August 16, 2014

While We’re Waiting… Kazmir and Kluber more than we anticipated?

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“Sure, Kazmir has a more refined and nuanced approach to pitching than he did five years ago. But he’s also managed to reverse the ravages of time on his fastball: he’s averaging 92.5 miles per hour with his four-seam fastball, essentially identical to the 92.7 from 2008, and he’s throwing his two-seamer, at 92.3 miles per hour, is the fastest it’s been since 2007.

So when Scott Kazmir says he thinks he can be even better now, at age 29, than he was before he suffered a dramatic fall that ends most pitching careers, it isn’t crazy. With the tools still at his disposal, and superior knowledge, it actually makes sense.” [Howard/Sports on Earth]

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“This is bad. This is the anti-Greg Little, the anti-Tristan Thompson. Have any of you played for a high school coach who would be ok with you walking after a dropped ball in practice? Me neither. When national football watchers are “shocked” that you “loaf a lot” it’s time to take inventory. Gordon looks like AJ Green when he steps on the field. Green, like Greg Little, had a team suspension in college. We’d feel a lot better about Gordon’s suspension(s) if they fell in the category of ‘enterprising college athlete’ and not ‘recidivist slave to drugs to the point of jeopardizing millions of dollars.’” [Kanick]

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“Well, he ought to be. It would be much easier if Dwyane Wade were himself. That’s another story: Wade’s ability to buttress James in this series, as he did in the Finals against the Mavericks, has vanished. His sore knee is one thing. His halfhearted defense is another. But that’s not a new issue: James entered this series knowing he was going to have to carry Wade.

In 2007, James was wide-eyed and underequipped for such a task. In 2011, James was locked into some sort of bizarro world in which he looked at J.J. Barea and thought he was seeing Bill Russell. But now, James’ eyes are wide open.” [Windhorst/ESPN]

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“On May 10, when Kluber gave up eight runs in 4 2/3 innings against the Tigers, the initial thought was that he was sliding back to some of the missteps he made last season. That rough outing is looking more and more like a fluke. In six turns since that forgettable start, Kluber has posted a 3.09 ERA with 37 strikeouts against six walks in 35 innings. In his 10 appearances other than the May 10 start, he has a 3.08 ERA, a 1.09 WHIP, 53 strikeouts and 10 walks in 52 2/3 innings. What’s going on with this guy?” [Bastian/MLB.com]

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A look at Horton’s defensive tendencies from Arizona. [Kolonich/The OBR]

  • Harv 21

    Kanick and I haven’t agreed on too much lately, but his harsh take on Gordon mirrors mine. The details of his failed college drug tests are stunning: using while being monitored on double-secret probation and knowing you’d be tested at two different schools, using when individuals and schools are vouching for you. And with college and professional teams blinded by those physical gifts – he so obviously appears to have the whole #1 receiver package – there’s never enough consequences to force a young worshiped athlete to develop a sense of personal responsibility. He’s apparently a charming, non-toxic kid who’s smart enough to have learned exactly the words and tone to adopt when caught. His gifts were too tempting for Baylor, Utah and Heckert. Reminds me some of Chip Banks, so beautiful on the field, so perfect that a team’s eyes just can’t help but lie to its brain, “He’s a sweet kid, we’ll talk to him, we’ll watch him.” Another classic NFL scenario: after a no-consequence development, does he have the capacity to mature before his chances are gone? Problem with guys like him, they often don’t realize they’re on the clock until after the final buzzer sounds.

  • mgbode

    Kazmir “can” be as good or better than he was but only if he rediscovers the movement on his pitches. In the Astros game (and others), his pitches have come out flat and hitters have used treated them like they were on a tee. xFIP loves him because it takes out HRs (assuming they will average out), but a pitch that is flat is much more likely to be hit a long, long way.

    Now, I don’t know how hard it is to find that movement again. I remember him from his Tampa days and his fastball never went directly over like it does now.

  • mgbode

    yes, it was a fair and really good write-up by kanicki. I hope that we are over-reacting, but that is mostly because it’s all I can do. sadly, alot of similar situation athletes never do “get it” until they lose their chance with their original team, get kicked to the curb and have to reinvent themselves to get back into the league sometimes even begging coaches to give them one last chance (hello, Daniel Green – potential Finals MVP).

  • mgbode

    the bottom of Kanicki’s article makes me wonder if we give Groves a try at ILB at some point (again thinking). it just seems to make too much sense (especially on passing downs).

