A Reminder That Football Is Awesome and Other Bullets

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I’m writing this early Sunday morning, as I sit here in northern Indiana waiting for the doomsday snowstorm to finally make its way to me. It’s been hovering a few counties away for a couple of hours now, but it’s coming. Last night, I considered doing whatever it is adults do in this situation; getting bread and milk, perhaps. But every grocery store was ridiculously busy (apparently people really don’t want to go without bread for more than 24 hours.) So I ordered a pizza, bought some Pepsi (no Coke Zero at the convenience store) and settled in for the second half of the Colts and Chiefs. I almost didn’t turn it on. I had checked the score while waiting to pick up the pizza, and it was 38-10 Kansas City.

Now I’ll note that in yesterday’s bullets, I may have given the impression that I wasn’t very excited for the NFL playoffs, due to a hangover from the Bears loss last weekend. Whatever reticence I had going into yesterday was erased right along with Kansas City’s 28-point second half lead. What an entertaining game. as the Colts stormed back to win 45-44. (According to ESPN’s Stats & Info’s Twitter, the Colts became the first team to win in NFL history to win in regulation after trailing by at least 28 points.)

Also in yesterday’s bullets, you’ll find my prediction that Indy/KC would be a low-scoring affair. Whoops. Though I did pick the Colts to win, and the Saints as well. I arrived at the proper destination, I just went the wrong way to get there. The Colts comeback was so good that it sort of overshadowed the Saints winning in Philadelphia on a field goal as time expired. Just a great day for NFL football; hopefully today’s games are entertaining as well.

  • A quick thing from that Kansas City/Indianapolis game: with 5:40 left in the game, the Chiefs led by three. They faced 4th and 6 on the Colts 25 yard line. Their defense had been shredded the entire second half, having given up touchdowns on four of the Colts previous five offensive possessions. Andy Reid sent out the field goal unit, Ryan Succop converted from 43 yards out to extend Kansas City’s lead to six. At the time, I said on Twitter that I might have gone for it in that scenario, and here’s why: if you convert that play, en route to a touchdown, you win the game. (Well, most likely. Who knows with that game.) You would be up by 10 at that point. If you fail to convert, you’re still up three; a touchdown beats you, of course, but it would have (and did) had they made the field goal, anyway. It would have enabled the Colts to kick a field goal to tie, but with the way the Chiefs defense had played, giving the Colts incentive to play for a field goal might not have been a bad thing. (It didn’t get that far due to the immediate T.Y. Hilton touchdown, but the Colts would have been in four-down territory for the entire drive. That has a benefit for the offense.) The Chiefs had a chance to play for the win on offense, and passed on it, choosing to give their defense a chance to win the game. But that’s a chance the defense would have had either way; in essence, they passed up a shot on offense. It’s as close as a football team can get to a sacrifice bunt. The Colts scored very quickly, and the Chiefs once again had the ball on offense; Reid’s decision did give them a chance to win with a field goal, but Kansas City never had that opportunity; they ended up failing to convert on a 4th and 11 play, the Colts took over on downs, and the game was essentially over.
  • When grading coaching decisions, it’s important to focus on the context of that decision, and not so much on what happened in the aftermath. (For example, had Robbie Gould made the infamous second-down field goal, that wouldn’t make retroactively make it the correct decision for Marc Trestman.) I felt like Reid’s decision to kick the field goal was not the move that put his team in the best position to win the game. For what it’s worth, the New York Times/Advanced NFL Stats 4th Down Bot agreed with me; according to the math, going for it would have put the team’s likely winning percentage at 79%, versus 76& for attempting a field goal. (Interestingly, punting would be 75%.) The Bot notes that coaches attempt the field goal 82% of the time in that situation. The idea that you should “always take the points” or that you should “extend the game” is a pervading one, but I think they might be on their way out. You shouldn’t take the points if going for it gives you a better chance of winning the game. And you shouldn’t extend the game if doing so means giving up what is likely to be your best chance of winning the game. The Chiefs gave up 4th and 6 and ended up needing 4th and 11. (And that’s not even factoring in that a failed try on 4th and 6 wasn’t even close to a definite game-ender.)
  • Slow day for Bears news, but Adam Jahns of the Sun-Times writes that the Bears want Josh McCown to return. Specifically, Jay Cutler wants him back. I think if Josh wants to stay, the Bears would be willing to make that happen. If he gets offered a starting job elsewhere, that might change the equation, although it’s hard to say how much. If you’re McCown, do you want to go start for a team in the short-term? If no competitive team is in play for him, would you want to go somewhere else to start, knowing that by the end of the year you might very well be backing up a rookie anyway? It’s an interesting situation. From the Bears perspective, I’m not sure there’s any more ideal backup for this team than McCown, and as Cutler noted in the Sun-Times piece, Josh’s positive impact on the team really does seem to reach far beyond his performance on the field.
  • The Titans fired head coach Mike Munchak, who had just finished his third season in charge. As Sports Illustrated’s Peter King noted on Twitter, that means 15 NFL head coaches have been fired in the past 53 weeks. That’s staggering.
  • Former Pittsburgh coach Bill Cowher told ESPN that he won’t be coaching anywhere this season. (He didn’t outright say “So Daniel Snyder can stop calling me, please.” But I think that’s implied.)
  • Today’s NFL games: San Diego at Cincinnati at 1:00 PM Eastern, San Francisco at Green Bay at 4:25. My “analysis” for yesterday’s games was so poor that I’ll just skip it this time; I’ll take the Bengals and the 49ers today.

