Worst onside kick: Somewhere deep inside of Bill Belichick’s mind is a tiny little man wearing a hood and hovering over his tiny calculator. Basically, it’s mini Belichick, which would undoubtedly be the scariest Halloween costume of the season if you saw it lurking in the darkness tomorrow night.
When the Patriots are faced with a critical late-game decision, mini Belichick determines the correct path by using a complex formula similar to the one used by eight year olds every Christmas to track the exact position of Santa. After the Patriots scored to cut Pittsburgh’s lead to 23-17 with 2:36 remaining, mini Belichick was summoned. Was an onside kick the right call, or could the defense be trusted to get a stop with all three timeouts still available?
After several seconds of intense thought and button-pushing, this is what mini Belichick produced…
You might say that it was the execution, and not the decision that should be blamed for the outcome. And in fairness, Stephen Gostkowski probably should have adjusted his skirt before his onside kick attempt. But he shouldn’t have even been put in a position to fail.
There were two potential scenarios here, both with clear risk, but one with far more than the other. The Patriots could have kicked deep and forced Ben Roethlisberger to drive a far greater distance before attempting a game-clinching field goal. Jerod Mayo was back in the lineup defensively, which should have given Belichick far more confidence in his team’s ability to stop the run.
Including the two-minute warning, New England had four chances to stop the clock, and two large humans–Albert Haynesworth and Vince Wilfork–up the middle who had held Rashard Mendenhall to a moderate 70 rushing yards on 13 carries. The odds of getting the ball back and scoring after kicking deep were significantly more favorable than attempting a low percentage dribbling onside kick, especially since the Pats haven’t had a successful onside kick since 1994.
Yes, here we are again confused over another needless risk by a highly intelligent, defensive-minded coach who doesn’t trust the defense he’s assembled.
Worst new fad: Pogs were really cool for a while, and then we realized that playing with little pieces of cardboard isn’t something that people with actual houses and dependable incomes should do for entertainment. A fad is a delicate, fragile thing, and the second it’s overexposed it dies tragically.
Friends, I believed we witnessed the end of a viral trend today. Rest in peace, Tebowing.
It was cool when Tebow was Tebowed.
But then the meme met its demise in that same game when tight end and former Bronco Tony Scheffler briefly bowed to the heavens too.
Hopefully today’s overexposure on national television has indeed killed Tebowing. If we learned anything from planking, it’s only a matter of time until someone gets hurt…
Least surprising eight-week trend: Sometimes we undercover surprising stats that are unique and compelling. Then there are other times when we embark on an adventure down the statistical rabbit hole and find exactly what we thought we’d find. This is definitely the latter, but it still shows just how painfully average the Browns’ passing game has been.
We’re now two games shy of being through eight weeks of NFL football in 2011, meaning we’re also one week away from the official halfway point of the season. So there’s been plenty of opportunities to throw footballs, catch footballs, run with footballs, and score with footballs. And yet still the Browns haven’t had a single 100-yard receiver in a game.
Pinning the inadequacies of the Browns’ passing offense on one element is both difficult and unfair. The support from the running game has been inconsistent with Peyton Hillis either hobbled or unhealthy. He missed his third game today, and Montario Hardesty has been effective at times during what’s essentially his rookie season, but he’s still averaging only 3.3 yards per carry.
But the true source of Cleveland’s passing debacle is Colt McCoy, or more accurately, his arm. The Browns still don’t trust him to throw deep, and plays are rarely designed to stretch the field and establish anything that resembles a deep attack putting stress on opposing secondaries.
McCoy is asked to throw plenty, and has had four games with at least 35 passing attempts, and one with 61 attempts back in Week 4. But despite the volume of attempts, he’s still averaging only 5.5 yards per attempt.
When trust dies in a relationship, the end is near. Pat Shurmur doesn’t trust McCoy, and that disconnect is wasting the speed of Josh Cribbs, Greg Little, and Mohamad Massaquoi.