I’ve never understood – and I guess I think about stuff like this all the time (with my background in economics and all)….risk/reward! What do you get for the risk? There is a reason why I don’t skydive. The reward for skydiving “man that was a big rush” The risk is my parents wake up with one less child. So I’m not going to skydive! Mike Smith on Sunday, 4th and inches goes for it, in his own territory…and you’re like “ugh, that’s gutsy” in fact, it’s dumb! Because there is no reward!! The risk is: we lose a game to our division rival, which will have a huge negative effect in our playoff pursuit. The reward is…a first down? That’s it? I could have the same question 3 plays later! That’s it??
Now Mike Smith is the coach of the Atlanta Falcons, here is why – read closely, he went for it. He says “The down and distance…it went through my mind in terms of what had happened in the previous games where we had been stopped with 3 or 4 minutes to go in the ball game – twice before in the six games we’ve played and we did not get the ball back. So if we’re not going to be able to move the ball 2 or 3 inches, then we probably are not going to win the football game.”
What’s he talking about previous games??? Why are you bringing previous games into it! Every game has got its own feel. The Patriots were bad last week, they’re great Sunday night. You can’t use previous games, it’s the NFL. You know, Baltimore beats the Steelers yet can’t beat the Seachickens…you can’t take previous games. You go for it, when the reward is “if we pick up a first down… we seal the victory”. If we pick up a first down, then if we don’t get it…punt it, pin them deep and they’ve got to go 94 yards in 28 seconds. But when the reward is “a first down?” I didn’t believe in Belicheck doing it and I don’t believe in Mike Smith doing it.
Now players love it! And you’re never going to lose a locker room going for it and I also think that teams should go for it more often. The Oregon Ducks go for it seemingly every 4th down. There are teams that have a culture – especially in college football, because there is a disparity between talents. But in the NFL, a division rival is a huge risk which almost has no reward! Just for the sake of it, let’s say you pick up the inches though, but then in the next 3 plays, let’s say you get 6 yards? Alright, then you have to pray that your punter nails one! There was no upside to doing it and there is a huge down side to it…I don’t get it!! There’s a big difference between gutsy and goofy! I thought it was totally goofy.
The other thing is that people are freaking out in New York “oh the Jets…” well, what about them? They’re a playoff team in my mind. Monday, perspective… don’t overreact folks! Listen, if you read the New York papers “god, the Jets are terrible…” excuse me? They are a very good defense that faced a great quarterback and got gashed. But over the next several weeks they’ll face Tim Tebow, Ryan Fitzpatrick, Rex Grossman, Matt Cassel, Matt Moore and they’re going to win most of those games. The team that they are vying with – the Cincinnati Bengals, for a wildcard spot have to face: Ravens twice, Steelers and they have to play Houston and they’ve got to go on the road several times…the Jets are fine long-term. The Jets are not going to win the division; they’re not built necessarily to beat Belicheck – that’s why I took New England in my latest “Suerte Cinco” picks. But in the end, it’s massive over-reaction.
The one thing that does bother me about the Jets however – and I’ve felt this for about 6 months and I feel like its increasing. Is that Rex Ryan called his quarterback “stupid” and I think it’s an issue. Rex Ryan – and he said this, believes that he’s the best defensive mind in football. So he basically believes that “if I can just have a decent quarterback, I can win the Superbowl” and in back to back years, that defense has gotten that team to the AFC championship. In both games, the quarterback has been outdueled. Once I believe by Big Ben and once by Peyton Manning. So you know, deep down, Rex Ryan feels like “I’ve got the defense and special teams to get there, I’ve got the offensive line to get there…but I don’t have the quarterback”
So Mark Sanchez, with a buck twenty calls a time out at the end of the first half – they score, but it gives Brady enough time to score. Rex says to NBC “that was the stupidest time out in the history of the league” then he comes back later and says “well you know, I guess it’s on me”. A school teacher can’t say about the test scores of her class “those are the stupidest test scores I’ve ever seen…but I’m the teacher…my bad!” No, we know what you mean! You’ve got stupid kids.
Now Rex Ryan, after the game …again, he takes – it’s false humility to be honest with you, he takes the brunt of it saying “Yeah, we had a poor time out…and you know, time management was absolutely a critical error and that’s my responsibility and you make that many mistakes against that team…there is no chance your winning the football game!” Again, that’s after you told NBC “it was the stupidest time out in NFL history” Rex Ryan see’s Tom Brady twice a year and he is struggling to consistently beat him and he knows that he’s a better defensive coach that anybody on that team, he knows he’s got a better defense. Deep down, I sense this simmering feeling between Rex and Mark Sanchez and I don’t sense it with any coach and quarterback anywhere else in this league.
Now, I think the Jets are fine and they’ll make the playoffs – because I think they’ll edge out Cincinnati and they’ve already got a tie breaker on Buffalo and Tennessee. So I think they slide in like they’ve done the last several years into a wildcard spot. Who knows…they can win games! They’re certainly capable of winning games, but that’s the thing that jumps out to me. Michael Kay interviewed Mark Sanchez like 2 months ago – and Sanchez sorta laughed at his coach. It just feels like there is something that isn’t right, below the surface.
I also have what Denver’s doing, which is running the Oklahoma Sooner’s 1974 offense and winning NFL games. It wasn’t long ago that I went out with my family and I took them to an American Burger chain when we were down in the states a couple of weeks ago called Five Guys. It was remarkable! Because its simplicity was brilliant! They didn’t even have chicken!! They didn’t do turkey wrap, they didn’t do specialty coffee. Some of us had a big hamburger and some of us a small hamburger and we also got 3 hot dogs and coke. The burger places’ sense of self was really impressive! They don’t do tacos, they don’t do specialty coffee. You go to some of these restaurants; they have like 8,000 things on the menu. Five Guys has like 4 things! And they do them really well.
If you look around at who wins their divisions, it’s overwhelmingly teams with a sense of self. The Giants…here is what we do: we pound the football, we have a pass rush. The Packers: we take risks. The Patriots: we’re smart. The Saints: we’re clever. Denver runs the football…that’s all they do! No turkey wraps, no Caesar salad. Now, I think there is absolute limitations, but in that crappy division? Do you really have a sense of self with Kansas City, San Diego and Oakland? Do those teams really know what they are good at? Denver knows exactly what they are good at, now it’s limited and they’re schedule is going to get much tougher starting this Thursday. But in a lousy division, with a bunch of goofy head coaches…many who could get fired, with a bunch of average quarterbacks, with a bunch of teams that don’t know what they are….to Denver’s credit and John Fox’s credit “here’s what we do! Big hamburger, small hamburger, three hot dogs…here’s a coke and fries! That’s all we do and we do it really well” and its winning football games right now in Denver!