Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Game Planning with Bruce Arians and Carson Palmer

MMQB (Sports Illustrated)
"A Quarterback and His Game Plan, Part I: Five Days to Learn 171 Plays"
"Part II: Virtual Reality Meets Reality"
by Peter King

"The game plan is a collaborative affair, and Arians runs it the way most head coaches have done it for years. In the mid-’80s, Giants coach Bill Parcells used to tell defensive coordinator Bill Belichick at midday Tuesday to throw this out or that out, or that he was making it too complicated, or that he loved what Belichick had, and Belichick would finalize his plan after that talk. Arians does it much the same way—except that after offensive coordinator Harold Goodwin (run game) and assistant head coach Tom Moore (pass game) come to him with their concepts for the week, after some long hours Monday with their staff, Arians formats the offensive practices each day. Then, by the weekend, Arians sees what he likes from his own ideas and from how plays looked in practice. He picks the first 15 run plays. The first 15 passes get done differently in Arizona than in most places. Palmer picks them. After Arians IDs the passes he wants in the overall game plan, Palmer walks up to the whiteboard on Friday and puts a star next to the 15 he wants to run first; they become the first 15 passes. Palmer circles four of the 15, and those four become the passes he wants to call first in the game. Most coaches over time have adhered to the Bill Walsh philosophy of picking the first 15 offensive plays of the game. Arians picks 30, half run and half pass."

"Arians picks out six Home Runs per week. This week, one of the Home Runs stands out above all: Pistol Strong Right Stack Act 6 Y Cross Divide. “I love the play this week,” Arians says.

Pistol means Palmer will take the snap four yards behind center. It’s a short shotgun snap. Strong tells the fullback (backup center A.Q. Shipley, in this case) to line up to the tight-end side of the formation. Right is the side the tight end will line up on, assuming the ball is spotted in the middle of the field or the right hash. Stack tells the two wide receivers on the play to line up in a stack to the opposite side of the formation from the tight end. Act 6 is the protection, telling the two backs which linebacker to block if the ’backers rush; the fullback will seal the tight-end side, while the running back will take the blitzer from the middle or weak side, if there is one. Y Cross Divide comprises the two routes run by the wide receivers. The Y, or slot receiver, will run a deep cross through the formation and hope to take a safety with him, while the split end in the stack will run a divide route; that means the split end, likely Larry Fitzgerald, will run a stutter-and-go, running maybe seven yards downfield, faking toward the sideline, then sprinting downfield. The route is divided into two segments, the first ending in the deke to the right, and then the go."

Without Grantland; Where to?

"My favorite website just closed down. Which other ones should I be visiting instead?"

Rafe Bartholomew: New York Times.

Amos Barshad: I don't say this lightly—I really feel like, out of respect, in the wake of Grantland's demise, people should stop reading altogether.

Andy Greenwald: Did I write this question?

Holly Anderson: Anything my esteemed writing partner and probable cousin Spencer Hall types onto a screen, anywhere. Start here.

Jonah Keri: Go support Lowe, Barnwell, and McIndoe at ESPN.com, Rembert at New York Mag, Wesley at the New York Times, the Chris Ryan and Andy Greenwald podcast on Simmons's network, Lindbergh and Goldsberry at FiveThirtyEight, and anything Pierce, Litman, Conn, Bartholomew, Anderson, Barshad, Brown, Lambert, Mays, Goodman, Hyden, Thomas, Phillips, Curtis, Concepcion, Schilling, Shoemaker, Lisanti, Baker, Abrams, Pappademas, Baumann, Chau, Sharp, Hinton, O'Hanlon, Jacoby, Jazayerli, Serrano, Lynch, Yoshida, and Titus do anywhere.

Jason Concepcion: Get rid of your internet altogether and move to the woods.

Brian Phillips: Don't read the internet; read the print edition of Vanity Fair.

Surviving The Misery Olympics

Fast Company - "The Norwegian Secret to Enjoying a Long Winter"

Soccer in America: EPL vs. MLS vs. Liga MX

New Republic - "Inside BlazerCon, the Nerdiest Sports Convention in the U.S."

"But no matter their club, these fans were serious about their love. They had to be, considering the cheapest BlazerCon tickets cost $225. (The VIP tickets set you back $425.) Unsurprisingly, the fans at this sold-out event were overwhelmingly white men, a demographic showing that strikes at the heart of the cultural divide in American soccer fandom. Men in Blazers, like NBC and FOX, are chasing typically white upper-middle class viewers who will buy their cable packages and turn up at pubs to watch their matches over pints of Guinness.

BlazerCon didn’t take into account the millions of American soccer fans who don’t fit this demographic. The MLS, for instance, has far and away the largest share of Hispanic viewers of any American sport: 34 percent to the NBA’s 12 percent. Nearly 40 percent of MLS fans make less than $40,000 a year. Despite the Premier League’s rising popularity, Univision’s broadcast of the Mexican league in the U.S. outperforms NBC’s coverage of the English league by 15 percent each season. These people were not at BlazerCon, and they would hardly consider Davies and Bennett the great saviors of American soccer culture."

