This week’s Post-Game Handshake looks for a coach who won’t kick a field goal down by multiple scores in the second half, facing manageable fourth downs. Who will shake my hand? It’s a stinking epidemic, even for teams (*cough* Lovie Smith *cough*) who end up coming back despite the decisions.
The Windows have shut and the Blinds have been closed in Philadelphia and San Diego: Over the past decade, the Philadelphia Eagles and San Diego Chargers have the most wins of any team that did not win a Super Bowl title.
Let’s take Philadelphia and Andy Reid first. The final score of Atlanta 30, Philadelphia 17 is actually flattering to the Eagles because they got dominated. A week after the team fired defensive coordinator Juan Castillo during the bye week, the defense got chewed up and spit out. Atlanta had 4 drives in the first half. They ran 43 (!) plays, and scored 24 points.
What is Reid doing? His team was getting blasted, and he coached like he had the better defense and the lead. Already trailing 21-7 and getting chewed up, he punted on 4th and 2 at midfield, and Atlanta methodically moved down to put it away with another field goal at the end of the half. Then, down 17, he kicked a field goal on 4th and 6 at the 15. When you are trailing, you need high variance strategies, not some belief that your defense that had given up 6 points per drive was going to hold them scoreless the rest of the game. Then, at 4th and 1 at their own 34, down 17 again near the end of the third, the Eagles punted. I mean, why I even try to win?
The Falcons scored 30 points and ran 64 plays on their first six possessions. The Eagles fefense didn’t stop them until the fourth quarter, down 30-10. The Eagles went for it, by the way, on 4th and 12 and 4th and 18 in the fourth quarter, so much better than actually trying on more manageable situations that presented themselves earlier.
Now, the Eagles are 3-4, and look like a decidedly below average team that isn’t just getting unlucky. Maybe they come back and get in the playoffs at 9-7 on a tiebreaker (I doubt that, though), but the window is closed on this era. They switched modes two years ago with older free agent signings, and it hasn’t worked.
That performance deserves a youtube account random word generator providing a recap. So many gems here, and probably an upgrade on pre-game NFL commentary:
As for San Diego, well, they are just not very good. The conditions conspired to hold them down in Cleveland. Conditions, in this case, being the wind, and being the Chargers as constructed by A.J. Smith and coached by Norv Turner. Whereas the Eagles announced their demise by being outclassed by one of the best teams, the Chargers showed they were on par with the bottom of the league.
Washington Receivers Emulate the Capital’s Monuments: Stone hands for the Redskins in this one. The Steelers handled the Redskins easily. Robert Griffin, who came into the game completing over 70% of his passes. He completed only 16 of 34 yesterday, and 10 of them could have been classified as drops, according to Andrew Siciliano. There are going to be a few drops every game, just like there will be misreads or miscommunications, but that’s almost 1 out of every 3 passes!
Jets Probably Should Have Run More Fake Punts With Tebow: The New York Jets got embarrassed at home by the Dolphins, and that projection of the Dolphins to the wild card is looking stronger now. The first touchdown came when the Dolphins somehow managed to block one straight up the middle despite Tim Tebow’s presence as personal protector. This, of course, led to your favorite, a Gangnam style celebration. Later, Mark Sanchez did Mark Sanchez things.
Oh, and since we are doing handshakes, this is the point where I extend the hand, pull it back with the “too slow” and await the Jets’ retaliation. Aaron Maybin really showed those mean old Dolphins.
Romeo Crennel Is Clueless, Chiefs Still Haven’t Led Yet in Regulation:
Romeo Crennel doesn’t know why the Jamaal Charles only got 5 carries. It’s a good thing he has no control over such matters or that would look pretty inept. Oh, wait, he’s the head coach?
Chiefs ran it 22 times, which included 7 Cassel scrambles. Charles got only 5 of them. Yes, he only got 4 yards, but he is the Chiefs biggest threat. Brady Quinn went 2 of 4 for 1 yard and 1 interception, actually improving his career numbers. He was replaced because of a reported head injury, though there was no clear play where he was hit in the head or where his head hit the ground. Cassel then came in and was given the ball 39 times (30 passes, 7 runs, 2 sacks). I’m ordinarily for passing more, but not when I’m the Chiefs and those are my options.
