It’s a conspiracy… unless that’s what they want you to think!

A few days ago, I remarked on the strangeness of Kyle Shanahan leaving Cleveland as OC. Well, now we know where he’s going: Atlanta, to be with new head coach Dan Quinn. ESPN’s Browns guy basically says that Shanahan knew Quinn was getting the Atlanta job and wanted a job with an unsucky QB. The hire can’t be official until after the Super Bowl, but even the NFL Network says it’s set in stone.

I don’t find the “Shanahan knew he had a better job lined up and started a bunch of shit to make leaving more okay” argument to be persuasive. From Shanahan’s perspective, calling this a “lateral move” is bullshit. He’s going from a team with no proven QB to one of the best young QBs in the game. He has stability and the time to install his offense exactly the way he wants it. Oh yeah, the Falcons are also in a much easier division than Cleveland.

For the Browns, I’m not sure what this means, because I’m not sure who will replace the old OC. The reasoning was that Manziel’s skill set is similar to RGIII’s, therefore Shanahan will make him into RGIII 2.0 (RGIV?). So, of course, you hand him Brian Hoyer. In retrospect, Shanahan was an odd choice if Hoyer was your Week 1 starter, but I think that the early success set the FO’s plans back a bit; I wonder if the original plan was to bring in Manziel after the bye week?

There are currently nine people being interviewed or in the mix to be interviewed for the Cleveland position. Let’s take a look at the possibilities:

Chan Gailey– Kevin can, doubtless, provide some insight here. In any case, he’s a guy who likes the spread. Manziel is not a spread QB, and more importantly, Cleveland doesn’t have the receiving talent to make a spread viable in the near future. Pass on him.

John DeFilippo — We don’t know what his scheme would be, but he did okay with Derek Carr. He’s got ties to Mike Pettine too. He’s never been a coordinator at any level before; I’d like him for a QB coach (a position which is also vacant) but a rookie OC with a rookie QB strikes me as a bad combination. Put him on the list, hire him as QB coach if he’d take it, but look elsewhere if possible.

Matt Cavanaugh — Also has ties to Pettine. According to clevelandbrowns.com, Cavanaugh favors a run-heavy west coast style offense, which I think would be perfect for Manziel. It’s been a while since he’s called plays, but that type of offense doesn’t require loads of creativity. Merits very serious consideration, perhaps the best possible choice.

Bill Callahan – Another conservative guy, but one who prefers zone blocking schemes (of the type that Shanahan and his father like). Not as good a fit as Cavanaugh simply because his greatest strength is developing the offensive line, and Cleveland’s line is already pretty awesome. Cavanaugh is considered better with QBs, Cleveland’s major area of concern. On the list.

Scott Linehan — A very intriguing possibility, with experience developing QBs and wide receivers. His scheme is considered “QB friendly.” His offenses have been all over place, however. He oversaw Daunte Culpepper and Marc Bulger in his early career; sometimes they were awesome, sometimes they weren’t. He deserves a lot of credit for developing Matt Stafford, though. A lot depends on the QB he ends up with, but his track record is all over the place. On the list.

Charlie Weis — He was the OC for the New England Patriots, loves trick plays and schemes. Undoubtedly deserves credit for developing Tom Brady, but that was a long time ago and he’s not worked with young or rookie QBs since. I’m also concerned about Manziel’s ability to learn a complex scheme. Still, he’s got to be hungry to prove that Brady isn’t a fluke. Cleveland would be the ultimate challenge. On the list.

Al Saunders — The nightmare scenario as OC. He loves a wildly complicated, very detailed offensive scheme, which is the worst possible scheme for Manziel, a guy who isn’t big into prep work to begin with. If I had a rookie QB (and the Browns essentially do) this is the last guy I’d choose. Off the list.

Marc Trestman — He knew Bernie Kosar! In all seriousness, I like him more than some others. He’s a shotgun guy — which, again, the Browns don’t have the receivers for — and is used to dealing with a mobile, highly temperamental QB. The difficulty is that his record is insanely spotty. He’s been good, but not great, and hasn’t stuck in the NFL for very long. I think there’s some potential here, but Trestman’s already an older guy and I’ve got a feeling that he won’t want the Browns job. On the list, but towards the bottom.

Anthony Lynn — He’s a running back guy, which sets him apart from all of the other guys on this list. He’s also the second youngest, but has no play calling experience. If you’re going to build a power run team, something the Browns seem intent on, he’s definitely a good candidate. He’d need a good QB coach to work with the QB, which would make a DeFilippo pairing very enticing indeed. On the list.

Here’s how I’d rank “the list.”

