Mike Davis and the fallacy of competition

By Jared Stanger

Here’s the thing…we’re being lied to. The lie at its core is that catch phrase: “Always Compete”. The way you know it’s a lie are two-fold. 1) There would be a hell of a lot more pressure on coaches like Bevell and Cable to compete to KEEP THEIR FUCKING JOBS. 2) The guys that WIN competitions would actually get to KEEP THEIR FUCKING JOBS.

For now I’m going to talk about the latter. This is the guys like Kasen Williams and Pierre Desir that competed this summer, won the competition, and had their jobs given to other people. Those two are gone now, signed to other teams, and we won’t be getting them back without luck or paying a price that exceeds the value we got for cutting them.

But it might not be too late to save Mike Davis.

Mike Davis won the preseason RB competition. Chris Carson got the headlines because he’s the bright, shiny new toy fresh out of the draft, but Davis played better than the whole group.

Statistically, here are the numbers:

I posted that a couple weeks ago and someone argued it was inverse of when guys got touches and the level of competition they faced. If you actually watched, though, Chris Carson was getting 1st quarter touches A LOT, and Davis was running the end of the 2nd quarter in at least two of the four games. Here’s Davis in the Minnesota game catching a TD pass from Russell Wilson:

Davis showed good route running and sense for finding the soft spot underneath.

This, vs KC, is nice by Davis finding the opening. If Joeckel and/or Britt had picked up a block, this might have gone for 20 yards.

For whatever reason, Russell and the active RB in the Green Bay game seemed to have trouble connecting on these simple checkdown type plays. Russell, I think, showed good chemistry with Davis as his outlet guy.

Offhand, I don’t remember how well the active RB did in terms of chip-blocking vs GB. I think I spotted one play that Prosise missed his assignment, but I didn’t go back and watch for that specifically.

Here are some Mike Davis blocks.

I’d be curious how this one was designed. Are both backs supposed to block this way? I don’t know, but backside is contained.

This is one of the better RB blocks I saw this preseason.

Now let’s actually watch some run plays.

My contention is that Davis ran the zone scheme better than any of the Seattle backs in preseason. Keys to running zone are timing and decision-making. The RB’s footworks/steps should be in line with the OL’s synchronized footwork. And the RB should be decisive; choosing in-rhythm whether to take the frontside lane, or to cut it back.

Here, we’ve got OL blocking well to the playcall of wide zone. Biggest concern is that backside chaser. Davis escapes that ankle tackle and then has freedom to improvise at the 2nd level.

Wide zone the other way. I think a TE should be peeling off that double team to pick up the incoming LB. Not a well-blocked play, but Davis shows ability to adapt. This is something Lacy, specifically, could not do Sunday.

This is the type of play that isn’t splashy, but that shows better understanding of the system, better decision making, and great effort. This play could have gone for loss, then could have gone for only 2 yard gain, but Mike makes it into a 4-yard gain.

This is just tremendous feel by Davis. Defender is getting too deep in outside contain and Mike pulls hard back inside, breaks the foot tackle, gets extra yardage falling forward during tackle.

Moving on to the Vikings game.

This is another minor play, but shows again Mike making 4 yards out of what could/would be 2 for other RB.

This play needs to be run slow-mo or paused. Davis is 2 yards deep in the EZ, but already reading Viking DL coming free from his left, and cutting it back right for positive yardage.

One of the better zone plays this game. Mike has two-way go at handoff: he can follow Madden through frontside, but his eye is drawn to the opening backside between TE and LT. Viking DB breaks for Mike’s running lane, but his overpursuit leaves no one outside contain, so Mike cuts outside…huge gain. Good block by Vannett (who we need to feature more).

Same play from endzone view.

I didn’t go through the Raider game, so we’ll be ending on the KC tape.

 

Glow wiffs on his cutblock backside, so Mike is forced to get skinny. Positive yardage, though.

I think this was Mike’s first touch of the KC game. Fortunately the OLB was reading play action pass all the way and took himself out of the play. Easy read for Davis to bounce it outside and pick up a nice chunk of yardage.

And Mike closes the play initiating contact with the defender with his helmet right under dude’s chin, plus the fall forward over the first down line-to-gain.

There’s just nothing in his tape that tells me that Mike Davis wasn’t consistently one of Seattle’s top four RB throughout the preseason. Stats support it. Tape supports it. Fundamentals support it. And if you want to get a little romantic about it…the W-L record supports it: 4-0 with Mike Davis on the team, 0-1 with him now off the active roster.