Enjoy the games, and if you are in the path of winter weather, please be safe.

Jay Rigdon is the editor and lead writer at Bleacher Nation Bears, and can also be found @BearsBN on Twitter.

10 responses to “A Reminder That Football Is Awesome and Other Bullets”

  1. Justin

    Jay, good stuff. I’ve been on the Cubs side for awhile, but excited to start reading more of your stuff. I think the Bears definitely need a decent backup with Cutler’s availability issues, and would love McCown back. But even if he’s a backup isn’t he going to want a decent raise after outperforming Cutler? That would be even more cash tied up in the QB position… In all honesty I am completely against the Cutler extension, mainly because I see him continuing to miss games with injuries. Even with a better line he still can’t feel a pass rush to save his life, or know when to step into the pocket. So he’s going to take serious hits still. I know I need to let it go, and hope I am wrong on Cutty staying healthy… For what it’s worth I do love his dickhead demeanor though, and find it funny!

    1. Kurt

      ” But even if he’s a backup isn’t he going to want a decent raise after outperforming Cutler”

      He didn’t outperform Cutler. For heaven’s sakes, do you not pay attention to the metrics of the game? I’ve been on the Cubs (older) sister site, they value REAL statistics, not wins and losses, etc… I’d be more than happy to post links comparing the two QB’s and the level of competition etc…. they have faced, if posting links from other sites is allowed.

      Josh played almost exclusively against some of the most inept defenses in the football (24th average) still only going 3-2 against the bottom quarter. About the only horrid one he missed was our own. Jay played (and beat) far better competition.

      Josh is a lot like Philip Rivers, where many are throwing Hosannas his way. McCoy in San Diego and Trestman in Chicago have used the chuck and duck approach with both QB’s to mask their deficiencies.

      I love Josh, as a backup, but as a starter he would quickly be found at. Great between the 20′s but a negative in the redzone.

      I am so glad Emery doesn’t listen to the unwashed masses that feel self-important when they regurgitate the same claptrap they’ve heard on NFL network, ESPN, Fox, or the local chowder heads on the Score that get ratings by stoking controversy.

      Oh, and by the way, for all the Cutler bashers that are soothing themselves with the mantra that the contract is really only guaranteed for 3 years and the Bears can get rid of Cutty after that (you know after they’ve figured out their mistake, or so the Jay haters hope) bad news boys, look at those last four years closer.

      Cutler actually earns quite a quite bit less in years 4 and 5, with 6 and 7 not even being too bad for the Bears financially, especially in those later years where those dollar numbers will be deflated. His contract in 2020 calls for 19 million dollars; you’ve got QB’s getting 20 plus contracts now.

      Not to squash all the hopes and dreams of Cutty haters, buy if he performs at all he’ll probably get another contract (3-4 years) after this one.

      Oh Noooooooooooooooooooooooooooo!

      1. Justin

        You have no idea what you’re talking about Bruce Lee. First off I was a Cutler defender for years, and am not part of the “unwashed masses that feel self-important” just talking about what I here on ESPN, Fox, or other “local chowder heads”. I have formed my opinion on Cutler on my own. I understand metrics very well, and not sure why/how you think Cutler was better than McCown last year. Sounds to me like you don’t…
        I gave excuses over and over why Jay didn’t quite look better, but I started to watch him closer and compare what he did in the pocket compared to other good, reliable, and durable QB’s and then realized that Cutler has absolutely no feel at all in the pocket. I know some of the lines he played with in the past were real bad, but he just has no idea when a defender is near and gets smashed constantly. He has no idea the pass rush is near at all. He has no idea when to step into the pocket, or when a rusher is near. Dude doesn’t have a feel. So this discount you speak about in the latter yrs of his deal mean nothing to me. Cutler will be meat by then. Dude has taken a ridiculous amount of hits, and won’t be around then…
        I never said McCown was the long term answer either, but was talking about Cutler staying on the field in the future with the hits he takes as low. Way to go on and on about something that i didn’t even mention… And I will admit Emery was in a tough spot for sure, but you’re way off on your assessment of my post.
        So congrats to you Bruce Lee on your righteous defending Cutler mission, that’s awesome.

      2. frank

        Kurt–I’ve been fighting this same battle and would appreciate seeing the links you mention. McCown is a great teammate, and played the best 5 game stretch of his career when the team needed him. That said, he was 3-2, lost to 2 last place teams, and has a lifetime passer rating (not the be all and end all, of course) of about 72. He’s not going to keep a 105 passer rating if the Bears made him the starter (that would put him in Aaron Rodgers’s neighborhood).

  2. Matty V

    McCown seems like a pretty solid guy. He seemed genuinely grateful that the Bears gave him a shot when he was out of football. I would doubt at this point in his career, getting a big pay day would be at the top of his list. At his stage of life, I would guess being comfortable with a team and his role on that team would be what he’s looking for. Of course he could turn around and prove me wrong by taking more money to go to another team, but my gut tells me that he and the Bears find a way to bring him back.

  3. Cheese Chad

    I loved the bread and milk reference. My sister, who lives in central Illinois, went to the grocery store today and they were completely out of bread and milk. Hope you have better luck.

  4. CubbiesOHCubbies

    San Diego…….. SUPER CHARGERS!!!!!

  5. Kurt
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