The Miami Dolphins should make the playoffs in 2018

Introduction

There is a prevailing notion among NFL oddsmakers that the Miami Dolphins are going to miss the playoffs in 2018. In fact, according to oddsshark.com, the team is projected to win 6.5 games this season. However, one can argue that the organization’s rededication to the running game should propel them into the playoffs.

  Miami Dolphins (Week 1-5 of 2016)

The Miami Dolphins started the 2016 campaign with a record of 1-4 because they were trying to make Ryan Tannehill the focal point of the offense. This is because the organization wanted to prove that Tannehill’s contract extension signed in 2015 wasn’t a mistake. Therefore Ryan was allowed to pass the ball 31.2 times a game over the first five weeks.

Ryan Tannehill spent the majority of the team’s offensive possessions in shotgun formation last season. In fact, according to pro-football-reference Tannehill made 78.6 % of his throws from shotgun formation. Once the football was snapped, he dropped back 1-3 steps in the pocket and threw it quickly to a comeback, crossing, curl or out route. The strategy would increase the likelihood of a quick drive occurring as it opened the door for a quick touchdown, 3 and out or turnover.

As a consequence of this, the defense was forced to go back on the field without the proper amount of rest. Which led to the unit giving up more yards and points late in games because they were not able to regain some energy between possessions to be able to stop the opposing offense. Over the first five games, the defense spent 35 minutes and 56 seconds on the field.

Miami Dolphins ( After Week 5 of 2016)

After the 5th game, the organization began to reduce Ryan Tannehill’s role in the offense and decided to implement more of the running game. Ryan went on to average 2.1 fewer passes per game for the rest of the season. Conversely, the running back group saw a significant increase in their carries as they went from 18.2 to 25.1 per game.

A prime example of this was during the first two downs of a series, Ryan Tannehill would hand the ball off to Jay Ajayi. The Dolphins wanted to accomplish two goals with the strategy to force the opposing team to stack the box and set up a manageable third down.

If the strategy was successful, the Dolphins called a play action pass where Ryan would fake the handoff and go in the opposite direction to throw the ball to the flat or the crossing route fifteen yards downfield. However, on occasion, Ryan would fake the handoff to freeze the defense momentarily which allowed the receivers to get some separation as they try to complete a slant, in or out route.

The midseason change in philosophy significantly reduced the amount of time the defensive unit spent on the field as they went from 35 minutes and 56 seconds to 31 minutes and 33 seconds. After the change, the organization compiled a record of 9-2 which allowed them to finish 10-6 and capture a wild card spot.

Miami Dolphins ( 2017)

Unfortunately, the Miami Dolphins didn’t carry the philosophy into the 2017 season as they reverted to early 2016 form. Jay Cutler was allowed to pass the ball 32.8 times a game in 13 games. This played a significant role in the defense having to be on the field for 30 minutes and 36 seconds and the team compiling a 6-10 record.

Miami Dolphins ( 2018)

Fortunately, the Miami Dolphins organization has hinted that he wants the running game to be a focal point of the offense again. Dolphins offensive coordinator Dowell Loggains is excited about Kenyan Drake’s skill set stating that:

” if you had three Kenyan Drakes, you’d be really excited because he’s a guy that can play all three downs.”

The Denver Broncos should make the playoffs in 2018

The Denver Broncos upgrade at quarterback should allow them to improve their win total and make the playoffs.

Introduction

There is a prevailing notion among NFL oddsmakers that the Denver Broncos are going to miss the playoffs in 2018. In fact, according to oddsshark.com, the team is projected to win seven games this season. However, one can argue that the acquisition of Case Keenum is the final piece needed for them to make the playoffs.

Denver Broncos 2017

Members of the Denver Broncos organization stated before last season that they wanted the running game to be a staple of their offensive system. Head coach Vance Joseph noted during the league meetings that:

“C.J. (Anderson) is very capable. Even (Devontae) Booker in the last month of the season showed what he can do. So we have two backs that will run downhill but we’ve got to block better up front, and we will.”

The organization was able to follow through on their desires to run the ball as they averaged 28 rush attempts per game at 4.1 yards a carry. The positive results generated from the running game played a significant role in Denver having a firm grip on the time of possession. The Broncos were 6th in time of possession spending 31:28 minutes on the field.

Despite spending over half the game on the field, the offense was unable to score points as they were 26th in this category averaging 18.1 points per game. The Broncos inability to score can be directly tied to their poor quarterback play.

