Archive for Stupid Coaches

What Does This Post Have In Common With Brett Favre’s Next Start For Minnesota?

Posted in NFL Football, Sports with tags , , , , on November 23, 2010 by thelasthonestman

The answer — they’re simply the latest in a long number of them.  Yep — that’s it.  This column in the 200th since I started my blog, and Favre’s next start is going to be the 296th in a row for the future Hall of Famer.  So what does that mean — or better yet, what should it mean?

Absolutely nothing.

Someone should explain that to new Vikings head coach Leslie Frazier (as well as to a number of NFL analysts out there).  I say that because, like this blog, the NFL should be — and usually is — a what-have-you-done-for-me-lately affair.  And what Favre has done lately has been, in a word, abysmal.

The best chance for Minnesota to win would be for this pair to keep driving right on out of town -- together

I wrote yesterday about the possibility that Frazier might make the ballsy call to put his own stamp on the Vikings now and establish himself as the polar opposite of fired coach Brad Childress by benching a clearly washed-up Brett Favre.  However, in what was essentially his first move as the top man, Frazier was emphatic in throwing his weight behind Favre as his quarterback, a move that a number of  “analysts” have been supportive of.  Really?  I can’t imagine the people that say Favre gives the Vikings the best chance to win have actually, you know, been watching Minnesota and Favre play this year to come up with that reasoning.

In the end, does anyone actually believe that simply canning Childress while not addressing the elephant in the room in Favre’s crappy performance is going to solve the Vikings’ problems?  Especially when Favre has been the biggest problem in Minnesota this year?  And we’re not even talking about the problems that occur with the team dynamics when your starting quarterback is undermining the head coach behind the scenes — a fair assessment of what’s happened with the Vikings in 2010.  We’re simply talking about the performance of a quarterback who has a rating that leaves him ranked 32nd in the NFL — behind such stellar performers like Derek Anderson and Alex Smith.  Ye Gods.

We’re talking about a quarterback who’s leading the NFL in interceptions thrown (with 17), and anyone who’s watched Favre throw one crucial pick after another all year knows how they’ve killed the vikings all year.  Look no further than his terrible decision in the pass that was picked off in the red zone in the last two minutes of the first half of Sunday’s blowout loss to the Packers, a turnover that was likely the turning point that led from what might still have been a close game into an all-out rout.

As I stated yesterday, backup Tavaris Jackson is no Peyton Manning waiting for his chance — but there’s not really a lot he has to do to be better than Favre, does he?  If Farve wasn’t in the starting lineup, it might be easier for the Vikings to get away from the Farve-centric attack they’ve used for most of the season and actually start utilizing their biggest weapon, Adrian Peterson, more.  But Frazier’s immediate deference to the legend in his locker room as his unquestioned starter not only makes me think that he hasn’t been paying attention to Favre as the quarterback has driven a stake through the Vikings’ chances, it also makes me believe that we’re going to see more of the same the rest of the season — plenty of turnovers, plenty of losses, and plenty of excuses from people who have the evidence right in front of them for where the biggest problems lie, but who fail to take heed of them.

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Quick Thoughts For A New Week

Posted in News/Current Events, NFL Football, Politics, Sports with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on November 22, 2010 by thelasthonestman

Being too busy to post on a daily basis — or even sometimes a weekly basis — makes it a pain to keep tabs with so many of the things going on around the world that I’d like to comment on when they’re still fresh on everyone’s mind.  But it is what it is.  That just means, instead of in-depth commentary from yours truly on any given subject, you’re left with more of the Cliff’s Notes version of what I think in its place.  But that’s better than nothing, right?  Right?  Nah — don’t answer that …

brad— In today’s news, Brad Childress is gone as the Minnesota Vikings head coach.  Like the firing of Wade Phillips a couple of weeks ago, this move seemed long overdue.  While it comes too late to save the Vikings’ season — frankly, even if it had been made weeks ago, Minnesota would still be headed for a seat on their couch come playoff time — replacing Childress with Leslie Frazier is a step in the right direction for the franchise.

It’ll be interesting to see if Frazier is able to put his stamp on the team or not — and the best way he could do that would be to sit Brett Favre in favor of Tavaris Jackson.  Jackson isn’t anything special, but Favre’s imitation of a turnover machine is absolutely killing the team, and the offense’s over-reliance on Favre’s arm — particularly in the red zone — has been a problem all season.  The best weapon the Vikings have is Adrian Peterson, yet Childress underutilized him all year.  Of course, that decision-making is why he’s unemployed today.

