Monday, December 20, 2010

A Tale of Two Bozos

It's always great when your team manages to pull out one of those games where it just seems like neither team's coach wants to win. Such was the case with the crucial Eagles-Giants game this past Sunday afternoon in New York Jersey, with both coaches just making ridiculous gaffe after ridiculous gaffe, each embarrassing themselves unforgettably in front of their fans over and over again until, finally, one guy effed up the worst of all and directly cost his team the loss and significantly hurt his team's playoff positioning, if not playoff chances at all.

It all started in the first quarter of the game at the new Meadowlands early on Sunday afternoon, when on a key 3rd-and-12 for the Giants early in the game, Eli Manning made one of his 50 billion 3rd down conversions in the first half, this one a 15-yard or so "completion" to a diving Hakeem Nicks for yet another first down and putting his team into field goal range in addition to extending the drive to what would eventually turn into the Giants' second of many touchdowns on the day. Sure, Nicks made an athletic play to even make this look like a catch, but just like the game a couple of weeks back where the Buccaneers were raped of the ball when the Falcons' cornerback clearly rolled on top of the ball in what was even ruled a catch after the slow-motion replay clearly showed it could not possibly have been a completion on replay, in this case there was basically that exact same camera angle that showed clear as a bell that this was not a catch. Now I know this was the first quarter and all, but the game was already 7-3 at this point, and when the replay shows it this obviously not to be a catch, it is inconceivable that Eagles coach Andy Reid could just sit there and not even finger the red "replay" flag in his pocket, but rather sit idly by while the Giants hustled to the line to quickly hike the next play to erase any possibility of a replay. Because they were all too aware how crucial taking a commanding 14-3 lead early in this game would be, and they all saw the same replay. It wasn't close to a catch, and I'm all for saving your replay flags for the most opportune times in these games, but it's a shame we have such a poor game-day coach as Andy Reid to not realize just how much this was a crucial spot. I would never advocate him taking a real chance at wasting one of his two replay requests where he might lose a timeout and not even get the call overturned -- and don't get me wrong, this is the NFL so the odds were probably only 50-50 at best that the call would have been overturned and ruled incomplete, since it was so painfully obvious that the ball sat on the ground while Nicks rolled over on top of it -- but when it is that obvious that the call was wrong, and your team is about to go down 14-3 as a result of your sitting on your fat ass and doing anything instead of throwing that red flag, you're gonna read about it here over your Monday morning coffee cuz I'm not letting you off the hook for that.

The idiocy was only made worse by Andy Reid in the fourth quarter, though, when, with still both of those challenge requests sitting in Andy Reid's pocket and with his team still down 24-10 but driving into Giants territory to possibly come within one score of their hated division rivals with another touchdown, Eagles quick-footed wideout DeSean Jackson caught a ball on a slant route and then promptly fumbled the ball as he was tackled from behind, a fumble which the Giants scooped up and which a few seconds later turned into yet another touchdown and a seemingly insurmountable 31-10 deficit. Only, on the replay, once again, DeSean Jackson was clearly down by contact long before the ball came loose, and once again Andy Reid just stood there on the sidelines and never made the refs replay the play. Where you might have been able to buy him not throwing that flag on the first play in the first quarter -- if you don't really understand how football works -- there's nobody in America who could argue that allowing his team to drop back down 21 points with about 10 minutes left in the game and thwarting the beginnings of a second-half comeback in far and away the most critical game of the regular season for the Eagles, was not significant enough to throw the flag. And again, this one was obvious on the replay, so again you figure it's maybe as much as a 50% chance that the refs would overturn it -- far be it from any NFL referee to actually have made the correct call in the first place when it went against a New York team of course, that's just blasphemy -- but again, Andy Reid this time at least stroked the red flag in his pocket on the sidelines, but never pulled it out let alone tossed it onto the field. Once again, Eli Manning had his troops no-huddle and rush up to line up -- making it even more obvious that this was a blown call to everybody in the entire stadium -- but somehow Andy Reid never got the message, and he failed to throw that flag and allowed his team to drop down 31-10 with 10 minutes to go, instead of what probably should have been 17-10 if he had just thrown those two flags in situations where it literally could not have been more clear on the replay that his team was having the game unfairly ripped right out of their hands (literally and figuratively).

Thankfully, Andy Reid's hideous gameday coaching was outdone on the day by Giants' head coach Tom Coughlin, who made not one, not two but three horrible errors on the day, two of them worse than simply being too fat and lazy to throw the replay flag in a key spot where his team had clearly been wronged, and all of Coughlin's gaffes occurred in the second half where the consequences of his effups were magnified several times over. For starters, for Coughlin's team to be so totally and unbelievably unprepared for an onsides kicks after the Eagles scored their touchdown to bring the score to 31-17 with 7 1/2 minutes to go in the game, is just mind-boggling. Those players up front defending the kick were not just moving backwards as the kickoff was made by David Akers, but they had turned their backs to the play for the most part. I mean, how often do you see an onsides kick work where there isn't a player from the other team within 10 yards of the kicking team's guy who catches the onsides kick? It never happens, and there's a good reason for that. When you're down 14 points in a key game with barely enough time for 1 drive left for each team, you have to be ready at least for the possibility of an onsides kick. Coughlin's team was just woefully ill-prepared in that spot, and like I said what ensued was the easiest, most simple onsides kick recovery in the history of the sport. Ball goes ten yards, no Giants are even in the camera shot, and the Eagles catch the ball and drop to the ground. Tom Coughlin has to take the blame for this, and he looked as befuddled as anyone on the sidelines right after it happened. Getting out-maneuvered like that by a guy like Andy Reid on game day speaks volumes about Coughlin and his level of preparedness as well for his team in a huge spot.

