Marshawn Lynch delivers a pitch-perfect retirement ‘announcement’

February 8, 2016 Leave a comment

Sunday, February 7, 6:46 p.m. Pacific Time:

The Carolina Panthers kick off to the Denver Broncos, trailing by six points with 10:21 to play in the Super Bowl.

Andre Caldwell returns the kick from his goal line to the Broncos’ 24-yard line. TV timeout.

Marshawn Lynch retires.


Wait, what was that in the middle?

Lynch has hinted at retirement following each of the past few seasons. This time, it looks like he means it as this “announcement” was later verified by some of Marshawn’s teammates, his agent and the Seahawks’ owner, Paul Allen.

Some people on Twitter accused Lynch of seeking attention with the timing of this post, trying to hog the spotlight from the Big Game.

Yes, because Marshawn Lynch has always loved the spotlight, has always wanted to be the center of attention.

Lynch was never going to call some sort of press conference to mark the end of his NFL career. I’m pretty sure he hates the sports media more than he enjoys Skittles. This is exactly how Beast Mode should go out: Saying a lot without saying anything at all. I have no doubt that the timing of the post was very calculated. 

And just how awesome is that tweet? Lynch conveys his message loud and clear while also giving a heavy shout-out to the people and the neighborhoods (specifically in Oakland) that formed him into the man he became. He obviously never forgot about them.

Lynch should be regarded as the fiercest and most punishing back of this decade. He’s not a Hall of Famer, not that he likely cares about such an honor. But he leaves behind a highlight reel full of plays that are true to who he is. This tweet follows that path. 

Presenting the 857,224th edition of 2016 NFL Wild Card playoff predictions on the Internet

January 8, 2016 Leave a comment

Because why try something original when you can play it safe and copy everyone else, right?

Let’s go through this weekend’s games and see what I think. Even I don’t know.


Chiefs @ Texans

The Chiefs won this matchup, 27-20, back in Week 1. As if that means something, because it totally does not. Kansas City’s last loss came before the World Series. Both of these squads have strong defenses, but the Texans don’t have the personnel, especially in their backfield, to outscore a Chiefs offense that has been steamrolling opponents without Jamaal Charles; they’ve held a 14-point average margin of victory during their 10-game winning streak. That train doesn’t stop here. Chiefs win, 24-17.

Steelers @ Bengals 

I think this is the toughest call of the weekend. The absence of DeAngelo Williams is a bigger deal than perhaps most people realize; who knows what Pittsburgh will get out of Fitz Toussaint or Jordan Todman? And the Bengals have the corners — and the defense overall — to trouble a one-dimensional attack. However, a seemingly indomitable Antonio Brown, a now-motivated Martavis Bryant and a blossoming Markus Wheaton are a very, very tall order for any D. Ben Roethlisberger has shredded the Bengals at their place in recent meetings, and I think he will do it again. He has to if the Steelers have any shot. A.J McCarron, like Andy Dalton, can’t give Cincinnati its first playoff victory since 1990. Steelers win, 26-21. 


I’ll probably ditch the Seahawks-Vikings game Sunday to go watch Leo’s latest plea for an Oscar.


Seahawks @ Vikings

It’s Oscar season, and I am way behind on my cinema. So I’ll most likely sacrifice watching this game to go to the movies. What Seattle’s passing game has done without Jimmy Graham and Marshawn Lynch* (and WITH Doug Baldwin) is captivating. But this one could turn unwatchable quickly. The only entertainment in the second half may come via NBC’s cameras scouring the crowd to give us shots of drunk dudes going shirtless with the wind chill at minus-20. The deep freeze will probably modify the scoring a little bit. Seahawks win, 23-10. 

*While typing this up, I found out that Lynch won’t be available for this game. A surprise for sure, but not one that should change anyone’s opinion on this game. Lynch didn’t play when the Seahawks went up to Minnesota just a month ago and demolished the Vikings, 38-7.

