Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Tuesday Ramblings - Decisions by Two Jags

It is always enjoyable to listen to Herm remind you why you play the game. On Sunday there were two crucial coaching decisions made by Jags – one by the Coach of the Jags, and one by a world-class Jag-off, Bill Belichick. Both coaches decided to try to win the game by trying to play keep-away. However, I think the decision by Jaguars coach Jack Del Rio was actually riskier than the decision by Bill Belichick, yet no one is talking about it.

Today we listened to everyone and their brother dissecting the Patriots decision to go for it on 4th down from inside their own 30 yard line. The decision was blamed on Belichick’s ego, his fear of Peyton Manning, his lack of confidence in his own defense, or his overconfidence in Tom Brady. While I still don’t agree with the decision, I think it can be summed up that Belichick went for the jugular and for the win with the ball in the hands of his team. He was trying to keep the ball away from the Colts, because whether Manning drove his team 29 yards or 70+ yards, a TD would win the game for the Colts. He was following Herm’s message, but it blew up bigger than Oprah at an all-you-can-eat buffet. (Wait, is she fat or skinny now? Whatever, I’m too lazy to look, and either way, in another 6 weeks, she’ll be fat again, or skinny. Whatever……)

That got me thinking about the play at the end of the Jaguars-Jets game at the Meadowlands, when Maurice Jones-Drew took a knee at the 1 yard line instead of scoring a touchdown with under 2 minutes left in the game. MJD has been praised as making an extremely smart play, and being unselfish and more concerned with winning the game than padding his own personal stats. By taking the knee, the Jags were able to run the clock down and kick the chip shot game-winning FG as time expired. However, I think it was an extremely risky call by Jack Del Rio and not nearly as intelligent as the media made it out to be.

When MJD took the knee, the Jaguars were LOSING the game. It was compared to the Brian Westbrook play in 2007 when Westbrook went down at the 1 against the Cowboys and allowed the Eagles to run out the clock. The difference? The Eagles were WINNING the game, 10-6 at the time, and they then knelt 3 times and the clock ran out, game over. The Jaguars left themselves with the need to make a field goal to win the game. Now I get that the odds of missing a chip shot field goal are about as high as the chances of Blake Lively not wearing a shirt to show off her two best friends (or maybe they’re our best friends? Either way, here is an article about the friends with a slideshow.). Yet, there still is a chance of a botched snap, a bad hold, a gust of wind, a false start, a missed block, etc. or something disastrous that causes a miss. And if any of those disasters happen, the Jaguars would have LOST the game. Remember Tony Romo fumbling the snap in the playoffs against the Seahawks? Or Gary Anderson, who hadn’t missed a FG or extra point all season, shanking the kick in the 1998 NFC Championship? Strange and crazy crap happens in football, and Del Rio chose to play keep away from the Jets, and risked losing the game. And that doesn’t even take into account the fact that if MJD scores the TD, the Jets would have been down 6 and have a rookie quarterback, not Peyton Manning, who would have been trying to drive his team down field for a touchdown. And if the Jags convert the 2 point conversion, they would have locked in a win or OT even if the Jets drove down and scored.

I’m a fan of intelligent football, but I think the general media has missed the boat on this one. It was not intelligent, it was risky. The biggest difference between the Del Rio and the Belichick decisions? One worked and one didn’t. Can you imagine the backlash if the Jags would have missed the kick? Del Rio would have already cleared out his office and would be calling Eric Mangini to save him a place in line at the unemployment office. Both calls were bad decisions by the coaches, but when it works, you’re a genius, when it doesn’t, you’re a jag. Or in this case, when it works, you're a Jag and when it doesn't, you're a Patriot.

Could the Browns be any worse? They have scored 5 TDs in their 9 games. They are an embarrassment to the league, and I have no idea how they can keep Mangini around next year. And now, their only legit offensive weapon, Josh Cribbs was taken to the hospital after the game in an ambulance. Can Browns fans stomach drafting another Notre Dame quarterback (Jimmy Clausen) with the first pick in the draft? Remember when the Browns were competitive and John "Mr. Ed" Elway used to rip their hearts out or Ernest Byner would fumble? It's sad that those were the days of glory and they seem tremendously better than the current situation.

Allen Iverson and the Grizzlies came to a “mutual agreement” to put Iverson on waivers and allow him to go sign with another team. I really hope that agreement was “you will be getting $0 from the Grizzlies and will refund any and all money already paid to you by the Grizzlies.”

ESPN is in the middle of a 24-hour college basketball marathon that included a game in Jersey City that started at 6:00 am. There is your proof that schools will do anything for the right pay day. There is nothing to be gained for the coaches, players, or the fans by playing at that time. So the only reason to consider it is the payday for the athletic program. I’m not saying I’m against it, because what other time would anyone watch Monmouth? Other than when you're trying to put on SportsCenter and you're strangely amused why there is basketball on TV. I’m just saying I hope the schools are honest about why they did it.

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