Bad moves abound on Sunday

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Jason Whitlock

Jason Whitlock writes about the sports world from every angle, including those other writers can't imagine or muster courage to address. His columns are humorous, thought-provoking, agenda-free, honest and unpredictable. E-mail him, follow his Twitter or become a fan of Jason Whitlock on Facebook.


Dear Jason,

If you watched our games this weekend, you’ll understand why we took immediate action to stem the tide of helmet-to-helmet hits. Many of the league’s head coaches were hit in the head one too many times during their playing careers.

Roger Goodell

The coaching in football was so bad this weekend that I had to fire off a special Monday edition of NFL Truths:

10. Take away the contract extension Brett Favre’s 2009 play earned Brad Childress and the Minnesota Vikings head coach would be standing in the unemployment line today.

What Childress did following Minnesota’s crushing loss Sunday night was certainly a fireable offense. In the aftermath of Green Bay’s 28-24 victory, Chilly buried what was left of Favre’s tattered reputation.

“You can’t throw it to them, you’ve got to play within the confines of our system,” Childress ranted. “Sometimes it’s OK to punt the football. You can’t give seven points going the other way, not in a game like this.”

Favre threw three interceptions Sunday night, including a pick the Packers turned into six points. Chilly didn’t stop there. He admitted to reporters that he considered benching Favre. Childress complained that Favre missed a wide-open Percy Harvin on one interception play.

Childress impersonated Mike Singletary, mistaking one of the game’s greatest players and the Vikings’ lone hope for fixing this season for Alex Smith or some other QB not holding a $20 million contract.

What was the upside in Chilly’s postgame rant?

Does Childress think Tarvaris Jackson is going to save the season? Does Childress not understand that Favre is emotionally unstable in a good and a bad way?

Brett Favre is exactly who we thought he was — The Old Gunslinger. Childress knew what he was getting when he sent Ryan Longwell, Jared Allen and Steve Hutchinson to Mississippi to talk Favre out of retirement.

You ride the rollercoaster. At 2-4, the Vikings are not out of the NFC Super Bowl race. This is not the time to push Favre’s emotional buttons. Surely Childress recognizes Favre is under a great deal of stress.

The NFL-Jenn Sterger investigation has likely created havoc in Favre’s home life. “Saturday Night Live” clowned Favre with a spoof Wrangler Jeans commercial. He’s battling chronic elbow and ankle injuries. And he’s trying to adjust to Randy Moss, who is still wildly talented but also wildly inconsistent with his route running and effort. (Check Favre’s third interception and look at Moss’ effort.)

Look, I get that it’s popular to bash Favre. He certainly deserves criticism for his play Sunday night, and he created the Sterger mess. As members of the media, we should rip Favre.

Childress is a coach, not a columnist. He needs to be fighting for Brett Favre. There’s still time for Favre to fix this. But Childress may have pushed Favre over the edge Sunday night. In his postgame press conference, Favre did not sound like someone ready to take on the New England Patriots.

“If I can play but not be effective, then it’s not worth playing,” said the man with the ironman starting streak.

9. Bill Belichick’s late-game decision to go for it on fourth-and-1 from the New England 49 is indefensible.

It’s bad football. It was bad coaching. The fact that Norv Turner’s San Diego Chargers were unable to capitalize does not make Belichick’s decision acceptable.

Leading by three points with 2 minutes to play, the Patriots got stuffed on a running play and gave San Diego a great opportunity to steal the game.

8. Someone tell Marvin Lewis there is never a good reason to go for two points in the third quarter of a football game.

Seriously, coaches have these little cards that tell them when to go for two and when to kick an extra point. They should be forbidden from looking at the card until the final five minutes of the game. Before then, there’s never a reason to go for two.

Late in the third, the Bengals scored a touchdown that cut Atlanta’s lead to 24-19. Marvin went for two and failed. On Atlanta’s ensuing possession, Pacman Jones stripped a Falcons receiver and scored a touchdown, putting the Bengals ahead 25-24. Marvin went for two again. Chad Ochocinco dropped Carson Palmer’s pass.

Had the Bengals simply kicked two extra points, they would’ve had a three-point lead going into the fourth quarter.

7. Chiefs coach Todd Haley is so concerned with getting credit for K.C.’s success that he has repeatedly made “aggressive” coaching decisions that are just plain stupid.

Early in the fourth quarter Sunday, the Chiefs had a chance to go up two scores on the Jaguars by kicking a 42-yard field goal on fourth and three. Haley ran the ball instead. Jamaal Charles was stuffed for a one-yard loss.

Luckily, the Chiefs were playing the Jaguars and off-the-street quarterback Todd Bouman. The Chiefs scored two more TDs and won 42-20.

