The Revolution is Not a Dinner Party

It's Just Lunch....or IS IT??

Monday, February 07, 2005

Me, calling for Andy Reid’s head

I haven’t really read a lot of the coverage of the game or seen the post-game interviews, so I’m really not sure how the public reaction has gone down.

First, the Patriots are an amazing team that deserves all the accolades they are getting. They play really well together and are fun to watch. I was bitter about the Steelers loss to them, but even I find it really hard to root against these guys.

Moving on….

Here’s the thing(s) about football. The rules are too convoluted and contrived to match the flow of a sport like soccer. Also the vast majority of fans have never even played organized ball, which is much different from baseball or basketball. Finally, the players are generally unlikable freaks. Yet, it is definitively the most popular sport in the country.

Why? Because its designed to be a fan-centered TV experience. There’s so much going on that fans have millions of things to pick apart and comment upon and feel smart about. The strategy behind the game is more obvious (and important) than in any other sport. The breakout athletic performances are usually easy to perceive. More importantly, there are very few games and it’s a lot easier to plan your life around them so that you can feel like a “real” fan.

….that’s all a sort of apologia for what is my own, uninformed impressions of the game.

I’ve never before said that a coach should be fired for a single game. In fact, I hate it when commentators and owners blame things on coaches. First, it’s usually not truly their fault. Second, at least as important as any game is the overall program a coach is trying to build, which takes years to do. A classic example of “blame the coach” gone horribly wrong is the Redskin’s idiot owner Dan Snyder’s (the worst owner in sports) decision to fire Marty Schottenheimer (not the best, but certainly not the worst coach in the NFL) after only one year. You can’t do that. It’s not smart.

Nevertheless, Andy Reid should never coach in the NFL again.

Nobody thought the Eagles had a chance in this game. Yet, the Patriots made bone-head mistakes and the Eagles defense played twice as well as anyone could have expected. The reality is that, despite the fact that it felt like the Eagles were being dominated the entire 60 minutes, they easily could have won the game. They did not get a chance to really try to win because the coaching staff was not prepared enough to run a simple 2-minute hurry-up drill. Donovan was shaken and rattled in the last few minutes, but the rest of the team should have know what was going on (the coaches job) and known the plays well enough to get Donovan back on track (again the coaches job). Instead they wasted time and ran down the clock to a point where a win was impossible. Most shocking is that the chief advantage the Eagles had was a receiving squad playing better than usual against a 3rd string New England secondary. This means the Eagles were primed for a big, deep passing drive.

More inexplicable, to me, is Reid’s choice not to try for a field goal in the last minute of the first half. The explanation is that he was afraid McNabb was going to cough up the ball and give New England an easy touchdown. But, you can’t play conservative in the Super Bowl against a vastly superior squad. If you don’t have the nerve to double down on 11 after a shitty couple hands, you shouldn’t be playing blackjack. If you don’t have the nerve to try for 3 points with a minute on the clock and TWO TIMEOUTS and about 30 yards to field-goal range, you shouldn’t be coaching in the NFL.

The entire game was a gift to the Eagles, and the coaching staff blew it.
Obviously Donovan McNabb sucked horribly. There’s no doubt about that. But, quarterbacks often have shitty Super Bowls. He may get fired, he may not. What I find unacceptable and unprecedented is how Reid fielded a team that was not ready to play in the big game. My high school football coach would have had a 2-minute drill prepared in the WPIAL semi-finals. Reid is an NFL coach in the Super Bowl. Unacceptable. Teams have to demand more from a coaching staff than what Reid and company delivered last night.


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