What we learned in Georgia and in the aftermath.
The sin of Jim Doonan:� Mr. Doonan was coach of the Georgia Bulldogs until late last season when Vince Dooley, former coach and current AD, let him go.� Coach Doonan had some success at Georgia; last season, the B�Dogs were 8-4 and did destroy Virginia 37-14 in the Oahu Bowl.� Georgia plays in the SEC East with Florida, Tennessee and South Carolina; last season, they finished tied for 2nd with the Vols and Gamecocks; all three were a game back of the Gators.� Not bad, but Vince Dooley knows football and, obviously, expected more from the talent available to his coach.
Georgia 2000 had two defenders selected in the 1st round (DL Richard Seymour and Marcus Stroud); LB Kendrell Bell went high in the 2nd and DB Jamie Henderson later on.� Any team (including PSU 1999) with that level of D-side talent has to do better than 8-4, no matter their conference affiliation.� The B�Dogs started 5-1 but when the competition stiffened, faded to their close; further, despite their talent, Georgia�s D-group made few plays.� We�ve seen what Bell can do and, remember, the (2) DL were drafted ahead of him.� Yet, amazingly, those (3) men combined for only (5) sacks in the regular season.�
The reasons were all scheme related; despite a considerable talent advantage, Coach Doonan elected a �read and react� type defensive philosophy.� That concept is a great equalizer; it can make smart, modestly skilled players better but is liable to reduce highly talented players to a similar competent, but not dominant level.� In sum, Doonan�s read first notion effectively hobbled the Dawgs; the correct concept could be described as �seek and destroy� or �haul off and kick ass.��
Coach Doonan elevated his scheme above his personnel; his was the sin of pride and, for that, he paid a price identical to that exacted on Kevin Gilbride.� Coach Gilbride�s calculus of several variables required a platoon of veteran WR each capable of achieving some mind-meld with a vet QB.� The 2000 Stillers had poised vets at neither position, achieved nothing through the air and now, as the Doonan Era is done in Athens, so is KG just a memory here.�
No one but Mrs. Doonan and the little Doonans care much about Coach�s fate but this incident ought to be cautionary for the 2001 Stiller brain trust.� This year, I�m hoping that the coordinators tailor their schemes to the talent available; we�ve seen enough of promising players pounded into positions that ill-fit their abilities.� If Kendrell Bell can make plays, well, get him on the field.� If Spike can outreach every CB in football; get the ball up in the air.� If Kordell is the most athletic vet QB in the league, roll the pocket.� The margin between one team and another is (usually) slight; if you want to win, you�ve got to use all you�ve got.
Mike Mularkey, master spy:� All this stuff about how the Stillers are holding back is pure bunk.� Execution wins games; deception is a weak effect.� Coach Mularkey may disadvantage Jaxville but the Browns will have game tape and, after week two, the entire league will have plenty of time to dissect the new Stiller O-master�s genius.� Execution wins; if the Stillers don�t practice their new scheme under fire now when the games don�t count then, while the Jags might be at a disadvantage, the Stillers will absolutely be so.
This is football, it is not the warfare; it is not spy vs. spy.� Tom Coughlin is a football coach, not Vladimir Putin.� When Mr. Mularkey acts as if his offense is a state secret, this strikes me as self-inflating bushwa and, if the O-Head is the man he is reported to be (in the PG, TR and Steelers Digest) then this posturing should be beneath him.� I�m all in favor of holding back some of the offense; hold back the power-I, hold back the 3rd down screen; hold back the 6-yard curl on 3rd and 8.� Run the new sets; run the new plays; work out the timing.� On the O-side, deception is all about play-calling (ball-handling too but that is beyond our starter).� Work the new plays now; let the D-heads elsewhere stew about how they�ll later be laced into the Stillers patented power game.
Why Kent Graham should not get a snap in the Twin Cities:� We know what Graham has to offer and we know that is not enough.� Kent can�t be as bad as he looked against the Falcons but even his high-water mark (Titans 1) just didn�t get it done.� If Graham has to play in 2001, the Stillers will not be play-off worthy; therefore, Graham is a high-digit irrelevancy.
Both Maddox and Martin looked very good against the Falcon scrubs; Maddox was cited by both Spike and Toy for his leadership and it is worth noting that Stewart hasn�t gotten that kind of praise.� Maddox especially, and Tee to a lesser extent need some 1st half playing time.� This is easily done; consider that Dan Reeves had his high priced QB (Vick) play both in the 1st and 2nd halves.� I�d like to see the Stillers do the same with Stewart.� Let him start and play a series or two; bring him back sometime in the 4th when the game is on the line.�
Let Maddox/Martin have the time between; let�s compare the three (3) against both starters and scrubs.� It�s all very well to say Maddox moved the team against a group of future food service workers; let�s see what he, and Tee, can do against the Vikes and Bills best.� Similarly, let�s see what Stew can do against their scrubeenies.
Man on man, muscle on muscle:� In Atlanta, Coach Lewis called no blitzes, esoteric packages or stunts.� Nothing was done to confuse the Falcons nor did they do much to confuse the Stillers.� The DL was instructed to simply line up and play; it was man on man, strength vs. strength and, for the most part, the Stillers lost those up-front battles.� Hampton didn�t get moved much but everyone else did and� Clancy got ridden like a show pony.��
It is time, past time, for the Stillers to look up Tez Kennedy.� Last winter, Kennedy sought, and got, his release from the S�Hawks and began negotiating at +1M/season.� That�s all over now; I�m pretty sure Tez would come in at the vet minimum; he�d surely come in for Graham money.�� Tez may not have much left but he�s got more than Clancy.� The NT position is critical in the 3-4; IMO Hampton needs Tez as much, or more, than Bell needs Jones.� Make it so.