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Shallow Thoughts & Nearsighted Observations

As we enter the re-loading season, I felt like I needed to establish a fun new recurring feature.  HT has MHR University, and Broncobear has the always excellent Tales from the Sunny Side.  Styg is heading up some great draft coverage, which has a fun name, which you'll be hearing about very soon.  Nick has some statistical analysis pieces which will be coming, and Zappa will continue to be Zappa, intermittently unleashing jolts of Broncos fan brilliance.  And the Guru, when we form like Voltron, the Guru is the head.

So where does that leave me?  Well, I was thinking a couple days ago, as I listened to Enter The Wu-Tang and shoveled a foot of snow, that two things I can consistently provide are shallow thoughts, and nearsighted observations.  Since this is a Broncos blog, I'll focus on our team, but I'll also include some league-wide thoughts, for keeping-up-with- the-Jones purposes.  Shallow Thoughts & Nearsighted Observations.  What else could be needed on top of that?  Maybe just some more cowbell....  Did anybody bring a cowbell?

1.  Professionally, I am a financial analyst.  What that means, generally, is that I get paid to study historical performance, and use it to predict future results.  I also try to figure out why past occurrences happened.  Central to doing any kind of analysis is a feel for the concepts of correlation and  causality.  In one sentence, correlation indicates that there is a linear relationship between Events A & B.  Causality indicates that Event A causes Event B.

The reason for this lead-up is that various media outlets have been mentioning the track records of Eric Mangini, Romeo Crennel, and Charlie Weis, and been relating these track records to Josh McDaniels.  This is bad analysis, because it assumes a "fact" which is not a "fact."  Read the following sentence, and think about it.

All coaches who have worked for Bill Belichick in the past will perform roughly the same.

Does that make sense?  Based upon a small sample of 3 coaches, you would predict a disappointing performance for McDaniels, but even that gets fuzzy.  Weis has performed below expectations at Notre Dame, but if he were at Vanderbilt, (which is academically cxomparable) he'd be a hero.  Mangini had 2 winning seasons out of 3.  Crennel had one winning season, and otherwise, did really no worse than Butch Davis or Chris Palmer.  Expectations, which differ, play into whether or not someone is a disappointment.

Try this one.

In Cleveland, auto sales are dramatically lower in months which see 10 or more inches of snow than they are in months which see less than 10 inches of snow.

This is a true statement, and a linear correlation could be established between auto sales and snow-fall.  That would lead a bad analyst to predict a spike in auto sales in February or March, if we had an unseasonably warm and snow-free month.  That spike wouldn't happen though.  Car sales are slow in the months of January through March, and pick up beginning in April.  It is a seasonal phenomenon, and has nothing to do with the amount of snow which falls.  January through March just happen to be Cleveland's heavy snow season.  There is correlation, but no causality.

The fact that an assistant worked for Bill Belichick has no direct bearing on the level of success which he will experience in what is really an extraordinarily multi-variate situation.  The key determinant will always be the individual's quality as a coach.

2.  I intend these points to generally be quick-hitting, but here goes another lengthy one.  There is no inherent advantage to using either a 4-3 or a 3-4 scheme.  Look no further than next Sunday's AFC Championship game to see this.  Baltimore actually used a 3-4 for a few years, and it didn't suit Ray Lewis, because blockers were getting into his body.  Not coincidentally, their peformance as a team fell off some from their cutomary top-of-the-league position.  Now, you have the two best defenses in the NFL playing Sunday, with each using a different front.  Here are some pros and cons for the two systems.

It really comes down to personnel, and staffing preferences.  I could personally care less which it is, as long as it gets the defense off the field on 3rd Down.

3.  Props to Adam Schefter for being all over the McDaniels hire a week ago.  i doubted it then, but I am impressed he had such a good sense of it now.

4.  The National Football Post reported about an hour ago that the Broncos have offically hired Mike Nolan as Defensive Coordinator.  The more I think about it, the more I love this hire.  He made a few mistakes in San Francisco, most notably in the personnel department and in relating poorly to Alex Smith.  He will grow from the experience, and be a huge asset.

5.  Alex Smith was on his way to being a solid player before the injury, as we remember from the sad day of December 31, 2006.  I would not be surprised if he returns to SF with a big pay-cut (which he has publicly volunteered to take) and beats out Shaun Hill for the job next season.  He's vastly more talented, and he's still only 24 years old.

6.  On the topic of retread coaches, I expect Eric Mangini to have some success in Cleveland.  I don't think he deserved to get fired from New York, and I think Cleveland got lucky to get him on the rebound.  Now, if only they can figure out a program, and learn to ignore their fan base and local Radio Idiots, they'll be cooking with gas.

7.  I don't hear a lot of criticism of the AFC West or NFC West all of a sudden.  I'm particularly very impressed with Arizona, and I think they have just as good a chance of winning a Super Bowl as any of the other 3 teams left.  I find rooting for both Pittsburgh and Baltimore to be very distasteful, so I'll be cheering on the NFC team this year.

8.  It looks like Tony Dungy will retire, according to Jay Glazer.  I think he is the most overrated coach ever, but he's definitely still good.  To hear the MSM tell it, you'd think he was directly related to Jesus Christ (which would make him kin to Tim Tebow also, it seems.)  In any case, I wish Tony and his family well, and I don't expect a lot of drop-off with Jim Caldwell taking over.  They still have Peyton Manning after all.

9.  Speaking of Tebow, I didn't just call him overrated, because he isn't.  I meant to criticize the MSM pontification about his godliness, which is unnecessary, and I don't really care about it.  I think it actually serves to hurt Tebow, because he's going to go down as clearly the greatest college football player of the modern era, and a lot of people dislike him through no real fault of his own.  And yes, he will be an NFL Quarterback.  Downgrading a guy because of bonus abilities he has is just stupid, and that's what is happening.  They'll work on his mechanics this year, and quicken his release, and he'll compete for championships at the NFL level.  I have no problem at all putting my name on this, because I know I am right.

10.  The Big XII is a fraud.  The proof is on the video, from multiple bowls.