Kansas City, by the way, still have not led in regulation this year. (They did win in overtime at New Orleans in a game they never led until then). 2005 Houston Texans scored to take the lead in the first quarter of game #7, and no other team besides these Chiefs have failed to run a play with the lead in the first seven games, going back to 1940.
Browns Win! Jim Brown and Trent Richardson are cool now:
Trent Richardson had the only touchdown of the day on this highlight run.
Jim Brown and Trent Richardson are cool now, and props to Richardson if this is true for not getting defensive when Brown made brash statements in the offseason.
“That’s my partner, man,” Brown said. “He never took anything I said the wrong way. He’s interested in his family. He’s interested in his team. And he’s willing to make sacrifices because really, he’s hurt more than you think he is right now.”
Forget the Standings right now, Denver Wins the AFC West: At the risk, of premature declaration, something that happens from time to time, Denver has won the AFC West. They are the clear best team after rolling through the Saints last night. They played the toughest schedule through six games; they have the easiest remaining schedule. Two games against the Chiefs, the home return match against the Chargers. Only the Ravens as a team with a winning record left on the schedule. It may only be a one game lead over the Chargers and Raiders right now, but it will continue to grow as long as Manning’s neck remains intact.
Panthers, lose, again, in close fashion: The Carolina Panthers are the masters of losing games they have every right to win, dropping to an amazing 1-6 despite having the lead or a chance to get the lead in the fourth quarter in six of their games. It’s a team effort, from Newton not making plays at key times, to the running game failing, to the defense giving up inopportune drives, to the common thread of Ron Rivera’s coaching.
This may have been the worst yet, because the Panthers held a 19-7 lead when Robbie Gould missed a field goal with 12:41 left, as the Bears were kicking on a manageable fourth down situation, and “taking the points” didn’t work out.
How do you get from there to another loss?
After a first down completion on next drive, Carolina faced 2nd and 2, ran twice, and could not pick up a first down. Punt.
Chicago scored a touchdown on a methodical drive. Next play, interception return for touchdown by Tim Jennings when Steve Smith slipped and Newton threw it where Smith was going.
That fast, it was 20-19. How rare is that kind of mishap? Only four times in last decade has a QB thrown an interception for touchdown when his team was up by one score in the last 8 minutes of a game. Two of those were passes intended for backs and returned by linemen.
Then, you don’t finish drives. The Panthers again got in scoring range again, a catchable touchdown pass got through Steve Smith’s hands, and the Panthers settled for their fifth field goal of the game (becoming the 14th team since 2000 to lose a game with five field goals made). That left the door open for another drive, and a Robbie Gould made field goal to leave them at 1-6, and Cam’s body language to again be the subject of debate.
Fourth Down Log:
1. Carolina had the ball 4th and 1 at their own 49 on the first drive and punted. On the next drive, they intercepted Jay Cutler at their own 3. At the start of the 2nd quarter, they went at the Chicago 41, and Newton picked it up. They got a field goal.
2. San Diego went in the windy conditions at Cleveland on the first drive at SD 30, Jackie Battle got stuffed.
3. Cleveland took that possession, went down the field, and also went at the SD 26, converting on a QB keeper, then scoring the only TD of the game two plays later to win 7-6. Cleveland also had another 4th and 1 on their own 44 in the 2nd quarter and punted.
4. With 4 minutes left in 2nd Q, Seattle punted from DET 44 up by 3. They eventually lost on Detroit’s late touchdown 28-24.
5. On last play of first half, from TEN 19, Indianapolis kicked and it got blocked. With 4 minutes left, down 7, the Colts went for it inside the TEN 10, converted, and scored to tie it on the next play. They won in OT 19-13.
6. In the most notorious 4th and 1′s of the day, the Cowboys faced 4th and 1 from NYG 19 after two previous incomplete passes, and the line collapsed, with Romo throwing an interception after running 20 yards back. The Giants also faced 4th and 1 from own 26 on next possession, and punted back to Dallas setting up the late drama on the Bryant almost-TD.
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[Jones photo via US Presswire, gifs via @cfbsection]