— Speaking of soon-to-be-unemployed head coaches, I was calling for Texans head coach Gary Kubiak to get the axe last year around this time — but he was brought back instead thanks to a meaningless late-season rally last year that left Houston back at .500 on the season.  And not surprisingly, here the Texans are again: 4-6 and pretty much out of the playoff hunt — again.   I have a feeling that even if Houston can put up a late-season winning streak to get back to .500 once more, this time Kubiak won’t be so lucky.

— While we’re on the subject of comebacks, in the news this past week was the stunning declaration from AP that Lisa Murkowski, the Republican senator from Alaska, looks to emerge victorious in her election campaign as a write-in candidate against Joe Miller, who previously beat her in the Republican primary.  Murkowski’s apparent victory would make her the first candidate to win a write-in campaign for the Senate since Strom Thurmond in South Carolina in 1954. But Miller and his supporters are not going away quietly, as despite the apparently clear voice of the Alaskan people, the Tea Party candidate has vowed to keep fighting, getting an injunction today in court to halt the election certification.

It’s an embarrassment to Miller, the Tea Party, and the Republican Party that though the result seems pretty clear, they’ll attempt anything in order to reverse the election outcome, such as attempting to disqualify votes for Murkowski due to misspellings of her name by one letter, or votes that reversed her name (Murkowski, Lisa) in the wrote-in space.  I’m wondering how many of Miller’s supporters supported Al Gore’s recount efforts in Florida back in 2000?  I’m guessing none.  The people of Alaska have spoken, and it’s been that they want no part of Miller as their senator.  Miller and his supporters — including Sarah Palin — should take the hint.

— Hopefully, I’ll be a little bit more active here again soon — free time permitting of course.  With the holiday season approaching rapidly, I hope everyone reading this stays safe and enjoys themselves this week and beyond.

The Only Things Worse Than My Picks Is Putting Faith In Bad Coaches

Posted in NFL Football, Sports with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 18, 2010 by thelasthonestman

My record on my picks has been so bad, I should have just been flipping one of these instead

Another weekend gone, another trail of carnage left behind known as my NFL playoff selections.

This week was only slightly better than last; I’m left with another 1-3 mark, with my only silver lining being that I at least picked the winner of the Indy-Baltimore game correctly, though I missed with my call of the Ravens covering the spread.

So what’s this week’s excuse (or lesson learned, as I’d prefer to call it) for my putrid predictions?  Simply put, it was putting faith in coaches who, over the season (or seasons), I’ve derided for a number of reasons.  If those coaches weren’t worthy of my confidence before, why would I possibly think that they would be now?  Answer: they shouldn’t have been, and it showed up this past weekend for a few key moments that set the tone for a least two of my picks going south.  Cases in point:

— I’ve been on Ravens head coach John Harbaugh all season for his bizarre willingness to pull his best offensive player in Ray Rice off of the field in so many instances, particularly crucial points in games when the team in inside the opponent’s red zone.  His stubbornness in that regard arguably cost Baltimore their first meeting against the Colts in the regular season, and having apparently not learned his lesson then, Harbaugh repeated his mistake early in their playoff rematch, squandering an opportunity for Baltimore to take control of the game and set the tone then —  and possibly blowing the team’s chances at springing the upset.

Not that I was that surprised, as on Friday, I said, “Will [Rice] be used to his utmost capability, or will there be a maddening moment Saturday where Willis McGahee is in the game instead and the offense stalls?”  That moment came on the Ravens first drive.  After the Colts stalled out in their first drive, settling for a field goal, the Ravens drove the field to put themselves 10 yards away from a go-ahead touchdown, which would have gone a long way towards unsettling the crowd and putting some doubt in the Colts’ minds coming off their ill-advised, end-of-the-season shutdown mode.  This was a key point in the game — score a TD here, especially after they hadn’t gotten into the end zone at all in their first meeting, and we might have been looking at an entirely different contest.  Instead, out of the game went Rice, in time to watch McGahee get stuffed and two incompletions thrown by Flacco result in a field goal instead.  One of the incompletions was a little swing pass that went right through the hands of fullback LeRon McClain — if it had been Rice, the team’s leading receiver on the year, on the end of that pass, then it likely would have been touchdown Baltimore, and who knows what might have happened after that.  My mistake in going with Baltimore to even cover was ignoring that Harbaugh looks like he’s incapable of learning from prior mistakes.