1. Cavanaugh
2. Callahan
3. Lynn (if paired with a quality QB coach)
4. Weis
5. Linehan
6. Trestman
7. DeFilippo

Of course, this list is predicated on one central truth: that Manziel is a significant part of the Cleveland QB future. I think he is, at least for one more season. If for some reason he isn’t, any of these guys could be in play. I will be most interested to see who gets hired.

Is Buster Olney stupid or brilliant?

I have failed you, those who count on me for Hall of Fame coverage. I have missed that two writers have already claimed they are abstaining from the process. First up, Buster Olney:

To repeat: I think Mussina, Schilling and Raines and others are Hall of Famers, but it’s better for their candidacy if I don’t cast a ballot.

If that sounds backward, well, that’s how the Hall of Fame voting has evolved, squeezed between rules that badly need to be updated and the progression of the candidates linked to the use of performance-enhancing drugs. The process needs to be pruned to allow voters to get back to answering a simple question about each candidate: Was his career worthy of the Hall of Fame?

He also slams the BBWAA for “retroactive morality”, which I love. I don’t know if his failure to vote actually mathematically makes it easier for people to win, but given that Buster Olney is about as radical as somebody named Buster could possibly be (hint: not very), maybe this will wake up the Hall of Fame.

Lynn Henning did the same thing, for much the same reason: the impossibility of only choosing ten names. Preach it, Lynn:

I choose to vote for players whose careers, apart from any relationship with performance-enhancing drugs, were, in my view, unambiguously Hall of Fame-grade. Clemens and Bonds, as odious as they were with their lies and with their apparent reliance on PEDs during an ugly and lawless era of big-league baseball, pass this excruciatingly distasteful challenge. Their numbers would have won them a trip to Cooperstown if they’d never once dabbled in the ugliness of PEDs.

In the end, she used her space to not only criticize stupid writers, but to poke another hole in the HOF process:

I was told by BBWAA officials this year that the Hall of Fame bosses want ballots to be private. And I can’t for the life of me figure out why that would be helpful or necessary. In fact, it’s a policy as easily remedied as doing away with the 10-man limit. But we know how that urgency was met in 2014 and there is no real hope that public disclosure of votes will happen any time soon.

In better (and more awesome news), via Tangotiger, I offer you the HOF Tracker.

100% of the people reading this post are reading this post (and other lies about statistics)

A friend recently shared an article about the Ice Bucket Challenge that claimed only 27% of the money raised is going towards research. Here’s the article. 

Here’s the headline: 

ICE BUCKET CHALLENGE: ALS FOUNDATION ADMITS LESS THAN 27% OF DONATIONS FUND RESEARCH & CURES

$95 Million Later: Only 27% Of Donations Actually Help ‘Research The Cure’

I was pretty angry. The tone of the article is really awful too, slamming the ALS foundation for these heinous crimes. Yet, there’s some additional facts tucked away in a pie chart that give the lie to the headline. 19% of the funds raised go to patient and community outreach; a viable use of funding, don’t you think? 32%, the largest chunk of the funding, goes to public education. How dare they spend the money trying to make people aware of the disease and its effects! That’s what Wikipedia and webMD are for! Oh, and the $95 million figure they quote isn’t what they actually break down in the chart either — it’s only the expenses for the year ending January 31, 2014.

Given that pie chart, in fact, 79% of the donations go directly to aiding sufferers of the disease or increasing awareness; that’s pretty good. The foundation is rated very highly by Charity Navigator too. 

The salary for the CEO is pretty insane — $300k+ is nuts for a non-profit. However, it’s only a tiny slice of the total pie, and not nearly as bad as scaremongers would have you believe. If we, in the United States, don’t want to use tax dollars to contribute to health care, funding of organizations like this one is a great way to contribute. 

Josh Gordon is better than an air traffic controller

I’m not surprised that Josh Gordon’s 1 year suspension was upheld. Here’s what I did find surprising, courtesy of Dawgs by Nature:

ESPN’s Outside the Lines first broke the story of the impending suspension on the second day of the NFL Draft back in early May.

 

Later report near the end of July revealed that Gordon had tested positive for marijuana, but that the level of THC metabolites were 16 nanograms per millimeter (barely over 16.01 parts per billion) in one of his samples and above the league’s absurdly low threshold of 15 ng/ml to consist of a “positive.”

 

That threshold is higher than any other major sport, including the very strict IOC, which stands at 175 ng/ml. Even air traffic controllers can have a level up to 50.

 

However, due to what effectively equates to a coin flip, the NFL’s standard testing procedure is to randomly select one of the two samples provided by the player. The first one is tested and if it comes up positive, above the threshold, the second sample is tested merely for the presence of the same banned substance, without regards to the threshold. If the first sample comes up negative, below the threshold, the second sample isn’t tested.

