. . . where we watch every game and occasionally audible the title along with the commentary.
I want winners – not elite players
Ryan Tannehill was considered a reach by most pundits because he isn’t a winner. He purportedly made key mistakes that cost his Texas A&M team in crunch time last year. No doubt, he was also responsible for Miami’s unlikely loss to the Cardinals. Sure, Tannehill stood tall and made laser throw after laser throw to Brian Hartline and Davone Bess in the hostile environment of the absurdly named University of Phoenix Stadium with the swarming Arizona defense closing in all around him. But, really, what’s more predictive? His general brilliance or the two huge turnovers at the end of regulation and early in OT? I, for one, would much rather have winners, guys like Mark Sanchez and Tim Tebow. Now those two guys couldn’t manage a point against San Francisco, but, had they been capable of keeping the game close, there’s no doubt they would have magically won in the end.
Three plays from 1-3 and yet still underrated
With young defenses rising up and old quarterbacks largely struggling before their Week 4 breakouts, this season threatens to feature even more parity than usual. For all the talk about parity, in recent history there’s usually been a bigger gap between the Super Bowl champion and the team with the first pick than the latter and the team that won the BCS. The Dolphins and the Cardinals played on Sunday and put up another such testament. Arizona is now 4-0 against a brutal schedule. With Kevin Kolb and an overmatched offensive line, it’s impressive they’ve been in any of their four games much less undefeated. On the other hand, they’re three plays from being 1-3. The Dolphins are two plays from being 3-1, and since one of those plays overlaps, you’d only have to change four total plays for Arizona to be 1-3 and Miami 3-1. That would change the narrative about each franchise quite a bit, but it wouldn’t change the fact that both teams appear to be on the rise.
If only cheating were easier play-calling wouldn’t be such a headache
Every time I decide I’m wrong about Pete Carroll – that I should let go of his flight from USC with a complete and utter lack of dignity – the Seahawks put together an effort like the one on Sunday. Maybe someone should inform Carroll that the NFL cannot be coached as though you’re running college team with far superior talent. Counterintuitively, the Seahawks’ ultra-risk-averse strategy is one that puts you in position to lose to the St. Louis Rams. Free Russell Wilson!
When a no-brainer is just that
I suggest the Chiefs fire Romeo Crennel in favor of Brian Daboll, and then, the first time the Chiefs win a game they shouldn’t, announce that Daboll is the obvious choice to take over full time. The last time I saw a team as unprepared to play a game as Kansas City was on Sunday it was those very same Chiefs last year against Buffalo. Somehow the defensive coordinator that gave up a gazillion points to the Bills that day is now the head coach. I’ve been told the decision was a no-brainer. From now on, Scott Pioli will be known as the Scarecrow in this space.
There are only 16 total games but let’s go with the underwhelming veterans
Falling victim to small sample size narratives is the cause for a lot of terrible NFL decisions, but the opposite can also cause problems. The Giants received huge performances from Andre Brown and Ramses Barden against the Panthers and yet seemed unmoved. I wouldn’t bench a Ray Rice or Larry Fitzgerald for those guys but Ahmad Bradshaw and Domenik Hixon? Time will time, I guess, but Bradshaw has shown very little this year. He’s currently playing ahead of Brown and a first round pick who was almost the lone bright spot on Sunday night with his dynamic return prowess.
Tanking is a low-integrity, high-strategy proposition
Despite my rose colored glasses take on Cassel – I’m a Chiefs fan who’s been in the unfortunate position of rooting against my team most of the years since Vermeil’s departure so perhaps you can forgive me – Kansas City, Tampa, and New York entered the season with quarterbacks who’d pretty definitively proven their inability at the NFL level. Those three squads went 0-3 on Sunday to fall to a combined 4-8. (Footballguys daily email arrived in my inbox yesterday with the pronouncement that a hard-working Josh Freeman is on the verge of a breakout. Since physics dictate that everything not banned is compulsory, there’s some universe out there where Freeman will become a star. The odds are pretty heavily against it being this one.) While everybody will soon be out in Kansas City and New York, management in Tampa should be turning an eye toward Geno Smith.
Just because you’re a misogynist doesn’t make you manly
Sun Tzu could have written an epic on the Art of Game Management following a week in which head coaches seemed befuddled by even the most rudimentary decisions, but Jim Schwartz might win the Andy Reid Award for punting at the Minnesota 40 on 4th-and-1 in the second half trailing by 14. Schwartz supposedly doesn’t read books by women . . . possibly because they’re too soft or emotional? If that’s the case, he should stop channeling his feminine side during games. (I jest, of course. Neither guts nor good decision-making is gender-related, and for great books by women I recommend Margaret Atwood, Anne Patchett, and Barbara Kingsolver, just to name a few.) From now on we’ll refer to the Detroit braintrust as the Cowardly Lions (this column seems to be developing an unfortunate Oz theme). In case you don’t follow football, Detroit has Matthew Stafford, Calvin Johnson, and a defense that didn’t yield an offensive touchdown on Sunday. Is there a coaching staff outside of Kansas City that could currently have this group at 1-3?