Thoughts on Football – Week One

Posted in Uncategorized by EloiSVM42 on September 17, 2020

College Football: My beloved Oklahoma Sooners took care of business Saturday and looked good doing it, as did West Virginia and Texas. The rest of the Big XII teams playing this first weekend – Iowa State, Kansas State and Kansas – laid big eggs against their respective tomato can opponents. (Oklahoma State, Baylor, TCU, and Texas Tech were idle.)

This is typically a weekend when big schools invite smaller ones they can beat easily for a warmup before their conference schedules begin, and the small schools come because they get a big paycheck for it. However, for the three humiliated teams, it was like Nero threw Christians into the arena with lions and the Christians ate the lions. How embarrassing for the conference.

NFL: Dallas Cowboys: How do you like the new look Cowboys? Looked like the old look Cowboys to me, including widespread underperformance, predictable play calling, injuries at center linebacker, and a coach dumb enough to coach his team right out of a potential win.

First, the play calling. I was slack jawed when Dallas kept Kellen Moore around as offensive coordinator. When you have a staff as stained as Jason Garrett’s, you have to excise the entire thing. Moore is just another Garrett, and he called the game like Garrett Sunday night. Amazing.

One more time, here’s how to call offensive signals broadly, per Norv Turner, the best OC Dallas ever had: On first down, be unpredictable – 50/50 pass/rush. If successful, keep being unpredictable. If only short yardage gained, run the ball to try to shorten the yardage needed for a third down pass, which will probably be necessary. If you get a third and short, continue being unpredictable, unless you have Zeke Elliott. Wait, we do! We can run with confidence of getting a first down. What’s so complicated about that? Oh, the unpredictable part. It’s not in Garrett, not Moore.

Now, the coaching. Mike McCarthy is a believer in metrics, and he is a believer that most NFL coaches are too conservative too much of the time. I agree with him on both counts. But there are times when the right call is glaringly obvious, and McCarthy blew the most important one of these.

With 11+ plus minutes to go in the game, trailing by three points and with a short field but a fairly long fourth down, McCarthy eschewed the field goal and went for it, which failed, and the ball went over to the Rams.

This was inconceivably stupid. Dallas went chasing those points desperately for the rest of the game. If they had kicked the field goal, it would have tied the game and put the pressure back on LA, and the Rams would be chasing points. I expected Dallas to lose this game, but I didn’t expect them to give it away.

So, here we go again: underperforming players, predictable play calling, poor coaching and without our center linebacker. Could we be looking at another 8-8?

Belichick v. Brady: In the grudge match that this season has become between Tom Brady and Bill Belichick, the player won the first round on points, 3-2. The Patriots won their game with Cam Newton (congratulations, Cam), and Brady’s Buccaneers lost to a very good team, perhaps the best they will face all season.

But in the tie breaker, The San Francisco 49ers, quarterbacked by Jimmy Garoppolo, for whom Belichick wanted to release Brady and to take over at QB in New England, lost to a spunky Arizona Cardinals team led by Kyler Murray. Garoppolo looked shaky, which made coach Belichick look not so prescient.

Arizona Cardinals: Speaking of the Cardinals, they took a step forward by signing DeAndre Hopkins and giving Murray another quality receiver. Hopkins lit it up Sunday and made Phoenix appreciably better. Now, they just need some more linemen on both sides of the ball.

Miscellany: Cleveland, and Baker Mayfield, are still struggling, and Kansas City is not. The Chiefs looked in midseason form in their opener. And, since the rich get richer, as the Super Bowl winner and so having the very last pick of the first round in the draft, KC struck gold with running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire, who looked like an all pro in his first game.

Aaron Rodgers looked good for Green Bay and most of the rest of the teams looked like teams usually do for the first game, including the referee crews. The better ones generally won, the lesser ones generally lost, and they all looked a little rusty. This is to be expected, especially with the odd preseason protocols required due to Covid-19.

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