Monday Musings

January 07, 2008 |

  • I could write an entire book about NFL head coaches making the game more complicated than it needs to be. For all the big money contracts, long hours at the office and film study of opponents, many of them seem to overlook the simplicity of addition and subtraction regarding the scoreboard. Mike Tomlin is just the latest example of this. His insistence on going for two point conversions in the fourth quarter Saturday night changed the strategy and outcome of that game. Consider that if Tomlin had simply kicked extra points following both of those touchdowns and the game had played out exactly the same way, Josh Scobee’s field goal would have tied the game at 31 and they would have headed to OT. Sometimes it may not be as exciting or gutsy to just boot the extra point through the uprights, but it’s the smartest play. It’s really quite simple: Only go for two when absolutely necessary! Why do NFL head coaches eschew this easy rule of thumb? I work in construction and I can figure it out! How come these multimillionaires cannot?
  • Speaking of football made easy, early in the fourth quarter of that Jax-Pittsburgh game, the Jaguars had the ball around their own thirty yard line, holding an eleven point lead with about 11:30 left on the clock. You would think the Jags would run here; even if unsuccessful, three runs into the line would have taken about three minutes off the clock after they punted. Instead, Jax went incomplete, incomplete, incomplete and then punted, giving the Steelers the ball and the additional time on the clock. Why? I always believed that if you held a lead of any margin in the fourth quarter, especially on the road, the best ally was the clock. You control the game more substantially when the clock winds down; the less time you allow your opponent to come back, the greater your opportunity to win becomes. Simple, right? I guess not.
  • Santana Moss made the absolute worst play of the weekend’s games. His failure to see the pass that Marcus Trufant intercepted was bad enough, but his total lack of effort in trying to get to Trufant was even more contemptible. Just a totally unprofessional play.
  • I hope the powers-that-be in Owings Mills are calling Jim Schwartz today. I wrote last week, and said on my show Saturday, that I’d like to see the Ravens hire Jason Garrett. But I’m going to pull a “Bisciotti” here and make a different decision. I’m going to go with a “gut feeling”. Jim Schwartz is now my favorite candidate. His steady guidance of the Tennessee defense and seeming ability to improve young players under his teaching has moved him up in my eyes. Funny how the Titans did a very credible job defensively yesterday against the NFL’s best running back, but were ultimately undermined by erratic, substandard quarterback play. Sound familiar?
  • This upcoming NFL Divisional Round promises to be special. Each game has intriguing storylines. Can Seattle make up for their last playoff trip to Lambeau Field? Will the Packers treat Brett Favre to a magical playoff run (probably his last)? Can Jacksonville do the unthinkable Saturday night in Foxboro? Will they completely crumble against an undefeated and historic Patriots team? Can San Diego do it to Indy for a third straight time, probably without their best receiver, Antonio Gates, missing? Has everyone underestimated the Colts because of New England’s success? Will T.O. play for Dallas, and is he healthy enough to make a difference? Can Eli Manning possibly win two straight road playoff games? Have Tony Romo and Jessica Simpson returned from Cancun? If so, why?
  • I hope you ACC basketball fans saw last night’s Clemson – NC thriller from Littlejohn Coliseum. Terrific game, worthy teams and OT to boot. If the Tar Heels aren’t the nation’s deepest team, I’m afraid to find out who is. Wayne Ellington’s three with 0.4 seconds left in overtime was absolutely cold-blooded. Clemson, by the way, should still finish third in the conference. If their confidence isn’t derailed by last night’s disappointment, that is. I think Oliver Purnell is too good of a coach to let that happen, though. Hey, it’s the ACC; every team will suffer heartbreaking losses like that in conference play.
  • Gary Williams took control of the Maryland locker room last week, and it’s paying dividends. There’s the difference between college and professional coaching. Can you imagine the media firestorm that would have occurred if Brian Billick had all the Ravens’ players nameplates taken off their lockers, and told every one of them to remove personal photos, etc. from their lockers? Good win for the Terps Saturday in Charlotte, though. But I’m going to agree with Glenn Clark on this: Maryland absolutely has to win 10 ACC regular season games to merit consideration for an NCAA bid. Those home losses to Ohio U. and American are RPI wreckers.
  • Speaking of Maryland basketball, how can the Lady Terps be 18-1 and only the 5th ranked team in the country? Brenda Frese has built a powerhouse, folks. Beating any ACC team by 64 (!) should prove that.
  • My pick for tonight’s BCS Championship Game: LSU 37, Ohio State 19. And a 2 loss team is the National Champion?!? PLEASE, NCAA Athletic Directors, PLEASE give us a Division I football playoff. If this season hasn’t shown you the light, what will?
  • Baseball Hall of Fame nominees I think should get in this year: Goose Gossage, Lee Smith, Jim Rice (why he still isn’t in is a mystery to me – second most-feared cleanup hitter of his era behind Eddie Murray) and Andre Dawson. As much as I believe Bert Blyleven, Tommy John and Jack Morris are worthy, those other four have to get in first.
  • Speaking of baseball, memo to Andy MacPhail: You have approximately five weeks left before Spring Training begins. Last time I checked, Melvin Mora, Kevin Millar and Aubrey Huff were still on the Orioles 40 man roster. You might want to start making some “exploratory” phone calls around the league. Oh, I almost forgot about Jay Gibbons. Isn’t there some team out there that needs a washed up, overpriced juicer? Get some BP balls for him and let’s make the deal. If MacPhail thought the media reaction to Billick’s firing was something, wait until he trots out those four guys for introductions on Opening Night at Camden Yards! All 7,382 fans in attendance will get the message across!