— And my mistake in picking Dallas to win against Minnesota was, among many things, thinking that a Wade Phillips coaches team was going to put together three straight playoff wins, including two that would have needed to be on the road.  Phillips is a nice enough guy, and he’s a great defensive mind — but his time as the head man  in Dallas (and Denver and Buffalo) should have been enough to convince anyone that he just doesn’t have it in him to be a leader of a championship team.

The key moment in the Minnesota game was early in the first quarter, when after driving down to the Vikings 30 yard line and facing a 4th and a yard (or less), Phillips sent in recently-acquired kicker Shawn Suisham in to attempt a 48-yard field goal.  This, of course, is the same Suisham who was cut earlier in the season by Washington after shanking a chip-shot field goal that cost the Redskins an upset win against New Orleans.  My immediate reaction to seeing Suisham coming onto the field was, “Of course, he’s going to miss this.”  It didn’t help matters for Dallas when Favre connected with Sidney Rice four plays later on a long TD pass either.

You’re on the road, you’re going to need to get into the end zone to win, and you’ve been moving the ball pretty well — so why not go for it if you’re Phillips?  The answer:  well, because you’re Wade Phillips.  Duh.  Unfortunately, I forgot that and put too much stock into Dallas’ back-to-back drubbings of the Eagles.

Why again did I think this guy was going to lead a team to the Super Bowl?

— And finally, there’s the latest flame-out in Southern California as Norv Turner’s Chargers, a trendy Super-Bowl pick with a lot of people (including me), went down to defeat to those pesky, underdog Jets — a loss highlighted by a three missed field-goals by Nate Kaeding, LT looking as washed up as we should have expected him to look, and a terrible decision by the Chargers to onside kick at the end of the game.  All told, it was a brutal display by San Diego, and considering that failures like these in the playoffs are what got Marty Schottenheimer’s ticket punched, Turner and company could easily be looking for new jobs following the Super Bowl.

How bad was it for San Diego?  Where does one begin?  Questionable play-calling, a complete lack of fire or emotion for much of the game from the Chargers, no sense of urgency at any point of the game, the Kaeding meltdown — you can take your pick of lowlights.  But I’ll focus on the onside kick decision by Turner as the coup-de-grace.

You’re trailing by a field goal, and you can stop the clock twice (once with a timeout, the other with the two-minute warning).  Why not kick away if you’re Turner?  Pin the Jets deep, stop them, and you’re getting the ball back with enough time to complete a couple of passes to get yourself back into field goal range (though the way Kaeding was going, there’s no reason to expect that would have been a good thing).

By attempting the onside kick and not recovering, you’re not only going to give your offense a longer field to have to navigate with no timeouts if you get the ball back, but you’re also giving the Jets the option to use all four-downs to close the game out on you.  4th and short and pinned inside of your own 30 and only up by 3?  You’re punting the ball every time , even if you only need an inch of two to get the 1st down.  But put yourself in San Diego territory, too far away for a field goal but too close to bother with punting, and you’re giving a team with a great offensive line and a power running game the chance to seal the win by gaining a measly yard — which is exactly what happened.

As the Chargers had emerged in the season’s 2nd half as a title favorite, I had trouble reconciling that with my long-held skepticism of Turner’s capabilities as the head coach.  One of my favorite Turner stories is this one from ESPN’s Bill Simmons — if I had only remembered things like that tale, I’m probably not picking the Chargers to win on Sunday.  But I didn’t, so I did — and as they say, that’s why I’m looking up at another brutal week in picks.

— My only bright side was in watching the Saints dismantle the Cardinals in the first Saturday game.  New Orleans is definitely my sentimental rooting favorite at this point, and it was nice to see them get some of the edge back that they’d seemingly lost at the end of the regular season.  The “bad” Arizona team showed up on Saturday, and New Orleans took full advantage, scoring at will and harassing Kurt Warner all game long.  Cardinal turnovers were key as predicted, starting right off with the fumble by Jerheme Urban on the team’s first play of their second possession.  Of course, Urban was only playing because Anquan Boldin was still out with the injury suffered when he was on the field against Green Bay in the season’s finale, even after the other starters had been pulled, so Ken Whisenhunt has no one to blame for that misfortune but himself.