Packers @ Redskins 

I’m sure that I am setting myself up for failure here because it’s unlikely that visiting teams will go 4-0 this weekend. But I just can’t. I mean … Kirk Cousins over Aaron Rodgers?? I just … no, I can’t. I’ve seen the play of both men and their teams of late, but it feels wrong.  It sends a cold shiver down my spine. For all of the problems that Green Bay has along its offensive line, with its running backs and receivers, in its defensive secondary without Sam Shields, I just can’t. For no reason other than Aaron freaking Rodgers. My least confident pick of this round. Packers win, 16-14.

Hasty NFL head coach firings shouldn’t surprise us any longer

January 7, 2016 Leave a comment

Lovie Smith“This is the NFL , which stands for Not For Long …” — Jerry Glanville

“Just win, baby!” — Al Davis

Those realities intersected yet again Wednesday night when the Tampa Bay Buccaneers fired head coach Lovie Smith after just two seasons on the job.

The news came as a shock to many, following a season in which the Bucs improved their record by four games, and rookie quarterback Jameis Winston showed legitimate promise. Why not give Smith more time to build upon that amelioration? Why shun continuity and force your No. 1 overall draft pick QB to work with his second head coach in as many pro campaigns?

On Thursday, Buccaneers general manager Jason Licht presented a pretty clear and simple answer to those questions, and it has everything to do with winning.

“When you have eight wins, and three home wins, in two years, you’ve been patient enough,” he said.

In today’s NFL, job security for head coaches belongs in the same category with Loch Ness folklore. Of the eight new hires in 2011, only two men — Jason Garrett and Ron Rivera  — still hold their post. Pat Shurmur (Browns) was out in two seasons while Hue Jackson (Raiders) didn’t last more than one.

Five of the seven coaches of the 2012 class have been booted. The two that remain — MIke McCoy and Gus Bradley — are definitely on the hot seat entering 2016. Romeo Crennel (Chiefs), Greg Schiano (Bucs) and Mike Mularkey (Jaguars) never made it past year two. Crennel and Mularkey were granted only one full season.

2013, more of the same. Rob Chudzinski (Browns) gets pink-slipped after one year, and Marc Trestman (Bears) is gone following his second. In some #BizarroNFL stuff, Chip Kelly held the Eagles’ gig for three seasons … and I was shocked that he didn’t stay longer.

With Smith’s dismissal Wednesday, the entire 2014 crop of fresh head coaches has officially dissolved. Ken Whisenhunt (Titans) and Mike Pettine (Browns, yet again) are also currently unemployed. And the 2015 class of six has already lost one member: Jim Tomsula (49ers).

It should come as no surprise that all but one of those teams in parentheses has missed the playoffs during this five-year period of turnover — that’s why they were fired in the first place, right? Thanks to Andy Reid, who followed Crennel, only the Chiefs have played meaningful games into January.

Now, you could blame each franchise’s lack of postseason qualifications on bad coaching and that moves were to made to rectify that in short order. You may be right.

I’d argue that these teams are floundering as a result of the quick hooks. No other sport stresses teamwork, togetherness, family more than American football. It’s a brotherhood, they say. NFL coaches use so many war metaphors such as being in a foxhole and accomplishing a mission, you’d imagine that maintaining a tight unit with a stable locker room general is integral to success.

But brotherhood be dammed; how many games did you win this year? That is truly the only thing that matters in this climate. Hell, winning games won’t even save your job. John Fox got fired by the Broncos following a 12-4 season in 2014.

It’s actually all about lifting that Lombardi Trophy. Of course, that’s what every team strives for, but a select few have the current roster and coaching to obtain such a prize. However, that doesn’t stop the delusions of grandeur from basically ever owner in the NFL. Just look at this exchange from earlier this week between 49ers CEO Jed York and a reporter asking about the team’s head coaching search:

“Are you in need of somebody who you’re comfortable with, who makes you feel good when you’re in a room with them?” York was asked.

“We’re in need of somebody that can win Super Bowls,” York said.

“So, personality doesn’t matter?”

“We’re in need of somebody that can win Super Bowls.”

Every team wants to win the Super Bowl, but only one of 32 can actually do it each season. That’s kind of a rule. And the 49ers right now are probably 29th among the league’s best bets to be playing in Super Bowl LI (Hey there, Blaine Gabbert!).

