Last call for XMas tales. PEOPLE OF EARTH: FAILURE IS IMMINENT. No, this isn't about Dave Brandon. This is about YOU. If you order TODAY a copy of Hail To Old Blue will get to its proper location by Christmas.
Or you can pick up a copy at Underground Printing, Literati, or Nicola's. All of them are fine establishments containing our book. Literati also has unauthorized copies of Crag Ross's books. (To be clear: they are unauthorized by Literati, because Craig just signs them and drops them off.)
The inscrutable crocodile. As the kind of person who sits in his bunker and plots various ways to destroy my mortal enemy Instagram whilst almost entirely ignoring the NFL, this insane thing has eluded my attention for far longer than anything that could cause this picture to exist should:
Tom Brady's slow descent into madness is now manifesting itself as a series of bizarre webcomics that involve centaur, jockey, and Captain Planet versions of Brady himself, some sort of pudgy leprechaun who is about to touch his nipples, Walker Space Ranger, a crocodile dressed like Captain Picard during a holodeck episode, several anime animals engaging in some sort of... activity, and—most bizarrely—Gronk in a lab coat pouring what I can only assume is trademarked, patented GronkJuice(tm) onto a chicken wing.
That paragraph was one sentence.
Anyway. This clearly needs a crack investigative team breaking down the ins, outs, what-have-yous, and thoughtcrimes being committed. Charlotte Wilder was born for this job.
- Speaking of lasers, the plans inside the Dolphins’ briefcase appear to be for some sort of giant, inter-galactic laser.
- Oh my god, do you think that because I’ve been imagining that the social media room underneath a TB12 workout facility looks like a lair, they drew a lair?
- Sorry, I know this isn’t about me.
- Is that guy wearing a lab coat by the picture of Ben Steeler Gronk?
- Yes, because in the comic after the Houston win, Gronk showed up wearing that same lab coat. He’s also wearing glasses and says, “the computer data is telling me...”
- Get it? It’s funny because Gronk is not generally seen as a rocket scientist. They were in space then. Now they’re underwater. Or possibly underground.
I think that's a compliment? I don't know. She did a really good job analyzing this nonsense Tom Brady webcomic? Hell, I've covered the last 14 years of Michigan football. I have no room to criticize.
Speaking of NFL things that don't make any sense. This isn't a catch, people! Why are you mad about this?
Steelers potential game winning TD ruled NOT a catch. WOW. pic.twitter.com/cE6lHTnObk
— LeadingNFL ™ (@LeadingNFL) December 18, 2017
Any player that hasn't clearly established themselves as a runner has to maintain control through contact through the ground and this dude certainly did not do that. Even the current 65-page version of the catch rule the NFL deploys isn't at fault here. This particular incident was even explained with poetic beauty!
“The receiver, in the end zone, did not survive the ground,” was the explanation on the field by referee Tony Corrente.
Damn, Tony Corrente.
The problem is nobody knows what a damn catch is. Here's a four part catch rule that is as unambiguous as is possible (for the NFL) and solves many many problems:
- A receiver has to secure the ball and get both feet down in bounds to start the catch process.
- Once he takes a step after both feet come down he is a runner and has caught the ball.
- Receivers who do not take a step between possessing the ball and either going to ground or touching out of bounds must maintain possession through contact with the ground.
- Maintaining possession means the ball does not touch the ground. If the receiver is now out of bounds and he bobbles the ball, forcing the catch process to start over, it's incomplete.
The end. The above-linked SBN article has a controversial Dez Bryant non-catch that this version of the rule makes crystal clear:
Catch, step, runner, complete. No controversy. Steelers' play above: no step, ball touches ground, incomplete, no controversy.