Trevor Sieman and Brock Osweiler completed less than 60% of their passes in a combined 14 starts last season. The lack of accuracy played a crucial role in Denver only accumulating 19 passing touchdowns.

Denver Broncos 2018

The subpar quarterback play led the Denver Broncos to sign Case Keenum to a 2-year contract worth $36 million this off-season. Case helped the Minnesota Vikings reach the NFC Championship Game by completing 67.6% of his passes and throwing 22 passing touchdowns.

The Denver Broncos upgrade at quarterback should allow them to improve their win total and make the playoffs. This is because they only got outscored by an average of 5.2 points per game last season.

The Houston Texans Should Miss The Playoffs (2018)

 

Introduction

There is a mistaken assumption among NFL oddsmakers  that the Houston Texans are the biggest threat to the Jacksonville Jaguars in the AFC South. In fact, 5Dimes has given both teams the same odds to win the division as the Texans and Jaguars are listed at +190. Unfortunately the read option offense should prevent the team from achieving the goal

Houston Texans 2017

Throughout last season, the Houston Texans have implemented the read-option offense which allows Deshaun Watson to analyze the defense and determine what play to run. For instance, Watson will receive the snap in shotgun formation and begins the process of giving the ball to the running back while paying attention to the defense.

If the linebackers/ safeties freeze to see what play the team is running or take a step forward to stop the run, he will pull the ball to throw it. This is because it is tough for the linebackers/ safeties to catch up to a receiver 5-10 yards ahead of them within a matter of seconds.

As a result, Deshaun Watson knows he will have a wide open receiver downfield or single coverage on the receiver. Therefore, he will throw an intermediate or deep pass to a receiver on a curl, out, in, corner or post route. However, If the linebackers/ safeties decide to stay back in coverage, he lets the running back have the ball and run it.

Although the offense increases the chances of significant plays happening to lead to quick scores; It opens the door for the team to have the ball for less time because of a quick touchdown, 3 and out or turnover. As a consequence of this, the defense is forced to go back on the field without the proper amount of rest.

Which led to the unit giving up more yards and points late in games because they are not able to regain some energy between possessions to be able to stop the opposing offense. In Deshaun Watson’s last 3 games prior to the torn ACL, the offense has been on the field for an average of “27:03” thus the defense was on the field for 32:57.

A Solution

Due to this, it would behoove the Houston Texans to drastically alter their offense from the read option to a heavy run and play action attack. For instance, during the first two downs of a series, Deshaun Watson will hand the ball off to the running backs in an attempt to force the opposing team to stack the box and set up a manageable third down.

If the strategy was successful, the Texans would call a play action pass where Deshaun can fake the handoff and go in the opposite direction to throw the ball to the flat or the crossing route fifteen yards downfield.

However, on occasion, Deshaun can fake the handoff to freeze the defense momentarily which allowed the receivers to get some separation as they try to complete a slant, in or out route. As a result of this, the Texans offense was able to stay on the field for a more extended period which means that the opposing team had less time to feast on their defense.

Conclusion

If the Houston Texans continue to implement the read-option offense, they will overexpose their defense causing them to lose close games. But if they alter the attack, the defense will get the proper rest between drives thus performing to their maximum potential increasing the likelihood of the team winning games.

The New York Giants should make the playoffs in 2018

The New York Giants will undergo a dramatic change in offensive philosophy that should propel them into the playoffs.

Introduction

There is a growing belief among NFL oddsmakers that the New York Giants are going to miss the playoffs despite the acquisition of Saquon Barkley. In fact, according to oddsshark.com, the team is projected to win 7 games in 2018. However, one can argue that the Giants will undergo a dramatic change in offensive philosophy that should propel them into the playoffs.

New York Giants (2014-17)

Over the past four seasons, the New York Giants have implemented an offensive system that is heavily dependent on the quick passing game. The team installed this offense to showcase the breakaway speed of Odell Beckham. The organization knew that provided he had man-to-man against a corner; corners would be unable to keep up with his speed.

As a result of this, the team fell into the habit of calling quick passing plays that focused on slants, screens, out, in and curl routes because they wanted to give him the ball as fast as possible. Although the offense increases the chances of significant plays happening to lead to quick scores; It opens the door for the team to have the ball for less time because of a quick touchdown, 3 and out or turnover.

