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Coffee & Cigarettes: Educational links for Thursday

Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

While I'm away from the blog for a couple of weeks, I've set up some posts that point you in the direction of some interesting or educational links about football. Today's expert analysis comes from Chris Brown of SmartFootball and Grantland. He really needs no introduction, but suffice to say he's one of the best football Xs and Os writers alive.

Who’s Laughing Now? "
Pete Carroll used to be a joke; now he's on the brink of a Super Bowl berth thanks to his defensive mastery

Better With Age "
How did a 37-year-old passer three years removed from neck surgery deliver a historic season and Super Bowl berth? Credit a subtle but essential offensive shift.

The Making of a Modern-Day Guru "
How Gus Malzahn went from high school defensive coordinator to college offensive mastermind, and took Auburn to the brink of championship glory in the process

Defending the Read-Option "
There's no simple solution for the NFL's latest offensive trend, but after an offseason of searching, defensive coaches may finally have some answers

Controlled Chaos "
How the evolution of zone-blitz coverages has defined modern defense

Ode to the War Daddies "
The Patriots' Vince Wilfork and the evolution of New England's hybrid defense

Understanding coverages and attacking them with passing game | Smart Football
There are many qualities that a quarterback must possess. However, the most obvious is the QB’s ability to throw the football. Throwing the football requires a tremendous amount of coordination and teamwork for proper execution. The QB can make up for some deficiencies with proper reads. Whether it is the Pre-Snap Read, Reading on the Move, or Adjustments in routes, the QB’s recognition, anticipation and reaction are based upon his knowledge of the offense as it relates to what he sees.

The Air Raid Offense: History, Evolution, Weirdness – From Mumme to Leach to Franklin to Holgorsen and Beyond | Smart Football
he personal story of the rise and development of the Air Raid offense, the story of the men who developed and mastered it — its originators, Hal Mumme and Mike Leach, as well as coaches like Tony Franklin and Dana Holgorsen – has been told many times and told very well. The offense itself, however — its raw structure, plays, and formations — nevertheless deserves deeper study given its incredible rise, its increasing importance, and and its almost shocking omnipresence, in one form or another, at every level of football.

Peyton Manning (and Tom Moore)’s Indianapolis Colts Offense: How a Handful of Plays Led to a Decade of Success | Smart Football
For thirteen seasons — spanning three head coaches, two Super Bowl appearances, one Super Bowl victory, four NFL MVP awards, and countless incredible games — Peyton Manning led the Indianapolis Colts. In eleven of those seasons, the Colts won at least ten games, including for nine straight seasons, not counting 2011′s disastrous Peyton-less year. But now Manning is a Bronco, in a new town, playing for a new team, and in a (somewhat) new scheme. I am not as confident as some that Manning’s injury won’t prevent him from playing at the incredible level he played at for so many years, and I am also not as sure of the Broncos coaching staff as some. As a football fan, however, I want nothing other than for Manning to take the field this fall, clad in Denver orange, and to light up the NFL all over again. But time will tell on all of that.

Snag, stick, and the importance of triangles (yes, triangles) in the passing game | Smart Football
hen Sid Gillman revolutionized and all but invented the modern passing game, he did it through a "conceptual" approach to pass plays based on three "pass concepts". Because football is governed by its immutable twins of strategy — arithmetic and geometry — these remain the foundation for all effective pass plays:

Combining quick passes, run plays and screens in the same play | Smart Football
iven that humans lack clairvoyance, there is no such thing as the perfect play-caller and thus much of the development in football strategy has centered on how to get into (or out of) a given play because the defense is well suited to defend the one that was called. Indeed, quarterbacks have called audibles at the line of scrimmage for decades, and a few years ago the hot idea was calling multiple plays in the huddle.

