I’m in a good mood due to some stimulating conversations I’ve had over the past few days.
Thinking about the Packers Offense
I had an online chat with a guy named Oppy on the CheeseheadTV live blog during the Packers-Lions game today. Last week or the week before, Oppy mentioned that Rodgers is McCarthy’s “shiny new sports car, he wants to show it off.” As a result he tends to solve most of his problems by using the quarterback.
This makes a lot of sense to me, this notion that McCarthy is basically a QB coach and thinks like a QB coach. Oppy also critiqued my notion that the O-Line was ignored, “I don't think the o-line has been ignored.. Just over-estimated. O linemen have been taken en mass through the draft for years. They just haven't panned out much. Spitz and Sitton look to be the best of them, but Spitz's future is uncertain at this point.”
I like that. Clearly management feels that they’re focused on the O-Line. It’s just they think that they can coach Alex Gibbs’ zone-blocking system. They can’t. I strongly want to critique this notion of McCarthy being an offensive genius. I think he’s a quarterbacking genius. But ultimately he’s too biased toward the position of the quarterback in most of his analyses.
Oppy asked, “I still don't get why on 4th down attempts or 3rd and Goal McCarthy seems to refuse to use sets that at least make defenses acknowledge it might be a run. I mean, if you want to pass it, that's fine.. But would it kill you to pass it out of a formation with a RB and maybe even a FB in the backfield?”
I said back, “Oppy, I almost get the impression that McCarthy just doesn't trust running as a concept. It's like he thinks, ‘On third and long, of course you throw. No one would rush, so why fake it?’”
He said back, “Cup, I'm not even talking about 3rd and long situations. I'm talking about 3rd and goal.. 4th and 2.. At least make the defense THINK you MIGHT run it. But when you go empty backfield, you're telegraphing ‘Just rush the passer or cover’”
I thought for a bit, but realized it didn’t change my answer. “Oppy, I still think that line of reasoning can be expanded. McCarthy is biased toward passing. Whenever tension is high, he passes. He grafts that bias onto the defense. He thinks, ‘This is a crucial play, we can't run it. The defense knows that.’ He likes passing and grafts that bias onto the defense, so he doesn't try to trick them, thinking it won't work. That's my theory, anyway.”
The Packers play book, according to Aaron Rodgers, is roughly 250 pass plays and 100 run plays. Is it any wonder that he passes way too often? It feels more than 75 percent of the time, but I don’t know the numbers. But even going by a random distribution of the plays, he’d be passing at least 75 percent of the time. Call me old fashioned, but I think that’s crazy. He may be a genius QB coach, but he’s not a genius offensive coach and he’s no head coach. He’s trained Rodgers. He’s done the best he can do. I don’t think he’s a strategist.
Thinking about the Damned Dissertation
I had a talk with Steve Hanson, which very often has a mind-clearing effect for me. He drove home a clear point. “Talal, you should be an unabashed supporter of qualitative methods.” Ellis has also told me to be myself and stop sounding “like you through a Poli Sci echo chamber.” Steve pointed out that all this work was worth it because it has prepared me to go up against the KKV types and that was what I needed to get out of the methods courses. So I guess, in the end, you come up against yourself.
Steve also gave me a minimum for my causal argument. It has to be reasonably falsifiable. That’s the boundary. I can work with that. For the first time I feel like this is a football game I could win. My goal is a theory chapter by Week 1 of next term.
I’m actually pumped about writing.
I Need to Stop Selling Myself Short
I’ve lost a lot of respect for myself because of the illness. I’ve come to believe that I can’t fight, that I don’t have it in me to fight. Maybe I’ve sat in too many seminars in the Pacific Northwest. When I went to Palestine, when I saw that wall in Jericho, I realized that was wrong. There’s fight left in this sclerotic carcass after all. I want to go back.I will not fear—fear is the mind killer.
Fear is the little death that brings total obliteration.
I will face my fear.
I will permit it to pass over me and through me.
And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path.
Where the fear has gone there will be nothing.
Only I will remain.