1. Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback Blake Bortles said fans questioning playcalling was similar to "kindergarteners saying something to college kids," which in most cases isn't wrong. The average fan doesn't have the same understanding of the offense as the coordinator, or a strong grasp of game scripts. However, this seems to run counter to how the Jaguars want to run as a franchise. Tony Khan, son of the team owner, is in charge of the team's Analytics department and is often tasked with helping the team find the small victories.
Bortles need to realize that a large portion of modern NFL analytics was developed by fans. Khan used Football Outsiders' Speed Scores to find a kick returner, and Football Outsiders was founded by fans. Few have had more of an impact on the 4th down attempts than Brian Burke and his Advanced Football Analytics blog, which deserves some credit for Ron Rivera earning the "Riverboat Ron" moniker. Packers defensive coordinator Dom Capers correctly highlighted Passer Rating Differential, as studied by Cold Hard Football Facts, as the most important formula for team building.
So it's not a matter of tuning out the fans, Blake. It's about listening to the right ones.
2. Speaking of listening to fans more, how about listening to the fans who produced numbers on what to expect with the new extra point rules? Since the start of the 2005 season, teams have converted 50% of their two-point conversion attempts. Kickers have converted roughly 95% of extra point kicks now that the line has moved to the 15 yard line for the 2015 season. Prior to this season, kickers were making nearly 100% of their kicks.
This means the expected points from an extra point has fallen from 1.0 to 0.95. The expected points from a two-point attempt is still 1.0 (2.0 points x 50% conversion rate = average of 1.0 point per two-point attempt). Prior to moving the extra point line, an automatic kick was more of a guaranteed point on the board and the understandable call, but now things are changing. If you're a team that converts 60% of their two-point attempts (like, say, the Patriots!), the expected points from a two-point attempt is 1.2, roughly 30% more value than the expected value of an extra point.
So long as a team has a better-than-50% chance at converting a two-point conversion, they should go for it. Sure, there are caveats to account for game scripts (if a coach thinks the offense is shaky, but needs an extra point to tie the game and force overtime, I wouldn't begrudge them), but in general, teams should go for it.
3. A couple players that could help in the red zone are Rob Gronkowski, Scott Chandler and the Patriots obscenely dangerous tight end package. Credit to Bills coach Rex Ryan, who seems to have a better idea of how to slow Gronk than the Steelers did.
"We're not gonna ask just one guy, ‘Hey this is your guy,' " Ryan said on a conference call. "I mean, shoot, he'd have to look like King Kong or something. Like, ‘Go, you got him. They've got the Gronk, but we're putting Kong on him.' There will probably be some snaps where three guys are on him."
"I will say this," Rex said. "It is better to put one guy on him than no guy on him.
When asked about King Kong in coverage, Gronk replied "you've got to prepare for anyone," which is the best answer.
4. The NFL has opted not to suspend cornerback Pacman Jones after he took Raiders wide receiver Amari Cooper's helmet off and slammed the rookie's head into it. For a league so concerned about its image an integrity, this is a major head scratcher because Pacman has a history of assault and violence off the field. The league shows that it still doesn't have its priorities in order after a terrible 2014 season with poorly received penalties of Ray Rice, Adrian Peterson, and Greg Hardy for assault, and then a peculiar response to suspend Tom Brady on the heels of an unproven accusation of football inflation.
If Pacman had done that to a quarterback, is there any doubt that the league's response would've been different?
5. While the hit to Cooper's head didn't result in immediate injury, a PBS Frontline report shows that actions like Pacman's have serious long term repercussions. 96% of NFL players examined by a Boston University study showed a degenerative disease of the brain believed to stem from repetitive trauma to the head. The NFL is under fire for trying to hide the negative effects associated with the high contact sport.
If football is to survive, the NFL can't let acts like Pacman's stand. Those are the unnecessary hits to the head that are easily eliminated. These are the battles that the league needs to fight if they truly care about integrity.