There are people — far, far too many people — who were once associated with the game of football in some way, and they’re now paid handsomely to spew idiocy to you through the moving pictures on your TV. The common assumption is that this exercise peaks right now, during the five months of the NFL’s regular season and playoffs. Sadly, that’s wrong, because what the hell are we supposed to talk about from mid February until late July, and especially between the end of the draft and the start of training camp?

Tim Tebow, because of course. And we can just complain about stuff.

This cult of talking heads breeds and multiplies every offseason as coaches are fired, and players retire. They seek to entertain you, and in doing so they become intolerably annoying. For example: if you put yourself through the pre-game show tonight, a few minutes prior to kickoff as it’s wrapping up four grown men will make grotesque faces on your TV while screaming something about a BEEEAAAASSTTTTTT.

Mostly, though, talking heads seek to make you angry with epic, Skip Bayless-level trolling. That’s why I try to ignore them, but sometimes their idiocy can’t be walled off.

With that I present to you Ron Jaworski, king of the curmudgeons.

First, some review. During yesterday’s highly entertaining Bucs-Giants game in which New York outscored Tampa 28-10 in the second half to come back and win 41-34 powered by Eli Manning’s 510 passing yards, the game concluded with some old school stupidity. Seeking to affirm a message he’s drilled into his team, rookie Bucs head coach Greg Schiano instructed his players to remain aggressive and keeping rushing the Giants’ offensive line until the last second ticked off the clock.

Normally that would be an applauded mantra. But normally defensive players don’t pass rush when the opposing team is kneeling down, and the game is essentially and quite clearly over. That’s why this happened….

Giants head coach Tom Coughlin was quite understandably displeased, while Schiano immediately looks like the rah rah college coach who threatened to rip every scholarship away from his defensive players if the obey the standard and understood football principle that you don’t charge the line on a kneel down. During his post-game press conference Coughlin elaborated, saying that the Bucs’ conduct was simply unacceptable.

“You don’t jeopardize the offensive line, you [don’t] jeopardize the quarterback. Thank goodness we didn’t get anybody hurt … that I know of.’’

Now Jaworski wants him to apologize, because head coaches should always accept the fact that defending common sense is not their job. Here’s what he said during an ESPN appearance this morning:

“Tom Coughlin owes Greg Schiano an apology. I’m disappointed in the response. The Giants mantra has always been ‘Finish, Finish, finish’ . . . I don’t want to hear Eli and Coughlin whining.”

That’s not even the best part, because once the string is pulled on the talking head, there’s hours of fun to be had. Jaws then compared the play and the potential for the Bucs to force and recover a fumble to the famous Miracle at the Meadowlands play in 1978. There’s just a minor difference between the two plays, even if the Bucs forced that hypothetical fumble.

The Miracle at the Meadowlands is regarded as one of the worst and most inexplicable coaching decisions of all time. Why? Because during that late November game with the Giants leading and the Eagles out of timeouts, the home side simply needed to kneel down and the game was theirs. Instead they RAN THE BALL.

I’m keyboard screaming not because of the idiocy around the Giants’ decision to run — a play that resulted in Herm Edwards picking up a fumble and returning it for a game-winning touchdown — over three decades ago, although it’s certainly deserving of a voice that’s several octaves higher than normal human volume.

No, I’m a little, how do I say it…bewildered at Jaws’ failure to understand the fundamental difference between the two plays in question here, and therefore why Schiano is carving out his niche as the league’s newest and greatest douche coach. One play was a kneel down, and one play wasn’t. On one play, the offense was trying to advance the ball, and it’s the defense’s job to stop that advancement. On the other play, the quarterback is taking a fraction of a second to give himself up, and then the play is over.

Charging on a kneel down isn’t a display of toughness, aggression, or bitter determination. It’s stupid, and it’s a reflection of being a sore loser. Head coaches who accept losing are head coaches who won’t be head coaches for very long, but once there’s a kneel down situation the game is over and you’ve lost, and you’ve also lost all available avenues to change that outcome.

Be mad, be frustrated, and even be livid. But go shake hands, and save it for next week.

Pic via Lord of the Dribble

Comments (9)

  1. I don’t understand the anger over this. It’s a play within the rules, so why not take full advantage. Would you like to have football become more and more like baseball, operating under by “unwritten rules”? I’ll take an aggressive move over accepting defeat any day of the week.

    • Using common sense doesn’t mean you’re lacking in aggression, and I fail to see the comparison to one of baseball’s unwritten rules like, say, not bunting to break up a no-hitter. A bunt can very realistically help a team win a game by getting a runner on base. But what are the realistic chances that you’re going to cause a fumble on a kneel down?

      Again, it takes the quarterback a split second to kneel down. The game is lost, and there’s a far greater chance that an injury will occur during a meaningless garbage time play.

      • Realistic chances shouldn’t matter, if there is any chance of winning, any at all, you should take it. Job is to win football games, not kiss Coughlins superbowl rings and accept defeat.

        If it had worked, and Eli had fumbled the ball, would anyone be making this much negative noise? Doubt it.

        • Yes, I definitely think there would have been just as much talk in the off chance that Eli fumbled.

          Again, there’s a reason why you never, ever see this from any other team, and any other coach. The odds of hurting someone — even your own player — dramatically outweigh the odds of anything good happening during a nothing play.

        • The Bucs, with that last play against the Giants, just declared open season on their entire team. Freeman is now fair game. Thanks Coach!

  2. But that’s like saying a team down by 2 tds with 2 minutes left shouldn’t blitz on d, or shouldn’t return kickoffs they take in their end zone because there’s a higher chance of injury making those plays. That is true, but why not take advantage of the fact that the opportunity at least exists?

    • Because the odds of a positive outcome are so incredibly miniscule.

      Anyone can get hurt on any play in any game. But as far as injuries on this specific play are concern, it comes down to simple risk/reward, and that’s when common sense should take over. I like a team’s chances of returning a kickoff for a touchdown or creating a turnover through a blitz far more than their odds of getting a professional quarterback to fumble on a kneel down.

      That’s just the injury side of this. The other more significant point is that the quarterback — and thus the offense — is in effect giving up with a kneel down. So defenders are charging aggressively on basically a dead play when there’s no threat whatsoever of ball advancement.

  3. Anyone who has played any level of football knows that its an unwritten rule of the game to take it easy on a kneel down. As a defensive player its frustrating as hell, but there’s no point in starting a fight at the end of the game. I understand that they’re professionals and if they’re getting paid they should go hard every play, but you still need to have respect for your opponent. I would maybe expect to see this at the high school level by some die-hard coach who’s trying to be “intimidating”, but to see it at the NFL level is just embarrassing. Show some class and take the loss like a man.

  4. So the team should give up one last chance to tie the game because the other coach decides it’s over. Bullshit. It doesn’t happen often but it isn’t illegal. If the Bucs were down by more then one score i could see the sore loser part but if they recovered a fumble, they have a chance. So riding the Giants Johnson and stop being inflammatory yourself.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *