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Red Grange, where art thou?? (The Jimmy Raye Experience)

Hi Folks,

It’s been a while. I know. But now it’s football season and everyone is as excited as Italians when the vino is flowing. You know, lots of gesturing, exclamations of “eh ciao!”, and ranting about how Ray Rice is gonna be epic this year for your fantasy football team. On the other hand of the “gonna give you an offer you can’t refuse” spectrum are San Francisco 49ers fans. Those downtrodden masses are left with nothing other than the comparison of “at least we are not as bad as the Raiders.” Yet even an Al Davis led team has signed its first round Wide Receiver to a contract. Is there hope this year for the 49ers? Will they field an offense which does justice to the Bill Walsh precedent or will he be turning in his grave after another game with fewer passing yards than a two lane highway in the Jungfrau?

Let’s backtrack for a second. 49ers coach Mike Singletary fired Offensive Coordinator Mike Martz on December 30. This after Martz raised the 49ers offensive ranking, in one year, from dead last in the league at a ‘makes Bill Walsh openly weep’ rate of 237.3 yards per game  to 23rd overall at a rate of 311.1 yards per game, just 1 yard behind the “Super Bowl Champion Pittsburgh Steelers” (Cardinals D, how could you?).

I know what you’re saying: “You’re upset about the greatest, meanest SOB coach in the NFL firing Mike Martz!! The guy who doesn’t know what yard line the ball is on during the end of a game and calls a Fullback draw from the 3? The guy who stuck by J.T. “What color jerseys are we?” O’Sullivan?  Well Mr. Straw Man, I am still unconvinced that Martz should have been canned. I will grant that Mike Singletary is the perfect guy to bring some sense to Mike Martz. Singletary made a great move bringing in Shaun Hill and benching O’Sullivan. He did a great job forcing Martz to stick with Frank Gore more. The 49ers went 5-2 in their last seven games with the Martz-Singletary pairing. They’re like the Ying-Yang twins.

Run! No, Pass! No, Run or else I moon everyone!!!! OOOOKAAYYY!!!

On 3rd and 9--Singletary: Run a draw! Martz: No, I'm going 5 wide! Singletary: No, Run a draw, or else I moon EVERYONE!!!! Martz: OOOOKAAYYY!!!

They don’t make any sense together, but that’s why they make sense! Singletary stops Martz  from dialing up a pick-six a game and Martz keeps Singletary from giving 489 carries a year to a RB who ends up averaging 3.1 yards a carry. It’s an effective compromise of styles, or at least the best thing we’ve had around here since the Garcia-Owens era (You are so gay, Jeff. You are so immature Terrell!! Stop it!). But Martz has been canned so we move along.

After spending over a month looking for an offensive coordinator and being rejected by such luminaries as Scott Linehan & Dan Reeves, Mike Singletary defiantly claimed he found precisely the man he was looking for all along, a man who shares the same “vision” of what the 49ers offense should look like. That man is new 49ers Offensive Coordinator Jimmy Raye, and that vision looks a little like this:

Your 2010 San Francisco 49ers!!!

Your 2010 San Francisco 49ers!!! (Look for calendar specials on 49ers.com)

I can’t tell you how elated I am right now that the new 49ers owner, Jed York, passed up talking to Mike Shanahan for this.

Keep in mind that Raye was the eighth and final candidate to interview for the 49ers’ offensive coordinator position. Can you imagine a job interview where you were the eighth candidate?

Employer: Do you want to work here?

Candidate: Yes, that’s why I’m sitting here

Employer: We have a work environment that some might describe as atypical. Are you comfortable with mooning?

Candidate: (long pause) uhhhhh, sure.

Employer: Welcome to the team.

What spin did Gen. Singletary give for the revolving door of offensive coordinators who wouldn’t be caught dead working under a head coach who hasn’t seen a 3 yard run he didn’t like: “I did not want to make a knee-jerk decision before we thought we had our guy.” Suuuurreeee you didn’t. Let me translate “our guy” for you: noun. 1) an individual well versed in the fullback draw and comfortable with male nudity as a motivational tool.

As I mentioned earlier, Singletary and I spoke at length a few days ago. I asked him some questions about the Bill Walsh legacy, the offensive innovation, the explosive offenses consistently ranked in the top 5 of the league, the star Quarterbacks and Wide Receivers and the tremendous organizational framework he left. I asked him if the Niners were abandoning their identity and transitioning to a Steelers-Ravens methodical rushing attack and aggressive defense. To which Singletary responded:

Cannot play with them

Cannot win with them

Cannot coach with them

Can’t do it!

I couldn’t tell what he meant by this so I rephrased the question more simply: what is your vision for the 49ers offense? He responded thus:

No. 1: Run

No. 2: Run

No. 3. Run

I asked him if there was a fourth tenant, and he said he’d rather play with “10 people and just get penalized all the way until we gotta do something else” than have a QB throw for 300 yards in a game. I asked him what he would do on 2nd and 67 after accepting penalties until the team was pinned on their own 1 yard line and he drew this up:

Finally! Our D can back on the field!