If we’re making decisions based on competition; I don’t see how Mike Davis hasn’t won at least a job on the active roster. It’s supposed to be “ALWAYS Compete”; not “compete except when we’ve overdrafted you, or paid you more than you’re worth.”

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Fail quickly

By Jared Stanger

I got on my PC late Sunday night, after that pathetic, offensive offensive effort (not a typo), with the intent to watch some college tape. I watched a couple games featuring higher-end college Left Tackles. But I was distracted. Distracted by the insanity of this franchise’s continued effort to do the same thing and expect different results. It. Is. NUTS.

Fortunately, or unfortunately, Seattle next takes on the Niners back home at Century Link. The Niners looked pretty miserable against Carolina Sunday, and may have taken a huge hit if they’ve lost Reuben Foster for any length of time.

The unfortunate part of this is that this level of weaker opponent…where Brian Hoyer will in no way, shape, or form be able to overcome the Seattle defense like Aaron Rodgers did…will hide the Seahawk deficiencies that Green Bay exposed this week.

I want the team to be proactive. I want the team to make actual changes. I want the team to fail quickly.

And in that spirit; these are some of the changes I would like to see PCJS make starting as soon as “tell the truth Monday” tomorrow.

They won’t make the coaching changes at Offensive Coordinator or Offensive Line that I think are long-past due. So, instead, force them to make better fucking use of the resources available to them.

Offensive Line: make the personnel change along the starting OL to be (L-R) Luke Joeckel, Rees Odhiambo, Justin Britt, Oday Aboushi, Ethan Pocic. If Cable insists on having a unique backup center with Pocic at RT; Joey Hunt will need to be called up from the practice squad. Release Tobin or Battle…I don’t really care which. Hopefully one that gets you the conditional draftpick compensation back.

Offensive play-calling: fuck Bevell and give Russell more leeway to go up-tempo/no-huddle. It works. Do it. And don’t EVER start a game with a pass play EVER again. As a rule. Just don’t.

Tight End: use Nick Vannett more. He’s a more well-rounded player, able to block better on run plays, and his receiving is still underrated. Jimmy deserves a demotion after some of his lackadaisical play Sunday. (As I’m writing this, it dawns on me…was Jimmy distracted by Hurricane Irma hitting Florida, where he’s from?)

Running back: cut Eddie Lacy and call up Mike Davis. Davis was our best back in preseason. He ran the zone better than all of our backs. He caught well. He played well on special teams.
Lacy doesn’t fit this team. Our OL can’t block in a way that would allow Lacy to be effective, and Lacy’s inability to stop-start quickly and, as far as I can tell, his inability to play zone read prevent Russell from being as effective as Russell is with other runners. Now, if we need to hold off on this move until Rawls is fully healthy; fine. But it should be soon.
Let Chris Carson start, and actually use him more than 6 carries a game.

Defense: on all of the defense, really my only thought going forward is that I’d like to see less Jeremy Lane. I know the ejection today wasn’t earned by him, but he’s had enough personal fouls and bone-headed plays the last year-plus to be demoted sooner than later. It didn’t seem like Justin Coleman was a bad replacement in the slot. Certainly Shaquill Griffin stepped up in a pretty big, and important way at boundary. And hopefully Deshawn Shead is back as soon as possible by rule of PUP.

Oh, and get rid of McKissic. Is Kenny Lawler still on the street? Bring him back. Lawler can sit on inactive just as easily as McKissic did today.

Enough of these Matt Flynn, Cary Williams, J’Marcus Webb bullshit moves that don’t last the length of their contract. See down the road better. Fail quicker. Like, in preseason.

2018 Draft: Offensive Tackle

By Jared Stanger

I’m fairly confident that 2018 is going to be a pretty good Offensive Tackle class. The 2017 Seniors include Mike McGlinchey, Tyrell Crosby, Martinas Rankins, and Chukwuma Okorafor. The 2017 Juniors that may declare early include Connor Williams, Orlando Brown, Brian O’Neill, Mitch Hyatt, Trey Adams, Yodny Cajuste, and Yosuah Nijman. If you get 3-4 underclassmen, I think you have a class stacked enough that you can plausibly find a LT late in the 1st round…maybe pushing into the 2nd.

There are quite a few ways we can break down this group. We’ve got guys that are athletes, we’ve got guys that have the right build, we’ve got run-blocking specialists, we’ve got better pass-protectors, etc.