I’d rather root for a team with executives who really care about winning rather than one with people who care about only the bottom line. But holding an incoming head coach to such a ridiculous standard without having a sense of your on-field talent (or lack thereof) can’t possibly make such an opportunity seem appetizing.

So, a word of warning to all of those men currently considering the vacancies in Tampa Bay, San Fran, Tennessee, New York, Philadelphia, Miami or especially Cleveland: choose wisely.

Know that your plan and vision will need to work and work immediately, no matter the hand the you’re dealt on the field. It’s Super Bowl or bust, buddy. Otherwise, odds are the only thing you will have added by 2018 is another line on your resume.

2016 Baseball Hall of Fame election: A great day for Griffey Jr., Piazza and many others

January 7, 2016 Leave a comment


109347Going into Wednesday, I held out hope that we might see a quartet of players inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame for the second straight year. Two players did get in — obvious choices in Ken Griffey Jr. and Mike Piazza — but the day’s results brought good news for not only them but for a bunch of players who hope to join them in Cooperstown at some point in the near future.

Griffey Jr. fell just three votes shy of becoming the Hall’s first-ever unanimous inductee. At first, I really wanted to know which three dummies left Junior off of their ballot, but finding such an answer isn’t important. It will be remembered that Griffey Jr., the Player of the ’90s, registered the highest voting percentage in Hall history: 99.32. The abstaining 0.68 percent will live on only in the form of a sports bar trivia question. And that’s a stretch.

As long as you get elected into the Hall, that is what matters. It’s a pass-fail grading system. Percentages are good for ego-stroking (and Griffey Jr. deserved his high vote total), but anyone who surpasses that 75 percent induction threshold will always be regarded as just as worthy as any other player with a bust in the museum.

Piazza, a dominating talent at the catcher position who had to wait too long to enter the Hall (Piazza will have company in that highly specific category, but I’ll get to that later), was listed on 83 percent of the ballots in his fourth year of eligibility. There’s no doubt that Piazza should have been elected in fewer than four years, but baseless steroid associations (concerns? assumptions? aspersions?) hindered his trek. That’s a shame, but again, it doesn’t really matter now because he’s in.

Although every other player fell short of 75 percent, many of them can probably smile tonight as they think about their future chances for induction. In this first election since the HOF culled the voting base of well more than 100 people who had not held active status with the Baseball Writers Association of America since the days when Morgan Ensberg was an All-Star, plenty of players saw their odds of reaching the Hall greatly improve.

Player Ballot year 2016 vote % 2015 vote % % difference
Mike Mussina 3rd 24.6 43.0 18.4
Edgar Martinez 7th 27.0 43.4 16.4
Jeff Bagwell 6th 55.7 71.6 15.9
Alan Trammell 15th 25.1 40.9 15.8
Tim Raines 9th 55.0 69.8 14.8
Curt Schilling 4th 39.2 52.3 13.1
Mike Piazza 4th 69.9 83.0 13.1
Fred McGriff 7th 12.9 20.9 8.0
Roger Clemens 4th 37.5 45.2 7.7
Barry Bonds 4th 36.8 44.3 7.5

When you see players jumping up 15, 16, 18 percentage points, understand what a gigantic leap that is. From 2014 to 2015, Schilling garnered the largest positive difference in percentage points at +10.0. From 2012 to 2013 — when the ballot was wide open and no one ended up getting elected — Dale Murphy gained the most ground during his final year of eligibility. However, it was just 4.1 percentage points, up to 18.6 percent.

Cutting all of that “dead wood” had a significant positive impact on the voting. Leaving just the baseball people to vote on baseball’s hall of fame resulted in more votes for worthy players and the greater likelihood that more players will see their enshrinement day come before their 10 years on the ballot has passed.

I don’t think I’ve seen a Baseball Hall of Fame vote in recent years that carried less controversy than Wednesday’s, largely due to those massive point gains.

Griffey Jr. got in at nearly 100 percent. Awesome.

Piazza got in by a healthy margin. He should have been in sooner, but cool.

Bagwell and Raines still have work to do, but given where they sit after the 2016 vote, it’s pretty easy to assume that they will get the call in 2017. That year will also be Raines’ final one on the ballot, so you know he’ll get some sentimental votes.

