Sunday, January 17, 2010

Really Dumb Football - San Diego Chargers, Dallas Cowboys

A friend watched the NFL playoff between the Dallas Cowboys and Minnesota Vikings with a Cowboys fan and his pet monkey. The Cowboys started off strongly, and as they gained one first down after another, with each first down the monkey went giddy with excitement, leaping, screeching, and jumping excitedly from chair to chair, from wall to wall. Each celebration was wilder than the preceding. My friend had never seen anything like it.

“That’s incredible!” my friend exclaimed. “What does your monkey do when the Cowboys do something really special?”

“I don’t know,” the Cowboy supporter replied, “I’ve only had him for ten years.”

If Wade Phillips continues as the Dallas coach, the monkey probably won’t live long enough to give us the answer.

Wade Phillips was a strong contender, but Norv Turner can’t be beat for NFL playoff stupidity. In the first instance, his players didn’t show poise or composure. It’s one thing to miss a tackle, or drop some passes – the players are human, and their opponents are trying to make them miss, or make mistakes. However, losing 15 yards for taunting after doing a great job of covering a kickoff, or kicking the challenge flag when instant replay was going to confirm that the player made a good sideline catch are the sort of undisciplined acts that a coach should have indoctrinated his players against.

But what can you expect from a coach like Norv Turner who can’t even discipline himself against making stupid decisions? Turner’s decision to on-side kick was criticized by announcer Phil Simms in detail before the kick was made, and Simms gave all the logical reasons why an on-side kick was a bad idea with over two minutes to play and a timeout and two-minute warning to stop the clock. First, on-side kicks usually don’t work, especially if one is expected. Second, with a normal kick-off, the Jets would probably start deep in their own territory, particularly since they were prepared to defend against the on-side kick and had their “hands” team in with only one kick returner and no blockers deep to receive a normal kickoff. Third, if the Jets started on or about their own 20-yard line, they would probably only call conservative running plays, and if faced with a fourth down and a yard to go, would punt instead of going for it on fourth down.

Not so strangely, after many years of watching NFL football (and playing high school eight-man football half-a-century ago), I had already arrived at the same position concerning an on-side kick as Phil Simms. It’s too bad for the Chargers that Norv Turner didn’t tap his football knowledge to arrive at the same conclusion.

Having the Jets think you were going to on-side kick was a good idea. Actually doing it wasn’t.

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