On the other sideline, someone should congratulate Reggie Bush on escaping captivity and replacing the imposter that’s taken his place on the Saints roster until now.  The Bush we saw on Saturday was unlike one Saints fans have seen but few times before — a tough, aggressive runner who was a threat to go the distance every time he touched the ball.  This Bush should be a huge weapon for the Saints against the Vikings this upcoming weekend.

Despite my terrible mark so far, I’m not giving up on my picks — I’ll be back at the end of the week for my selections to go to Miami.  On the bright side, I can’t really do any worse — can I?  Then again, maybe I shouldn’t answer that.

Le Boo NFL Coaching Move, Week 16

Posted in Le Boo Coaching Awards, NFL Football, Rants, Sports with tags , , , , on December 28, 2009 by thelasthonestman

Pictured here: the Indianapolis braintrust searching for some testicular fortitude

Normally, this column doesn’t come out until after the Monday night game — but this week’s dishonor is such a slam-dunk exercise in stupidity, there’s no need to wait.  And considering how utterly bad some of the coaching decisions often are in the NFL, that’s saying something.

Jim Caldwell and Bill Polian — come on down!  You’re the next two contestants on “What the hell were you thinking?”.

By now, following the Colts throwing the game against the Jets lying down in the fetal position pulling their offensive  starters while holding a 15-10 lead over the Jets midway through the 3rd quarter, you’ve already heard the reasoning behind why the decision was made.  “The perfect season was never one of our goals,” said head coach Caldwell after the game.

Obviously.

You’ve heard the excuses from Colts management, and you’ve heard the excuses from columnists, pundits, and “experts” from all around the country as to why this was the right decision (and don’t get me started on the embarrassing company line that was being spouted by Tony Dungy on NBC Sunday night — is he on NBC’s payroll or still on the Colts?).  You’ve heard it all already: They need to focus on winning the Super Bowl.  They have to stay healthy for the playoffsThey had nothing to play for.

Really?  Nothing to play for?

How many Super Bowl Teams — even winning ones — do you actually remember?  Without looking it up, who won Super Bowl VIII in 1974?  Or Super Bowl XV in 1981?  Too long ago, you say?  What about Super Bowl XXVI in 1992?  Or even Super Bowl XXXIII in 1999?  That’s only ten years ago — no problem, right?

You probably don’t immediately identify any of those champions, and that’s not a big surprise.  There’s some great teams in that list, including two franchises  — Miami in 1974 and Denver in 1999 — that were winning their second consecutive titles in those years (the other two teams were Oakland in 1981 and Washington in 1992).

But you certainly do remember the 1985 Monsters of the Midway Bears, don’t you? And you won’t forget the 1998 Broncos and John Elway’s first championship either.  And you definitely aren’t going to forget the 1973 unbeaten Miami Dolphins team — even though that club is arguably not even one of the top-10 Super Bowl Champions of all time.

The reason you remember those clubs — and the reason you’ll never forget the 2008 match-up between the Giants and the then-unbeaten Patriots — is because those were teams that were faced with the prospects of sports immortality and true greatness and seized the moment.

It might have mattered to these fans, but Caldwell and Polian were never accused of having a sense of history

Don’t confuse any of those great teams with this year’s Colts.  Indianapolis — or at least, the team’s leadership — was faced with the opportunity to achieve something legendary, magical, and defining — an accomplishment that would cement their legacy in the NFL annuals for as long as football is played — and they didn’t just come up short in the task, they purposely turned away from it.

It’s says a lot about the team’s leadership that they’re more afraid of what bad might happen then about the good that could be accomplished with finishing off this otherwise magical season in a perfect way.  It’s not an attitude that will serve them well in the playoffs, when they’ll be facing other teams willing to do anything and everything necessary to win — while they themselves, at least for this one Sunday, seemed willing to do anything to keep themselves from winning.

But what about the ultimate goal, you say?  What about winning the Super Bowl?  In theory, that’s why they made this decision — in order to rest, avoid injury, and prepare for the playoffs.  And it’s worked well for them in the past, so why wouldn’t they do it again?