  • https://twitter.com/jimkanicki jimkanicki

    the tavon thing yesterday? meh. i really enjoy that one, very comfy out on that limb.

    i’m not prone to moral outrage over non-PED drug use in the six month offseason. but when you make a public statement like his, then you’re effectively speaking to me and asking me to believe your excuse. ask me to believe a preposterous excuse and you’re subject to a minor proctology exam.

  • https://twitter.com/jimkanicki jimkanicki

    i LOVED tank carder at tcu. a true baller. we never hear about him but i wouldn’t be surprised to see him contributing.

  • mgbode

    anytime you can start a former BMX champion, you have to do it

    (worried about him in coverage, he seemed lost. may have been rookie blues though and I am willing to reserve judgement. Carder at ILB on run downs and Groves on pass downs could work wonders)

  • https://twitter.com/jimkanicki jimkanicki

    not to start a whole thing, but i think building a defense that leans on sub packages creates real vulnerabilities. chip kelly’s gonna change the world and not just with zone-read; also with the hyper fast play execution.

    somehow, belichick signing tebow is reflective of this.

  • Ben Frambaugh

    There are so many things wrong with this article it’s not even funny.

    How many teams are going to be running the IZR/OZR?

    He acts like a college coach trying to bring a college system to the NFL is going to be playing the Browns more than once every 8 years. I don’t care what Philadelphia is doing this year. The teams that he mentioned as running a lot of IZR/OZR and getting to the playoffs are in the NFC. We won’t be playing them often. As more teams catch on to the IZR/OZR, defenses will start adjusting. The fact that most of the teams running this are in the NFC benefits the Browns because they won’t have to make those types of adjustments early on.

    Plus, he mentions our “depth” being negated. It’s negated on a given series of plays with the IZR/OZR. There’s nothing saying we can’t alternate our substitutions at the beginning of each series (maybe 1-2 players each series) to avoid overworking our starters.
    Also – if you are negating our best player by running away from him, you are telling the defense a little bit more about where you intend to go. So you can move that best player around pre-snap and force the offense to adjust into something the defense wants you to do. Game planning works both ways. He even uses Mingo’s solo-tackle game as an example that is actually counter-tuitive to the point being made. I hope that a team tailor’s their entire offensive game plan into avoiding one player. That simplifies the read for the rest of the defense.

  • mgbode

    putting players in position where they are most likely to succeed is just smart football. you can call it sub packages if you like, but it is just intelligent design.

    also, there are rules in place in the NFL to allow defensive teams to sub players if the offense subs players. as Chip & company up-the-tempo, these rules will get finely tuned even further IMO.

    finally, just because it’s a passing situation doesn’t mean a pass will happen. it’s just playing the odds with player strengths.

  • The_Real_Shamrock

    This isn’t fair the Browns still haven’t learned how to play regular football!

  • Ben Frambaugh

    I’d say quit being a pessimist. But it’s blatantly clear you’re an optimist. You’re positive the Browns still haven’t learned how to play regular football. ;)

  • The_Real_Shamrock

    Stalking is illegal sir!

  • https://twitter.com/jimkanicki jimkanicki

    yo i’m right here. if you want to comment on my post, there’s comment section over there, happy to review it’s problems with you.

  • https://twitter.com/jimkanicki jimkanicki

    q: when is a sub package not a sub package?
    a: when the offense goes so fast the defense can’t sub.

    i didn’t realize i was introducing anything new here. teams run hurry-up to prevent subs from getting on the field. kelly’s hurry up *is* the offense not a feature of it. they do it better than anyone because it’s all they practice. (at least that’s what he did in oregon.) if you haven’t caught oregon football, it’s a pretty effective system.

    i guess we can do what we usually do and wait 20 years before accepting it. i’m suggesting we do different. and i’m questioning why we’ve invested so much in non-3-down players when you can see the future just by looking at the last three years in eugene.

  • Ben Frambaugh

    Only if the stalkee doesn’t actually enjoy it.

  • Ben Frambaugh

    LOL – well, you’ve seen my comment, what do you think? (I really don’t feel like adding yet another sports site to the entirely too many I peruse.)

  • Ben Frambaugh

    As for “non-3-down players” it depends on what you’re looking for. The Browns are running their defense to match up with the AFCN. Not with the Philadelphia Eagles, the Washingto Redskins, the Seattle Seahawks or the Minnesota Vikings. Maybe the Oregon offense and the IZR/OZR is the new long-lasting thing (similar to the way that the WCO was around.) Then again, maybe it’s the next incarnation of the Mike Martz system of pass a lot but destroy your QB in the process.
    We shouldn’t be building a defense off of a gimmick offense until we know the gimmick offense is here to stay. The Wildcat was a huge fad for a brief minute.