Trevor Hoffman was named on 67.3 percent of ballots in his first year. His time is coming.

Edgar Martinez, with only three years left on the ballot, probably doesn’t have enough time to gain 30 percentage points, but with the advances made by Mussina and Schilling, their candidacy is looking very strong, even if they have to wait past 2017. They will be taking just their fourth and fifth turns on the ballot, respectively.

In previous years, there’s been a ton of debate directly following the Hall of Fame announcement about who got jobbed, why voters are stupid not to vote for Player X and yada, yada, yada.

On Wednesday, there wasn’t much of that at all because the players who should have definitely gotten in did. And those who didn’t but deserve to — Raines, Bagwell, Hoffman, Schilling, Mussina — probably will and soon. So why complain about something that’s damn near inevitable anyway?

It was a little odd to not hear that much noise. 

Helping those on the outside looking in are the newcomers to the ballot in 2017 and beyond. Frankly, there is not a ton to love here.

Next year, Vladimir Guerrero, Ivan Rodriguez and Manny Ramirez will land on the ballot. I think Vlad can get in on his first try if for no other reason than this looks like a line drive in the box score, but it also wouldn’t surprise me if he falls between the 60-70 percentile.

Even with the more knowledgeable voting base, “Pudge” will probably get the Mike Piazza treatment: Totally deserving of your 75 percent but will probably have to wait because of PED anxiety (worries? connections? accusations?). Give him 2-3 years.

M176-461bkanny? Nope. Even the biggest apologist for Bonds and Clemens (I haven’t forgotten about them) won’t let him pass through the gates.

In 2018, Chipper Jones is a no-brainer, but what about Jim Thome? Will his 612 home runs be devalued by his lack of versatility and defense? Will the “slugger” tag hurt him?

In 2019, Mariano Rivera. But Roy Halladay and/or Todd Helton???

There have been seven first-ballot Hall of Famers in the past three votes. But over the next three, we might see only three or four at most. That leaves a lot of smart people with a lot of blank spaces to fill with the names of a lot of excellent players. And those players minus Raines have plenty of years to stump for votes.

Let’s finish this up by talking about the two most polarizing names on this year’s list and assess their chances of ever being inducted in Cooperstown: Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens.

I would vote for them. I don’t know if that makes me whatever a “Big Hall” guy is, but they are two generation-defining ballplayers who would have made it into the Hall if their careers had ended before the earliest record of them allegedly taking performance-enhancing drugs. Oh, and this is a good time to mention that, unlike your Mannys, your McGwires, your Palmerios, any talk of Clemens’ or Bonds’ PED use also has to include some form of the word “alleged.” With all of the dot-connecting that’s gone on, there is still no PED admission or otherwise solid proof with Clemens or Bonds.

That’s not to say that they didn’t take banned substances. I’m sure they did (as did many, many, many of their peers). But baseball never caught them. They never tested positive. That has to play a role into their candidacies.

But more to the point about how this year’s voting affects Clemens and Bonds. I’ve heard some people say that their seven-point jump is not enough, that they needed a bigger boost in order to clear the 75 percent hurdle. I disagree with this for a couple of reasons.

One: Time. It’s been a theme in this post. Like Schilling, Clemens and Bonds just finished their fourth years on the ballot. I know they each still need to gain about 30 or so percentage points and that’s a lot of votes, but they have time. After Tim Raines’ fourth go-around, he was at 37.5 percent. Bagwell was at 54.3 percent after his fourth year, and that was 2014. Now, once a player held down by PED chatter (whispers? conjecture? suggestions?), it’s basically a foregone conclusion that Bagwell will be making a speech in Cooperstown during the summer of 2017. That honor will be bestowed upon him during his seventh year as a candidate. In other words, with time to spare.

Time also has a tendency to make us gloss over the ugly and complicated parts of a person’s life. With time, perhaps the voters will do the same when it comes to Bonds’ and Clemens’ baseball lives and reflect more on their undeniable greatness.

