Greg Cosell does great work for NFL Films as he breaks down tape and prepares for the NFL Matchup show each week. During the offseason he does some draft analysis. He wrote a recent column taking a look at 3 teams and how the positions they picked indicate how those teams feel the game should be played.
Einstein said true genius is the ability to take complex ideas and make them simple. That’s the kind of stuff Greg is best at. He rarely says anything that blows you away, but then you think about his information and realize that the simple points he made were dead on the money and something you hadn’t considered before.
So often when we look back at drafts, people focus on specific players and value. Greg is looking at positions to try and figure out the goal of each team and what that means to their style of play. He’s not giving us new information, but is giving us a new way to look at existing information. That’s Greg and why he’s such a valuable person to read/listen to. I assume most of you follow him on Twitter already, but if not…he is someone that all NFL/football fans should follow.
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Just how much is the NFL a passing league? The first pick of the 1st round was QB Andrew Luck. 2nd round was WR Brian Quick. 3rd round was TE Dwayne Allen. 4th round was WR Chris Givens. Gotta find the guys who can throw and catch.
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Mike Shanahan was once considered an offensive guru. He was an assistant coach for the Broncos in the mid-1980s. They were top 8 in scoring each year. He then had a short, awkward time as head coach of the Raiders. That didn’t work. Shanahan ran the SF offense from 1992-1994. They led the NFL in scoring each year. They led in yards for 2 years and then finished all the way down at 2nd place in 1994. The Niners won the SB and Shanny headed back to Denver.
Shanahan got to coach John Elway for 4 seasons. This resulted in 2 SB wins and another year where the team went 13-3 and was upset in the playoffs. The offense was Top 10 in points/yards each year.
In February of 1999, Mike Shanahan was the king of the NFL. He had made Elway a champion. He had gotten Elway to play the best football of his career in the final 4 years of his career. Shanny had turned guys like Shannon Sharpe, Terrell Davis, Ed McCafferey, and Rod Johnson from no-names into elite skills players.
Shanahan is the first coach I remember consistently using empty sets. That became a trendy thing to do in the NFL. Shanahan not only scripted the first 15 plays of a game, he used different formations or packages on each play, probing the defense for a weakness. This was an update on Bill Walsh’s scripting idea and it became common practice.
The good days weren’t over at that point, but they became few and far between. Shanahan is only 1-4 in the playoffs since Elway retired. Shanny hasn’t had an offense lead the league in scoring or yards since Elway retired. The team was 2nd in both categories in 2000. In the last 5 years, Shanny hasn’t had a team finish higher than 16th in scoring.
His Midas touch with QBs is no longer there. Shanny drove Jake Plummer into retirement with his coaching style. Shanny traded for Donovan McNabb after the 2009 season, thinking they would work well together. That was an epic disaster. Rex Grossman had some good moments for the Skins, but he is simply an INT machine. Shanny rolled the dice on John Beck and tried to tell the football world that this guy could be a good QB. The NFL world laughed at him. The experiment was a major failure.
Shanny did have some success in Denver with Jay Cutler for the 3 years they were together. Cutler showed big time talent and was an ascending player when Shanahan got fired. We’ll never know how that would have worked out. Too bad for both guys.
Now Shanahan has gambled his career, job, and reputation on RG3. Shanny traded up and paid a big time price to get Griffin. In the end, it was a deal that he simply had to make. The Skins had no one else at QB. Shanahan needs him on a personal level as well. The days of being labeled an offensive guru are gone. Shanahan is desperate to once again work with a talented QB and show the world he’s still got his magic.
RG3 has elite talent. I think he has the character and personality to deal with a demanding coach like Shanahan. RG3 is what the Skins needed, but he can’t do it alone. Does WAS have the blocking? The runners? The receivers?
The team has added some pretty good pieces in the last couple of years, but there is now a challenge of taking all the young guys and new players and mixing them together into a cohesive offense. This isn’t defense where the guys can thrive right away based on effort and raw talent. Offense is about timing and precise execution.
If Shanahan can get RG3 up to speed very quickly and the Skins show signs of offensive life, things will be good in 2012. If the offense really struggles, you have to wonder if Dan Snyder will either pull the plug on Shanahan or demand changes. Normally that would be tough, but it is even tougher for Shanny since his son Kyle is the Offensive Coordinator. 2012 is sink or swim time.
Will Shanny remain a tough, rigid coach? Will he bend a little bit to get in tight with the young star QB? Can the two of them hit it off and deliver immediate results? Normally expectations wouldn’t be high, but Cam Newton blew up the bell curve for everyone last year. He was a rookie QB playing for a defensive head coach in a short offseason and then went and lit up the NFL. If you’re taken early, coming along slowly may not be good enough anymore.
I think it will be very interesting to see how Shanahan handles the situation and how RG3 handles life in the NFL. If they can get on the same page and get along, those two could bring out the best in each other. If there are some bumps in the road, things could get dicey. Shanahan is a desperate coach and RG3 knows he’s the future of the franchise. That would make for an awkward power play. Skins fans are hoping the only argument is who should get more credit for the offensive success of 2012.