Every-Thing Sports

Sports have evolved over time and will continue to do so

Gone are the days of Akeem Olajuwon's big man role. Photo by Tim DeFrisco/ALLSPORT/Getty Images

Younger people have always had disdain for an older generation telling them what things were like in their day. “Back in my day” conversations typically end with the older person playing up how much better, or harder, they had things. Meanwhile, the younger person will more than likely roll their eyes or respond sarcastically.

When it comes to sports, we’ve seen things change tremendously over our lifetimes. While I can’t speak for others, I can only go with what I’ve noticed over the course of my life. Being an ‘80s baby, I have seen some unique things change and develop in sports.

In football, we’ve seen things change a lot. NFL and college teams have both gone to a more pass-based system. Teams would  line up and pound the rock. Three yards and a cloud of dust used to be the philosophy. A quarterback could lead the league in passing touchdowns if he threw for 24 in a season. Nowadays, we’ve seen quarterbacks go for that amount in eight to ten games. College football has gone from teams using the wishbone triple option, to the spread/Air Raid offenses. Linemen have gone from an average weight of 260-280 lbs to now averaging at least 300 lbs or more.

When I look at baseball, it’s just as crazy, especially when it comes to pitchers. The league leader in wins in 1980: NL Steve Carlton had 24, AL Steve Stone had 25. Stolen base leaders that year had 100 and 97 in each league. Saves leaders in 1980 had 33 and 28. In 2018, saves leaders had 57 and 43. Home run, batting average (save George Brett nearly hitting .400 in 1980), and ERA were all pretty similar. The way pitchers are used now is way different. Starters rarely go deep into games anymore. There are even teams that use bullpen only approach and have guys pitch anywhere between a few batters to a couple innings now.

Basketball has a more varied difference. The 3-point line wasn’t even in play until the 1979-80 season in the NBA. Now, Steph Curry seems to break his own record for 3-pointers made every season and is already fifth on all-time 3s made list. He’s in the midst of his 10th season. All-time leader Ray Allen played 18 seasons. That will put it in perspective for you. Bigs no longer have a post game because they all shoot 3s as well. Even “traditional” bigs like Joel Embiid and Karl-Anthony Towns are respectable shooters from the outside. Long gone are the days of Hakeem Olajuwon and Patrick Ewing. Not only because they are traditional centers, but because we saw them battle in college for years before they entered the league.

Please don’t take this as a “get off my lawn” post. I don’t want to be the crotchety old man before I turn 40. This is more of an ode to the evolution of sports. I happen to be in a unique position to fondly remember the old school way I grew up loving sports, and in a position to appreciate what they’ve become. Do I miss the bygone era? To a certain extent, yes I do. Am I happy where things are now? Yes, very much so. If you’re going to complain about the way the games are being played now as opposed to how they were in the past, shut up. Things evolve. People evolve. Societies evolve. Besides, nobody’s complaining about driving cars in traffic instead of horse and buggy-ing their way to work every morning.

 

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A WEEKLY REVIEW OF CRENNEL'S COACHING

Now my job: Texans feast on Lions

Photo by Getty Images.

Thanksgiving is full of tradition. There's the typical family gathering, large meal, and of course, football. Sometimes, new traditions are added and old ones are retired. I think the Texans did both in their impressive 41-25 win over the Lions in Detroit. Old traditions were carried on (Lions losing on Thanksgiving), some were put to rest (Texans not being able to get turnovers), and new ones were started (multiple passing touchdowns by Deshaun Watson in six straight games).

The fact that this defense got three turnovers in the game was unbelievable! They got all three in the first quarter within the span of eight plays. JJ Watt's pick-six was insane. He went for a batted ball, ended up catching it, and ran it in. They forced Jonathan Williams to fumble on the Lions' very next play from scrimmage and recovered it. On the Lions' next possession, the Texans recovered yet another fumble after the challenge was reversed. Great call by the coaching staff to challenge and win. The defense looked good. Tyrell Adams stood out because he was in on those two fumbles, made 17 total tackles with 14 of them being solo tackles. They also brought pressure that seemed to make Matthew Stafford very inaccurate and resulted in four sacks. I give defensive coordinator Anthony Weaver credit for knowing he needs to blitz to get pressure, but the run defense has to improve.

The offense kept the tempo up in this game as well. The spread and hurry-up were used to keep the Lions already staggered defense off balance. Knowing the Lions were without a couple defensive backs, I thought it would be the perfect marriage of their defense and the Texans' offense. A buddy asked before the game about the line (Texans -3.5) and the over/under (52.5). I told him bet the Texans and the over because neither team can play defense and both have good quarterbacks. Offensive coordinator Tim Kelly put together another good game plan and Watson executed it flawlessly. One route combo I saw later on in the game I particularly enjoyed. Two receivers were tight to the left side. Cooks ran a hook/curl and settled in the middle of the zone while Fuller ran a vertical route. Duke Johnson ran a swing route to that same side. It left Cooks wide open as the attention went to Johnson in the flat, Fuller deep, and the action to the other play side. Route combos are important because it gives the quarterback different reads as he goes through his progressions and lets him pick apart the defense based on what he sees. Combine that with Watson's play and the way Kelly has changed his play calling now that he's liberated from he who shall not be named, we're seeing a beautiful thing.

As good as things were, there's still room for improvement. The defense gives up way too many easy yards, both run and pass. They can't get pressure bringing only four and will often give up big plays if the blitz is picked up. Plus the run defense is still an issue as evidenced by the Lions' first possession of the second half. The Lions ran the ball 10 plays straight for a total of 58 yards on that drive. Utterly ridiculous! Watson was good (17/25 318 yards and four touchdowns), but he missed two more touchdowns with passes slightly off, and continues to hold onto the ball too long at times. The difference between these two issues I've presented here is the fact that Watson has so played well, his "issues" are minor and very correctable, while the defense is terrible and there's no easy fix in sight. But let Romeo Crennel and Anthony Weaver tell it, they're getting the most out of these guys and they're playing disciplined.

The thought that this team may actually creep into the playoff picture may take shape better after next week if they can beat the Colts. I doubt it, but it is getting interesting. Let's see what else happens around them because they need help getting there.

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