Sunday, January 23, 2005

You Call That Coaching??
By Ben Valentine

Just some random musings on the two championship games:

First, what the heck is Jim Mora Jr. thinking? Why didn't the Falcons roll Michael Vick out of the pocket? Was his father coaching in Philly? I know he was there, so one has to wonder. I mean come on; you have one of the most explosive weapons in the NFL and what do you do? Proceed to bottle him up in the pocket?? There are times when Vick will have to succeed in the pocket, but the Falcons seemed to put him exclusively in there, especially in the second half. It made the Eagles job easier. When Vick rolls out, the defense rolls with him. Their eyes go to him and drift off his receivers, allowing them to find the quickly growing holes in coverage, making Vick's job of making a play easier. In the pocket, Vick becomes unsure and gets "happy feet", in other words, he starts dancing up and down while having no idea what to do with the football. He becomes indecisive and that is death in the NFL.

Vick made his best play of the game when he rolled out on a play late in first quarter. It broke down, but Vick made his pursuers miss and turned it into a solid gain. Take the same drive, down at the goal line. On third down, the Falcons dropped Vick back instead of rolling him out. What happened? He got happy feet, danced around without going anywhere, and got sacked, missing two wide-open receivers in the end zone.

You can argue Vick’s shortcomings cost the Falcons the game. But you need to play to your player’s strength and not expose his weakness. Jim Mora Jr., uh… Sr… uh whoever, you played a large part in costing your team the game.
"That one's in the playbook...but it shouldn't be!

Now we get to Bill Cowher. He didn’t do anything as egregious as Mora’s meltdown, but he did not help his team with his cowardly coaching early in the 4th quarter. On fourth and goal from the two, down by 14, Cowher elected to take the field goal. The Patriots drove down the field,kicked one of their own thus re-establishing the fourteen point lead and killing five minutes of clock as well. Two touchdowns are again necessary, now with less time. In the end, a third Ben Rothlisberger pick on the ensuing drive ended the Steelers slim hopes.

But let’s forget the end result for a moment. Let’s forget that Adam Vinatieri kicked a field goal which made it a two TD game again. Let’s analyze the logic of the field goal. It puts you down eleven, meaning you need a field goal, a touchdown and a two point conversion. Where do you get the ball on a two point conversion? At the 2 yard line. So the Steelers would have one shot at getting in the end zone from the two…. Sound familiar??? The difference is Cowher would have still needed the field goal in that scenario. If he had just gone for it on fourth down and gotten it, he would just need that touchdown. Scenario one, you need to kick a field goal and get in the end zone twice. Scenario two, get in the end zone twice? Is it that difficult?

This isn’t to take anything away from the teams that are headed to Jacksonville. The Patriots outplayed the Steelers. When they needed a big play, they got it. Tom Brady made at least three phenomenal throws. The Steelers could never stop the Pats when it mattered. The Eagles offense moved the ball well, helped by the Falcons inability to tackle. Donovan McNabb made some great plays. Their defense, though aided by inept offensive coaching, shut Vick down. Those teams deserve to be there.

But it is still frustrating to see even in a Conference Championship game that does not feature Mike Martz, poor coaching can still rear its ugly head.


Blogger David Arnott said...

Can you imagine what Belichick would do if his team had the talent of, say, the Rams, or the '98 Vikings? They'd go undefeated because everyone else makes a major screwup at least once a game, or, in the case of Mike Martz, every fifth play.
Belichick and the Pats prove that football is 90% preparation, play calling, and pre-snap adjustments.

8:21 PM  

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