The second thing Coughlin effed up badly in the fourth quarter is not something you'll hear talked about much with all of his other screwups in this game, but just before the 2-minute warning as the Eagles were driving for the score that would eventually tie the game at 31, Mike Vick ran for a key first down and more, picking up around 20 yards before Vick slid headfirst to avoid another hard hit, he fumbled the ball. Now, unlike the other plays I mentioned above that were totally obvious on the replay, this one would have been close, but the fact remains that there is no way Tom Coughlin can possibly justify missing his chance to throw his own red flag -- of which he still had two remaining as well, plus there were just 5 seconds left until the 2-minute warning at which point his replay flags were worth precisely squat anyways -- in an absolutely crucial play where Vick, it seems to me, was not touched prior to hitting the ground and losing control of the ball, which was quickly picked up by a Giants player before the refs whistled the play dead and Vick down by contact. He throws that flag, especially being that his is the New York team, there was probably an 80% chance of the call being overturned and ruled a fumble, and his Giants don't go on to one of the most ignominious losses in NFL history, but instead they win the game, win the NFC East and who knows how far they ride that in the playoffs this season. Not painfully obvious like the two plays Andy Reid blew as I discussed above, but probably an 80% chance of the crooked refs combined with what I myself think was very close to being a fumble fair and square to a simple grasp in his pocket and toss of the arm towards the field, from completely avoiding what was otherwise a total debacle for his franchise and for the city of New York on the sports field on Sunday.

And then of course, was the final play of the day, where the Giants' punter inconceivably kicked the ball right into the hands of DeSean Jackson, easily the scariest guy on the field for either team, with 14 seconds remaining after the Eagles had just scored three touchdowns in the final seven minutes to tie this game up. How that ball is not kicked out of bounds is simply beyond me, and the fact of the matter is that a mistake like that falls squarely on the head coach, whether he likes it or not. And Coughlin said as much in his postgame press conference, taking full responsibility for the play, but then throwing his young punter under the bus in the process by claiming to have instructed him clearly just to kick the ball out of bounds. And yet, as Coughlin sat there screaming at the punter right after the play happened, you could see him mouth the words "there is no fucking way you punt that ball in bounds". But what he never said was "I just told you" or "Your instructions were" or something similar to indicate that they had truly drummed it into this guy's head not to let the Eagles return that kick. Now, it's such an obvious situation that I can only assume Coughlin or at least someone on his staff had said as much to the kicker before he let it rip there for the last play of regulation -- I mean, did anyone out there not think this punt would sail right out of bounds? -- but it is just inexcusable beyond all words that such a horrible decision could be made in a spot that obviously completely changed the outcome of the game, and of the division, and ultimately of the Giants' season as a whole. And as I said, ultimately that falls squarely on the head coach, who simply did not have his team prepared for the decisions they needed to make on the spur of the moment all through the second half of this game. Somehow, Andy Reid managed to find a guy who he could completely out-maneuver and flatout out-coach in the second half of the game, something which Philly fans the world around are still trying to wrap our arms around here on Monday morning even, and out-coach he did. Sure, Reid tried hard to lose the game, even there in the fourth quarter by straight-up allowing his team to drop down 31-10 in the 4th instead of 24-17, but Tom Coughlin's lack of preparation of his team, and straight-up lack of clear instruction and guidance, while one of the great comebacks in recent memory was happening to them, leaves this NFL fan absolutely speechless.

In a battle on Sunday between two bozos who couldn't coach their way out of a paper bag on game day, Andy Reid was an embarrassment, but Tom Coughlin took the word "travesty" to a whole new level. I'm not sure how those players can even look him in the eye anymore -- and I'm not sure they will. If Bill Cowher ends up coaching big blue come the 2011 NFL regular season, the moment that kick left the punter's foot will be the moment that decision was effectively made.

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Blogger BWoP said...

Don't forget Reid's decision to run a play with 30-ish seconds left in the first half that resulted in a turnover and the Giants going into the locker room with a 21-point lead instead of a 14-point lead.

5:21 AM  
Blogger Hammer Player a.k.a Hoyazo said...

That's a good point. Although, in Reid's defense on that one, at least it was a good play and only a horrible turnover after the catch that led to the score. But yeah, there was plenty of stupidity to go around with Reid on Sunday. Thank god we came away with the win.

7:30 AM  
Blogger TripJax said...

I believe this is the longest sentence I've seen in a long, long time:

The idiocy was only made worse by Andy Reid in the fourth quarter, though, when, with still both of those challenge requests sitting in Andy Reid's pocket and with his team still down 24-10 but driving into Giants territory to possibly come within one score of their hated division rivals with another touchdown, Eagles quick-footed wideout DeSean Jackson caught a ball on a slant route and then promptly fumbled the ball as he was tackled from behind, a fumble which the Giants scooped up and which a few seconds later turned into yet another touchdown and a seemingly insurmountable 31-10 deficit.


As an aside, I had Mike Vick on my fantasy team. At the half he had about 1.5 points. He finished with 49.5.

Wowzer, again!

10:04 AM  
Blogger GnightMoon said...

Andy Reid has long been confounding me as he is clearly a top-3 coach in the world when it comes to everything EXCEPT actually coaching his team on game day, when he routinely butchers games like he did on Sunday. You can't argue with Philly's overall success (second or perhaps third behind New England & Pittsburgh) during his tenure yet he screws up stuff a third-grade Madden diehard aces in his sleep.

Coughlin I have felt for a while is one of the league's most overrated coaches - blessed with a solid OC in Kevin Gilbride and the best DCs in the league (Steve Spagnuolo, a much better coach than Coughlin, followed by Perry Fewell who will be an NFL head coach in ~10-12 days).

Great post.

1:01 PM  

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