 

Gordon’s first 16 ng/ml sample sparked a test of his second sample. The second one came up 13.6 ng/ml. Based on this procedure, it confirmed what the league considers a “positive.” And the rest is history.

Well, it’s good to know he’ll be able to find a job directing air traffic while he’s suspended. A much less stressful job than catching footballs, apparently. 

Josh Gordon is a professional grade moron

I begin my day, as always, by going to Facebook. A friend comments that Josh Gordon has done something stupid again. I sigh and look it up. There are two problems with this scenario.

1) Dude, you’re trying to appeal a suspension for using marijuana. How about, I don’t know, putting down the marijuana for a while? I get that THC is addictive, but it’s considerably less so than caffeine or alcohol or nicotine or any of a dozen other drugs.

2) There are many, many places in the US where going 15 miles an hour over the speed limit will not get you a ticket. Northeastern Ohio is not one of them. Even doing 10 over is pushing it. I know that the highway speed limits are stupid. I was young once, and fancy free, and earned myself a speeding ticket or two doing much what you did. However, I was not (and am not, sadly) a phenomenal athlete who could become a millionaire. I was a dude driving a Buick or Ford Focus (depending on the occasion in question).

So, if for some reason you’re reading this blog, Josh Gordon, find a cave somewhere. A cave where there is no marijuana. A fully modern cave, with an awesome TV, broadband, video games aplenty, all the food you can eat — I’m not a monster — but no marijuana. Live in this cave, and do not come out until the appeal is reviewed. Then, go back into the cave, and stay there for the rest of your NFL career. At least, the portion of it that involves the Browns.

Failing that, give me the cave. I kind of want to live there now. There’s broadband and TV!

Stratfor: Disband the CIA and NSA, it’s all the intelligence gathering you’ll ever need!

A friend pointed this out to me on another website. We have this brilliant tagline:

Best-selling author George Friedman founded Stratfor in 1996 to bring customers an incisive new approach to examining world affairs. Under his direction, Stratfor taps into a worldwide network of contacts and mines vast amounts of open-source information. Analysts then interpret the information by looking through the objective lens of geopolitics to determine how developments affect different regions, industries and markets.

So, they Google stuff on the internet and watch CNN. And calling geopolitics “objective” is hilarious.

Their vision:

Stratfor’s vision is to be the foremost provider of predictive geopolitical-based intelligence services.

Stratfor’s core philosophy is that transformative geopolitical events are neither random nor unpredictable. Building on nearly 20 years of experience as the world’s premier geopolitical intelligence firm, Stratfor develops constraint-based narratives for key trends around the globe — placing today’s events in context and forecasting tomorrow’s new developments well before they appear in the headlines.

This reminds me of this Dilbert comic. Wally has a ponytail because he’s discovered it makes people give him venture capital. Ah, 1999.

The core philosophy is bold, I’ll give them that. I love the idea of “constraint-based narratives,” which makes me think of unconstrained narratives. “We predict that giant robot whales will develop nuclear technology, but we think Aquaman will try to calm them down, until he realizes whales are mammals and not fish. ESPECIALLY robot whales, who are clearly robot mammals.”

Of the three experts they champion, the one thing they all have in common is that they’ve sold a lot of books. That means they’re good at convincing people to believe their bullshit, which is not the worst qualification for running a geopolitical intelligence firm, you have to admit.

You can check out their methodology, which successfully proves that they have at least one graphic artist. Oh, one of the award winning reports they author?

The very first sentence is complete horseshit.

Like nearly all of the peoples of North and South America, most Americans are not originally from the territory that became the United States.

Since you’re using “are” — indicating present tense — I would argue the exact opposite: most people who are Americans did come from the United States since, you know, no matter how bad illegal immigration is, it has yet to reach over 50%. Even if you include legal immigrants, it’s still way less than 50%. According to the Brookings Institution, it’s actually less than 20% (although it is not clear whether or not this figure includes illegal immigrants, they link to a paper I could read if I cared to break it down.)

It takes a special kind of stupidity to achieve almost complete incoherence one sentence into a flagship paper. One more insane sentence, which leads off the second paragraph:

The American geography is an impressive one.

“One?” One of what? Are you trying to say, “The American geography is an impressive geography?” Because that’s moronic. “Geography” — specifically, the science of studying the earth, or physical location on the earth of some natural feature — cannot be impressive. Would you call the “Grand Canyon an impressive geography of America?” No. You could say “the Grand Canyon is an impressive feature of American geography.” But geography, in and of itself, cannot be impressive. I’m theoretically paying damn good money for your nonsensical advice. Try to make it coherent nonsensical advice!

Oh, and a free tip (the next one is $100,000): nothing is inevitable, in a historical sense. Only Marxists think that. Wait a minute… you aren’t a big Commie, are you, Stratfor?