviously a bad goal for Nagelvoort to give up from that sharp of an angle, but he made some otherwise spectacular saves in the first period. Johnson’s shot hits the farside post and deflects up and in for the goal.
Michigan 1 OSU 1 EV 12:49 Hyman (7) from Larkin (11) and Serville (2)
Larkin carries the puck wide, and the defenseman picks him up and moves wide with him. Behind Larkin Hyman skates toward the middle of the ice, giving Larkin someone to center the puck to if the defender over-commits.
Larkin skates just a couple more strides before he drop passes to Hyman. Larkin actually could have held the puck a few more strides, as the defender is still in a position to make a play on the puck. Hyman makes a smart play, seeing that the defender is near enough to him that he’ll have to release the puck immediately to avoid the defender’s stick. You can see from the screencap below that he’s already loading up to shoot, and the puck’s been on his blade for a fraction of a second.
Frye stops Hyman’s shot, but he is unable to glove the puck or absorb the shot. The puck is deflected and goes up and over him.
Larkin has continued his skating arc from the outside of the zone to the inside, and he’s at the side of the net by the time the puck goes up in the air. His positioning pays off, as he bats down the deflection for Michigan’s first goal.
[After THE JUMP: a five-minute-long Christmas miracle]
|Head Coach, UCLA|
|HC @ Seattle||2009|
|DB/AHC @ Seattle||2007-08|
|HC @ Atlanta||2004-06|
|DC @ San Fransisco||1999-03|
|LB/DB, Washington, 1980-83|
These again. We're skipping Harbaugh because it's not like you need to be told about Harbaugh. In the event M does hire him, he'll get one.
These are in approximate order of personal preference.
Previously: Dan Mullen.
Jim E. Mora is the son of Jim "Playoffs?!" L. Mora, and as a result joined the nepotism-friendly ranks of NFL position coaches soon after he graduated college. After a decade as a DBs coach he broke through as the San Francisco 49ers defensive coordinator, parlaying that into two brief, unsuccessful stints as an NFL head coach.
After the second—a one-year gig with the Seahawks after which he was thrown overboard for Pete Carroll—Mora was out of coaching for two years. When UCLA tapped him for their head coaching job, Bruins Nation was wroth. Bruins Nation is always wroth but at the time it seemed like they had a point. Mora looked like a guy who'd never have gotten anywhere without his father's name and seemed a particularly poor fit for college, what with his single year as a Washington grad assistant. The motivation appeared to be "he's kind of like Pete Carroll."
But it's worked rather well. Mora's led the Bruins to three 6-3 Pac-12 records in three years, had a 10-3 2013, and hasn't won fewer than nine games. This is a considerable step up from Rick Neuheisel (21-29 in 4 seasons), Karl Dorrell (35-27 in 5 seasons) and even nominally successful Bob Toledo, who followed up two top-ten outings in the late 1990s with a string of mediocre teams and finished his career 49-32. Mora's three years are the most successful UCLA has had in 15 years, and you have to go back to Terry Donahue's mid-80s heyday to find anything definitively better.
So he's plausible. But how good have these seasons actually been, and what happens post-Hundley?
[After THE JUMP: bad NFL defenses, excellent recruiting, and stealth spread.]
THAT'S THE SPIRIT. User "Number 7" on the correct way to take all information:
1. All good news is good news. (Because it's good news. Duh.)
2. All bad news is good news. (Because it's probably just a smokescreen, because timing.)
and, thanks to this,
3. No news is good news. (Because also timing.)
Don't forget "4. In case of 2, annihilate the messenger."
ON HARBAUGH'S INTEREST LEVEL. I like it when NFL guys fire off things that I know aren't true, because then I can rail against 'em. It provides a level of certainty that's rare in any coaching search, and especially this one featuring a primary candidate who's employed until the end of December.
So: I know that the Michigan end of things referred to here…
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) December 7, 2014
…certainly does not think they're going to have to move on, at least not to the point of being "convinced" about anything. There was a meeting of some variety—executed slightly better than Jeremy Foley's—but the aftermath of it has not seen any lack of pursuit or increased focus on guys other than Harbaugh. Since Michigan didn't advertise it to the nation, we can't be certain exactly who was involved. I've heard it was high-level, possibly a Hackett-Harbaugh face-to-face.
I don't know what's going to happen, but the NFL-facing sources have been so strident about things that I know are not true multiple times that I take every new report from them with a grain of salt. If they end up being right it's not going to be because they're super plugged in.
ALSO HARBAUGH. Heard that he took in the OSU game with a bunch of former teammates who were asking him to fix things, to which he said (paraphrased) 1) you'll have to wait a bit here and 2) I'll have to get paid like a top five college coach.
The upshot of the first bit: Harbaugh isn't going to to anything that would be seen as abandoning his team, even as their playoff odds get extremely long. Don't expect something until the 28th, if Michigan is still waiting then.
The upshot of the second: I don't think we're talking Godfather money here, but something approximately Saban/Meyer yes. This was apparently the subject of a brief tug-of-war at the AD/prez/regents level when Schlissel balked at the idea and the regents were like "no, actually, this makes sense because X and Y." They are good to go for compensation, with donor aid.
UNLESS! That is, unless Harbaugh gets canned before the season's over. That would be completely nuts on San Francisco's part, but guys who cover the team are broaching the idea:
With a trip to Seattle coming Sunday, where the 49ers haven't won since 2011, before Russell Wilson was drafted, there's a reasonable chance Harbaugh doesn't last the season.
The precedent is Harbaugh's predecessor Mike Singletary, who was fired in Week 16 of 2010, after San Francisco was eliminated from playoff contention. That year, the Seahawks won the NFC West going 7-9.
