Has anyone noticed the trend forming just two weeks into the NFL season? In Week 1 the Dallas Cowboys did it in incredible fashion, and now in Week 2, the Minnesota Vikings, Arizona Cardinals, San Francisco 49ers and Oakland Raiders were added to the list. Teams are coughing up two-possession second half leads like it’s going out of style. To me, it is pretty simple what is going on, and it is one of the biggest coaching flaws in the entire league.
Teams get too conservative. Coaches get too comfortable sitting on a two-score lead, and their team reflects it when they run the ball on first and second down, and throw an incomplete pass on third down. The sense of urgency totally shifts and the team that was winning turns into the flat team due to play calling. Let me know if you see the New England Patriots give up a lead like that this season. Bill Belichick is one of the most aggressive coaches in league history when playing ahead. He doesn’t change his offense one bit. They stay aggressive and they put you away. If you haven’t figured it out, the NFL is a passing league now, and you have to throw to win games. Running the football will always have its time and place, but if you want to gain a lead in this league and keep it, you will need to throw the football to reach the endzone.
I felt the need to address the Tony Romo situation, and should have done it in my article last week. Romo’s failures in the clutch are the most overblown story out there right now. The media has created this notion that the guy is a great player … until crunch time. That is simply not true. What is true is the fact that the guy is a playmaker created out of the same mold as Brett Favre. Players like this will make mistakes, and sometimes in bunches, but they will compete until the end and they will make you say ‘wow’ on multiple occasions throughout every game you watch them play. Romo completed a pass on the sideline to Jason Witten on 4th-and-5 Sunday that was the best throw of the entire weekend. Pure clutch.
Romo is certainly not the person who should be taking the fall for their loss against the New York Jets. The punt team should first and foremost have a finger pointed at them. Giving up a blocked punt and touchdown on the same play that gave the Jets life in that game. If that punt is executed as it normally is, the Cowboys cruise to a victory. Or if Witten would have used his size and just went north and south towards the goal line on his long pass reception, he would have fallen into the endzone. Witten getting tackled at the 1-yard line was a disappointing play; Romo fumbled trying to make a play at least. All in all, one week after Romo was getting ripped for choking again, he is now being praised for his toughness and grit. Romo is a top notch NFL quarterback, and the Cowboys are extremely lucky to have a competitor like that under center for them.
Being from Kansas City, it is borderline embarrassing to claim myself as a Chiefs’ fan right now. I feel like people not around the Chiefs organization might not exactly know what has gone on around here the previous couple months. After the lockout ended, our big acquisitions in the free agent frenzy were signing Steve Breaston, Le’Ron McClain and Kelly Gregg. We let defensive tackles Ron Edwards and Sean Smith walk, and we cut Brian Waters. And that was it. Not exactly what I call being active and trying to improve our 53-man roster.
Once practice started, saying the Chiefs were lackadaisical would be a gross understatement. Coach Todd Haley insisted that he cared more about not getting his players injured than the effort they put forth in practices and in preseason games. The Chiefs actually lined up against the Buccaneers in the first exhibition game as the only team in the NFL that did not partake in any type of scrimmaging. Haley pulled his starters out after only a couple series in both the first and second preseason game. Then in the third contest, which everyone knows in the dress rehearsal, Haley played them a quarter. Most starters around the league had their scrimmages in training camp and at least five quarters worth of action under their belt by then. The Chiefs starters had about two quarters of playing time. Haley’s plan was to play Matt Cassel and company a full half against the Green Bay Packers’ backups in exhibition game four, until Cassel got pounced on, making him questionable for the regular season opener.