Jon Snow Theories

Wired - "Game of Thrones Teases Return of Jon Snow in New Poster"

Midnight Special

March 18, 2016
Written & Directed by Jeff Nichols
Starring Michael Shannon, Joel Edgerton, Kirsten Dunst, Adam Driver

Saturday, November 21, 2015

The New England Patriots

GQ - "Tom Brady Talks to Chuck Klosterman About Deflategate (Sort Of . . .)"

"These questions shall remain unasked, simply because Brady refused to repeat a one-word response he claims to have given many times before. Now, I’m not a cop or a lawyer or a judge. I don’t have any classified information that can’t be found on the Internet. My opinion on this event has as much concrete value as my opinion on Brady’s quarterbacking, which is exactly zero. But I strongly suspect the real reason Brady did not want to answer a question about his “general awareness” of Deflategate is pretty uncomplicated: He doesn’t want to keep saying something that isn’t true, nor does he want to directly contradict what he said in the past. I realize that seems like a negative thing to conclude about someone I don’t know. It seems like I’m suggesting that he both cheated and lied, and technically I am.

But I’m on his side here, kind of. Yes, what Brady allegedly did would be unethical. It’s also what the world wants him to do. And that may seem paradoxical, because—in the heat of the moment, when faced with the specifics of a crime—consumers are programmed to express outrage and disbelief and self-righteous indignation. But Brady is doing the very thing that prompts athletes to be lionized; the only problem is the immediacy of the context. And that context will evolve, in the same direction it always does. Someday this media disaster will seem quaint.

The Oakland Raiders of the 1970s broke every rule they could, on and off the field, sometimes for no reason. They were successful and corrupt, and fans living outside the Bay Area hated what they represented. But nobody hates the ’70s Raiders now. In fact, we long for those teams, nostalgic for the era when their sublime villainy could thrive. It’s widely assumed Red Auerbach bugged the opponents’ locker room when he coached the Celtics, an illicit subterfuge retrospectively re-imagined as clever and industrious. When former Tar Heels basketball player Buzz Peterson talks about the greatness of his college roommate Michael Jordan, he sometimes recounts a story of the evening Jordan tried to cheat Peterson’s mother in a card game, an anecdote employed to reinforce how MJ was so supernaturally competitive that even middle-aged women got sliced. The defining memory of Kansas City Royals legend George Brett involves the illegal use of pine tar on his bat, an unambiguous infraction that was ultimately reversed on appeal, just like Brady’s suspension.

“I’m the pine-tar guy,” Brett would say years later. “And it’s not a bad thing to be remembered as.”

In the present, we overvalue the rules of sport and insist that anyone caught breaking those parameters must be stopped, sanctioned, and banned. But as the decades slip away, such responses tend to invert. Who won and who lost matters less than the visage of the experience; as long as nobody got hurt and nobody took drugs and nothing was fixed by gamblers, a little deception almost becomes charming. A deficiency of character adds character, somehow. It proves that the cheater cared.

The Patriots are the Raiders of now, despite the fact that the Raiders still exist. They push the limits of everything, and that’s how they dominate. Sometimes that limit-pushing is lawful and brilliant: When Belichick placed seven “eligible” receivers on the field against the Ravens in last season’s divisional playoff, it was a stroke of strategic genius. Sometimes that limit-pushing is (perhaps) significantly less than totally legal. But it’s all philosophically essential to what makes them who they are. They don’t need to cheat in order to win, but it certainly doesn’t hurt. I mean, how do rich people stay rich? By avoiding all the taxes specifically designed for rich people. How does a football franchise sustain a dynasty within an NFL system designed to instill parity? By attacking the boundaries of every rule in that system, at every level of the organization. And in both cases, the perception of those actions does not matter to the individuals involved. Perception is other people’s problem. Brady does not hide from this: “I don’t really care how the Patriots are perceived. I really don’t.”"

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Mercedes-Benz Vision Tokyo

The Verge - "Mercedes-Benz's Vision Tokyo is a self-driving car for the megacity"
New York Times - "The Dream Life of Driverless Cars"

"Driver-­controlled cars remade the world in the last century, and there is good reason to expect that driverless cars will remake it again in the century to come"

Odell Beckham's Left Handed Skills

Wall Street Journal - "The Secret Left-Handed Life of Odell Beckham"

Vulnerable Art

New York Times - "Scott Campbell Wants to Tattoo You"

"From 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Thursday to Sunday, Mr. Campbell will serve as both artist and tattoo artist in residence at Whole Glory, a one-man installation and performance at Milk Gallery on West 15th Street in Manhattan.

The installation includes a 50-foot-long painting by him, at the center of which is a small hole, about four feet off the ground, with a chair in front of it. On a first-come-first-served basis, members of the public who so dare are invited to seat themselves in the chair for up to 90 minutes, their bare arm through the hole, while from the other side of the wall, Mr. Campbell tattoos on them whatever rendering he sees fit, knowing nothing about the subjects — even what they look like — and with zero input from them.

To leave early is to leave with a half-tattoo: an actual, permanent one. To remain is, well, to receive an original Scott Campbell free."

Raury - "Devil's Whisper"

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Thursday, November 5, 2015

A Very Murray Christmas

Directed by Sofia Coppola
December 4, 2015 on Netflix