Tuesday, 2 February 2010

Recommended reading

By Rob Staton
Chris Sullivan at Seahawk Addicts conducted a great interview with former scout Daniel Jeremiah today. Definitely recommended reading, Jeremiah is something of a twitter phenomena - you can follow him here. He offers some excellent insight having been part of the business with Baltimore and Cleveland. Of course, I disagree with his assessment of Russell Okung - but we'll not get into that now. Don't forget you can also follow Seahawks Draft Blog via twitter here.


Anonymous said...

Hey Rob, I just popped over here after reading Jeremiah's interview on SA to tell you about it, and here it was at the top of the page! Good show.

One thing I wanted to add. You can see very well from the interview how scouts have to get extra information on players (from in person workouts, personal interviews, etc) in order to make accurate assessments of players. This information is not available to someone with tape of a TV game or two (or six or eight).

This is where so many internet analysts of football go astray. They seem to pretend that "if I can't see it, it doesn't exist." Morgan over at Field Gulls is a glaring example of this. He even goes out of his way to censor any information off his site that doesn't conform to what he thinks he sees, even when that information is from knowledgeable sources.

I even think that guys like Jeremiah, who used to do down and dirty scouting, but now analyse from a home office exclusively, are hampered compared to real scouts and team executives, but press on anyway even though in the back of their minds they know they are often missing crucial information.

I can tell from your writing that you are aware of most of this as you tend to be suitably tentative in your opinions of management scouting decisions, but I thought it might be helpful to spell it out here for everyone.

Rob Staton said...

Annonymous - I think the point you make is a great one and something we need to take into account at this stage of the year. There are two key stages of scouting for me that really sums up an overall evaluation. The first bit is watching the tape, studying it completely so you can grasp what a prospect is about. The second stage is meeting a prospect, getting to know there background and finding out about them as individuals.

As someone who writes a blog and does a bit of amateur scouting - I can only ever truly manage the first part. I've spent a lot of time studying tape to merely provide an opinion on prospects. I can come on here then, say what I think and try to answer questions. It's not on a pro-level of detail, but I need to know something about these guys to critique and discuss them.

I'll never be able to get into a prospects mind and do that second stage in the current circumstance. In that sense, you begin to rely on what others report. You find a core group of analysts, reports, scouts - and you link to them and review what they say.

On this blog, I only ever want to create debate and offer my honest opinion. We'll never truly get the access the pro-scouts get, but it doesn't stop us having a great discussion and sharing opinions. I will be wrong. I will be write. If someone disagrees with me, I'll still report it. If someone disagrees with me in a debate on here, I'll discuss it with great pleasure. No one person is right 100% of the time when it comes to the draft. All you can do is be open to opinions and go with your instincts.

Anonymous said...

"...I'll discuss it with great pleasure. No one person is right 100% of the time when it comes to the draft. All you can do is be open to opinions and go with your instincts."

Yeah, and once again, you da man when it comes to internet scouting. Seahawk fans are lucky to have you. I hope you do this forever. Always look both ways before crossing the street okay? ;-)

I wanted to spell out one more thing you are probably aware of:

"There are two key stages of scouting for me that really sums up an overall evaluation. The first bit is watching the tape..."

Again, even here "outsiders" are at a disadvantage. Every college and pro game has overhead tape (some from two angles) where one can see the entire field and all players at once. Those of us with TV tape can not see most DB play. We can't see most WR play. We can't see much of LB play. Only rarely, when the ball goes in their direction or when we get an iso replay can we see them. This means, for example, if a CB does his job well the guy they have covered rarely gets the ball thrown his way. Impossible, really to evaluate them off TV tape.

This make it almost always very difficult to evaluate the QB too. Are all his WRs tightly covered on most plays and he has to throw into small windows to win? Does he have WRs regularly open and doesn't see them? We almost always have no clue either way. With the overhead tape this is an easy call. With the overhead tape and a complete knowledge of the play called, it's almost a no brainer. Meanwhile off TV we have to mostly guess.

Anyway, I'm sure you know all this too, Rob. Keep up the great work and watch out for those crazy cab drivers!!

Anonymous said...

Wow, Curry's rookie year was pretty much the opposite of Jeremiah's assessment of his skills. But a good interview anyway. ---Nano

Matthew Baldwin said...

Interesting read; thanks.

I agree with his assessment that we lack playmakers on offense (among many other things). The two playmakers he brought up, CJ Spiller and Dez Bryant, are at the top of my wishlist. Both would also have an immediate impact in the return game as well.

It seems that opinion on Okung is similar to Clausen; all over the map.

Kip Earlywine said...

1st anonymous, I know what you mean about the two levels of knowledge. Ever meet someone and just get a very strong sense that they were destined for success in their field? Scouting is not an exact science, and even when we scrutinize every play and break down every stat and report, in the end, we're still making a judgment call that is largely based on instinct. Getting to meet players, interview them, and see them "behind the scenes" as it were, is the smaller part of the evaluation process but still important because it helps us shape that intangible aspect of the evaluation.

Say for example some guy looks like a 1st round pick on film, but you meet him and he's just a total headcase or you get the sense he's hiding something. That's important because it might help you avoid a 1st round landmine.

Regarding Morgan, I was a very active member of his community for 2 years (13 months of posting, about 1000 posts), and the day after I was introduced here at SDB, Morgan banned me at FGs (its the only time ever in almost 10 years of blogging that I've been banned anywhere; I'm an extremely civil person). I don't want to open a can of worms, but I'll say that your assessment of him is almost generous. He's clearly a very bright guy, but his temperament, exclusiveness and intolerance will probably hold him back from reaching his potential. If he'd just chill out a little bit, he'd be bigger than Sando.

I've learned my lesson from that experience and like Rob I want to encourage debate, not stifle it. I make mistakes constantly, everyone does. I want people to point those mistakes out. I'll be a better person for it. I don't want this to become a community that intimidates or enforces a strict code. Constructive diversity is a good thing.

Anonymous said...


I completely agree what you're saying about Morgan. He's a pretty good writer, but he stifles disagreement bans people who offer alternative views. I got the hook there for saying that it wasn't his receivers fault that Cutler had a 5-int game. He also banned any mention of a Ruskell departure/Holmgren return when it was being talked about in every major Seahawks media outlet, saying it "wasn't newsworthy". SBN was developed as a community-based blogging platform so that all fans would get a voice, not just a dude who thinks he's writing the Next Great American Novel. I still read FG (especially as the draft and free agency near), but I often get creeped out by the group-think and "dear leader" vibe that pops up on occasion.

Anyways, thanks for the great writing everybody here contributes to the Seahawks fan community.

JohnnyB said...

Hey, I'm first and second anonymous above, and have been 'John' in comments here recently. Kip, I admire you for getting banned from FG. It means you were unwilling to be a suck up sycophant who doesn't question Morgan's authority.

The term "drinking the KoolAid" was made for places like Field Gulls. FG bears much resemblance to a cult where the leader rarely bothers to provide reasons for his opinion anymore. Why should he? He just makes declarations of how things are and everyone there accepts it. Everyone who doesn't accept it is banned.

Good to have you here, where the truth is more important than one person's ego.