  • mgbode

    RBs not allowed to lead with their head is a pretty big help to defenses (at least potentially).

    No, nothing new, but I don’t see some of these guys as pure non-3down players. Just that they are at their best in certain situations and if you can get them into that situation, you do it.

  • mgbode

    are you saying that Flacco, Roeth and Dalton aren’t going to be running the zone-read?

  • mgbode

    that’s not stalking; that’s love.

  • Ben Frambaugh

    Another item that I’m going to pick a part…you said that Lombardi calling it a passing league is 10 years behind…but you only mention 3 playoff teams that were lead primarily by running that IZR/OZR. Correct me if I’m wrong, but aren’t there 12 playoff teams when it all gets started?

    So, your premise that it’s a passing league is done…isn’t necessarily true just because 25% of the playoff teams were good at running. They were also really good at defense.

    Seahawks and 49ers had the two best scoring defenses in the league. Claiming their success because of an IZR/OZR offense is ludicrous. The 49ers had a great defense and special teams…to go with a good running game (though it’s something that they’ve had for a while.)

  • https://twitter.com/jimkanicki jimkanicki

    you know i also realized that post is over a month old so who’s gonna see it. and thank, i had an ‘auto-close comments after 28 days’ option clicked. fixed that.

    first off, sf, seattle, washington ran some zone read last year. nfl being a copycat league, tennessee is putting it in this year. we have to assume philly is going to have some. and, im guessing but feel confident that belichick picked up tebow specifically to add it. so let’s say 6 are running some of it.

    specific to IZR/OZR the idea is to key off the other team’s best player: if he commits to stop QB, handoff; if RB, QB keeps. the other goal is to spring plays into second level of defense. thus, i see the browns selecting mingo as their ‘von miller type’ and IZR is designed to take him away. i see the browns with non-run-stopping DBs and imagine they’ll have probs providing the run support IZR commands.

    looking ‘procedurally’ i appears the browns are acquiring non-3-down personnel; they’re going to rely on sub packages based on down/distance circumstances. and my point to to bode is that kelly’s high-speed offense is hurry-up on steroids. it’s all they practiced at oregon. it doesn’t mean they always snap it with 25 seconds left on the play clock; but it does mean they dont huddle and dont let you put in your sub packs. an offense that runs this way nullifies all the depth that the browns are so proud of.

    so i think three things:
    1. kelly offense, whether IZR or high-speed, is growing to gain traction in the nfl;
    2. defenses will need run-supporting dbacks to address IZR, the browns dont have those;
    3. defenses will need to have 3-down players to address high-speed, the browns are building in the opposite direction.

    whether or not such an offense is on the schedule is beside the point.

  • https://twitter.com/jimkanicki jimkanicki

    the thing about trends is recognizing them early.

    as in, bill walsh was by himself with his offense and that’s when he made hay. if you went back to 1966(?), pete gogolak was the only soccer style kicker… that didn’t mean soccer style kicking wasn’t something to explore/adopt.

    i don’t think i ever claimed the seahawks/niners success was because of zone read offense. (if anything, i’m single threaded on the seahawk large d-backfield as the reason for their intimidating defense and why dont we have some of that?) but the threat of zone read presents problems for defenses and helped all those teams’ offenses.

  • https://twitter.com/jimkanicki jimkanicki

    welp.. everything i’ve read on the two biggies -kruger and mingo- is that they’re not 3 down players.

    and mainly: for once i’d like to see the browns in front of a trend instead following one.

  • Harv 21

    said every stalker, ever.

  • Ben Frambaugh

    Those are all teams that we’re not playing against.

    Spread offenses dictate a greater importance on pass-rushers than on “traditional-run stoppers.” If we have to have one type of “situational” player, we certainly have been stocking up on the right ones.

    1 – The Blur offense has been a growing trend, even within the AFCN. It is typically associated with a spread style offense (as opposed to a standard I or Pro Form with two backs and a TE.) So having guys like Mingo/Groves won’t be as much of a burden.

    2 – Haden isn’t afraid to get his nose dirty, TJ Ward (when healthy) is a bit of a thumper (though his form still needs work.) Not sure how strong we’re gonig to be on the other side (but Sheldon Brown wasn’t terrible and I wouldn’t mind seeing him back…but as a Safety instead.)
    3 – High speed means you need quicker players…which are typically not stouter players…and quicker players is what we do have (particularly at the LB spot.) We’re not fixing this team in one offseason…but I think we made plenty of the right moves based on our options at the time.