Dear Mark D’Onofrio,
Hey there. I hope you had a nice Christmas after your flight from Hawaii. I’ve been thinking about our relationship and I’d like to clear the air.
First, I want to apologize for some things I said when you were hired. Yes, I was harsh when we resurrected your dead career. And yes, I mocked your letter to Major Applewhite (ok, I don’t apologize for that). And like most others, I was ready to run you off after Tulsa and Memphis. You did give up 11-straight second half TDs in those games. That’s…that’s really bad.
But your “bend, bend, and bend a little more but never fully break” defense ended up being ok this year. Sure, we were 13th in total defense last year and we’re 87th this year but that’s just yards, right? Scoring wise, it’s basically the same. You held 3/4 of our opponents under 28 points which should be good enough to get us 9-10 wins. *Cough*
You also held 5 teams to 20 or fewer points. And it’s certainly not your fault that we went 1-4 in games where we gave up 27 or more (I mean, I guess it’s *a little* your fault but I’d still put that mostly on the offense…mostly). I can’t blame Major for finishing 98th in 1st down defense, though.
A lesser man than me would question how we recovered only 6 fumbles in 12 games and a much lesser man would ask how the hell did all 6 of our recoveries happen in the same game? 0 fumble recoveries in the other 11 games?!?
I think the Offense Screwed You a Little
Mark, you were promised a ball-control offense when you came here. It’s not your fault that we were 106th in time of possession – only holding it 28 minutes a game.
Did you realize that you were expected to defend 5 more minutes a game than Orlando did last year? That’s over 60 minutes longer your defense was on the field – an entire additional game’s worth! Totally bogus.
So it doesn’t sound too bad when I point out that you gave up 10 more 3rd downs than the 2016 defense in one less game. IJS. You still finished top 20 in 3rd down defense (but down from 2016).
Yes, you gave up 14 more red zone trips but only 4 more red zone TDs. Not so bad. You did cut opponents’ pass TDs in half from last year. But then…. your D caused 40% less sacks. And not to harp on it, but our defense hasn’t been that bad in Tulsa since Art Briles spent the week house hunting in Waco.
But overall, a solid year. Certainly better than I expected when you were hired. I can blame our continuity hire and his offense for 4 losses and really, only Tulsa can be placed at your feet. Have I mentioned that Tulsa’s only other win was ULL? Yeah…
Ok, I’m gonna finish this up before I start rambling about being ranked 120th in passing yards allowed.
Your *close* friend,