Jimmy Garoppolo Will Do More Harm Than Good To The San Francisco 49ers

Earlier this week, there were several reports that the San Francisco 49ers had acquired Jimmy Garoppolo from the New England Patriots. According to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, the 49ers traded a “2018 2nd-round draft pick to New England for Patriots’ QB Jimmy Garoppolo”. Although Garoppolo joining the team seems like a move that would help the team ahead in the right direction, that is not necessarily the case.

Throughout the first two games of last season, the New England Patriots coaching staff knew that the opposing team would stack the box in an attempt to shut down the running game. This defensive strategy was implemented to see if Jimmy Garoppolo could put the offense on his shoulders and carry the team to victory. Unfortunately, the Patriots had a different plan in mind as they implemented a game plan where Garoppolo was in charge of handing the ball off and throwing quick passes. For instance, during the first half against the Cardinals, the Patriots called a bunch of passing plays centered around slant routes, out routes, routes to the flats and screens. These plays are quick to develop and allow the team to exploit a tiny window where the receivers have one or two steps on the defenders. This is because defenders aren’t used to back peddling for more than five to ten steps hence they have to take one or two steps to turn their body around.

Furthermore, these plays allowed the team to reduce the amount of pressure, hits, and sacks he received from the opposing team; because the defense didn’t have enough time to get to the offensive line. Another benefit to running a conservative offense is that the Patriots gave their defense a chance to rest between possessions. According to teamrankings.com, over the first two games of the regular season, the offense was on the field for 35:22 which means that the defense was only on the field for 24:38. As a result, they were in a better position to make a defensive stop because the unit isn’t fatigued.

However, it will be an entirely different story for Jimmy Garoppolo during his tenure with the San Francisco 49ers. This is because Kyle Shanahan/John Lynch want to give Garoppolo as many opportunities as possible to prove that trading a 2nd round pick and negotiating a long-term extension is the right decision. Due to this, the team would call a lot of passing plays to give him a chance to demonstrate that he isn’t just a game manager 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 Garoppolo gets the chance to throw a lot, the offense will spend less time on the field because of incompletions, interceptions, sacks or big plays 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.

In conclusion, the constant evaluation process to determine whether Garoppolo is a franchise quarterback will elevate his statistics; but will hurt overall team success causing them to miss the playoffs for multiple seasons.

The Tennessee Titans Should Make The Playoffs In 2017

Throughout the 2016 season, the Tennessee Titans 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, Marcus Mariota would hand the ball off to Demarco Murray or Derrick Henry in an attempt to force the opposing team to stack the box and set up a manageable third down. If the strategy is successful, the Titans would call a play action pass where Marcus would fake the handoff and go in the opposite direction to throw the ball to the flat or the corner route five to ten yards down field. However, on occasion, Marcus 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 Titans offense can stay on the field for a longer period, which means that the opposing team had less time to feast on their defense. In fact, according to teamrankings.com, the Titans offense was on the field for an average of “30:31” thus the defense was on the field for 29:29. This strategy helped the team attain its first winning season since 2011 as they went 9-7.
Due to the overwhelming success of last season, I expect the team to implement a similar offensive system with one minor tweak this season. The team has an opportunity to let Demarco Murray go after the season without affecting their future cap space. According to pro football talk, Murray signed a “revised four-year deal” that “has a base value of $25.5 million, with $12.5 million guaranteed” before last season. The guaranteed portion of the contract was split between 2016 and 2017 as he was given $6 million last year and the rest this year. As a result, the team will most likely increase the number of carries given to Derrick Henry to see if he’s capable of being a number one running back. If he can, they will release Murray and use the remaining money in other areas but if he struggles Murray stays.
Even though, Demarco Murray is probably going to see less action early in the season due to the evaluation of Derrick Henry, it shouldn’t have a big impact on the team’s success.

The New Orleans Saints Should Make The Playoffs In 2017

Throughout 2016 season, the New Orleans Saints would consistently stray away from the game plan that they established early on in games. For instance, Drew Brees would hand the ball off to the running back, and if they gained 5 or more yards on the play, he would repeat the process during the next play. But if they didn’t, he would throw the ball to a receiver on a slant, curl, out,  crossing routes or to the flat. The conservative strategy was an attempt to force the opposing team to stack the box which would hopefully give Brees man coverage down field. However, once the team accomplished the goal, they would abandon the running back and focus on the passing game. For example,  Brees would throw the ball to a receiver on a seam or corner route as well as continue to implement the short passing game. Due to the abandonment of the running game, the offense spent less time on the field because of incompletions, interceptions, sacks or big plays that result in drives being cut short. As a consequence of this change in strategy, the offense gave the opposing team more opportunities to score on a defense; that couldn’t get around their blockers to generate pressure on the quarterback. Consequently, quarterbacks had ample time to analyze the defense and make the correct throw. In fact, according to teamrankings.com, the Saints offense was on the field for an average of “30:56” thus the defense was on the field for 29:04.

New Orleans Saints at New York Giants – Sep 18, 2016

New Orleans Saints at Atlanta Falcons – Jan 1, 2017

However, I expect the team to make a significant change to the offensive system this season due to the presence of Adrian Peterson. According to pro football reference, Adrian Peterson has amassed 11,747 rushing yards over a 10 year NFL career which currently places him 16th on the all-time rushing yards list. Due to this, the team should implement an offensive system that is centered around the running game and the play-action passing game. For instance, during the first two downs of a series, Drew Brees would hand the ball off to Adrian Peterson, Mark Ingram or Alvin Kamara in an attempt to force the opposing team to stack the box and set up a manageable third down. If the strategy is successful, the Saints would call a play action pass where Drew would fake the handoff and go in the opposite direction to throw the ball to the flat or the corner route five to ten yards down field. However, on occasion, Drew 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 Saints offense can stay on the field for a longer period, which means that the opposing team had less time to feast on their defense.

If this strategy goes according to plan, it should reduce the amount of time the defense spends on the field. As a result, it should lead them towards capturing a playoff spot in the NFC.

10/10/17 update: According to ESPN’s Dianna Russini, “The New Orleans Saints have traded Adrian Peterson to the Arizona Cardinals for a conditional pick.” Although I previously stated that Adrian Peterson’s presence would force the team to run the ball, he didn’t have an impact on the Saints’ running game. According to Pro Football Reference, he carried the ball 27 times for 81 yards over four games.

The Washington Redskins Should Miss The Playoffs In 2017

 Over the past year,  the Washington Redskins have struggled to come up with a contract offer that would benefit them and satisfy the financial demands of Kirk Cousins. According to the team president Bruce Allen, Cousins turned down a contract extension containing $53 million guaranteed. Due to this, the team will once again have to stay away from their 2015 offense to evaluate whether Cousins asking price is reasonable.
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 down field. 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 longer 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.
However, it was an entirely different story last season 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 “29:32” thus the defense was on the field for 31:28.
In conclusion, the evaluation process to determine the future of Cousins will elevate his individual statistics but will hurt overall team success causing them to miss the playoffs.