There will of course be edge cases where the situation at the moment of possession makes it unclear whether a catch is a catch, but those four steps are the clearest and least controversial a catch rule can be. If you wanted to go even farther towards clarity you could let a catch stand if 1) the WR got his feet in bounds and 2) the ball never hit the turf even if there was a bobble after the WR went out. I think that's not a catch but if you said it was then it's pretty simple: did you keep the ball off the ground after establishing a foot (or two) in bounds? Yes? Catch.
The quintessential Bush blitz. Blitzology—hey!—breaks it down.
Really interesting and effective pressure concept from Michigan defensive coordinator Don Brown. The Wolverines are in a 3-3 nickel personnel package.
The front slides the 3 down linemen to the strong side and has all 3 LB's walked up to the weak side. The Mike is initially in a 3 point stance.
The effect is a 4 man version of America's Blitz. The Will wraps around to the fill the role of the inside rusher in the America's blitz concept. Because the defense bluffs the weak side overload the protection doesn't identify the concept as America's blitz and pass it off. The RB is forced into a really difficult block, scanning all the way back across the formation to pick up the Will as he wraps around.
Frequently the "N" was actually Noah Furbush, but that wrap blitz was largely responsible for Bush's blazing start to the season. Teams did adapt, but then Michigan threw other stuff—largely Khaleke Hudson—at the opposition.
To be fair, this is correct about 20% of the time. Whoops, Tampa Bay Times:
Although... that appears to be an ad, which means the Outback Bowl itself doesn't know who's in this year's game. Which is fine. I mean. It's the Outback Bowl. No1curr. Except MSU fans.
Good lord, dude. ASU AD Ray Anderson is rapidly charging up the ranks of Most Incompetent AD Ever, and he's got the bravura of a Wall Street trader to go with it:
"The athletic department there is perceived there as a cluster," Sun Devils athletic director Ray Anderson said. "Their athletic director, now Phil Fulmer, in the athletic director's world is a pariah. It is not a good situation."
Their AD is a cluster? Bruh.
Do I hear a senior season? ESPN's latest draft rankings have Mo Wagner #68 despite his clearly improved rebounding and... possibly improved defense. We've seen guys (GRIII most prominently) leave one year after they put their name in but withdrew, and that's always a possibility. But if Wagner's leaving after the year it's probably not for the lottery.
Don't expect Rashan Gary to fall in the same boat, though.
Some bad grades. Since all we get these day from PFF are glimpses you don't get a lot of negatives unless the situation—cough cough, OL—absolutely demands it. South Carolina's 24/7 site is looking for weaknesses in the Michigan D, though, and they came up with:
Defensive end Carlo Kemp (49.9) - A sophomore who is listed as a backup, Kemp has played 367 snaps on defense. He has graded out at 48.2 against the run and 55.6 in pass rush.
Linebacker Noah Furbush (50.6) - Furbush is also listed as a backup and has played 138 snaps this season. He’s performed much better against the run grading out at 64.6 and has struggled in coverage at 45.9.
Two backups. (I think they might have flipped those snap counts, FWIW. Furbush got way more snaps than Kemp this year.) The conceit of this post is "three at the top and three at the bottom," but...
The “Three at the top” needed to be expanded to five as each player listed graded out as “elite,” a designation given to players who achieve an 85.0 or higher. The “Three near the bottom” was cut to two given that no other player with 75 or more snaps played had a grade below 70.
...ain't nobody else at the bottom. The five elite guys are Hurst, Winovich, Hudson, Bush, and Hill, all of whom are at 87 or better.
Yes, this means that PFF is also grading Michigan's safeties well. Metellus's rough OSU game had a lot of internet people waving Brian Smith goodbye happily because they thought Metellus and Kinnel were bad. They were not. They were good. A B+ unit.
Etc.: Ann Arbor average home price went up 8% this year; went up 11% last year. Again, I apologize to Juggalos for comparing them to Michigan State fans. Good luck at the Supreme Court, Juggalos. Harbaugh visits the tiny town of Garber, is greeted like movie star. Pioneer parking makes bank.