Coaching gaffes repeat themselves

Sep 23, 2020 3:00 AM

The quote “it’s deja vu all over again” has long been attributed to baseball Hall of Famer Yogi Berra. And while the authentication of that attribution may be in question, the’s quote’s connection to the NFL was readily apparent this past Sunday.

Both Atlanta and Seattle were guilty of significant gaffes that turned likely Super Bowl wins into defeats due to poor decisions made by their head coaches. On Sunday both of those coaches suffered brain cramps in critical moments of both games. Atlanta is still coached by Dan Quinn, Seattle by Pete Carroll.

Rather than repeating what happened in the Super Bowl and this past Sunday, suffice to say lessons from the past were not learned. There’s a huge difference between decision making and execution.

Successful play execution involves play by both the offense and defense and on a given play one unit will outperform the other. But decision-making is usually one-sided and within the control of the coach. With so much at stake, one must wonder why head coaches do not delegate clock management strategy to a specific assistant who’s not involved in the X’s and O’s but merely to inform the head coach of proper decisions to make given the specific game situation.

But the biggest story of Week Two was the spate of injuries — many to key starters, several of which were season ending.

There are many theories as to why we’ve seen so many injuries in the first two weeks of play with most related to the absence of OTAs during the offseason or the lack of a normal training camp that included no preseason games to get bodies in condition for the start of the season.

One aspect that does not receive as much attention as it should involves the inability for the most part of players during the cessation of activity for much of the offseason to work in-person with trainers and their staffs in areas of injury rehabilitation, muscle memory development and the like — activities that just can’t be replicated in a virtual environment.  Thus, physical body development during the off season was hampered to an extent that players started this season much less “game ready” than in seasons past.

Sunday

Texans +4 at Steelers: The brutal start for Houston continues following losses at Kansas City and to Baltimore. Pittsburgh steps up in class after wins against the Giants and Denver.

Their outstanding defense faces its first challenge against a competent offense led by dynamic QB Deshaun Watson and the desperate 0-2 Texans. In Ben Roethlisberger Houston’s defense will also face a less mobile QB than in their first two games. TEXANS

Titans -2.5 at Vikings: Minnesota is an ugly 0-2. Normally featuring a top-flight defense, the Vikes are allowing an uncharacteristic 6.1 yards per play in losses to the Packers and Colts.

Tennessee followed up its late win at Denver by nearly blowing a big lead at home to Jacksonville before winning on a late FG. After tossing three interceptions and also being sacked thrice expect Minny QB Kirk Cousins to rebound here in a matchup of 0-2 vs. 2-0 teams. VIKINGS

Washington +7 at Browns: Cleveland was impressive in rushing for 215 yards in a win over Cincinnati with RBs Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt sharing the load. A powerful running game will open up the passing game for QB Baker Mayfield and his talented group of receivers.

Washington ranks second-to-last in total offense, averaging 4.3 yards per play which could lead to short possessions, good field position for the hosts and force Washington to play catchup. BROWNS

Buccaneers at Broncos Total 43.5: Denver starting QB Drew Lock is out indefinitely with a shoulder injury, replaced by Jeff Driskel.

Tampa defeated Carolina for QB Tom Brady’s first win with other than New England. His passing stats were modest but the ground game was solid behind the recently acquired Leonard Fournette.

Not wanting to rely on Driskell, Denver will rely on RB Melvin Gordon to control clock and wear down Tampa’s defense. UNDER

Cowboys +5 at Seahawks: Dallas rallied for a remarkable comeback win vs. Atlanta, the kind of win that could have carryover momentum effect for its potent offense.

Both offenses rank in the top five in yards per play. While Dallas’ defense has been average, Seattle’s is allowing 6.6 yards per play, fourth-worst in the league, explaining the high Total of 56.

Aside from QB Russell Wilson, most of the other edges are with Dallas. And Cowboy QB Dak Prescott lessens Wilson’s edge. COWBOYS

Monday

Chiefs + 3.5 at Ravens: Both teams have beaten Houston. Although Baltimore routed Cleveland for its other win, Kansas City needed OT to defeat the Chargers in a low-scoring affair.

This game could decide home field for the AFC Title game. Baltimore has the better stats on both sides of the football, including allowing 1.2 fewer yards per play. One of two Ravens losses last regular season was at Kansas City as 4.5 point underdogs.

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It might be a reach to say this is a statement game, but given Baltimore’s recent playoff failures, a win over the Super Bowl champs would be a boost to the Ravens’ psyche. Did the Chargers provide a blueprint for slowing down KC’s offense? If so, the Ravens are capable of replicating that effort. RAVENS

Last week: 2-4

Season: 5-7