Friday, September 30, 2011

Double Coverage: Week 3

1. Youth League Restrictions


Though we primarily cover the NFL on this blog, it is at its heart about football generally, and the first topic I'd like to discuss today is this article I read earlier about the Arkansas Wilson Intermediate Football League imposing a scoring restriction, named the "Madre Hill rule," on 11-year-old Demias Jimerson. Apparently, the running back's scoring was getting so out of hand that the other kids on the field were beginning to lose interest. WIFL Commissioner Terri Bryant said that "Jimerson is going to score almost every time he touches the ball."

The article does note that Jimerson knows when he reaches the 7th Grade, no more restrictions will be applicable. But I don't quite see the difference that being in 7th Grade or 6th Grade makes in terms of the eligibilty of restrictions. The whole concept of holding a talented player back doesn't sit well with me. Instead of trying to punish the kid at the front of the group, why don't they encourage the kids at the back to catch up? He should be an inspiration and a drive to work harder, not held back so that he doesn't disengage the other children.

Especially in a sport as competitive as football, slowing kids down for exceptional talent will do nothing but harm them in the long run. When he's trying to get a scholarship and then trying to get drafted, he's going to be up against other exceptional players who were never held back. And the message it sends to the other kids -- basically, "we are doing this to help you because otherwise you wouldn't be able to play at his level." It's just a bad situation, all around.


This seems to me like a misguided attempt at fairness. The thought that holding back one kid in order to keep the other kids "involved" in the game seems ludicrous to me. I agree with Michelle that the idea of holding one talented child back and not giving him every opportunity to play and stretch his abilities is absurd. I would think that, as a coach, I would encourage my players to have the opposite approach: don't just wait for the point in the game where this kid isn't playing anymore - instead, use it as an opportunity to challenge the defense and give them a real test. Don't shortchange one kid because the rest can't keep up. Use it as a learning tool, a chance to see that these are the types of players you'll see later on in your football careers. Sometimes, you meet a guy you just can't stop. But that doesn't mean the league should institute a rule that prevents them from trying every chance they get.

Sure, the rule has several provisions built in, such as his touchdowns don't count only if he's scored three times in the game already and his team is ahead by 14 or more. But no such rule is in effect in high school, college, or the NFL. Why should an intermediate youth league build up kids' expectations to believe that such a rule will always be there to help them out? If the kid has scored on you three times already and the team is up by more than 14 points, the damage is done. Most likely, you're gonna lose. In making this rule, though, the league gives Jimerson all of the power. They have played him up to be supernatural, some sort of unstoppable football god. Instead, they should give Jimerson every attempt to hone his skills, and the defense every opportunity to prove they can stop him. Even if he has already gashed them more than anyone else.

2. Are refs actually not doing enough to protect Vick?

[Image via]


Well, Vick has since apologized for his comments, saying that he has nothing but "respect for the referees and their decisions" and we won't hear him "complain about it no more." I'm still struggling between whether his comments were appropriate and useful, or just another example of what former ref Mike Pereira has said about the Eagles: they complain more than any other team.

Lucas doesn't necessarily agree from me that Vick's comments stem from some sort of insecurity about his character or belief that people are more prone to discriminate against him. That's not the exact claim I'm making, per se, but I think inherent in Vick's claims is an assertion that refs are more fair to other QBs than to him, and therefore, some sort of unequal treatment accusation. In that respect, I think Vick needs to let his time on the field do his speaking, and stop getting himself into more trouble with his unchecked tongue. I do believe that Vick's comments are taken more seriously than other QB's. Aaron Rodgers and Tom Brady. among others, have made some incendiary comments lately, but the press just loves to jump all over Vick.

In terms of Vick's actual claim: that he isn't getting enough calls from the refs, I disagree with what Andy Reid said, which is that the refs can't treat Vick like a running back when he runs with the ball. Actually -- that's exactly what they can do, and mobile QBs like Vick, Roethlisberger, and Rodgers take the chance of whenever they run getting hit by defenders as hard as they'd like, except of course if they slide. If Vick doesn't want to slide, he has to accept that he's going to get more hits. That's just the way it is.

Ultimately, I think this whole issue has spawned a bigger problem that Pereira identified. Now, if Vick gets more calls the refs are going to look as though they were "bullied" into giving them, and if he doesn't, the complaints are going to continue. Ultimately, he needs to be aware of when he's playing like a QB and when he's playing like an RB and expect the flags to fly accordingly.


This is one where you have to look at the stats. As I pointed out in my MVPs and LVPs post, the Eagles lead the NFC East in roughing the passer calls over the past two years. Former NFL vice president of officiating, Mike Pereira (an extremely outspoken Vick critic this week), pointed out that Vick ranks 9th on the list of NFL quarterbacks that drew the most roughing the passer penalties in the past 19 games, ahead of Tom Brady and Peyton Manning, but behind such stellar quarterbacks as Jason Campbell, Colt McCoy, and Jay Cutler. Yes, it is tough to referee for a guy like Vick. He moves in and out of the pocket so much that it may be hard for officials to see if he is in front or behind the line of scrimmage, and guys are running after him so fast that it may be difficult for them to stop once he's thrown the ball. That doesn't excuse late hits, but if you look at the stats above, it seems like Vick has been getting plenty of calls in his favor. 

Honestly, Vick pointed out that, if you look at the game tape, he is on the ground after every play. But as I said before, I don't think that's the refs fault. For better protection, he needs to look to the weak Eagles offensive line. But I've already made my case for that. Realistically, all that Vick has done is make all referees who call future Eagles' games targets for criticism, as stated (correctly, I believe) by Pereira. If they call penalties against opposing defenses, it'll seem like Vick's comments forced their hand. If they don't call a lot, it'll seem like they're trying to punish Vick. It seems like a lose-lose situation. So Vick may have gotten what he wanted: referees will certainly pay closer attention to Eagles' games, though I'm not sure that it'll be for the right reasons.

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