At that spot near the end of the game, where it was clear the offense was playing it safe – playing not to lose – by keeping the clock running and settling for the go-ahead field goal to make it 13-12 with a little over a minute left, I was envisioning the blog post I’d write about the game. The working title in my head was, “Just Fuck You, Darrell Bevell”. I guess that’s why I like to wait until the next day to write this thing (that, and because I’m usually in some form of food/football coma by the end of the day on Sunday, and the three working braincells I have left, I need to get me home).
We have Jimmy Graham. We spent a great deal to bring Jimmy Graham to Seattle. We gave up a starting, Pro Bowl-calibre center and a first round draft pick to get Graham and a third rounder. Jimmy Graham is 6’7, with some of the best hands and leaping ability in the NFL. He may not be quite as good as Gronk when it comes to purely catching the ball, but he’s close. We brought him in here because we have a need for a reliable red zone target in the passing game. That’s priority number one when it comes to Jimmy Graham. Or, that is, it SHOULD BE priority number one.
And yet, there we were, with a little over two minutes left, at the seven yard line. The PERFECT spot to utilize Jimmy Graham’s unique physical gifts. As I alluded to before, the Seahawks were down by two points going into this drive. They NEEDED a touchdown, which would force the Cowboys to go for a touchdown, which never would’ve happened in a million years because they had Matt Cassel and we had the Legion of Fucking Boom. The Seahawks scoring a touchdown there might as well have meant the Seahawks scoring a 50-burger there; there was no coming back. On the flipside, kicking a field goal would mean the Cowboys only needed a field goal of their own to re-take the lead and win the game. As the announcers mentioned during the game, Dan Bailey is the most accurate field goal kicker in NFL history. They were also playing indoors. He had also in that game nailed a 52-yarder like it was nothing. The Seahawks playing it safe and settling for the field goal was putting the game in jeopardy that we didn’t need to do.
Unless you don’t trust your quarterback, which is another conversation altogether.
You know what I love about how New England utilizes Gronk? When they’re down near the goalline, they’ll line him up wide (sometimes on an island, sometimes with another receiver in the slot). If he’s on an island, and he’s being guarded by a lone cornerback, then it’s just an easy hitch route or fade route, pitch n’ catch, touchdown. It’s the bread and butter of the Pats’ offense. If he’s on an island and they’re double-covering him, then more than likely you’ll get the middle of the endzone wide open. Or, you can throw a screen the opposite way and have the numbers in your favor. Or, shit, you can just run the ball up the middle because there won’t be enough defenders in the box. There are any NUMBER of options at your disposal when you use your weapons effectively like the Patriots do.
Let’s say you put Gronk out wide, with a receiver in the slot; I don’t even need to tell you what comes next. Gronk runs a slant, or an in-route, and picks off the other receiver’s defender, while the receiver runs an underneath out-route, catches the pass going away from Brady, and easily finds the edge for a touchdown as now both defenders on that side are tangled in a heaping mass of Gronk. As you can see, I’m not saying that the Seahawks have to get down there and throw it to Graham three times. But, if we had an offensive coordinator who didn’t have his head so far up his own ass, he might design some plays that utilized Graham as a decoy effectively enough to still get us the touchdowns that we need.
What do we do instead? We run left, which Marshawn Lynch mystifyingly takes out of bounds. Ostensibly, this was because the Cowboys were out of time outs and we wanted to drain the clock to the 2-minute warning. Then, on second down, we run it AGAIN, because there were still seven seconds left before the 2-minute warning. Once again, the run is stuffed for a loss, but at least now we’ve got two minutes to go, so the Cowboys can’t stop the clock again without an incomplete pass or running out of bounds. At this point, you have the big decision: do you drain 40 seconds with another run, kick the field goal, and pray your defense can do what it hasn’t done all year: hold a close 4th quarter lead? Or, do you go for the throat, utilize Jimmy Graham smartly, and take a chance at the endzone and really putting this game away? Granted, in that second scenario, they probably get the ball back with 1:50 left in the game if the pass falls incomplete. But, when they’ve got a kicker like Dan Bailey, do the extra 40 seconds really matter?
In this instance, I guess it didn’t matter, as we were able to harass Cassel enough into turning the ball over on downs (after an idiotic personal foul penalty on Michael Bennett to start the drive). But, I argue the Seahawks’ decision was asinine in that situation, and they’re LUCKY it didn’t bite them in the ass.
I can hear you arguing with me now, though. Yes, I saw the third down play. Yes, I saw Russell Wilson take the ball on a bootleg, run to his right, and when no one was open, tuck the ball and run for a few yards. I saw all of that. But, I would argue – for starters – that the Seahawks never really had any intention of throwing on that play whatsoever, unless there was a complete breakdown in coverage, which obviously wasn’t the case. I would also argue, if they were serious about throwing the ball, WHY IS JIMMY GRAHAM LINING UP ON THE LINE, INSTEAD OF OUT WIDE??? What have I been writing about all day? How the Pats use Gronk, and how he helps them become the best red zone team in football. Why aren’t WE doing THAT???
You know what a roll out near the endzone gets you? It draws every single defender to that third of the field, as well as the majority of the receivers who are out in the pattern. It’s like trying to throw the football through a tornado; the odds of completing that pass are almost nil. And NFL coaches are so pissing-their-pants afraid of throwing back across the field, they almost never send any receivers out the other way, for fear of having the ball picked off and run back to the house. So don’t give me this shit about the Seahawks trying to throw for the touchdown there; they had no intention whatsoever. That play may have been a run/pass option, but it was designed to fail from the creator himself, Darrell Bevell.
You want to know why Darrell Bevell has never really been seriously considered for a head coaching job, and why he’ll never ever have one at the NFL level? Because he’s a chickenshit little loser with impotent play design who could be out-coached by a 10 year old playing Madden.
That’s why, John Schneider, you’re going to have to spend this whole upcoming off-season revamping our offensive line with quality draft picks and free agent signings. It’s time to cut off Darrell Bevell; he gets no more offensive weapons until he figures out how to play with the ones he has.