Except it hasn’t worked for them.  Ever.  With all of their talent (arguably more than any team in the AFC over the last decade) and with arguably the greatest quarterback of all time under center, the Colts have a whopping one Super Bowl title to their credit.  And that championship came in a season where the Colts rested no one, having to play hard through the season’s final game to get the #3 seed and needing to win in the playoffs’ opening wild card round.  Despite the “extra” work and the added “risk” of injury, the Colts drove through the playoffs that year.  They were in sync all through the postseason — and it showed.

And those seasons they went with the strategy they’re employing this year?  Those Colts performances have been notably unimpressive, featuring  a 3-8 overall playoff record and no less than an incredible six seasons where the Colts were one-and-done.  In three of those one-and-outs, the normally high-powered Colts offense scored 18 points or less.  In most — if not all — of those losses, the Colts looked rusty, out-of-sync, and struggling to find a rhythm while their opponents — often teams that were facing must-win games all the way to the final week — took advantage.

There are no such things as coincidences.  If you believe that, then you also have to believe that the Colts are following a questionable strategy – again — that has never worked for them in the past, and it’s as likely to hurt them again this year as it is to lead them to that ultimate goal of the Super Bowl that Caldwell and Polian have been talking about.  When asking yourself why the Colts instead wouldn’t follow the one path that actually has led to a championship, but continue to do what hasn’t worked, it serves to remember that the definition of idiocy — or insanity — is doing the same thing over and over again and somehow expecting different results.

Don't even let your Colts practice, guys -- someone might break a nail

Worried about injuries?  Despite Rex Ryan’s pressure defense, the Jets got no closer to putting Manning on his backside yesterday than you or I did.  Heck, Reggie Wayne could blow out an ACL in practice between now and playoffs — he wouldn’t be the first player to do so.  Dallas Clark could get hit by a car driving to the store this week.  Do you keep him and all of the other Colts isolated until the playoffs begin?  If you’re worried about Manning and others getting hurt, then why did they even play at all yesterday?  Why keep the starters in games that are out of hand earlier in the season — which the Colts do — if the only thing that matters is health in January?

If you thought there were distractions — or pressure on the Colts — before, then what about now?  Caldwell and Polian have taken a team that was all on the same page and focused and handed them a huge distraction in the enormous amount of second-guessing and questioning that will take place over the next two weeks about their decision.  And forget the company line being spouted by players after the game — one can’t ignore the possible locker-room issues that may have been created, a questioning of the team’s management decisions that was clearly evident on the faces of an unhappy Manning, Wayne, and others as they watched Curtis Painter fumble away the team’s chances at immortality.   And in their decision to throw away that chance, Caldwell and Polian have made winning the Super Bowl an all-or-bust proposition, and in doing so, they’ve not only diminished the team’s remarkable achievements so far, but they’ve increased the pressure on the entire team tenfold.

And none of these points even touch on the integrity of the game — what the Colts did with a lead yesterday was tantamount to fixing the game’s outcome, and in a league that concerns itself so much with its image and with gambling influences, yesterday’s debacle was a black mark for the whole league.  But I suspect it’s not going to matter in a couple of weeks anyway, and if history repeats itself, then Indianapolis’ management will get their just desserts in just a few short weeks.  The San Diego Chargers — not the Colts — are the team hitting on all cylinders right now, and they show no signs of following Indy’s lead and letting up off of the gas pedal.  Don’t be surprised when Indianapolis is looking at another one-and-done playoff performance.  There are potential playoff opponents looming other than the Chargers that may match up well with the Colts — a tough defense and an emotionally-charged team in the Bengals, and a bent-on-revenge Patriots team that should have beaten them once already in the dome, for example.   An ultimate irony would be the Jets facing off with the Colts and knocking them out of the playoffs, since it was Indy’s generosity that put New York in a position to make the playoffs in the first place.

If that happens, don’t blame Manning or his teammates — they wanted to go for the ultimate achievement and they wanted to keep playing to win, even if they didn’t know it was what they need to do to give themselves the best chance of winning it all in Miami.  Instead, blame the people who’ll be shouldering the real blame when someone other than Indianapolis is representing the AFC in the Super Bowl.

Le Boo, Jim Caldwell and Bill Polian.  Le Boo.