Early on, I’ve been pretty impressed with how many of these guys fit the build proportionally (per each player’s school listing) of what I once found to be the league prototype LT size (6’6″/315lbs). If you give +/- 2″ of height and +/- 5lbs in weight, you get a list looking like this:

Mike McGlinchey- 6’8″/315lbs
Yosuah Nijman- 6’7″/320lbs
Tariq Cole- 6’6″/320lbs
Connor Williams- 6’6″/315lbs
Martinas Rankins- 6’5″/315lbs
Tyrell Crosby- 6’5″/320lbs
Bentley Spain- 6’6″/310lbs
Geron Christian- 6’6″/315lbs
Timon Parris- 6’5″/320lbs

Pretty good list. Couple of bulls-eyes in Williams and Christian. If you had asked me a week ago to name my favorite OT in this class, I would have said Connor Williams. After one week of tape under a new head coach and new system, Connor has taken a step back. (Come to think of it…that might be affecting Trey Adams as well. Not a new HC, but a new position coach.)

Currently having the opposite effect on me from Williams’ hot-to-cold is Mike McGlinchey. I’ve had issues with some of his 2016 games. Michigan State vs Malik McDowell comes to mind. But I watched his first game of 2017 and I had very little complaint (follow tweet thread).

Many have McGlinchey as OT1 this year…the rest probably have Williams. These two are Tier 1: “top 10 picks”. Tier 2 right now is generally comprised of Mitch Hyatt, Orlando Brown, Trey Adams, Chukwuma Okorafor. I’m not really interested in this tier. I’m more interested in what is probably Tier 3 now, but will rise up into tier 2 in time. I’m considering tier 3 as: Brian O’Neill, Tyrell Crosby, Yosuah Nijman, Yodny Cajuste.

Keep in mind, Tom Cable once talked about the height he prefers for his OL and it was players more in the 6’4″-6’5″ range. Tall guys have trouble keeping pad level low enough.¬†Obviously, being over 6’5″ has never stopped PCJSTC from bringing in a given OL (Joeckel, Sowell, Giacomini, etc). Being 6’5″ is probably the A- to the B+ of a 6’6″ guy.¬†So, for Cable, the Rankins/Crosby/Parris grouping may be most intriguing.

With Rankins being moved inside to play Center for Mississippi State this year, I think Tyrell Crosby might be most in Cable’s wheelhouse in terms of size. Tyrell was limited in 2016 to only two games due to injury, so I’m currently operating on very small scouting sample size (if anyone knows where I can find Oregon vs Southern Utah tape, let me know). But I think the sample I’ve seen is excellent (thread).

Whatever Crosby’s tape vs SUU looked like, it was good enough for PFF to honor him for this week:

Yodny Cajuste plays much more stout than his listed 6’5″/308lbs would suggest. I think he might be more in the 315-320 range, as well. Yodny is coming off a pretty big knee injury, but is looking very solid in his first game back this year:

The guys that look a little heavy and play a little slow (for my eye):

Chukwuma Okorafor- 6’6″/330lbs
Orlando Brown- 6’8″/345lbs
Trey Adams- 6’8″/327lbs

Okorafor was teammates with 2017 WMU draftee Taylor Moton. I always had trouble with Moton’s tape because he looked unathletic. Then he tested at the combine, and Moton was actually a pretty good athlete. So I punt a little bit on Okorafor because I don’t trust my eyes on him.

Guys that look a little light and play without enough anchor:

Brian O’Neill- 6’6″/305lbs
Mitch Hyatt- 6’5″/305lbs
Jeromy Irwin- 6’5″/300lbs

Of those three, Hyatt is the most highly touted, but O’Neill is the most intriguing to me. A former TE, Brian still holds possibly the best athleticism at OT this year. And Pitt coach Pat Narduzzi will show him off:

Also:

The other competitor for biggest freak athlete at OT is VTech’s Yosuah Nijman. Although it’s not showcased much on tape, my research tells me Nijman will ruin the combine whichever year he comes out. I had Yosuah’s 2017 debut graded a very solid performance. Nothing too flashy, but nothing to complain about. PFF actually had him graded very high.

Currently, my sleepers of the 2018 OT class are Stony Brook’s Timon Parris and Humboldt State’s Alex Cappa. I have no clue how to relate these two to FBS players. I can only judge whether or not they dominate their league. Cappa definitely does.

Parris is playing better competition, but not as dominant. I’d need to see him take some strides forward this year before thinking him more than UDFA, but he could get there.

For live scouting some of these players, here are the choice picks from this week’s Saturday schedule:

Brian O’Neill/Pitt on ABC at 12:30pm vs Penn State
Tyrell Crosby/Oregon on Fox at 1:30pm vs Nebraska
Orlando Brown/Oklahoma on ABC at 4:30 vs Ohio State
Mike McGlinchey/Notre Dame on NBC at 4:30 vs Georgia