As a member of the "Might as well go 1-15 and draft Luck" club, I have been holding off posting after the last three wins, cause it wouldn't be right to be all about Luck at 0-7, then start immediately high-fiving victories after the Kansas City, Washington and Buffalo games. Though I was happy to see them playing with fire and blowing teams out for the first time in years, and once we won our second game of the season, Luck became a high improbability, so once again, it became all about the victory each week. (Although, the posts and comments I read talking about running the table and making a run to the playoffs were a bit ridiculous.) So it was with whole hearted excitement I looked forward to a Thanksgiving day game with the Cowboys on their field. I predicted the team winning in all of my NFL picks pools, and fully believed that an upset was imminent. I figured Romo was due for a poor game, and the Dolphins were poised to continue their winning streak on national TV. And I would have been absolutely right, if not for the cowardice of our head coach.
You can point some fingers all around yesterday, no doubt. Jake Long had a rough game, though the only way to keep Demarcus Ware from destroying your QB all day is to be a bit jumpy, and hold him once in a while. You can blame the botched shotgun snap at the end of the second half, whether the fault lies with Pouncey, Moore or a bit of both. You can blame the replacement kicker for missing an early field goal. You can certainly blame our regressive red-zone performance (Why is it that we can throw it up for Marshall to go get it from the fourty yard line, yet refuse to do it from the ten?). But the bottom line is this, despite all of those things, Miami was winning this game with five minutes left in the fourth quarter. Then the cowardly lion took over.
Miamis ball, first and ten, a little over five minutes left in the game, clinging to a two point lead. FIrst down: Bush up the middle, no gain. Second down: Moore bootleg to the right, spends about half a second looking at one reciever down the field, then tucks it away and dives for a yard. And if you believe Moore was ever supposed to throw that ball, I have some nice real estate in the Poconos I can sell you for cheap. Real cheap. Third down: Moore finally throws a pass, out of necessity, when everyone in the stadium knew it was coming, which falls harmlessly to the turf. A three and out. And about a minute and a half off the clock. Leaving PLENTY of time on the clock for Romo to do his thing, yet taking just enough off to ensure that if he did, he would be able to leave us no time to return the favor. And, quite predictably, Dallas marches down the field, and kicks the layup field goal as time expires. Dallas 20, Miami 19. Happy Thanksgiving folks! Enjoy the Jello mold.
There are two ways to approach this sport. You can play to win, or you can play not to lose (Sorry for the cliche). And time, after time, after time, after time, Tony Sporano chooses the latter. And time, after time, after time, it ends in Miami losses. There have been way too many of these instances to recount them all, but let's just name a few for the hell of it. Pittsburgh last year, Houston two years ago, Cleveland this year, Cleveland last year. Indianapolis two years ago. And on, and on, and on. With five minutes left last night, a TD ends the game. Three or four first downs ends the game. At the very least, a few first downs and a field goal increases the probablitiy of victory ten-fold. But no, we are going to essentially hand them the ball back, climb into our turtle shell, and simply hope for the best. Because we are afraid. Afraid to be aggressive. Afraid to grab the game by the balls and tell the opposing team "yannow what? You're not geting this ball back. This game ends now."
Mike Tomlin coaches like that. Bill Belicik coaches like that. Rex Ryan coaches like that. Sean Payton certainly coaches like that. And you know what those names have in common? Top-tier teams with either super-bowl rings, multiple super-bowl rings, or, at the very least, AFC championship game appearences. It's a winners mentality. And you Tony Sporano, do not coach like a winner. And do you know what you get when you refuse to coach like a winner? Two 7-9 seasons and a 3-8 record this year. It's also going to qualify you for an unemployment check, which is richly deserved.
We heard all off season that this year would be different. This was going to be the year that caution would be thrown to the wind, and the team was going to show off its new "balls to the wall" mentality. Well, I call bullshit. It takes more than going for it on a couple of fourth downs over the course of a year to be considered aggressive. Aggressive is throwing the ball fifteen yards down the field on first down with five minutes left, knowing the opposition is selling out to the run. Not to mention the fact that we had been running Bush up th emiddle on first down ALL GAME LONG with ZERO success. Aggressive is letting your offense win that game, rather than hoping the clock runs out before your defense has a chance to lose it. And if yesterday was not the time to be aggressive, when will be? The team is 3-7, season all but over, and you are coaching for your life, knowing full well that an eighth loss seals your fate, if it wasn't sealed already, and still, you can't show any guts. Showing me why you need to be gone beofre this team gets to play any games that REALLY matter, hopefully in the next year or two.
So when its January, Tony, and you are cuddled up with the wife in front of the fireplace wondering why you are out of work, think of this game. Or the twenty that came before it just like it. And you can sit and listen to the media pity you, because of the "unfortunate" circumstances you were coaching under (The Harbaugh Thing), and how you are really a good coach, just in a bad position. Idiots like Mike Greenberg say this repeatedly. But at the end of the day, you and I know the truth. And the truth is that you don't have the guts to be a winning NFL head coach, and THATS why you lost this job. So good luck being the TIght Ends coach next year in CIncinnati, or Arizona, or Kansa City, or wherever. Just don' think for a second that this job was taken from you. You lost it the same way you've lost multiple games over your tenure: In a scared and tentative fashion.....