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Thoughts on Football the week of November 18

Posted in Uncategorized by EloiSVM42 on November 27, 2019

Everything that needed to go right for my beloved Oklahoma Sooners this weekend did, except for the play of the Sooners themselves against TCU. The teams that need to keep winning to give OU a shot at the playoffs did, and one of the teams ranked above them – Oregon – got upset. OU will move up at least one place in the polls. Against TCU, OU had a chance to wow the judges, but failed. Instead, they showed their same old stuff: fascinating offense and defective defense (though they showed better spirit and effort on defense for a half), with the frustrating result of letting an inferior opponent hang around.

It is amazing to me how spectacular OU’s offense can be. Equally amazing is how easy it is for this team to lose focus and struggle to regain it. A single three and out, the result of some questionable offensive play calling, and the whole team, including the coaching, went into a deep spiral for a period and a half.

I know it is blasphemy to criticize the offensive genius of Lincoln Riley, but on occasion, he violates what to me are sacred rules, articulated by Norv Turner, my all-time favorite offensive coordinator, which I sum up this way: be unpredictable on first down. If you have success on first down, stay with it. If you are second and 9ish, run the ball to close the gap in order to make third down more manageable. If you are second down and more than nine, throw the ball. Above all, if something is working, stay with it until the opponent can stop it, which means something else will be open. Riley does not always do this, and he takes long shots at times that are to me inappropriate, as was done on that three and out that caused OU to unravel.

OU still has a tough road game against OSU, but this doesn’t worry me much. OU played OSU two or three times recently when OSU had much better teams than their current one (the best they will ever have) and OU always managed to win, even on the road. The Big XII championship game is now set between the Sooners and Baylor, and this one doesn’t worry me at all. OU beat Baylor in the regular season when Jalen Hurts had the worst half of his career and OU was without Cee Dee Lamb. Hurts will never have another disastrous half like that again and Lamb is back. Still, I don’t think this team is going to get to the playoffs. There is too much ugly to overcome and too many decent competitors (almost all of which OU could beat) ahead of them.

Speaking of ugly, Texas, inexplicably to me, has regressed badly this year. I expected them to be much better, and I thought Sam Ehlinger would be a serious Heisman candidate. I was sure we would be playing them in the conference championship game again this year, but the Longhorns have been severely humbled. I’m delighted, of course, but surprised.

The Dallas Cowboys played the New England Patriots Sunday night. It was a game between a good team and a pretender. Dallas is the pretender, as becomes obvious every time they play a good team. One might argue that, given the closeness of the game and Dallas’ holding New England to 13 points, that they played well enough to win, but they didn’t. Dallas screwed up early, the Pats took the lead early, and that was it.

The reason Dallas couldn’t win is its coaching deficiency, which was completely exposed, again. Jason Garrett is flat out an inferior coach and it is obvious to everyone, just not painfully obvious enough to Jerry Jones. Garrett literally took the chance to win this game away from his team.

I no longer believe Dallas will make the playoffs. The Philadelphia Eagles have a very easy schedule the rest of the way, similar to the one that got Dallas off to a 3-0 start, and banged up as the Eagles are, should overtake Dallas for the Division title. Dallas has no chance at a wild card spot.

This being said, historically, the Cowboys have benefited from their traditional Thanksgiving  Day game. Playing at home on a short week gives them significant advantages. If they can beat the Buffalo Bills Thursday, it may give them an opportunity to right the ship. But if they lose this game, they are truly toast.

The deterioration of the refereeing was also vividly on display in this game, and elsewhere at collage and the pro games. Dallas was penalized twice for “kicking.” Kicking is rarely called in the NFL, but I have seen kicking and the two penalties were nothing like kicking. Interestingly, Troy Aikman, the color commentator on this broadcast crew, said the same thing, and he even got into it with the “rules expert.” Aikman was exactly right. So, it has come to this: even the rules experts don’t know what the hell they are talking about anymore. What a mess!

Two more idle thoughts: Tyrone Smith may be at the end of his illustrious career and Amari Cooper was not whole for this game.

Baker Mayfield is figuring out the NFL, as I knew he would, and his talent and natural leadership skills are beginning to bring the Cleveland Browns back on track. Sadly, he suffers from the same bad coaching problem as the Cowboys, but he has more of what it takes to overcome it.

Again speaking of ugly, the 49ers put some whoop ass on the Green Bay Packers Sunday night. I think we are seeing a major changing of the quarterback guard.

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