Punt formation. Coach Sing: Finally! Our D can back on the field!

At this point I was becoming increasingly, how should I say, completely and utterly disenchanted by Singletary’s offensive stratagems. I think Singletary noticed this change in tone and I did let one audible sigh slip in. I think it was after he mentioned the importance of “being physical with an f” for the 5,193 time. What does that even mean?? What added meaning does fhysical have?? All I could imagine was Michael Scott’s “Let’s Get Physical” performance before an office conference.  So after that it was all drama. Bad news.

Despite the acrimonious tit-for-tat mooning that wrapped up my converstion with Coach Singletary, I was still excited to speak with his choice for Offensive Coordinator, Jimmy Raye. I was looking forward to the chance to calm some of the doubts and fears I expressed earlier. When I sat down with Mr. Raye I was immediately struck by his composure. He was calm, deliberate, and after an initial few minutes of silence I felt it was prudent to turn his wrist over and check for a pulse. It appeared he had started napping. Being a young 63 years old will do that to you.

In case you were wondering, Mike Singletary was looking for stability with the Offensive Coordinator position. He didn’t want some spring chicken who plans on bolting to become the next head coach of the Denver Broncos. After Jimmy Raye joined the 49ers he had the following to say about his new 3 year contract: “I intend to fulfill the service of the contract, I hope to be there for the (length of the) contract and hopefully longer.” Well Mr. Singletary, mission accomplished. Jimmy Raye isn’t going anywhere. I mean it. He’s still sitting here with me. It’s been a week. Once in a while he mumble something about Jim Brown and then goes back to sleep.

(1 Week Later)

Jimmy Raye woke up from his nap and we were able to start an engaging interview.

Q: Can you talk about your offensive style?

A: It’s very important for us to be able to run the ball when we need to run the ball. That’s important. I don’t care if they have eight people in the box or nine people in the box. When you want to run the ball and you need to run the ball to win the game, let’s run the ball. And all the other things, let that go to the wayside. Let’s run the ball.

Q: Would this be an accurate portrayal of your vision for the offense?

Jimmy Raye & Mike Singletary's Vision of the O

A: Well, that’s a sweep, which is a little risky for my tastes. We prefer to establish our fhysicality (sic) up front.

Q: Is this any better?

What yard line are we on . . . it doesn't matter!

A: Did the Steelers steal my playbook?!? I’ve had that formation under wraps in my playbook! I never let that sucker out of team facilities!

Q: But the goaline, 2 TE formation has been in existence for nearly a century. Isn’t this the formation?

Pull Pants Down 34 right

A: Where did you find that?

Q: On the internet, under “basic running plays” on the site http://www.highschoolfootballplaybook.com

A: What’s the internet?

Q: Are you troubled that the first-team offense hasn’t had a passing touchdown in the exhibition season?

A: It really has no significance to me because I don’t look at the game that way. I’m trying to beat the hell out of them and win by one.

Q: Interesting. So sum up this picture to me in fewer than 6 words:

 

Great Success!

Per Mr. Raye or Borat, "Great Success!"

A: The sweet smell of success. That’s five right? Well howdy-doody!

You know what’s frightening? Two of those Jimmy Raye answers are actually direct quotes.

At this point it seems nearly pointless to mention that as an offensive coordinator for six teams over the course of 12 NFL seasons, Raye has been involved with some bad football. Those teams for which he was coordinator posted a won-lost record of 67-125 and averaged a little more than 18 points per game.

The 49ers averaged 21.2 points per game in 2008 in Martz’s one season as coordinator. Just saying . . . .

Buckle in 49ers fans, it’s gonna get Tom Cable vs. assistant coach fhysical this year. More than likely it ain’t gonna be pretty. Just as Mike Singletary prefers.

Red Grange, where art thou?

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September 8, 2009 - Posted by | Podcasts

2 Comments »

  1. I’d just like to point out that somehow, in 2009, vernon davis is still making it on “sleeper” lists. I guess you can’t play with him, win with him, or coach with him, but he’ll finally emerge as a fantasy star. Or something.

    Comment by mo | September 8, 2009 | Reply

  2. Playing a bruising style of football is going back to fundamentals. But the tenet behind this is you have fundamentally better players who are bigger, faster, stronger than the opposition. But if the 49ers have that, we wouldn’t be a struggling team.

    Maybe Mike Singletary to greater bridge the gap in skill by playing harder and with a collective purpose. That will work on the bad or average teams in the league. But the good teams will eat that up. So the Niners are a week to week team: if the opponent is in a groove, we have our hands full. This is an improvement on the years of famine, but it’s far from ideal for rebuilding a franchise.

    Comment by Jerry | September 8, 2009 | Reply


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