If you’ve been watching the NFL Network’s training camp coverage this week, you’ve probably noticed the league is really over-reporting two headlines right now.
Despite the fact that there are 32 teams in the league, the only things being discussed are headlines 1A and 1B.
1A: Tim Tebow is playing for the Jets, and he took his shirt off in the rain!
If Charles Dickens wrote a novel about the damn Jets it would be called “A Tale of Two Overrated Quarterbacks.”
It should go without saying that if Mark Sanchez and Tim Tebow played for Seattle or Kansas City, no one would care about this story at all.
Sanchez is overrated and wouldn’t have so many “wins” under his belt if he didn’t play for the self-proclaimed greatest defensive mind in football, Rex Ryan. The New York Greens certainly play good D, and in case you don’t believe it, during yesterday’s coverage of the Jets’ quarterback, um, situation, Ryan had some awesome quotes about his own greatness. He alluded to inheriting some of his Daddy’s defensive genius via mystical transmission, and also said, “of course, it helps having players like Derrelle Revis, etc…”
It sure does, Rex.
He spent the rest of his time talking about how Tebow is a “heckuva football player … and it doesn’t matter that he can’t seem to complete simple throws during non-contact drills, it’s what he does during specific situations in real life games!!!”
Just when I was ready to look up that semi-creepy video of Rex fondling his wife’s feet on YouTube, headline 1B got tossed into the rotation.
NFL NETWORK HEADLINE 1B:
Robert Griffin III!!!!
Yes, they also wanted to talk about RG3. A lot. They wanted to compare him to Cam Newton really bad, but all the non-traditional quarterback talk must’ve made the fuddy-duddies a little uncomfortable, because they quickly and aggressively pointed out that RG3 could also look to Cincy’s Andy Dalton as a rookie role model, because he was “just as productive as Newton.”
I watched this tail-chasing for about 45 minutes before I wondered what kind of content the show would’ve had if it was produced by the same folks responsible for my beloved “Silver and Black Show.”
I decided that Plunk and Papa’s two headlines would be….
1A: Taiwan Jones and the Amazing Technicolor Zone Scheme (or: “THE RAIDERS ARE RUNNING A ZONE BLOCKING SCHEME AND TAIWAN JONES COULD POSSIBLY RUSH FOR 4000 YARDS THIS SEASON”)
Many outlets have some variation of this story running right now.
You may be asking yourself, “What is a zone blocking scheme, and why is it going to be so good for Taiwan?”
Well, according to the internets and the local prep football beat reporter, a zone blocking scheme is where the O-Line blocks certain portions of the field rather than specific defensive players.
It’s a scheme that works well for teams with agile offensive linemen and running backs with legs.
You may remember Mike Shanahan using this setup with great success during his tenure with the Broncos, when he turned about six different running backs into 1000-plus yard rushers during his tenure.
(By the way, Mr. Davis got blamed for Shanahan hitting the road and going to Denver where he won a Super Bowl, but he was never vindicated when Shanahan pissed off Denver’s owners and ended up involved in some kind of litigation that ended in a gag order and him no longer coaching there … but I digress)
Sham-ahan used this blocking scheme (plus Hall of Fame quarterback John Elway and an excellent defense) to upset the Green Bay Packers in the Super Bowl.
The Packers had a huge defensive line anchored by heart attack candidate Gilbert Brown, and the agile, seemingly undersized Broncs o-line had them completely worn out by the half. RB Terrell Davis was named Super Bowl MVP despite leaving the game early with a migraine.
So yeah, it works.
But why will it work well with Taiwan Jones, and why isn’t everyone talking about how it’ll do wonders for Darren McFadden?
Well, for one thing, when McFadden is healthy, he averages over 5 yards per carry as it is, and would probably have a Hall of Fame career if he could average 13 games a season over the next four years.
Unfortunately, he breaks off just as many pieces of his body as he does big plays.
Last season, it was a Lisfranc fracture. I’m not making that up. Before that, it was turf toe. And then there was the time he fractured his face running into Quentin Groves during practice.
So it’s almost a guarantee that Taiwan will get a lot of touches this season, especially since Michael Bush very unfortunately left for Chicago after essentially equaling McFadden’s stellar first half output last season.
Even if McFadden stays healthy, Dennis Allen has hinted that carries will be decided on a week-to-week basis this season. It would be interesting, and even beneficial if the Raiders decided to make Jones and McFadden a platoon in the backfield.
Speaking of Groves, legend has it that Taiwan beat him in a foot race once in practice to claim the title of Fastest Raider last year.
He recently said he’s still the fastest Raider during an appearance on a radio sports talk show in early July.
Despite Shanahan‘s success cranking out thousand-yard rushers in the system — even ones not named Terrell Davis or Clinton Portis — a zone blocking scheme lends itself well to a guy like Taiwan Jones; he’s a one cut and gone type of runner. The zone blocking scheme creates wide cutback lanes that could lead to big runs for Jones…which brings us to headline 1B…
THE RAIDERS ARE ADOPTING A WEST COAST OFFENSE/ZONE DEFENSE
One could chant either of these things the same way Paul Revere belted out “The Redcoats Are Coming! The Redcoats Are Coming!”
In fact, if I had been one the lucky folks to snag a ticket to training camp by showing up last Friday morning at one of the Raider Image stores, I would be screaming that at the top of my lungs from the stands.
The last time the Raiders were a Super Bowl contender, they ran this very offense, or some incarnation of it…and Rich Gannon became one of the greatest quarterbacks in franchise history.
Granted, we’ll be running this version with Carson Palmer at the helm, and so far, nothing points to him being anything like Rich Gannon.
Gannon’s work ethic was legendary. John Gruden said he would regularly arrive at team facilities at the crack of dawn to go over films. For some reason, his starting quarterback didn’t have a key. Gruden discovered this one early morning when Gannon used his accurate arm to lob pebbles at the one illuminated window in the complex until Gruden looked outside and saw him.
Palmer … well, Palmer got testy when he was thrown into the fire against the Chiefs and threw seven trillion interceptions. He made sure the media new he wasn’t ready to play, and blamed the coaching staff.
Gannon would’ve lowered his hat and pretended he was a fullback.
He also epitomized the West Coast offense by completing passes to anyone on the field at any time. His box score often included catches by six or more receivers.
Palmer has the physical tools to excel in this type of offense, or better, the lack of a super strong arm that makes short to medium passes practical.
He also has a bevy of young receivers to throw to, and McFadden likes to catch the ball out of the backfield, as does fullback Marcel Reece.
It would be easy to combine both of our Raider headlines into one.
It would read:
RAIDERS ADOPT STRATEGY REQUIRING SMARTS AND DISCIPLINE.
Which brings us to the next post….