The truth is, Kansas City’s 4-2 record is a mirage and Haley knows it. Kansas City is feasting on a soft schedule and good fortune. Two of their four victories came against backup quarterbacks (Cleveland and Jacksonville). The other two victories are over two of the league’s most disappointing teams (San Diego and San Francisco). Cleveland, Jacksonville, San Diego and San Francisco have a combined record of 8-20.

Furthermore, Romeo Crennell and Charlie Weis — K.C.’s new coordinators — are getting most of the credit for the Chiefs’ improved play. Haley keeps trying to make an impact with “bold” decisions — he opened the Indianapolis game with an onside kick. The problem is, his daring decisions are failing most of the time.

Haley wants to be Sean Peyton. Haley is Todd Haley, an insecure head coach.


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6. Chicago’s Lovie Smith had his problems with instant replay on Sunday, but the call he’d really like to review is pairing Mike Martz with Jay Cutler.

One play after losing a replay review on an Earl Bennett run, Smith did not review a Cutler goal-line run that resulted in a fumble. Cutler may have gotten the ball across the goal line or had his forward progress stopped before fumbling.

Whatever, I don’t blame Smith for protecting his timeouts that early in the second half. What’s inexcusable is the continued toleration of the Martz-Cutler fiasco. In a close game, the Bears abandoned their running game, throwing it 40 times and running it 16.

Cutler tossed four interceptions.

Martz should not be allowed to work for a defensive-minded head coach. He was most successful when he worked under Dick Vermeil, an offensive guru who could challenge Martz. When Martz is given too much control, he puts too much pressure on the quarterback and the offensive line and things fall apart quickly.

5. The worst coaching performance of the weekend belonged to Oklahoma’s Bob Stoops.

Yeah, I know, I haven’t been including my college thoughts in the Truths this year. But Stoops’ coaching meltdown against Missouri was just too good to pass up.

Down 15 points, Stoops went for two after an Oklahoma touchdown cut Mizzou’s lead to nine. Why? You kick the extra point and make it a one-possession game. When OU’s two-point attempt failed, Missouri retained a two-possession lead and that allowed Gary Pinkel to be far more aggressive on his ensuing possession, which started in great field position because the Sooners were also forced to try an onside kick.

Big Game Bob Stoops hasn’t been the same since his little brother left for Arizona.

4. Generally speaking, I’m a fan of Cris Collinsworth’s commentary, but he turned in a stinker of a performance Sunday night.



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Collinsworth was unwilling to criticize Favre. On Brett’s pick-6 interception, Collinsworth blamed Randy Moss, who ran a terrible route but was in no way responsible for Favre’s horse-crap decision/throw.

My theory is that things are going horrendously for Favre on the home front, broadcasters know it and they don’t want to pile on. Again, football is a sexist business controlled and analyzed by men and we’re rallying around Favre, who apparently made a mistake (lust) we’re all capable of making.

More troubling for Collinsworth was his comments about Jared Allen. Did Collinsworth do any prep? He gushed about how Chad Clifton blocked Jared Allen one on one and how few teams are willing to leave Allen alone with their left tackle.

Dallas’ Doug Free shut down Allen one on one just one week earlier. The Vikings actually benched Allen late in the Dallas game, sitting him on first and second down of a critical drive.

3. Speaking of Jared Allen, the dude looks 10 pounds light and soft to my eyes.

I covered Allen’s Kansas City career. In his final season as a Chief (career-high 15.5 sacks), Allen was more muscled and thicker than he is this season.

Players bust their tails to get a huge contract ($74 million in 2008) and then they get other priorities (marriage in May 2010) and the next thing you know, they get soft. Allen was never great against the run, but now he’s getting overpowered. He’s clearly not as strong as he used to be.

If Allen played baseball, there would be loud whispers about his power outage. If he was an offensive skill player — quarterback, receiver, running back — there would be loud whispers that he got his money and laid down.

Whatever the problem with Allen, it won’t get solved this season. He’s going to need an entire offseason to get his power back.

2. Howie Long has replaced John Madden as the respected voice of authority on the NFL.

Long delivered another terrific “Fired Up” commentary on FOX’s pregame show, addressing the league’s crackdown on helmet-to-helmet hits. Long is passionate, informed and eloquent — the antithesis of Madden — when taking on the league that made him famous and currently employs his son.

The ESPN pregame show is still my favorite, but Howie and his commentary are must-see TV for me.

1. The QB controversy in Philadelphia has been settled: Michael Vick is better than Kevin Kolb.

That’s not a knock on Kolb, who faced a tough Tennessee defense without the services of big-play receiver DeSean Jackson. It’s a statement about how high Vick’s upside is when he’s healthy.

E-mail Jason or follow him on Twitter. Media requests for Mr. Whitlock should be directed to Fox Sports PR.

Tagged: Bears, Bengals, Browns, Packers, Chiefs, Vikings, Eagles, 49ers, Jaguars, Brett Favre, Randy Moss, Todd Bouman, Jared Allen, Tarvaris Jackson, Jay Cutler, Earl Bennett

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