Harbaugh playing games with truth

BY Jason Whitlock • November 27, 2012

Dear Jason:

Can you believe there were actually people who thought I was dumb enough to fight you? My nickname is Big Diesel, not Big Dummy.


Your NFL Truths for Week 13:

10. It’s obvious Jim Harbaugh has a guilty conscience about benching Alex Smith. That’s the only explanation for Harbaugh’s bizarre statement about Smith still being San Francisco’s starting quarterback.

Harbaugh put every egg into the Colin Kaepernick basket. If this doesn’t work, if the 49ers fizzle in the playoffs because of an offensive letdown, Harbaugh’s credibility with players in his locker room and across the league will take a hit.

Players hate coaches who lie, which means players hate coaches. Being the head coach often forces a person to lie. As it relates to Alex Smith, Harbaugh has been playing games with the truth since the offseason, since he “evaluated” Peyton Manning. Now Harbaugh is “evaluating” Colin Kaepernick.

Harbaugh needs to stick to his guns and just admit Kaepernick is his quarterback. Harbaugh can’t turn back from the decision. The “damage” is done. The only thing that will fix Harbaugh’s credibility problem is a trip to the Super Bowl. Winners don’t lie. They say and do what’s necessary to win.

9. Now that I’m stuck with this Cowboys-Super Bowl prop bet, the Redskins are my new NFC Super Bowl sleeper.

Pierre Garcon could be the stretch-run difference-maker the Redskins need. With Garcon healthy and joining Santana Moss and Josh Morgan, the Shanahans now have the weapons necessary to maximize Robert Griffin III.

The Redskins get their crack at the Giants on Monday night this week. A victory and Washington is .500 and everyone’s sexy pick to a make playoff run. The value in buying a Redskins-Super Bowl prop bet lasts about five more days.

8. Thank God “MNF” gets a significant game this week. I actually felt sorry for Mike Tirico and Jon Gruden this week calling the Philly-Carolina exhibition.

Tirico and Gruden probably thought it was Thursday and they were at the NFL Network. The game was that bad. I know, before the season Michael Vick vs. Cam Newton probably sounded like a great matchup. I wonder if there’s a way to provide some flexibility to the Monday night schedule. I hate ending the football weekend with a stinker.

7. Why did the Ravens need a fourth-and-29 conversion to beat the San Diego Chargers?

I’m happy for Ray Rice and the Ravens. The highlight of his catch and run will be shown over and over again for years to come. But this is my problem with the Ravens. The Chargers stink. They have a lame-duck head coach. The game shouldn’t have been close.

John Harbaugh made his bones as a special-teams coach. Every time I watch the Ravens, they remind me of a team coached by a special-teams coach. Special teams are about energy and effort, not necessarily X's and O's. The Ravens are schematically challenged.

Brian Kelly would be the perfect coach for the Ravens.

6. Ndamukong Suh should be happy there’s a debate over whether he’s a “dirty” player. If not for discussion of his controversial tactics, people would focus on the fact that he’s an average defensive lineman.

Watching Suh on the same field with Houston’s electrifying JJ Watt hammered home the point of Suh’s ineffectiveness. Watt is a master at using every tool in his toolbox. He uses his hands, his quickness, his strength, his leaping ability, his instincts, whatever. Most plays, Suh simply relies on his girth and strength. He’s very inconsistent with how he uses his hands.

Of course, Suh’s biggest play on Thanksgiving was his “accidental” kick to the groin of Houston quarterback Matt Schaub. I agree with the league that the replay of Suh’s kick was inconclusive in terms of justifying a suspension.

But all the talk surrounding the kick overshadowed Suh’s zero-tackle day. He was credited with five QB hits/pressures. Two or three of those pressures came on screen plays when Suh slipped by offensive linemen who intentionally let him slip by. Meanwhile, JJ Watt recorded five tackles, three sacks, four tackles for loss, two passes defensed and five QB pressures.

5. Of Jim Schwartz’s many Thanksgiving crimes — including abandoning his running game and needlessly challenging a scoring play — the worst was his decision to settle for a 47-yard field-goal attempt on third down in the fourth quarter.

Who settles for a 47-yard field-goal attempt?

This is like hitting a popular meat market at 10 p.m. and heading home at 10:30 p.m. with the drunk girl/guy you did your first shot with. It’s just way too high risk. It says way too much about both of you. You’re a loser and he/she has some serious issues.

My point is: Jim Schwartz is a loser.

4. Jason Campbell, Charlie Batch and Byron Leftwich might make NFL teams rethink the value in having a veteran backup quarterback.

A veteran backup QB is, generally speaking, someone else’s failure. He’s someone another team decided it couldn’t win with. The QB is so important to an NFL team’s success that I now believe every team should draft a QB in the first three rounds every year.

A veteran who can digest an entire playbook is an asset to the offensive coordinator. Making life easy on the offensive coordinator is not the key to winning games in the NFL. Having someone who can make plays from under center is the key to winning games.

Mike Shanahan looks smart for drafting RG3 and Kirk Cousins.

3. Christian Ponder had as much to do with the Bears’ resurgent performance as Jay Cutler.

The Bears crushed the Vikings by 18 points, and the big postgame talking point was how much better the Bears are with Cutler at QB. Yes, Cutler is light years better than Jason Campbell. But Cutler threw for 188 yards, one TD and one INT last week.

Ponder averaged 3.7 yards per pass attempt. He had a QB rating of 58.2.

The Bears have yet to secure a signature victory. Green Bay, Houston and San Francisco combined to outscore Chicago 68-23. Don’t be surprised if the road-weak Seahawks upset the Bears at Soldier Field.

2. A simple question: Why doesn’t the NFL adopt the college rule of a play being over once the ballcarrier hits the ground — whether he’s touched or not?

Many of the most dangerous hits in football occur when defenders launch themselves in a desperate attempt to make contact as a ballcarrier is on the ground or is headed toward the ground. Adopting the college rule seems like an easy way to enhance NFL safety.

College football should adopt some of the clock rules used in the NFL. For instance, the clock shouldn’t stop after a first down. A college game lasts about 30 minutes (15 to 30 plays) longer than an NFL game. Why are amateur football players playing more snaps than the pros?

1. Here’s my weekly plea that AP MVP voters keep an open mind and consider the dominant performances being turned in by JJ Watt and Von Miller.

Watt is back atop my ballot. The Texans are 10-1. Watt is the best 3-4 defensive end since Bruce Smith. I don’t remember Smith playing inside as much as Watt. Watt is Smith and Howie Long rolled into one package.

Matt Ryan is my second choice. I downgraded Matty Ice after his five-INT performance a couple of weeks ago. But, again, the Falcons are 10-1 and their record in one-possession games is ridiculous. The one-point victory over the Buccaneers just adds to Ryan's legend.

Tom Brady has thrown just three interceptions. We take Brady’s greatness for granted. He’s not getting much MVP buzz, but he deserves it. He’s on pace for 35 TDs and four INTs. That’s just incredible.

Peyton Manning looked used and tired against the Chiefs. Von Miller looked used and tired against the Chiefs. My point is the Broncos just went through the motions this week and squeaked past the worst team in football.

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