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 Greatest Of All Time: A Term That Should Not Be Used In Team Sports

Introduction

Over the last two to three decades, sports pundits have been on a quest to determine which athlete is deserving of the moniker greatest of all time. For instance, Emmanuel Altenor formerly of Bleacher Report stated that we’ve seen many great players throughout NBA history “but which players in the game’s history stand out above the rest?”. However, one can argue that it is impossible to determine who is the greatest of all time because a substantial amount of players were subjected to different systems and responsibilities. Those responsibilities fundamentally altered how they approached their respective sport. A perfect example of this is Jason Kidd and Chris Paul; they are regarded as two of the greatest point guards in NBA history. Unfortunately, it is impossible to accurately compare them because they spent the majority of their careers in two different systems.

Jason Kidd

Throughout the NBA career of Jason Kidd, he had to play in offensive systems centered around ball movement. During his tenure with the New Jersey Nets, Kidd would bring the basketball up to the three-point line and passes the basketball to a big man in the high post area. Once this happened, the big man would analyze the defense to determine the next course of action. For instance, if the defense double covers the player posting up in the low post, he would enter a dribble handoff with a perimeter player. On the other hand, if the defense single covers the player posting up in the low post, he would dump the ball into the low block to start the process of shooting the ball. Another example of this is his tenure with the Phoenix Suns, Kidd would bring the ball up to the three-point line and pass the basketball to a teammate. Once this happens, the teammate will analyze how the defender chooses to defend him. If the defender gives him space, he will shoot the mid-range jumper.  On the other hand, if the defender plays him tight, the teammate will give the ball to another player who is going to restart the process of analyzing the defender. The process would continue until they found an open shot or the shot clock wound down. Due to this, Jason Kidd found himself standing behind the three-point line as a bystander or running all over the court trying to get open. The only time Jason had an opportunity to dominate the game was when the opposing team missed a shot. Once this happened, his team got the rebound and gave the ball to him to start the process of a fast break. During the fast break, Jason Kidd threw an outlet pass down court or ran down the middle of 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.

 

 

Chris Paul

On the other hand, Chris Paul got the opportunity to play in offensive systems centered around the pick and roll as well as post ups. For instance, Paul would bring the ball up to the three-point line and then a big man would set a screen. Once the pick was set Paul would pay attention to his defender to determine the next course of action, for instance, if the defender went under the screen, Paul would go over it and take the wide open shot. On the other hand, if the defender went over the screen, Paul would go over it as well and drive towards the basket where he would score or pass the ball to the player next to him or to the perimeter depending on whether he was double teamed or not. However there were instances where Chris Paul would throw the ball into the mid to low block for a post up. For instance, Chris would bring the ball up to the three-point line and passes it to another perimeter player. The second perimeter player would immediately give the ball to him to dump it into the low post.  Once that happens, the big man 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 Paul would bring the basketball up to the three-point line and passes the basketball to a big man in the high post area. Once this happened, the big man would analyze the defense to determine the next course of action. For instance,  If the defender gave him a few feet of space, he would pull up to shoot the wide-open mid-range jumper. On the other hand, if the defender played him tight, he will attempt to drive towards the basket for an easy basket, to draw a foul or attract a double team.

Conclusion

Due to the difference in systems, Chris Paul has averaged more points and assists per game than Jason Kidd during his career. According to Basketball-Reference,  Paul averages 18.7 points per game and 9.8 assists per game. On the other hand, Kidd averaged 12.6 points per game and 8.7 assists per game. As a result, people should only compare great players who played the same position in the same system.