Thursday, November 04, 2010

NFL 2010: Mid-Season Maritime Metaphor

As this might be the last season of professional football for a spell, it would be worthwhile to savor our weekly bread.

Nautically, naturally, I think that it is best to characterize the NFL in 2010 by Points Of Sail.

Broad Reach
The best point of sail: efficient, smooth and ready for a change of wind or course. Resilient stability and good leverage with the keel. Great for long hauls.

Patriots: #1 scoring Offense and perhaps their best O-line since the Superbowl wins. Defense is not spectacular but they make timely plays. Special Teams are a big contributor. The Patriots' scheme has to be considered one of the all-time best.

Colts: perfection of the draw makes this Offense a nightmare to defend. The Defense is built to play with a lead. Vulnerability to the run and unimpressive Special Teams are offset by mistake-free football.

Running Before the Wind
Although this generates speed, running has the disadvantage of chopping across the ocean swells. Stability is an issue. The full wind can push the craft off-course, but is correctable.

Jets: at times dominant, with outstanding Defense and running, this team still throws for too low a completion % and yards per catch. D needs to improve 3rd down, but ST are good.

Houston: with the ability to both run and pass, the Texans are too pass-first. Pass D is atrocious and they give up points in bunches. ST are lacking.

Baltimore: while still a top-ten D, they're not taking the ball away like they used to. The Offense is good, not great. Special Teams lack a spark.

Steelers: run defense leads the way for the #1 scoring Defense. Pass D is suspect but they create turnovers. Rushing was winning, but they're going pass-whacky with Ben back. Good ST.

Chiefs: the turnaround is compelling. Excellent top-down coaching yields fewest giveaways, few mistakes. #1 rushing but moribund passing. Solid young Defense. The ST are decent.

Falcons: great at home but poor on grass. Nicely balanced Offense. Good Defense but give up pass yards and 3rd downs. ST may have slipped but remain top ten. No penalties.

Saints: unable to overcome injuries, the Offense has only shown flashes of its former brilliance. Defense has played fairly well, but aren't forcing turnovers. ST are pretty good.

Close Reach
Making way upwind is accomplished by tacking back and forth. Although progress is slow, patient control is important, because capsizing is likely when jibing with an inexperienced Captain.

Titans: high-risk/high-reward team leads give-and-takeaways & penalties, but scores points.
Oakland: seems like a team that wants to win, a startling change. No discipline, as usual.
Giants: scoring & defense, yet penalties and breakdowns are a gaping weakness.
Eagles: talented and explosive, the team suffers from lousy in-game coaching and leadership.
Skins: very much in transition, this team plays to the level of its competition. Promise on D.
Buccaneers: though playing hard, this team lacks the talent to beat above-average teams.
Packers: although very good in some aspects, their full-game performances are lacking.
Miami: while they do some things exceptionally well, they can't handle their tough schedule.
Chargers: with the talent this team has, they shouldn't be down here. Blame the coach.

In Irons
No progress is possible at the moment. Throw some ballast overboard and wait for the wind to change. With luck, change will come sooner rather than later. Or you can paddle your way out.

Jaguars, Chicago, Rams, 49ers, Minnesota

"A shark was on the larboard bow,
sharks don't on manners stand,
but grapple all they come near,
just like your sharks on land.

We heaved Ben out some tackling
of saving him, some hoped,
but the shark had bit his head off,
so he couldn't see the ropes."
-- the sea shanty Ben Backstay
Buffaloaf, Cleveland, Cincinnati, Denver, Dallas, Carolina, Detroit, Seattle, Arizona


Andrew Wice said...

But I'm pretty sure that illustration shows "coming about" not "jibing." However the danger, in the form of the man overboard, is all too real.

Big Blue Monkey 2: The Quickening said...

I know you know all about falling out of boats, but I have to first agree with your Top 2 teams, at least in part because of their ability to cycle players in and out without missing a step.

The Pat's scheme made Matt Cassel look like a desirable franchise quarterback. They've made Woodhead and Tate look like All-Stars. It is impressive.

The Colts are the same way--All-Star Tight End Dallas Clark goes down, and for a lot of teams, that would be a lot of trouble. Up steps Jacob Tamme, and in his first full game as a pro, catches 6 passes for a bunch of yards and a TD. Or, put in another way--has a Dallas Clark type game. Look how Austin Collie went from a guy on the Colts to indispensable when he got hurt, only to show that as long as Peyton Manning is running the show, no one receiver is indispensable. Combine that with a defense built to punish teams who fall behind a prolific offense, and it is scary to watch.

Big Blue Monkey 2: The Quickening said...

OK, so I think I might move up the Rams a spot, based on nothing but their gem of a rookie QB. If they can keep Bradford upright, they'll be tough next year. (though it may be time to look at a younger RB, whilst they are at it.)

I don't think I'm crazy to suggest that the Chiefs special teams are maybe one year away from being mind-blowingly good. They've drafted nothing but speedy tough guys, who can make their secondary opportunistic, but will make their return game ridiculous soon.

Andrew Wice said...

Yes, the Rams almost deserve to be in a higher bracket. See, like the BCS, I've used both specious and spurious logic to foster debate.

Based on how quickly the Chiefs went from pathetic to solid, I wouldn't be surprised if ST don't continue to improve this year.

By the way, I've fallen off jet skis, out of canoes and out of sailboats. Good thing I can swim and I smell funny to marine predators.