Two: Bonds and Clemens will make it to Cooperstown with an addition of only about five percentage points over each of the next six years. And as stated above, the next few years aren’t exactly filled to the brim with obvious candidates for induction. Once Hoffman, Bagwell, Raines and possibly Guerrero graduate in 2017, I expect Bonds and Clemens to receive significantly more support because these smart baseball writers are going to have to vote for someone. Without a bevy of attractive new options available, I think more and more voters will give these two their HOF due. 

It may take until 2022, when David Ortiz’s name will probably appear for the first time on a Hall of Fame ballot, but I believe Bonds and Clemens will have their day in Cooperstown. And what a day that will be. 

Chip Kelly gets fired. Now what?

December 29, 2015 Leave a comment

4944334987_f623e4456dThe news that the Philadelphia Eagles had fired Chip Kelly on Tuesday surprised a lot of people. I was caught off guard by it. I was sure that the Eagles would stand by an egotistical head coach who took a team from 10-6 to 6-9 less than a year after seizing control of all player personnel decisions in which he showcased his hubris, spearheaded a bunch of roster moves that backfired, might have been drowned out by his team in the process and had definitely lost the faith of his high-priced running back.

Oh. The firing was actually justified, not a shock at all. The only surprising aspects of it were the timing and the lack of a warning. Sports news rarely just happens these days. With so many beat reporters and insiders, there’s always a signal for whenever something big is coming down the pipeline. An anonymous source. An exclusive report. Something that braces us for when the shit gets real. 

This firing just happened. There had been talk that Kelly had lost his locker room, but an outright dismissal during the season wasn’t seen as a possibility. Yet, the sword of Damocles fell on the high-profile head coach of a buzzworthy team in the nation’s most popular sport. And we were aware to only its aftermath. In today’s era of media, that is a surprise.

 What’s next for Chip? Another shot in the NFL, he hopes. He told FOX Sports’ Jay Glazer that he wants to stay in the pros, not go back to college and “insists” that he no longer wants to be his own general manager. 

I would like to see Kelly return to the college game, a place where he can fully control the situation and where the 18-to-20-year-olds will accept or put up with his arrogance more readily than men in their 30s. There are only two FBS college head coaching jobs open at the moment. but you know that 10-15 other programs would find some way to oust their current coach if Kelly ever made his services available.

But, OK, let’s keep Kelly in the NFL. There are already teams that would reportedly be interested in him as its head coach, the Tennessee Titans — with former Kelly recruit Marcus Mariota — chief among them. It’s not like Kelly doesn’t deserve another shot. To say his time in the NFL has been a failure would be failure on your part to observe history. The Eagles went 4-12 in 2012. Then Kelly flew in from Oregon and immediately spun the Eagles from 29th to fourth in scoring offense. His offenses ranked among the league’s top five in points and yards in his first two seasons. The Eagles’ defenses were pretty pliable in part because it spent so much time on the field thanks to the ultra-quick possessions on offense, but 2013 and 2014 saw Philadelphia finish at 10-6. Similar success this year would have given the Eagles a division title weeks ago. 

But 2015 held a different outcome largely because Kelly held another task. On Jan. 2, he was basically given carte blanche as the new head of football operations. How’d that go?

Kelly traded LeSean McCoy for linebacker Kiko Alonso, who was coming off of ACL reconstruction and is currently ranked as the sixth-worst qualifying LB by Pro Football Focus.

Kelly didn’t re-sign Jeremy Maclin and then tried to fill that void with the likes of Nelson Agholor, who had a very disappointing rookie season, and Josh Huff, who looks like nothing more than a special teams/gadget player. 

Kelly dealt Nick Foles away for Sam Bradford. Foles is absolutely dreadful, but Bradford wasn’t a whole lot better in his free agent year, and Kelly also decided to give the Rams two draft picks in that trade: a fourth-rounder in 2015 and a second-rounder in 2016. Philadelphia received a 2015 fifth-rounder in return.

Kelly gave $21 million guaranteed to DeMarco Murray, who ran for fewer yards on more carries this season than LeGarette Blount.

Kelly gave $25 million guaranteed to cornerback Byron Maxwell, who got picked on relentless by opposing quarterbacks early in the year. Injuries along with consistently poor play ruined his season.