Lombardi Sweep Redux: How One Play, and One Player, Can Help the Packers This Postseason "
Over the past several seasons, no quarterback has thrown the ball under more challenging circumstances than Aaron Rodgers. I’m not referring to injuries, or coaching controversies, or even the patchwork line behind which Rodgers has played, though the line has certainly been a factor. I mean the very structure Rodgers has faced: defensive backs lined up right in his receivers’ faces, supported by multiple deep safeties 15 or even 20 yards downfield, and linebackers and defensive linemen concerned almost solely with the quarterback’s ability to throw. In short: Defenses across the NFL have long sold out to slow Green Bay’s passing game while effectively ignoring its running game.

What Really Went Wrong With Robert Griffin III? "
Last week, the Washington Redskins benched quarterback Robert Griffin III. We’ve heard all sorts of explanations: that Griffin had taken too many hits; that the franchise needed to see what it had in backup Kirk Cousins; that head coach Mike Shanahan was trying to send the message that he’s the coach and Griffin merely the player; even that Shanahan was pulling a George Costanza and trying to get fired. There’s a kernel of truth in all of those explanations — well, probably not the Constanza theory — but after going back and studying the film from every game of Griffin’s last three seasons, I’m certain that Griffin’s play was the main reason he didn’t suit up Sunday and won’t play Washington’s final two games.

Packaged Plays and the Newest Form of Option Football "
This time last year, Doug Marrone, then Syracuse’s head coach, had a serious problem — his offense. Marrone, now head coach of the Buffalo Bills, seemingly had all the pieces needed to be successful. Marrone followed his tenure as a highly respected NFL offensive line coach with three seasons as offensive coordinator for one of the league’s most prolific offenses, the Drew Brees–led New Orleans Saints. At Syracuse, he had a quarterback considered a possible first-round pick, Ryan Nassib, and had been recruiting his own players for several seasons. Yet in 2011, Syracuse finished 90th in total offense, as they transformed a somewhat-promising start into a disappointing 5-7 record, including five straight losses to end the year.

The Quarterback Curve "
What the newest class of star quarterbacks needs to master on its way to becoming Tom Brady or Peyton Manning

Same Old Chip: What We Learned About the Eagles Offense in Their New Coach's Preseason Debut "
Before the second play of his first NFL game, Philadelphia’s new head coach, Chip Kelly, a man who made his reputation as the architect of college football’s most prolific offense — the Oregon Ducks’ fast-break, spread-it-out attack — did the unthinkable: He had his team huddle. He followed this with another knee-weakening moment: His quarterback, Michael Vick, lined up under center, an alignment from which the Eagles ran a basic run to the left. For 31 other NFL teams, this would be as ho-hum as it gets. But this is Chip Kelly, he of the fast practices, fast plays, and fast talking. By starting out this way, Kelly, who repeatedly has said he doesn’t do anything without a sound reason behind it, was no doubt sending some kind of message to fans, pundits, and opposing coaches waiting anxiously to see what a Chip Kelly offense would look like at the professional level. It was a message that was unmistakable: See, I can adapt to the NFL.

Jason Witten, Master of the Option Route "
For years, the Cowboys have been nothing if not erratic. Whether it’s quarterback Tony Romo’s on-field inconsistencies, the vacillations of owner Jerry Jones, or the propensity of a very smart head coach (Jason Garrett is a Princeton grad who scored a 36 on the Wonderlic test) to make silly in-game decisions, Dallas has all too often seemed like a team that just cannot get out of its own way.

Adrian Peterson and the Lead Draw: The Vikings’ Throwback Play for Their Throwback Runner "
In recent years, running back, once football’s glamour position, has been diminished beyond all recognition. Not so long ago, NFL teams routinely built around franchise running backs, but now the need to highly invest in the position is mostly gone. Late-round picks in established systems frequently explode onto the scene, only to be replaced by some other value pick in time. The franchise running back is dead.

The Pop Warner Offense That Confounded Sean Payton, and What It Says About Offensive Innovation in the NFL "
Much of the talk this offseason has been about stopping the read-option, but in Sean Payton’s year away from the NFL, he had trouble with a much different offensive attack: the single wing.