Vince Lombardi

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THE CHALKBOARD

QC's Week 6 Thoughts

Great coaching does not always show up at the top of QC's weekly "Best Coached" list. Chicago is 2-4, but HC John Fox and his staff are designing and coaching their butts off. In a 27-24 win at Baltimore, the Bears RB Tarik Cohen threw a TD pass and Chicago prevailed despite giving up a kickoff return for a TD and a punt return for a TD. Since inserting rookie QB Mitchell Trubisky, the Bears have been better designed than their opponents each of the past 2 weeks and their play design differential has improved from -5.18% to -0.77%. The Bears still have a lot of ground to make up, but the distance does not feel as daunting now that both division leaders, Green Bay and Minnesota, likely will be without their starting QBs for the rest of the year. The most unlikely division champion since QC invented coaching statistics has been the 2011 Denver Broncos, who won the AFC West at 8-8 with a -12 TO differential, a -3.67% play design differential, and Tim Tebow at QB. Who coached the 2011 Broncos: John Fox. The early season parallels between the 2011 Broncos and these Bears is uncanny. Both started 1-4 behind a veteran QB (Kyle Orton and Mike Glennon, respectively). At an extended break in the season, both turned to a new young QB (Tebow and Trubisky, respectively). The change quickly returned a bizarre, improbable overtime win on the road. After a blowout loss at home to Detroit left Denver at 2-5, the Broncos ripped off 6 straight wins--each one more improbably than the prior--before falling apart and losing their last 3 games and backing into the divisional championship when the Raiders lost to the Chargers in Week 17. There will never be a bronze bust of John Fox the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio. But he knows how to scramble wiht the best of 'em. He is like that golfer who for 18 holes seems like he is always in the rough, the sand, or the water, but at the end of the round he signs a even par card and makes his opponents beat him. The 2017 season is still on the front 9. It will be interesting to see if Fox can get the Bears up-and-down often enough to hoist a divisional title trophy in the cubhouse--er, clubhouse--at the end.

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New Rams HC Sean McVay wowed the NFL the first three weeks of the season when his play design transformed QB Jared Goff and turned him into an infinitely productive passer. Goff has come back to earth. In his past 2 games, Goff has averaged less than 5.9 QCYPA. But LA split those games and probably should have won them both. In a 27-17 win at Jacksonville, the Rams scored TDs on a kickoff return and a blocked punt. Rather than keep the accelerator pressed to the floor against the Jaguars, McVay realed in Goff, who only attempted 21 passes against the Jax's ball-hawking secondary. In other words, McVay adapted to the moment and won a game in which his team was not the better designed teams. He designed within himself and let the game come to his team. Some coaches never learn such self-discipline. (QC's looking at you, Kyle Shannahan.) It is just one game, but McVay may have it already. If so, that is the most impressive attribute that he has displayed so far.

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How bad did NFL HQ screw the Jets when they reversed what appeared to be a TD pass from Josh McCown to TE Austin Sefarian-Jenkins when the latter double-clutched the ball as he tumbled over the pylon? Pefectly is the answer. The Patriots won the TO battle 3-2 because the reversal transformed the TD into a TO. The Jets were a tiny smidge better designed (0.72%) and a pinch more productive (0.25). Further, QC's trade secret achievement stat showed NY underachieved by 6 points, the exact amount of points they would have earned if New York had been awarded the TD. The bottom line is that all the coaching stats reflected a tie game on the field. But the game was not decided on the field. It was decided in a control room at NFL HQ. That's outrageous.

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In his Monday Morning QB column today, Peter King claimed the NFL is a "mismash mediocrity." Maybe. But maybe underappreciated defensive designers have figured out some new schemes to combat the NFL's highpowered offenses and recent drafts have delivered truckloads of talented DBs to execute those designs. QC considers 6.7 QCYPA to be ground zero of NFL mediocrity. In 2016, only 6 teams held opposing pasers to less than 6.7 QCYPA (Denver, Minnesota, Houston, Arizona, NY Giants and Jacksonville). Through 6 weeks, 12 NFL teams are holding opposing passers below that figure (Atlanta, Buffalo, Carolina, Chicago, Cincinnati, Dallas, Denver, Jacksonville, Pittsburgh, LA Chargers, Seattle and Washington) and 2 more are just barely over 6.7 (Minnesota and NY Jets). Those numbers describe defensive excellence, not mediocrity.

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