Kelly let go of guard Evan Mathis, a former All-Pro who has graded out inside the top 15 at his position.

All in the span of less than a calendar year. Simply, Chip Kelly destroyed Chip Kelly’s team.

Gleaning from what he told Glazer, it’s nice that Kelly is apparently willing now to relinquish player personnel control to other people who actually know what they are doing. But do you really believe him? It was his refusal to delegate such duties that reportedly got him thrown out on to Broad Street in the flash on Tuesday.

Chip Kelly is a good football coach. He’s not a “mad genius”; he has shown himself to be a serviceable head man in the NFL who can get positive results. He can certainly dial up a dangerous offense.

He has also shown himself to be a horrendous GM. To steal a couple of lines from Bill Parcells, Chip Kelly can cook a tasty dinner. But he needs to let someone else shop for the groceries.

Regardless of how desperate some moribund franchise is for a head coach — one who would undoubtedly excite the fan base and drive up ticket sales — any owner would be a total fool to give Kelly full control over the on-field product if he really wants it again. No one man should have all that power. Not in the National Football League. With said power and his desire to maintain it, Kelly guaranteed his sudden exit out of the Eagles’ nest.

Fantasy Football: Week 15 starts, covering the Panthers’ new-look backfield

December 17, 2015 Leave a comment

It is semifinal week in most fantasy football leagues, and I’m here to provide a dash of help (I hope) for your season-long matchups.

Here is a short list of players who should probably be in your lineups this weekend. Well, it’s really more like three guys you shouldn’t fear starting and a tight end who is worth a prayer. But that’s how TE has gone for yet another season.

One guy who won’t be in your lineups in Week 15 is Jonathan Stewart. His foot injury is just another hit to a position that has absorbed plenty this year. So, what are we to do with the Panthers’ ground game now, especially in a good matchup versus the Giants? I give my two cents (and about 700 words) here. In short: ick.

And again, if you have any start-sit questions for this weekend, hit me up: @Spokes_Murphy

You may now return to your regularly scheduled Star Wars freakout.

Giants tempt fate again, finally get desired result in win over Dolphins

December 15, 2015 Leave a comment


You play to win the game. Hello?

The New York Giants have called some controversial plays in late, critical junctures to accomplish that task all season long, and they did it again versus the Miami Dolphins on Monday night. However, there was a key difference between all of their previous attempts and what happened last night:

The play actually succeeded.

And if you were in favor of the call, odds are you’re being a hypocrite.

Situation: The Giants, faced with a third-and-3, are at the Dolphins’ 48-yard line. Exactly two minutes remain, and the Dolphins have no timeouts left. The Giants haven’t been able to run the ball for basically the entire season, but Rashad Jennings’ legs have shown some life on this evening. Moreover, running the ball here and coming up short would leave about 1:17 left before a fourth-down punt that could very well back Miami up inside its own 20-yard line. That means Ryan Tannehill, a gimpy Jarvis Landry and a Dolphins offense which had gained a total of 75 yards in its previous four drives would have to travel 80-plus in around 70 seconds to have any shot at a tie.

So, the answer is obvious to me: The Giants have to run the ball here. They may even get the required three yards to put the game on ice, but if not, they put Miami in an incredibly tough spot where any hope for a win would likely have to come, in part, through multiple defensive breakdowns. And again, that defense has been playing pretty well in this second half.

I, a life-long Giants fan, am yelling at the TV and at my father beside me to run ball. I just start shouting indiscriminately in every direction.

“Run the ball! You’ve got to run the ball.”

Eli Manning drops back to pass.

If you’ve been following this Giants team all year long, you know why such a sight probably caused thousands of G-Men feel like their heart was in their stomach.

Week 1 at Dallas: While running away from pressure, Manning chucks an incomplete pass on third and 1 and with 1:43 on the clock. This saves 40 seconds for the Cowboys, who did not have any timeouts. Dallas uses that time to cut through New York’s ultra-prevent defense and provides the game-winning TD and extra point with just 13 seconds left.

