Tuesday, January 25, 2011

The Sophomore Jinx?

A lot is being written right now about whether or not Sam Bradford will experiance the sophmore jinx in 2011. I'll give you my short answer and I will give you a longer answer. The short answer is: It can't be avoided, but it won't be as bad you think, and it probably won't last long. Now I will give you a longer answer unpacking that conclusion.

There are a number of factors conspiring against Sam's 2nd tour of duty in the league:
  1. Pat Shurmur has moved on to Cleveland
  2. Josh McDaniels in the new Ram-OC.
  3. This means moving from the West Coast Offense to the NFL Spread.
  4. There will be new rookie receivers to play with.
  5. There will be new offensive guards to play with.
  6. We have this little labor strife over the collective bargaining agreement going on right now. As a result of this fact, here may not be any OTAs or Mini-Camp. If so, Josh McDaniels will have precious little time to install his new system.
  7. If worse comes to worse, and the lockout wears long, it could delete all of training camp and the first few games.

As far as the Rams' specific problems are concerned, I don't think things are nearly as bad as some portray them. When people say that there is a great deal of difference between the WCO and the NFL Spread, they are quite correct. Still, what is the value and importance of that fact? I think it is fairly low. I don't think this is particularly important point.

Sam was in the WCO for exactly one year. He was in the Spread for most of his high school and college years. The pertinent question is this: How different is Josh McDaniel's Spread from Bob Stoops's Spread? In truth, I do not know the answer to that question. I suppose assesments would vary. I can only tell you that they look somewhat similar to me. I can't tell you how much difference there is in language and terminology under the hood, in the playbook.

Until proven otherwise, I still believe that moving to Josh McDaniels's Spread will be more like a home-comming at Oklahoma than learning an entirely new system. In 2010, Sam was learning an entirely different system. In 2011, I don't think so. I think he'll be learning a slightly different variety of a system he already knows well.

However, all our vets will be learning a new system... That could spell some trouble. The brand new receivers and guards will create some initial problems in timing and cohesian, but if we chose our people well, this should pay big dividends a few games down the road in 2011... assuming there is a 2011.

There are adverse circumstances facing Sam, the whole roster, and everyone else in the league this year. We could throw in the media people also. Everyone is in danger of being compromised by the labor strife and lockout looming on the horizon. That's why both parties involved better compromise soon and sign that new CBA.

Andrew Brandt of the National Football Post seems to believe these problems are not so bad as I think they are. He claims that negotiations always saunter along at a lazy pace until the drop-dead date looms large. When the deal has to get done, it gets done. He says he was a party to a hundred different negotiations and the deal never got done until it had to be finished. That's just how the game is played. He seems to believe that we will have a new CBA in March.

Now on the other hand, you have the absolutely fabulous "in a state of war" rhetoric thrown around by DeMaurice Smith, the boss of the player's union. This sort of rhetoric only seems to strengthen rumors I heard early-on about DeMaurice Smith being a wrecklass adventurer on quest to prove himself stronger than Upshaw in fiery crucible of battle. Right now, DeMaurice Smith does resemble those remarks. He's also making Roger Goodell look pretty damn good. Trust me, you don't want to do that to your opponent.

Let us hope they will resolve all this bullshit so the millionairs can contine being paid by the billionaires.

Anyway... I hope I have made my point. Given the confligration of events coming together in 2011, a sophmore slump of some kind probably cannot be avoid. The worst factors in this function aren't even under Rams' control. These things have to be settled at the league level.

I also don't expect the sophmore slump to be that bad, or last that long. A move to the NFL spread may hurt offensive cohesian in the first couple of weeks, but it will help Sam and the whole offense perform a lot better down the road.