A Guide to Understanding NFL Training Camp Coach Speak

Every year NFL training camps precede the regular season. It’s a wonderful time of the year when every single team is fully committed to winning and bettering themselves and every single fanbase is able to convince themselves that they are playoff bound.

Every team’s weaknesses can be masked, while every team’s strengths will allow them to take advantage of their opponent on a weekly basis.

The most glorious parts of training camps, and maybe preseason as a whole, are the coaching soundbites that fill the airwaves and clutter our tv screens. Whether it’s Bill Belichick mumbling or Rex Ryan guaranteeing a Super Bowl, everybody loves a good soundbite from the head coach of their favorite team. Continue reading

The Answer to ‘How Did You Become a Writer?’

Screen Shot 2014-07-10 at 19.57.25

A question I get fairly regularly is ‘How did you become a writer?’ or ‘How do I do what you do?” There are very simple answers that I generally give, but they’re not really good answers. I’m not anywhere at this stage in my career. I still need to earn a better weekly salary to live a proper quality of life. But even just getting to this point has taken a very long time and has seen more failings than victories.

After secondary school(or high school as most of you reading this will call it), I studied Journalism in college for three years. This is the simple answer you give to people when they ask how you become a writer.

I did earn my degree and I learned some academic things during my time in college, but I question how valuable my degree has really been to my career so far. I wasn’t a good student. I spent my time just doing enough to get by and enjoyed college live more than focused on getting to classes on time. Even when I did pay attention fully and make as much effort as I possibly could, I didn’t feel like I was benefiting.

Maybe I’d actually be a much better writer and have a full-time job by now if I had got better grades and made more of an effort, but not once over the last six years have I been asked about a college degree by a potential employer or asked to show proof about what kind of grades I earned. The only things I ever had to provide were writing samples and proof of my knowledge of the sport I was applying to cover.

My physical degree is in a drawer somewhere in my house. I haven’t ever needed to take it out so I couldn’t even tell you where it is right now. Continue reading

Mike Shula versus the Minnesota Vikings – PRE SNAP READS FAVORITE PLAYS OF THE 2013 NFL SEASON

Play callers in the NFL are always the first to be blamed by fans when things go wrong on the field. It’s easy to blame the play caller because he’s never a celebrated figure on the field, but rather an often unknown face who acts from the sideline. It’s also easy to blame the play caller because he carries out a role that many believe they could easily do better.

It takes a special fan to believe that he could play quarterback or cornerback better than the players on the field. The physical differences are generally obvious and limiting. The play callers don’t offer obvious physical differences. Calling plays is theoretically very easy, even though the determining factor in whether your play is successful or not is never something that you can control.

Any criticism of play calling must be cautious criticism. You can’t judge play calling by the result of the play, because 22 players executing and one other play caller on the other side of the field will all have as big an impact on whether the play is good or bad. Instead you need to understand situations, strengths and weaknesses. Continue reading

Alex Smith to Anthony Sherman – PRE SNAP READS FAVORITE PLAYS OF THE 2013 NFL SEASON

One of the most impressive passing attacks in the NFL last season belonged to that of the Kansas City Chiefs.

Quarterback Alex Smith threw for 23 touchdowns, seven interceptions and 3,313 yards in an offense that focused more on being efficient than explosive. With Jamaal Charles averaging five yards per carry and almost 10 yards per reception, the passing game in Kansas City was primarily seen as a complementary piece for most of the season.

There’s no doubting that the Chiefs had the second or third best offense in the AFC West, never mind when stacked up against the rest of the NFL. However, an offense doesn’t have to be overwhelmingly explosive or particularly powerful to be impressive. Instead, it can be so creative that it masks the flaws or limitations of the talent running it on the field.

Smith is celebrated as a smart quarterback. A player who always makes good decisions and doesn’t throw dangerous passes. However, sometimes the smart thing is to throw the dangerous passes. Sometimes, not being aggressive turns an intelligent quarterback into an overly cautious quarterback. Continue reading

Russell Wilson to Golden Tate – PRE SNAP READS FAVORITE PLAYS OF THE 2013 NFL SEASON

Recently I wrote a piece about the Seattle Seahawks offense moving forward and how Russell Wilson was already one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL. One of the main arguments against Wilson being one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL is how often he is asked to throw.

Wilson has 800 career attempts spread out over two regular seasons. For the sake of comparison, Andrew Luck has 1,197 over that time, Ryan Tannehill has 1,072 and Robert Griffin III has 849 despite missing four games. Matthew Stafford attempted 634 passes last season alone, with an incredible 727 the previous year.

It’s very easy to argue that Wilson is just a game manager who relied on Marshawn Lynch’s running game to carry the offense. However, Wilson didn’t attempt fewer passes simply because the offense ran threw Lynch. As explained in the piece linked above, it was rare that the Seahawks were playing from behind later in games, so the Seahawks were less inclined to throw the ball for four quarters.

More important than the number of passes attempted, is the kind of passes that were attempted. Continue reading