As a consequence of this, the defense was forced to go back on the field without the proper amount of rest. Which led to the unit giving up more yards and points late in games because they were not able to regain some energy between possessions to be able to stop the opposing offense. In fact, according to toteamrankings.com, the Giants offense was on the field for an average of “28:00″ thus the defense was on the field for 32:00. Furthermore, the team has compiled a 21-26 record with Odell Beckham on the field.

New York Giants (2018)

However, it has been an entirely different story this season because the team made wholesale changes to the offensive system. This is because the Giants decided to select Saquon Barkley with the second overall pick in the draft. As a result, the team will once again feature their first-round pick as a focal point of their offense because; they want to give him as many opportunities as possible to prove to the public that he was the right pick.

Therefore the Giants are going to implement an offensive system centered around the running game and the play-action passing game. For instance, during the first two downs of a series, Eli Manning should hand the ball off to Saquon Barkley in an attempt to force the opposing team to stack the box and set up a manageable third down.

If the strategy is successful, Eli should fake the handoff the handoff to freeze the defense momentarily which allows the receivers to get some separation as they try to complete a slant, in, out or crossing route. As a result, the defense spent less time on the field meaning they had more time to rest between drives.

 

How To Build A Team Around Blake Griffin

Blake Griffin Before The 2014-15 Season

Over the past few seasons, Blake Griffin has started the process of transforming his style of play in anticipation of a decline in athleticism. During his first four NBA seasons, the Los Angeles Clippers used Blake in the low post or as a screener in the pick and roll. For instance, the point guard will bring the ball up to the three-point line and passes it to Blake Griffin in the low post area. Once that happens, the Blake Griffin will attempt to back down the defender with one of his shoulders to get within comfortable range to shoot a jump hook. Another example of this is when the point guard will bring the ball up to the three-point line and passes it to another perimeter player. The second perimeter will either dump the ball into the post or pass it to a third perimeter player, and he will throw it into the post to start the process of attempting to get a jump hook. However, there are instances where Los Angeles Clippers used Blake Griffin as a screener in the pick and roll. For example, the point guard would bring the ball up to the three-point line and then Griffin would set a screen. Once the pick was set, he would analyze how the defender chooses to defend him. For instance, if his defender decided to come up and cover the point guard, he would roll to the basket in hopes of dunking the ball. On the other hand, if his defender chose to stay back, he would pop out to the free throw line and stand there until the possession was over.

Blake Griffin During And After The 2014-15 Season

However, there was a significant difference in Blake Griffin’s style of play during his fifth season. Blake decided that he was going to reduce the number of dunks to shoot more mid-range jumpers. According to Basketball-Reference, Blake took 37.8 percent of his shots from 16 to 22 feet which was an 11.1 percent increase from the previous year. On the other hand, only 8 percent of his shots were dunks which was a decrease of 6.2 percent from the previous year. The change was most visible when Griffin played the role of a screener in the pick and roll. For example, he would perform a slide step or pop out to get in position for the jump shot instead of rolling to the basket to attempt a dunk. Over the next few years, Blake Griffin continued to extend his range to the point where he feels comfortable shooting from behind the arc now. According to Basketball-Reference, Blake took 32.3 percent of his shots from behind the arc this past season which was a 20.7 percent increase from the previous year.

Not only has Blake Griffin become more of a jump shooter, but he has also become an adequate playmaker. For example, Blake would grab the rebound and run down the court to get the attention of the defense. If this occurs, he will look to kick the basketball out to one of the players running down the wing. On the other hand, if it doesn’t happen, he will continue driving to the basket looking to get around the defender for an open shot or draw a foul. However, there were instances where he would hold or repeatedly dribble the ball in an attempt to draw a double team. If this occurs, he will pass the ball to the open player on the perimeter to shoot a three.

How To Build A Team Around Blake Griffin

Due to the transformation of Blake Griffin, he should be in a system similar to LeBron James where he can be the primary ball handler because it allows him to analyze the defense to determine what is the right play. In this offense, Blake would walk the ball up until the three-point line and evaluate how the defenders are positioned. For instance, if a defender is playing off of a three-point shooter, he is supposed to pass the ball to the wide-open shooter. On the other hand, if all the defenders are staying close to their man, he is expected to evaluate the size of his defender. If the defender is smaller than him, he should post up in the mid to low block and back him down until he can to a spot where he can shoot a jumper. But if his defender is the same size as him, he should use his speed and strength to get around him to attack the basket. However, there will be some instances where the defense will collapse on him, and he should pass the ball to the perimeter for the wide open three. Furthermore, on occasion, the team may have to use some different sets within the LeBron’s playbook to prevent from becoming a predictable offense. For example, the team may have Griffin act like he is going to post up at the free throw line and have him pass the ball to a teammate doing a backdoor cut to the basket.