Le Boo NFL Coaching Move, Week 15

Posted in Le Boo Coaching Awards, NFL Football, Sports with tags , , on December 22, 2009 by thelasthonestman

With Christmas only a few short days away, and with me still having a lot to do around the house in preparation for the holiday, I’m eschewing my NFL notes for the week (and besides — nothing could zap  my festive holiday spirit faster than talking about the Bears debacle and the ongoing Cutler suck-fest that’s taking place in Chicago).

In that same spirit, I’ll spare a long-winded commentary about this week’s Le Boo coaching move — rest assured, in this case, a picture (or video) is worth a thousand words of scorn and shame.  If you haven’t seen the last play of the first half of last night’s embarrassing Washington loss to the Giants, then you owe it to yourself to check it out now.  If you’re not in a happy mood, you’ll be laughing uproariously once you’re done watching this horrific play (well — unless you’re a Redskins fan, obviously).

Who gets the blame for this sequence?  Whether you want to point the finger at Jim Zorn, Sherman Smith, or Sherman Lewis as the culprit — was this play  “O-72” on the bingo card? — there’s no doubting that it’s a terrible call worthy of our Le Boo dishonors.  If there was anything that new GM Bruce Allen learned last night, it’s likely that he’s got a long job ahead of him — and none of the Three Stooges above will likely be around for the rest of the rise following the merciful end to the season in two more weeks.

Here’s the play — note the befuddled responses from the Monday night trio of announcers, including Mike Tirico’s comment, “This is embarrassing”.

I heard this play referred to as a “Swinging Gate” play.  It should be renamed the “Swinging Door” play — as in, don’t set the swinging door hit you on the way out, Redskins coaches.

Le Boo, guys.  Le Boo.

Le Boo NFL Coaching Move, Week 14

Posted in Le Boo Coaching Awards, NFL Football, Sports with tags , , , on December 16, 2009 by thelasthonestman

When you’re the head coach of a team that’s 13-0, it’s pretty hard for  someone to find any fault in what you’re doing on the sidelines.  But in the case of New Orleans Saints head man Sean Payton, that’s exactly what we’re doing in calling him out for the Le Boo Coaching Move for Week 14.

In a game that had been a lot closer than a lot of people had anticipated, the Saints were holding a slim three-point advantage with four minutes or so left in the 4th quarter and Atlanta in possession of the ball when it looked like New Orleans had salted away the game with an interception by Jonathan Vilma on a poorly thrown ball by Falcons backup quarterback Chris Redman.  Atlanta had been facing a 2nd-and-22 themselves following a bizarre first down call that saw Eric Weems get a direct snap in the Wildcat formation and immediately lose 12 yards, putting the Falcons in an obvious passing situation that the Saints defense, opportunistic all season, quickly took advantage of.

Taking over deep in Atlanta territory following the interception, the Saints were looking at either adding points to the scoreboard to put the game out of reach or killing the clock entirely.  In any case, the interception seemed to put an end to the Falcons chances of an upset.  Even after the Saints offense stalled at the Atlanta 15 yard-line with a little over two minutes remaining, Atlanta still looked finished; a field goal by new kicker Garrett Hartley would make it a six-point game — not in insurmountable deficit, for certain, but a lot safer than the three-point lead the team was holding on to.

But instead, in a bizarre call, the Saints attempted a fake field goal instead.  As the pass fell incomplete, the Falcons were given new life, now needing only field goal to tie the game and send it to overtime, where anything might be possible.  Indeed, the Saints would be bailed out by Vilma again, this time as he stopped Jason Snelling just short of a first down on 4th down.

It’s not that going for it on 4th down to put the game away is what I had the most problem with; a first down there, and the game is over, and you are commanding the league’s high-octane power and arguably the NFL’s MVP in Drew Brees behind center.  With a talented receiver corps and running backs who can catch the ball coming out of the backfield, Brees certainly has the targets to make a 4th-and-7 seem a proposition well worth attempting.

Pictured here: A kicker, a holder -- and absolutely NO quarterbacks you want throwing the ball late in the game

But it wasn’t the Saints offense on the field to convert, but the field goal unit.  And it wasn’t Brees trying to complete a pass of Marques Colston to send the Saints to 13-0, but backup quarterback Mark Brunell — he of the 0 pass attempts since 2006 — trying to complete a pass to offensive lineman Carl Nicks.  Would anyone — other the Payton, we can guess — out there want to make those two the main focus of a crucial offensive play late in the game?  Anyone?

