Monday, December 18, 2017
After JuJu Smith-Shuster's 69 yard catch and run and with 34 seconds on the clock, Ben Roethlisberger immediately signaled a timeout. My brother pointed out Pittsburgh's mistake as it happened. It ultimately cost the Steelers the game and nobody will ever talk about it.
After the big gain, the Steelers should have sprinted up to the line and spiked it, saving the timeout so they could choose whatever plays they wanted to call on 2nd and 3rd downs. With the timeout in your pocket you can run on 2nd down, or maybe play-action pass into the end zone or out of bounds, and then run on 3rd. You have much more flexibility in what you can decide to do. Which also makes it harder for the defense, forcing them to respect the run (especially against Le'Veon Bell), defend the pass, and be aware of the 240 pound Roethlisberger possibly running a draw.
You can also use the timeout to ensure the Patriots don't get the ball back.
It would have taken some time to get to the 10 and get set. Maybe 15 seconds. So the options are:
2nd & Goal/10, 19 seconds on the clock, 1 timeout
1st & Goal/10, 34 seconds on the clock, 0 timeouts
Do you want 15 extra seconds on the clock that you might not need, or do you want to be able to use every play and player in your offensive arsenal, and make it harder on the defense to know what you're doing?
The Steelers set themselves down the path of bad decision-making, managed themselves into a corner, and paid the consequences.
Monday, December 04, 2017
NFL refs suck. Just look how poorly and inconsistently they don't call pass interference when opposing defenders drape themselves on Rob Gronkowski.
Gronk should have been ejected from the Bills game for his late, and dangerous hit on Tre'Davious White. Sorry, Pats fans, it's true. If any Bill or Dolphin or Jet did what Gronk did to a Pats' player, we'd all be up in arms about it. We all yell and scream quite vociferously when Gronk or Brady is a victim of a cheap shot. You can't then ignore your own players crossing the line so blatantly.
Even Belichick thought it was a "bullshit" hit.
It was moronic. No matter what you think about fines or suspensions, it was flat out stupid. As if nobody was watching. As if nobody would see a 6' 7" silverback gorilla acting like Razor Ramon on the sidelines.
But if the refs had kicked him out, it would be hard for the NFL to suspend Gronk on top of the ejection. It was a 20 point game with under 5 minutes, the result long since decided, so Gronk being tossed would have little impact on the game.
And honestly, it's Week 14 now, the Pats are on the verge of wrapping up the division, I don't mind the most injury prone TE in history missing a game. Suspend away.
Sunday, December 03, 2017
Alabama vs. Ohio State is more exciting as a football game than an argument. I'd much rather watch these two teams determine the 4th playoff spot on the field, than watch sports pundits argue about it.
It's clear that the College Football Playoffs are a vast improvement over the BCS, but a modest increase in the playoff's size could yield a big increase in entertainment and drama, while still preserving the importance of the regular season.
I've always wanted a 6-team college playoff, with the top 2 receiving byes, and teams seeded 3 through 6 having to play an extra round. But now I'm thinking that 5 teams would be even better, with just one play-in game. Having just one play-in game is somehow more captivating. It's also not a 7 hour time commitment to my TV.
Forcing the a team to win an extra game for a playoff spot makes sense as the 4th and 5th teams typically have some blemishes on their record they need to atone for. They perhaps didn't win their conference, or have 2 losses, or are a non-power conference team like UCF. They could prove their worthiness by winning the play-in game, which is much more convincing than a panel or algorithm deciding they deserve a chance to win it all.
And a 5 team playoff maintains the importance, and subsequent drama of the regular season. It might even add a little more urgency and excitement, as title contending teams strive to ensure a spot in the top 3 to avoid the extra game, and more teams would have a reasonable chance at making the playoffs.
The play-in game could be played a week after the conference championships, and be hosted by the #4 seed to ensure good ticket sales and an intense college football atmosphere. It would also give us the treat of seeing powerful programs from different parts of the country forced to play each other outside of neutral locations. Or it could pit conference rivals against each other in a game with a national title shot on the line.
So this is what we'd get with a play-in game:
- The fourth playoff team forced to earn their spot
- The fourth playoff team legitimately proving their worthiness
- More importance for top teams to finish in the top 3
- More teams with a shot at making the playoffs
- An extra 60 minutes of exciting football between top teams
Just ask yourself, would you rather watch talking head sports pundits argue about Bama and Ohio State, or watch the Tide and Buckeyes figure it out for themselves in front of 100,000 fans in Columbus or Tuscaloosa? Which do you think would get better ratings, the game or the selection show?