Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Three years of practice to learn an offense...

Some snippets from an interview with an author I've always enjoyed:

"THE MAG: Based on this book, if I'm an owner, I should be the most patient one in sports, right? After all, the Beatles, as you write, played a ridiculous 1,200 gigs—a lifetime—before they became any good.
GLADWELL: It's interesting. Andy Reid has said that with the offense he runs in Philadelphia, it takes a receiver three years to be comfortable in it. A receiver! I don't think we take this into account. We create offenses of such stunning complexity in the NFL, that it's impossible to truly judge anyone in their rookie season. It's ludicrous. How can you, if you're Detroit, draft all these wide receivers and then give up on anything after a couple years, or call 'em busts, when it's far more about executing a system that takes years to master? You have to give them their work.

Or if the Lions offensive players were calc majors…
Yeah, you can't go into a math class and pronounce who the great students are after two weeks. No one can master calculus in two weeks. So we need to be consistent. If you hire a coach that has offensive schemes as complicated as calculus, then you better have the patience you'd have with those students. Let's stop and acknowledge that football is not a sport for dumb jocks. It's a highly complex cognitive activity."

What I find most interesting with this analysis is how long it takes for players to fit in a system. Ultimate, a far simpler sport, is practiced less by non-professionals. How long should we expect experienced players to become accustomed with a system?

I, also, wonder if the reason our sport is so simple is we're not willing to make long term progressions of offenses and defenses. Buzz Bullets stay together longer, and maybe this is how they come up with their defenses. I would suggest that teams continue with their short term offenses, but maybe introduce one aspect of the game that they look to make into a complicated offense. This could pay big dividends in two years time.



Bill Mill said...

It can both be possible for it to take 3 years for a receiver to 'get comfortable' and to declare a receiver as a bust inside of 3 years, which makes Gladwell's statement total nonsense. The two are not incompatible.

Take a look at DeSean Jackson this year. Rookie receiver for the Eagles, 22nd in the league in receiving yards, 1st on his team. Clearly the dude is good, comfortable or not. Should we declare ourselves "not sure" whether he's good or not? Was his season a fluke?

Hell no! The dude is good, and it shows. Don't let your brain convince you to dump the evidence you see with your eyes.

Alex Korb said...

In response to Bill Mill, Gladwell is saying that you can't declare someone a bust until 3 years, you can still feel free to declare them good.

NateB said...

I think we're talking about sample size here. The NFL regular season is so short,that even a full season's worth of games is often not enough to pass judgment. Of course there are outliers, cases where the player is remarkably good or remarkably terrible, but the exceptions shouldn't be the basis for evaluating every player.

I think the real question is why it would take three years for a player to get comfortable in an offense. It sounds to me like the offense is too complicated if you are going to be at least in part wasting 3 years of each incoming player's productivity.

Bill Mill said...


I already understand what Gladwell said.

My point is that the *reasoning* he gives for making that point is nonsense. His argument goes: 1) It can take three years to really learn an offense, thus 2) You cannot declare a receiver a bust inside of three years.

Point 2 does not follow from axiom 1. Though it may take years for a receiver to get "comfortable" in an offense, as AR claims, it takes much less time than that to evaluate a player's basic ability to play NFL football, which is at best loosely related to how "comfortable" that player is in the offense. Because "comfortability" is unrelated to whether a player is a bust or not, axiom 1 has nothing to say about point 2, and Gladwell has committed a logical error. QED

Shane said...

lol. Way to prove you don't know the first thing about formal logic, which is when not to use it. Gladwell's reasoning is obviously sound. Are you hooked on conundrums or something? Maybe just finishing up "Disagreeing 101" in college?

Lacking comfort with an offensive scheme can obscure a player's ability and make them look like a bust when really they're good. That's the connection.

Point 2 can't possibly follow from Axiom 1, btw, b'cus there's no minor premise. Get a clue.