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Does It Take a Genius To Coach Tom Brady? NFL Unfiltered Week 13

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Genius is one of the most overused words in the English language and a complete misnomer when it comes to professional sports.  

It is a word better suited to Nobel Peace Prize winners and brain surgeons, even mathematicians or inventors. It’s certainly not the word one should associate with football coaches, no matter how many Super Bowls they win.  

To wit, New England’s Bill Belichick is as good a coach as any in the National Football League.  But even he is prone to mind-blowing fits of foolishness, as his decisions throughout last weekend’s loss to the Philadelphia Eagles proved. The kind of which true genius could not fathom. 

Consider the end of the first half.  

New England’s Danny Amendola received a punt by the Eagles’ Caleb Sturgis at his own 13-yard line. At the time there were 1:32 left in the 2nd quarter and the Patriots led 14-7.  Remember, the Eagles hadn’t won a football game in almost a month, so Belichick had two choices: 1) Let his Hall of Fame quarterback, Tom Brady, try to pick up a few first downs or 2) Be conservative and begin the 2nd half with a lead and the football.  

Naturally, arrogance led him to choose the former.  

On 1st and 10 the Patriots gained six yards, then another 14 on 2nd down. Good enough. But after a timeout, he elected to let Brady throw a pass, which led to a sack. After another good run by James White, Belichick let Brady throw another pass, which of course fell incomplete and forced a punt.  

And you know what happened then.  

In a sequence as disjointed and unproductive as a Philadelphia city council meeting, Belichick quickly delivered a glimmer of hope to a football team on the brink of collapsing.    

But the head coach wasn’t finished. Belichick also attempted an onside kick, which fundamentally, is a solid risk versus reward strategy. But to blatantly telegraph it in a way that didn’t surprise the Eagles, suggests more hubris, perhaps even idiocy.  

And to think, Belichick and his staff discussed that play to the nth degree and he came away thinking, “You know, that just might work!”

Strange. And that wasn’t even the worst of the onside kick attempts.  

After the Patriots scored to cut the Eagles lead to seven, Belichick ordered another onside kick, which was completely unnecessary.  After all, if the goal at that stage of the game was to stop the Eagles and get the ball back, why not make them punt from deep in their own territory instead midfield?  Assuming of course, the Pats actually stopped the Eagles.  

Again, Belichick is a good football coach, maybe the league’s best. But he is no genius and neither are any of the other 31 men charged with leading a professional football team.  

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THINGS THE PUNDITS CAN’T OR WON’T SAY: Week 13

-Politics prevents more stories like Pittsburgh’s Antonio Brown. Less than prototypical size, played in the MAC at Central Michigan and managed to become a sixth-round pick. Now, he’s a star. Assuming a player is willing to work at it, a guy or two like Brown should come along every year as long as general managers and coaches let it happen.  

-Two questions Thursday’s Minnesota/Arizona game should answer: Can the Cardinals stop the run when it counts and what is it about NFC West defenses that give the Vikings fits?  

-Ah, so the St. Louis Rams, losers of five straight games, pinned their struggles on offensive coordinator Frank Cignetti, and that’s AFTER they initially blamed quarterback Nick Foles. Interestingly, few say anything about the real architect of their mess.  

Fine, I will:

Memo to Rams new offensive coordinator Rob Boras: Watch your back.  Do you remember the last productive offense Jeff Fisher had? Neither does anyone else.  

Speaking of Fisher and the dreck he created, he is now 24-35-1 since his much ballyhooed return to the NFL after a year off to do whatever it is mediocre football coaches do when they aren’t wrecking franchises. See the benefits of giving a bit of access to a few national football writers?  

Fisher has a career playoff record of 5-6 with one Super Bowl appearance, but hasn’t been in the playoffs in 11 seasons.  And the last time his squad actually won a playoff game? 2003, which is about four years before the release of the first iPhone. Fisher deserves credit for one thing.  He managed to work for patient owners in cities with less aggressive media.  That’s a skill.  

-See, now there’s the Jay Cutler we all know and love. Although he did give the Bears a chance to win.  

-It’s almost comical watching players get to their feet after a hard hit rattles their brains. It’s akin to boxers trying to get up before the referee counts to ten.  

-The NFL has gone from big, physical receivers to smaller quicker ones and back. With the way the game is played and officiated now, size doesn’t matter. If you are a GM or head coach and using height/weight to decide a pass-catchers worth, you aren’t likely to find a good one.  

-San Francisco’s Blaine Gabbert is already a serviceable player. How good he becomes is up to him, general manager Trent Baalke and whoever calls the plays.  

-If it were not for head coach Mike Tomlin, I’d give Pittsburgh a REAL shot at winning the Super Bowl. Though Tomlin has a ring, these Steelers aren’t good enough to overcome his usual bizarre strategies and poor clock management in the playoffs. 

 

Earl Myers is a freelance writer from the Philadelphia area. He closely follows North America's four major sports leagues but just about any sporting event gets his attention. His goal is to provoke a little thought in his readers.

Contact Earl at emyersiii@hotmail.com

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