My NFL Rage this week will have a lot of focus around coaches. I have bones to pick with some of their decisions, why they were made, and some of the decisions that should have been made instead.
It's always funny to me when people get upset at fans for calling their favorite team our team, or say stuff like "I can't believe we lost". Then there is always some smart ass that says, "you lost? I didn't know you played!" Look, in a lot of situations fans are more emotionally tied to these teams than the players. They have the right to call it their team because they have been following them for longer than most players have been alive. Players get paid well to play this game. Fans spend money and take time out of their day, all for love of the game. So the next time some jackass drops one of those, "you didn't help them win, so quit saying you won a big game yesterday!" You have my permission to punch them square in the face.
When Fans Know More Than Coaches
Have you noticed the great play out of Colt McCoy, Troy Smith, and Peyton Hillis? These players have one major thing in common; they are all starting now and are by far the best options on their team. They aren't the only ones to go through this however. Every year I go to training camp, I watch all the preseason games and all the OTA's, practices, and so on. The way things are now set up, there are many fans that have access to watch the development of NFL players.
The frustrating part of this is that as fans we can plainly see that Troy Smith was the best option at QB for the 49ers going into the season, but, we are ridiculed and told that we don't see all the behind the scene stuff in practice that makes Alex Smith and David Carr better options. Then, every year there are instances brought to the forefront that the guy buried on the depth chart was actually a better option. How do we find this out? By injury of course. It's not that the coaches made a great decision to go to the backup because he thinks it'll light a fire under the team. He's forced to make the switch because the starter got hurt.
When fans are able to tell who should be starting in August but head coaches don't see it until their playoff hopes are over with, I get pissed. I know that I'm not the only one that felt that Troy Smith could be a good starting QB in San Francisco, but Mike Singletary felt like he was the 3rd best option. It wasn't until Alex Smith got injured and David Carr showed how inept he was, that Smith was given a chance. Even after Smith played the best game a 49ers QB has played in a while, Singletary had to ponder on whether to let Alex come back as the starter.
Jake Delhomme is and always was a turnover machine. Seneca Wallace has never been anything more than a situational quarterback; then there is rookie Colt McCoy. We all knew he was a winner and we all knew he was extremely accurate. I'm not going to pretend that I knew he was going be so comfortable around NFL pressure, but I did believe he was a better option than the other 2 options. So, did coach Mangini decide to say, "hey, let's see what the youngster has?" No, he was forced to put him in after the un-dynamic duo went down with injuries. Even as McCoy has flourished and developed each week, Mangini still fought with the decision on who should be the starter when Delhomme came back. C'mon man!
Peyton Hillis has looked like a monster truck crushing little cars. There are two coaches that I have a problem with on this one. Josh McDaniels had a 1-2 punch of Knowshon Moreno and Peyton Hillis but he decided to trade Hillis for the guy he "had to have" who will never play, Brady Quinn. Then when Hillis arrived in Cleveland he's had to fight James Davis for who would be the #3 or #4 option at running back. Even after a stellar preseason, Hillis was behind Jerome Harrision (this is not a typo) and unproven rookie Montario Hardesty. Let's give Mangini some credit as he did have Hillis beating out James Davis and Chris Jennings. Mangini finally saw the light after several weeks of Hillis doing more with his carries but wasn't completely forced into naming Hillis the starter until Harrison got injured.
As many of you know, I report weekly on the Houston Texans, so, this next example strikes close to home. I went to a ton of practices and watched the training camps this year and focused a lot of my attention on rookie CB Kareem Jackson. On the Dylan Gwinn show in Houston, I repeatedly reported that he's nowhere close to be a starting caliber CB in the NFL. I'm on record as stating that I wouldn't even have him in nickel situations. But, Coach Kubiak would report weekly that the kid was developing nicely and was the most pro ready CB in the draft. Half the season is gone and we now refer to Kareem Jackson as the "Hall Monitor" as he routinely gives out free passes. Jackson gets burnt more than a blind kid in cooking class. Jesus turned water to wine but Kareem Jackson turned David Garrard and Matt Cassel into 300 + yard passers.
There are a many other cases on teams where players are under evaluated. How about the Patriots Danny Woodhead? The kid is good enough to play a prominent role in the Patriots offense behind Tom Brady but the Jets wanted to put him on their practice squad? They kept Joe McKnight instead of Woodhead simply because of his draft status. How is that working out? Coaches need to become more aware of the supporting talent and less conscious of the payers paycheck or "status." It kills me to see teams that are statistically last in categories that are in playoff contention not go out and make a move to get better. If you were the worst team against the pass, why wouldn't you pull off a trade before the deadline if you were still in the running for the playoffs, (hello Texans)?
Todd Haley vs. Josh McDaniels
For once I fall on the side of Josh McDaniels on an argument. For those of you that don't know the situation, when the Broncos blew out the Chiefs on Sunday, Chiefs' coach Todd Haley took exception to it. Haley refused to shake McDaniels hand and could be seen pointing his finger in a scolding manor at his coaching nemesis.
McDaniels is a prideful person who knows that the playoffs are a stretch this year, but he hopes to have Kyle Orton pass Jay Cutler's franchise passing mark and to hopefully take down some other meaningless records to show how productive his offense is. It's trivial but that's who Josh McDaniels is. Other than that, there really wasn't anything to be upset about.
Todd Haley needs to be informed that this is the NFL and you get paid to stop the other team. I could understand being upset if Oregon was stomping a D-3 school and then they keep passing on them to run up the score with time running out in the 4th quarter. However this is the NFL. In week 7, McDaniels didn't cry when Oakland put a beat down on his team. The Chiefs were in 1st place in the division going into last week's game and they let the last place team throttle them. Haley's owner should be the one avoiding shaking his hand and scolding him.
This isn't the first time we have heard about Haley having a little temper problem. Haley has had several run-ins with his players, most notably, Anquan Boldin when they both were in Arizona. Haley seemed to play a little immature game of back and forth with McDaniels in the game. After Haley's Chiefs scored late in the 4th, with the game still way out of reach, Haley elected to go for 2. He then followed it up by attempting an onside kick with 10 seconds to go in the game. Was he serious! He was risking injuries to his players and leaving them out on the field for longer than they had to be there to soak in as much embarrassment as humanly possible! Why, to prove a point to an opposing coach? Why would he care? He just kicked Haley's but up and down the field for 60 minutes.
Haley came out later and apologized to McDaniels and for the way he acted, but who cares what you say after you already acted out the way you wanted to. They can brush this under the rug to the media but I guarantee that this rematch is already circled in a certain coaches' office.
Well that's another week of football therapy in the books. I hope I hit on some of the issues that raised your blood pressure. If you have something that bugs you, shoot me an email, if it set me off too we'll talk about it here. After all, this is your therapy as much as mine. See you next week, where I'm sure someone will have done something stupid and I'll beat it into the ground until I feel I've vented for everyone who was upset by it.
Look for NFL Game Day on Sunday mornings, bringing you the match-ups and what to look for in each of that week's games. - Jayson Braddock
Jayson appears on Sports Radio 790 AM in Houston, TX, every Thursday morning at 11:19 am CST as the football insider on the Dylan Gwinn show. He's a graduate of the Sports Management World Wide Football GM & Scouting Course and has been mentored by former NFL player / executive John Wooten and Sporting News.com NFL Draft Expert Russ Lande. His work is mostly appreciated by die-hard fans interested in every little detail about their team and not just watered down mainstream talk. - Listeners NOT in the Houston metropolitan area can hear Jayson on iheart radio or sports7910.com.
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