MMQB Mailbag: Browns are total wreck; secret to Saints' success
The Browns are a certifiable train wreck now. That much we know, in the wake of the departure of general manager
The problem as I see it is this organization careens from one disaster to the next. If owner
The one thing that's maddening is the Browns owe former GM
The Saints have used a game within a game to start 7-0 and take a commanding three-game lead in the NFC South with nine to play. That game within a game is deep in the hard drive of Saints offensive line/run-game coach
Near the season's midpoint,
It's happened because of four reasons.
2. The Saints have built an interesting stable of backs, with the punishing
3. The zone-blocking line has been precise and deep, adjusting to a couple of significant injuries and leading the way against several tough run-defense fronts.
4. "We've got a little bit of a library,'' offensive coordinator
That library might be where the Saints' advantage lies. Kromer is a football man through and through, but he's also part video-geek. When he coached under
"I learned a lot from Jon Gruden,'' Kromer said. "He used to watch every NFL play every week because he knew he could learn something new every week. So I try to watch run games every week from around the league. I recognize from Jon that there are many intelligent coaches in the league who can advance your knowledge exponentially. That's how you grow as a coach, and I believe it's how you grow as a player too.''
Kromer said he has "hundreds'' of plays inside his digital video folders on his computer. During a game week, Carmichael and Kromer might assign tight ends coach
And sometimes, Kromer takes a play, copies it, drills his linemen on it, puts it in the running-game play-call list for a particular game ... and the Saints score a touchdown using it.
Kromer has his favorites --
So Kromer filed the video away in his library, and when it came time to install the 2009 running game, this play was in the Saints playbook. They practiced it a few times in the offseason, figuring Thomas would be strong enough to break a tackle if he had to, but quick enough to bust the play back to the weak side.
In Week 3 at Buffalo, Kromer put the play on his call sheet. The Saints practiced it again that week. Then, with 2:10 left in the game, on second-and-four from the Buffalo 19, Payton called it. The tight end went in motion, Brees handed to Thomas, fullback
"By the time we ran it,'' said Kromer, "our team was very comfortable with it. The Buffalo defense had a fast flow to the play side -- the side they assumed the play was going to -- and Pierre bent it back and scored.''
Pretty rewarding. When you have smart coaches, players with ability who can learn and adapt, and good backs, good things can happen in the run game. New Orleans is living, winning proof of that.
Give credit to Payton, the play-caller, for making sure all three backs get fed. The total touches for the three backs after seven games: Bell 90, Bush 81, Thomas 78. Most teams at this point of the season don't have two backs with 75 touches. The Saints have three.
Kromer made a good point about how digital video is changing the face of scouting, and coaching. "We can see any play in the league from the sideline view and all-22 [the wide end-zone angle] a couple of days after Sunday's games,'' he said. "That can give you a pretty good tool to use.''
A side note on that story: The Saints are most definitely not alone in doing this. Many teams do it. I spoke to an NFL head coach about a few topics on background Monday, and he asked me what I was working on. One of the things was the Saints' running game story. The coach told me his team has used the exact same play, with the running back cutting behind the lead-blocking fullback against the grain ... and that he and his staff look to borrow from other coaches weekly too.
Now onto your e-mail:
Good point, and I'm sure Favre would say the same thing. My point was the three games in which Favre has the 11-to-0 TD-to-interception ratio were games with a different kind of pressure, with his father's death laying on him and the two games against the Packers this year.
When I spoke with
The Twitterverse -- at least those people who follow me and write me Monday -- were all over Favre for his admission to me that he hurt his groin in practice Wednesday, strained it Sunday, and told offensive coordinator
So good of you to write, Oliver, and to read the column. Thanks. Tough call for the Rams because they have so many holes to fill. Let me take you back to last April, when I was in St. Louis reporting on the Rams before the draft. They were seriously considering taking USC quarterback
The only way Bulger has a chance to be the quarterback long-term in St. Louis is to have a very good, very durable season, and he hasn't so far. It's up to him, really. In the second half of the season, if he can stay on the field and perform better than he has in the last couple of years -- and I understand it's not his fault -- the Rams will put off drafting a young quarterback. But I don't think that's going to happen.
Good point, but in my job at NBC and in covering one of the Minnesota's game, I've seen at least 50 percent of the Vikings' defensive snaps this year, and he's the best defensive player I've seen. Even if Rodgers threw the ball away on two of those plays, or three, that's Allen-related impact resulting in incomplete passes. His impact is about more than sacks, too.
My job is to report on what happens in the NFL. On Sunday, the story of the day in the NFL was the all-time passing leader's return to the place where he parted so bitterly in 2008. Favre played well for the second time this year against the Packers under pressurized circumstances. I wrote about it. I'm not kneeling at his feet. I'm reporting the story of the day in the NFL, interviewing the player, like him or not, who is a polarizing figure.
I respectfully disagree that rushing -- and I mean, Fox