The Disappointment Zone

Musings from a Cleveland sports fan

Archive for November 20th, 2007

“The Quarterback Position”

Posted by disappointmentzone on 20 November 2007

Quick question: When did it become popular to say “the quarterback position”?

More important question: Is there ever a justifiable excuse for saying “the quarterback position”?

Answer Q1: Beats me.

Answer Q2: No.

I find this the most absolutely unnecessary and frustrating feature of all NFL talk today. Did coaches and announcers and analysts huddle up and decide that since they’re now referring to injuries by the body part — he’s out with a knee — that they’d take the extra information they’re saving there and add it to talking about quarterbacks?

Here is one example. During Monday’s press conference Ravens coach Brian Billick was talking about preparing his team for adversity during the season, including “a change at the quarterback position.”

Why not say a change at quarterback? What is the utility of the word position here? It’s completely redundant! Is there ever a time when the meaning of quarterback is not at least implicitly tied to the concept of a position?

Answer: No.

A quarterback is above all else a position. The American Heritage Dictionary defines quarterback as “a player positioned behind the center who directs a team’s offensive play.” The word position is right there in the definition! That’s the A1 definition of position (i.e., location). But the 3rd definition of position is also implicit whenever we discuss quarterbacks (i.e., situation or circumstance that affects one’s power to act). Hell, why else does the NFL restrict which uniform numbers a quarterback can wear?

I’m going to start collecting unnecessary uses of the phrase ‘quarterback position’ and keep a running tally on a page here at the DZ. My prediction is that Shannon Sharp uses this phrase the most, but I wouldn’t be surprised if Steve Young is right there with him. Any help with this effort will be much appreciated.

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Cleveland Browns: QB Score: Week 11

Posted by disappointmentzone on 20 November 2007

The the past two weeks Derek Anderson and the Browns have faced two of the five best defenses in the NFL. All things considered — elite defenses, on the road, division rivals — he’s done quite well.

After facing Pittsburgh, with the league’s second best defense, Baltimore might have seemed like an easier task. Granted, they have the league’s fifth best defense, but Anderson did fairly well.

Yes, he threw a costly interception that was returned for a touchdown and was sacked twice for minus 11 yards. But he completed 63% of his passes — his highest completion percentage of the season — and made a number of huge throws. The biggest throw might have bee the third-and-ten pass to Winslow, but the most impressive was the pass to Braylon Edwards that set up the game tying field goal. The Baltimore Ravens defensive line was draped all over him and yet he still threw a strike down the middle of the field. On the road, against a division rival, in a game with playoff implications, Anderson put his team in a position to win. That’s the sign of a quality quarterback. He has the prototypical size and arm strength to be a very good quarterback. The Edwards pass was a glimpse of that potential. A weak-armed quarterback doesn’t make that throw (Charlie Frye). A short quarterback doesn’t make that throw (Jeff Garcia). Derek Anderson makes that throw.

Of course, it wouldn’t be a Browns game without at least one problem, and for the second week in a row that distinction goes to the defense.

In the second half the Baltimore Ravens — owners of the league’s 29th worst offense and 30th worst passing attack — had drives of:

75 yards (TD)
46 yards (INT)
62 yards (FG)
43 yards (FG)
83 yards (TD)
49 yards (FG)

Including penalty yardage the Ravens gained 359 yards on offense in the second half. This is beyond inexcusable and after a first half in which the Ravens had a total of 37 yards on offense it’s also a little baffling.

The Ravens offense scored 23 points in the second half, which is a terrible sign for the Browns defense. Romeo Crennel was touted as a defensive mastermind when he was brought in to lead the Browns back to the promise land. While a defensive coordinator with the Patriots he was able to seamlessly integrate Troy Brown — a wide receiver — into his defense, using complex schemes to hide areas of vulnerability. Contrast that to the Browns. There is absolutely nothing complex about what the Browns are doing. The script is basically the same each week. The defense gets burned for more yards and points than they should and the offense comes to the rescue with more points than anyone ever would have expected. It’s not clear if Crennel has any input whatsoever over what’s happening with his defense.

The most glaring weakness is the defensive line. They are rarely sacking the opposing quarterback and often when they do get pressure it’s the result of great coverage in the secondary. I have no idea of anyone keeps track of coverage sacks but my hunch is that coverage sacks are a high percentage of all sacks for the Browns this season. This is a problem.

Coverage sacks occur when the secondary covers the receivers long enough for the quarterback’s protection to break down. Breakdowns in protection will happen eventually, usually within about four to five seconds, and so these sacks are the inevitable outcome of good coverage. The defensive line gets the credit for the sack, but it’s because of the secondary.

Conversely, it’s nearly impossible for the secondary to cover all receivers for more than four to five seconds. Even the best cornerbacks can’t stay with a receiver for longer than that. It’s impossible. The receiver has too great an advantage. If the defensive line doesn’t pressure the quarterback into a throw within that window then the advantage swings to the offense in a huge way. Big passes and long drives are the inevitable outcome of a poor pass rush.

And there you have the Browns pass defense in a nutshell.

As for the linebackers, I guess they’re still wondering the streets of Pittsburgh looking for a ride to the stadium.

The Browns have one of the easiest remaining schedules in the entire NFL, but if the defense is routinely giving up 20+ points per game (or 20+ points per half) then the burden on the offense and special teams to score might be too much to overcome. The offense is still very young. Not only the key players, many of whom are still within their first three years in the league, but the offense in general: this is only the first season under Rob Chudzinski and it’s only his first season as an offensive coordinator. Still, you’ve got to like our chances.

QB Score: 106
QB Score per play: 2.59

(Historical average is 1.85)

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