Two Minute Warning: Happy Thanksgiving!
Give Thanks You Don’t Reside In San Diego or Philadelphia
Before I get into stealth mode, please enjoy your Thanksgiving holiday in a happy and safe fashion. What a fabulous time of year to eat, eat, and eat some more. I’ll never be happier in my life to see cranberry sauce and sweet potatoes than this weekend.
Two gentlemen who enter the holiday season on unfavourable terms with their rooting public are San Diego head coach Norv Turnerand Philadelphia’s big boss Andy Reid.
Turner leads the underachieving Chargers, considered a pre-season Super Bowl favourite. Dogged by injuries and inconsistency, San Diego heads into the weekend at 4-7. While it’s a massive disappointment, it shouldn’t stand as a big surprise considering that Turner often plays with scared money.
San Diego has lost six games by seven points or less, can’t run with the suddenly mortal LaDainian Tomlinson and can’t defend the pass. All of these issues created the perfect storm Sunday night when the Chargers, trailing 20-17 to Indianapolis, elected to call a timeout and kick a field goal on fourth and two from the Indy 29 with 1:35 left.
When your team is 4-6 and you’re down at home by three against Peyton Manning, under no circumstance can you call a timeout and then not go for it. Kicking a field goal is a bad call because the ball goes back to a guy who the defense didn’t stop in the second half with over a minute left. Turner was scared to lose and didn’t play to win. In fact, he might as well have tattooed “I’m playing to lose” across his forehead.
It’s not the first go around for Norv at Conservative Coaches ‘R Us. Flashing back to last season’s AFC title game against the Pats, down 21-12, Turner elected to punt on a fourth and 10 from New England’s 36 with 9:21 left in the game.
That ranks as one of the poorest coaching decisions in recent post-season memory for two reasons. First, San Diego was playing the highest scoring team in league history on the road, down by two scores; secondly, it didn’t get the ball back after the punt.
There are certain coaches in this league that will never win it all because they are fatally flawed from a tactical standpoint. Turner is one and another is his brother in arms in Philadelphia, Reid.
The portly Eagle leader has become stale and delusional in his 10th year at the helm. Residing in one of the country’s most sleep deprived cities, it appears Reid has fallen asleep at the wheel of an old, beat up Chevy. Years of mediocre drafts and bad playcalling have finally caught up to the Eagles. One can only play Dave Campo, Jim Fassel and Steve Spurrier so many times before the cycles change and the NFC East catches up.
Reid’s frontman, quarterback Donovan McNabb, is past his prime and is physically eroding. Thursday night’s game notwithstanding, his play over the last few weeks in particular, bordered between poor and embarrassing; after being benched in favour of Kevin Kolb last week, it’s pretty clear the McNabb era is nearing an end.
Just in case that doesn’t do it for you, just remember Reid couldn’t even muster the courage to let the guy he drafted back in 1999 know that he was being benched. Reid’s gutless act is the exclamation point on a run that must end.
Reid and McNabb will likely be remembered for horribly mismanaging the final 5:40 of Super Bowl XXXIX. Their legacy is one of failing to take risks, not knowing the rules (ties do indeed exist, Donovan), pickle juice and vomiting during games. Ten years without a Super Bowl victory is long enough. The time for a divorce is here.
Let this be a life lesson, everyone. Those who are afraid to be risk takers don’t take home the ultimate prize.
Ten Things We Learned in Week 12
1. Beware of Tennessee Titans down the stretch: Chris Johnson and LenDale White petered out again last week versus the Jets. Once they polish off the Lions, be careful. As the fantasy playoffs approach, dead weight needs to go to the bench.
2. Drew Brees is locked in: Brees has nine straight games with at least one 40-yard plus pass play and is on target to surpass Dan Marino’s NFL record 5,084 yards passing set in 1984.
3. Terrell Owens’ outburst may be an aberration: The Cowboys finish up their regular season with a very difficult set of games. After Thanksgiving’s tilt against Seattle, the Cowboys face Pittsburgh, New York, Baltimore and Philadelphia. T.O.’s big day against San Francisco is likely to be one of his last this season.
4. Aaron Rodgers is going to steal money next season: Since Rodgers got a new contract, the Packers are under .500 and his play has dipped. Green Bay has dropped three of four and Rodgers has thrown four interceptions in the last three games.
5. LaDainian Tomlinson’s 2009 draft value is sinking with each passing week: Mock drafts for next season are beginning to pop up and Tomlinson is still a first rounder. I’m not exactly sure why. When runners decline at that age, they don’t return to elite status. He might perform better than this season but he is second round fodder at this point.
6. LeBron James is going to be a free agent after the 2009-10 NBA season: Every other sports outlet has a note about this. I figured what’s one more?
7. Jay Cutler and Brandon Marshall are missing in action — again: Over the last eight quarters, Cutler has thrown just one touchdown pass and was shut out from the endzone the first time all season Sunday against Oakland. Meanwhile, Marshall’s descent continues. He has just one touchdown since Week Two and just two 100-yard receiving performances (his first two games). Cutler can’t approach his early season effectiveness if Marshall struggles.
8. Donovan McNabb will wear a different uniform next season: Scheduled to make over $10 million next season, it’s unlikely McNabb returns to the team. Someone will be held accountable for the Eagles not making the playoffs. San Francisco, Minnesota and Detroit are likely to be in the market for a quarterback in the offseason. Mac 5 needs a change of scenery and he may very well get that opportunity.
9. Adrian Peterson is an unhappy customer: Reportedly, Peterson missed time for disciplinary reasons against Jacksonville. It seems he’s a bit more agitated this season. On second thought, if my head coach was Brad Childress and I took handoffs from Gus Frerotte and Tarvaris Jackson, I wouldn’t be happy either.
10. Week 12 was the highest scoring week in NFL history: By week’s end, the Week 12 games combined to amass 837 points. With some dreadful defenses in St. Louis, Detroit and Kansas City don’t be surprised if that trend continues.
Fantasy Power Poll
Last week’s rankings are in parentheses
1. Kurt Warner (1) – The Giant defense contained Warner and limited run after catch which is huge versus ‘Zona.
2. Drew Brees (2) – If you’re a Brees’ owner, the Saints’ lack of running game is great. It just gives him more cracks at opposing secondaries.
3. Clinton Portis (5) – After an off week against Dallas, Portis was back in business in the Pacific Northwest.
4. Anquan Boldin (4) – New York would not allow him to shake free after the catch, but he still found the endzone.
5. Adrian Peterson (3) – He’s still missing that game this season.
6. Frank Gore (6) – A bad performance in Dallas will hopefully be erased against Buffalo.
7. Michael Turner (8) – Looks like the Chargers may have kept the wrong guy.
8. Larry Fitzgerald (7) – An ‘09 mock draft had Fitzgerald in front of Boldin. Enough, people!
9. Marion Barber (9) – If Dallas is to go anywhere this season, Barber must produce.
10. Thomas Jones (NR) – I’m stunned he’s actually here. However, a tip of the cap should go the Jets’ sterling offensive line.
Link of the Week
Athletes and singing is typically a lose-lose proposition. That’s especially the case when the song is entitled “Ram It.” The Los Angeles Rams decided to put together a musical ditty in the mid ’80s. The results were in a word, horrifying.
Not to be outdone, the other Los Angeles tenant (at the time, of course) decided to put together a song too. It’s more proof that Al Davis didn’t just start losing his mind five years ago.