Week 2 versus Atlanta: On third down, Manning gets sacked and loses a fumble at the Falcons’ 8-yard line with the Giants ahead by 10. This occurred in the third quarter, so Manning’s hesitance deserves much more blame than the play call itself, especially when a field goal would have put New York ahead by two touchdowns. Atlanta puts up a 14-0 fourth quarter and goes on to win.

Week 10 versus New England: The Giants are set up with a first-and-goal at the 5. The undefeated Patriots have one timeout and 2:06 remaining. Instead of running on three straight plays, thereby forcing the Patriots to use their final TO, lose the two-minute warning and ticking off another 40-plus seconds after that, Manning uncorks two incomplete passes and then slides for a sack on third down. One of those passes was a TD to Odell Beckham Jr. that was overturned upon review. Milliseconds more of possession change the entire game, but the rules — and the outcome of the review — are what they are. After a field goal, the Patriots are left with 1:47 to go get their game-winning field goal. Yes, Landon Collins can’t catch, but if the Giants had called three runs in that goal line set, Tom Brady and Co. would have had slightly more than a minute to get that field goal. Stephen Gostkowski’s kick went through the uprights with a single second remaining.

Week 13 versus Jets: Perhaps the Giants’ most boneheaded decision in a season full of them, they forego a short field goal attempt that would have given them a 13-point lead in the fourth quarter for a fourth-down pass from Manning to Rueben Randle. The throw gets picked off, which is inconsequential. But the Jets then get the 10 points they need in the final five minutes to force overtime and claim victory in the extra session.

After that Jets loss, Tom Coughlin defended the decision to go for it on fourth down by saying, “If we scored there and fourth-and-2, then we push the score up to where maybe they can’t beat us with whatever.”

That is true. If that play is successful, the Giants get at least another first down or perhaps a touchdown to put the game out of reach. But this meaningless 20-20 hindsight can be applied to all of the situations described above.

IF Manning completes his third-down pass or simply falls down in bounds, the Cowboys don’t have enough time to mount that comeback.

IF Manning doesn’t fumble, the Giants might tack on the points they need to keep the Falcons at bay.

IF the touchdown pass to Beckham stands or if Manning’s throw to Dwayne Harris on the succeeding play is complete, the Giants defeat the Patriots.

If all of those situations work out for the best, the Giants are 10-3, and everyone is kissing Tom Coughlin’s feet, talking about how much guts and resolve he and his team have.

But the fact is the Giants are a bad team trying to work through a ton injuries and even more flaws. When weighing the risk versus the reward, Coughlin must be aware (he must be, right?) that his quarterback is operating behind a patchwork offensive line, with a mess of mediocrity at running back and one reliable receiver.

Back to Monday night, Eli Manning drops back to pass. The play call is relatively safe as Manning looks to that one reliable receiver on a simple 5-yard hitch route. And although Manning throws a Roy Halladay-quality sinker, Beckham is able to get his hands under the ball.

Game over. Big win. Stupid call. 

If Beckham can’t handle that poor throw, we might be sitting here on Monday roasting Coughlin and his lieutenants for displaying an inexplicable brand of NFL insanity: doing the same thing repeatedly and expecting a different result.

You can imagine the media inquisition now:
“Why would they do that again?”
“How can they not learn from their past mistakes?”
“Just how dumb is this team?”
“Why don’t they know how to manage the clock?”
“Should the Giants fire Tom Coughlin now or 20 minutes from now?”

But Beckham made the catch, so it’s all good. 

Again, if you have complained about the Giants’ late-game playcalling prior to Monday night and then agreed with their decision to leave the game in Eli Manning’s hands once again, understand that you are being a hypocrite exercising institutional outrage. The result was what the team desired, but know that the Giants were literally inches away from making the same, bold, ignorant mistake they’ve made before, which has led directly to at least three of their losses.

Monday night’s outcome has probably emboldened the Giants and their coaching staff, giving them the confidence that, sure, this group can go for the throat when it needs to. A look at the roster says that’s probably false hope and that it will fail more often than it succeeds under those circumstances. Just because it worked once doesn’t erase all of the failures that occurred in weeks past and doesn’t make it a harbinger.

But last night also means we probably haven’t had our last discussion about the Giants’ late-game decision-making.


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