As I pointed out already last week, there’s a time for trick plays — and there’s the time when they’re just ill-advised.  And as I also pointed out in my NFL recap on Monday, Payton already has shown some unusual decision-making in the usage of his running backs, so this strange call isn’t a complete aberration.  So what’s to blame?  It’s not coaching idiocy like some others we’ve looked at — cough cough Gary Kubiak cough cough —  as the Saints head man has certainly done a tremendous job with his team, making Payton a leading candidate for NFL Coach of the Year honors.

So what is it then? Is Payton trying to make the task of going 16-0 even harder for his team to test their mettle?  Is he trying to set up their first loss to take off some of the pressure going into the playoffs?  More worrisome would be that he’s begun to believe too many of his own press clippings, and that he feels the need to “prove” how smart he is — and by extension, how responsible he is — for the Saints success in 2009.  In any case, in a season where Payton’s made the right call nearly all of the time, on Sunday his fake field goal call was definitely the wrong one, and the call not only nearly could have cost the Saints their shot at history, but it was an easy call for the Le Boo NFL Coaching Move for Week 14.

Le Boo, Coach Payton.  Le Boo.

Le Boo NFL Coaching Move, Week 13

Posted in Le Boo Coaching Awards, NFL Football, Sports with tags , , on December 8, 2009 by thelasthonestman

There’s a time to call a gimmick play — and there’s a time when you absolutely don’t.  Trailing by 11 points in the 4th quarter and inside the 10-yard line  — while needing a touchdown desperately in a must-win game in order to keep your team’s fading playoff hopes alive?  Yeah — I’m going to go with “This is one of whose times you don’t try to get cute.”  Unfortunately, for Texans head coach Gary Kubiak, the obvious is a lot like Houston’s chances of salvaging their season — well beyond his grasp.

It’s hard enough for teams to pass the ball effectively around the goal-line — there’s less room for receivers to get open and run routes, with defenders bunched up tight.  And that’s the case for even the best of  NFL quarterbacks (yet there’s still too many head coaches in the NFL who foolishly ignore the run when they’re at the goal line).  But never mind a quarterback’s chances at success —  how hard is it for a running back to pass in that situation?  And not just any running back, mind you — how about one who hadn’t attempted a single pass in an NFL regular-season game in his entire career until Sunday?  Is that an increased enough level of difficulty for you?

Perhaps thinking that his team’s game against the Jaguars was getting scored not in points, but in judges’ scoring like in gymnastics or diving, Kubiak did the inexplicable and called running back Chris Brown’s number — he of the same number of NFL pass attempts as I have — at the 5-yard line for a halfback option pass.  Not surprisingly, Brown did what you might expect a non-quarterback to do in such a situation; faced with pressure, he heaved a lame-duck into the air that no Texan was within a mile of — but plenty of Jaguars were, including safety Gerald Alexander, who picked off the errant throw to kill the scoring opportunity — and with it, likely any chances Houston had to still make the playoffs.

Afterward, with the Texans 23-18 losers, Kubiak seemed to acknowledge his idiocy, saying, “It’s a tough spot to put Chris in, so it just ends up being a bad call by me. A poor call.”

"It's elementary, my dear Watson -- this coach is obviously dumber than this pillar of stone."

Well, no shit, Sherlock.  It wasn’t just a bad or poor call, it was an epic fail — according to Elias, it’s the first fourth-quarter red-zone interception thrown by a running back since Corey Dillon of the Bengals managed the feat way back in the final game of the 2001 season — eight long years ago.  And in defense of that play, considering that the Bengals finished 6-10 that year and dead-last in the AFC Central, it’s a safe guess that the call came in an otherwise meaningless situation — and not with the team’s life on the line.

I’d say that Kubiak could use the upcoming off-season to think about stupid calls like these — but with Houston collapsing with four straight losses in winnable games following a 5-3 start, it’s looking like he’ll be using the months ahead to search for another job.  In the meantime, his dubious decision is the Le Boo NFL Coaching Move for Week 13.

Le Boo, Coach Kubiak.  Le Boo.