As a result, a team would have to surround Blake Griffin with players who can catch and shoot or know how to move without the ball. However, not only will a team have to acquire three-point shooters but they need to find players who are outstanding defenders. This is because he will use defensive possessions to catch his breath to have enough energy for the next offensive possession. As a result of this, a team should target players like Matthew Dellavedova, Patrick Beverley, Avery Bradley, Tony Snell and Paul George. All of these players shoot above 36 percent from behind the arc for their careers and are known as excellent defenders. For example, these players will crowd the space of the ball handler forcing them to pick up the dribble and turn sideways. Once this happens, they will go for the steal or run to a spot on the same side the ball handler is looking at to cut off the potential pathway. After this happens, the ball handler has two choices, take a contested shot or pass the ball.

In conclusion, if a team were to fill out the roster with those type of players, it would give Blake Griffin an opportunity to reach the second round or possibly the Conference Finals.

The Ducking Game: Boxer Vs Promoter

Introduction- Ali Act

Over the last couple of decades, the boxing community has routinely placed the blame on boxers for not booking big fights promptly. A perfect example of this is when members of the boxing community accused Saul “Canelo” Alverez of ducking Gennady Golovkin because he waited several years to make the fight. For instance, Liam Smith, a former opponent of Alverez told ESPN in 2016 that Canelo made the right decision in ducking the fight because he wasn’t “big enough.” However, the boxing community should spread the blame evenly among the boxer and promoter for not making big fights in a timely manner. This is because the United Government enacted a federal law called the Muhammad Ali Boxing Reform Act on May 26th, 2000. According to Boxing Insider, the Ali act was put in place “to protect the rights and welfare of professional boxers… to promote honorable competition in professional boxing”.

Boxer Vs Promoter

Due to this, if a boxer chooses to hire a manager and promoter, he or she must split the role between two people due to a conflict of interest with both roles. A boxing manager is hired to represent the interests of a boxer during contract negotiations with a promoter. For example, a manager informs the promoter when the boxer is available to fight and what amount of compensation he wants for the fight. On the other hand, the promoter wants to maximize profits for every contracted fight. For example, a promoter will often attempt to lower the boxer’s compensation during negotiations with a manager to maximize profits. As a result of this, there are several factors taken into consideration when it comes to making a fight. A boxer must determine if he is interested in taking the fight, ready to face the opponent and see the amount of compensation he is getting for the match. Once the boxer evaluates all these factors, he will give an answer to his manager who will relay it to the promoter. On the other hand, the promoter will assess the compensation his client is asking for, what kind of money the fight can generate and whether his client has an easy path to victory. If the opponent can check all the boxes for the boxer and promoter, the fight will be made. On the other hand, if the fighter and promoter disagree, the contest will be taken off the table or delayed until it checks the boxes for both parties.

Anthony Joshua Vs The Hearn Family

A perfect example of this is the battle between Anthony Joshua and Eddie Hearn on when is the right time to accept a bout with Deontay Wilder. During an interview with IFL TV on April 13th, Joshua stated that he would take the fight tomorrow if he were given a guaranteed purse of 50 million dollars. Twelve days later, Deontay released a video on all his social media platforms stating that he managed to gather the money and sent an offer to his team. Later that day, Anthony responded to the video in Deontay Wilder’s Instagram comments by saying lets roll. Unfortunately, Anthony Joshua has yet to formally accept the bout because Eddie Hearn and his father don’t think it is the right time for the match. According to the Daily Mail, Barry Hearn told Joshua that if he had about six months to live he should fight him. However, “if you’re saying to me that you’ve got a legacy plan then I’m saying let’s capitalise on it properly.”

The Minnesota Vikings Should Fall Short Of Super Bowl Expectations (2018)

Introduction

Over the past two months, NFL pundits have repeatedly stated that the Minnesota Vikings made the right decision in signing Kirk Cousins to a three-year, 84 million dollar contract. In fact, former Vikings wide receiver and the co-host of First Things First, Cris Carter stated that the team made the right decision because “Kirk Cousins is the final piece to propel the Vikings to a Super Bowl.” However, this is not the case as Cousins should be the catalyst for the Vikings to fall short of their super bowl expectations.