If they're so inclined Michigan could step in and save the 49ers a hunk of money. With Harbaugh's contract an asset, it's unlikely he gets fired-fired; SF would probably not want him across the Bay and if so would want to get at least a mid-round pick out of it. Speaking of across the Bay…
MARK DAVIS IS A ROMULAN
DON'T WORK FOR THE ROMULANS BECAUSE THEY'LL EVENTUALLY ENSLAVE YOU AND PUT YOU TO WORK IN THE DILITHIUM MINES OF PENTAX IV, THAT'S MY MOTTO
SHUT UP, IT'S A GOOD MOTTO
AM I MINING UNTIL I DIE ON A ROCK IN THE DEMILITARIZED ZONE? NO? QED.
THIS BETTING MARKET IS ALL OVER THE PLACE. After pulling their Harbaugh prop over the weekend, it returns with the Raiders a heavy favorite:
Harbaugh coaching odds opened OAK 5-6 Other NFL Team 2-1 Does Not Coach 5-2 SF 6-1 Michigan 6-1 Other NCAA Team 15-1 http://t.co/wgXQWIYuj0
— Sportsbook.com ® (@Sportsbook_com) December 8, 2014
And then a heavier one:
Re Harbaugh 2015 Odds...within minutes of tweeting out the new odds we took heavy action on Oakland Raiders so moved them from -120 to -200
— Sportsbook.com ® (@Sportsbook_com) December 8, 2014
That wild swing is likely because of the weekly NFL reporter scoffing and the fact that Harbaugh talked to Raiders owner Prince Valium after San Francisco lost to his team on Sunday. I'm a little skeptical Harbaugh's going to take the worst possible NFL job, one that might not even be in Oakland next year, but that ain't good. On the other hand:
.@Sportsbook_com If he's 6-1 to coach San Francisco next year, then what is "Raptured following glorious victory over Lizard People?" 8-1?
— Bryan Mac (@Bry_Mac) December 8, 2014
And they just dropped the M odds to 4-to-1 as money comes in on them once again. Woo!
PROPS TO NFL LLOYD CHRISTMAS, THOUGH. This is a good quote:
What did they talk about? I asked Davis, who laughed and said:
“I told him, ‘You stole our dysfunction!” Davis said. “‘That’s supposed to be our thing!’”
THE PLAN B TIER. With everyone laser-focused on Harbaugh there continues to be little clarity as to who might be the backup plan. Les Miles said he had not been contacted by Michigan, and I continue to believe that he's facing too much internal opposition to get a serious sniff.
Sam Webb has had a couple posts on Greg Schiano and Steve Addazio in the last couple days, names that alarm and boggle. The most recent was at least about how Addazio is a more likely candidate than Schiano; I choose to interpret that information as "we do not want Greg Schiano so passionately we would choose to hire Steve Addazio over him." Corroborating is Steve Lorenz, who says all the noise about Schiano has come from his end($), with no Michigan folk mentioning his name.
That leaves Addazio's presence. Bald Brady Hoke makes no sense as any kind of candidate except to your crazy old coot grandfather who has all his savings in gold and doesn't trust the FDIC. Unfortunately, we have a lot of those hanging around. FWIW, I haven't heard one thing about him.
I don't think anyone has a strong grasp on who Plan B is. Rivals is pushing guys like Sean Payton and Bret Bielema; meanwhile on WTKA this morning Sam was talking about Jim Mora. I have heard diverse and sundry names, none of which stand out from the crowd. Clint Brewster's five guys not named Harbaugh or Miles seems like a realistic baseline: David Shaw, Mora, Dan Mullen, Kyle Whittingham… sigh… Addazio.
kind of looks like Scott Bakula
PINKEL? Seeing chatter about Mizzou's Gary Pinkel, but… like… okay remember what happened when Nebraska hired Mike Riley? Gary Pinkel is a bit like that. He's obviously got a much better track record than Riley what with his five ten-win seasons in the last eight years, but he would be 63 by the time he coached one game at M. By the time he got his guys in here he'd be ready to retire.
Pinkel may be an excellent coach, but is he that much better than a guy a decade younger than him? Coaching transitions suck; do you want to guarantee yourself another one in 5-7 years?
HE DOES THIS EVERY YEAR. One of the most attractive candidates on the B tier is on the verge of signing an extension:
Scott Stricklin expects a contract extension for Dan Mullen soon.
"Dan, in his defense, his focus has been recruiting, being in bowl prep," Stricklin said. "But I'm optimistic we can get that wrapped up pretty soon."
Ah but there's a catch with the headline here:
Mississippi state law doesn't allow for a state employee's contract to extend more than four years. In each of the five previous seasons Stricklin and Mullen have come to an agreement. This year appears no different.
Iowa fans envy Mississippi State law so hard right now. But anyway: because of this law MSU has gone back to Mullen every year for a pro forma extension. That statement from the AD is based on hope and expectation and not nearly as meaningful as it would be otherwise.
There's been a bare minimum of Mullen chatter aside from some national guys on Scout saying he would jump if given the opportunity, so for whatever (probably bad) reasons are out there he does not seem like a likely option if Harbaugh falls through. That makes no sense to me, nor big chunks of the coaching fraternity. It is what it is. I'm still hoping this apparent lack of interest is because there is no serious interest in anyone not named Harbaugh just yet.
THIS, HOWEVER, IS THE END OF BUTCH. Butch Jones gets extended to 2020 at $3.6 million a year(!). In two years at Tennessee he's 11-13 and his best win is likely over South Carolina this year. Recruiting's going in the right direction, but as Hoke demonstrated that's not always enough.
In any case, that's enough to knock Jones off the Plan B list.