When an organization decides to invest a large sum of money into the quarterback position, the quarterback will immediately become the focal point of the offense. This is because the organization wants to give the quarterback as many opportunities as possible to prove that their investment in him was the right decision. Due to this, the team would call a lot of passing plays to give him a chance to demonstrate that he is a franchise quarterback and is capable of making all the necessary throws to lead the team to victory. While it is reasonable to expect an organization to give their new investment many opportunities to prove themselves at a certain point, it will affect the performance of the rest of the team. For instance, if Allen gets the chance to throw a lot, the offense will spend less time on the field because of incompletions, interceptions or sacks that result in short drives. As a result, the defense would have to go back on the field without the proper amount of rest which leads to the unit being more susceptible to giving up yards and points. Since they would be unable regain some energy between possessions to be able to stop the opposing offense.

Kirk Cousins in Washington

A perfect example of this is how the role of Kirk Cousins within the offense changed after the Washington Redskins applied the franchise tag in 2016. Throughout the 2015 season, the Washington Redskins decided to implement an offensive system that was centered around the running game and the play-action passing game. For instance, during the first two downs of a series, Kirk Cousins would hand the ball off to Alfred Morris or Matt Jones in an attempt to force the opposing team to stack the box and set up a manageable third down. If the strategy was successful, the Redskins called a play action pass where Kirk would fake the handoff and go in the opposite direction to throw the ball to the flat or the crossing route fifteen yards downfield. However, on occasion, Kirk would fake the handoff to freeze the defense momentarily that allowed the receivers to get some separation as they try to complete a slant, in or out route. As a result of this, the Redskins offense was able to stay on the field for a more extended period, which means that the opposing team had less time to feast on their defense. In fact, according to teamrankings.com, the Redskins offense was on the field for an average of “31:29” thus the defense was only on the field for 28:31. Due to this philosophy, the Washington Redskins won the NFC East with a 9-7 record.

However, it was an entirely different story over the next two seasons because the team made wholesale changes to the offensive system. This is because the organization wanted to see if he could lead the team to victory while being the focal point of the offense before giving him a big contract. As a result, the Redskins went from a run-heavy offense to more of a passing offense to evaluate his decision making; and ability to make all the throws without having the running game to preoccupy the defense. For instance, the Redskins dialed back on the play action bootlegs where he would fake the handoff to the running backs and roll out in the opposite direction to hit the wide open receiver. In place of the conservative offense, they decided to call the traditional three to five step drop passing plays to gauge whether Cousins can make the right decision with the football when the defense is ready for a pass. For instance, Kirk would take a 3 to 5 step drop from under center and proceed to throw the ball to a receiver on a curl, crossing and corner routes as well as screens.

Although it is reasonable to expect a team to give their potential investment many opportunities to prove that he deserves a long-term commitment at a certain point, it will affect the performance of the rest of the team. Since the team had Kirk Cousins throw the ball a lot, the offense spent less time on the field because of incompletions, interceptions, sacks or big plays that result in short drives. As a result, the defense went back on the field without the proper amount of rest which led the defense to be more susceptible to giving up yards and points. Since they would be unable regain some energy between possessions to be able to stop the opposing offense. In fact, according to teamrankings.com, the Redskins offense was on the field for an average of “29:36” thus the defense was on the field for 31:24. Unfortunately, over these two years, the team compiled a record of 15-16 with one tie, and they failed to make the playoffs.

Minnesota Vikings

As a result of this, the Minnesota Vikings should experience a significant change to the offensive system. During the 2017 season, the team implemented an offensive system centered around the running and short passing game. For example, Case Keenum would give the football to the running backs on first and second down in an attempt to get the defense to stack the box. If the strategy were successful, Case would line up in shotgun formation to throw the ball to receivers on a crossing, corner, curl or out route. The game plan allowed Minnesota to consistently move the chains and stay on the field for long periods of time. According to teamrankings.com, the unit was on the field for 32:07 which meant the defense was able to get plenty of rest between defensive possessions. Unfortunately, the Vikings are going to feature more of the passing game in 2018 because of the substantial commitment to Kirk Cousins. The expected change in the offensive system should increase the likelihood that the defensive unit spends more time on the field. The extra wear and tear should cost the team a game or two during the regular season which should alter the race for home-field advantage.