Beat The Man - Week Three

"You can get it can get it done...what's more, ya GOTTA GET IT DONE!!!" That's what Coach Saban used to tell his teams, but what manner of pepper is Coach Holmgren putting in that Fillet of Hawk? Scott Jones wonders if he's not lost his ability to discern that the value of a quality recipe is in the balance of its ingredients...

Last Week: 2-5 (sufficiently embarrassed)
Season to Date: 5-6

Right, so my record now stinks after a horrible weekend - properly culminating in a shocking decapitation in the final 3 minutes on Monday Night. But before we get to some more bogus picks for this weekend… allow me to vent my angst upon someone other than myself.

Will someone please tell Mike Holmgren that when you have a Shaun Alexander in the backfield (who’s rolled up near 100 yds in the 1st half), an excellent O-Line, and you’re trying to maintain a 21pt lead? You must… run… the football. It’s very simple. You run the ball to protect a lead. You don’t pass MORE OFTEN than you run. That is what you DON’T do. It’s hard for me to understand why I’m screaming myself hoarse with frustration when I’m in the 4th Q owning a double digit lead. But the Egg-man will find a way to frustrate me. He will find a way to get us out of field goal range and turn the ball over. I dunno, maybe he likes to be frustrated a lot more than I do. Let’s keep us all on edge cuz it’s just a lot more exciting that way?

We don’t even bother lining up in a running formation. We prefer being ‘genius’, running out of a 3WR formation. With the stellar hands we have at TE – I’d prefer it the other way. Line up to run and sneak a pass every now and then. That’s called advantaging your roster and the situation.

These are the 2nd half figures:

-We Ran the ball 14 times and Passed 15 times. Yup. That’s right.

-Only 9 of those runs included our stellar blocking FB Mack Strong in the formation.

-In the 4th quarter alone, we set and ran with Alexander and Strong only 5 times. Choosing a 3WR+ set 7 times!!!

-When we DID run Alexander with a FB – the success rate was marginally better than any other formation.

-Alexander ended with 28 carries. Concerned more than that might be too many? Well, Morris (a 2nd RD pick 3 yrs ago who we’d like to know a bit more about - given Alexander’s contract situation) was allowed to carry the ball only 2 times the entire game. Strong never carried the ball at all.

-Our QB was suffering from a strained biceps that was clearly bothering him throughout the game. It appeared to affect his accuracy more so in the 2nd half after gutting out a heroic performance in the first – which is a very reasonable expectation. You’d likely want to take advantage of your healthy lead and keep the ball off his throbbing arm, yes? You’re amazed the game has played out PERFECTLY for such an opportunity. You choose to ignore that, and your RB who’s on fire… Koo-koo-ka-choo.

-Following offsetting penalties on a 3WR passing play (3rd and 1, from our own 19, early 4Q) we decided to get smart and hand Alexander the ball behind a run formation. Alexander responded to a 1-on-1 situation by knocking the defender on his ass, and proving he now understands the importance in that critical yard. We chose to ignore that and press with the pass some more…

-At the ATL 24, leading by 11pts (10:00 to play) we virtually collapsed and backed ourselves out of a critical FG opportunity, before turning the ball over. That collapse began with a 3WR formation on 1st down, followed by a pass from a FB formation that resulted in a holding penalty. You want to avert that problem from occurring and lock up the game, establish an attitude? Then enjoy the fact you’re now in FG range and ram the damn ball down their throats!! Yer killin’ me, Homey, yer killin’ me!! (Coaching set that failure.)

-With 3:50 to play, our lead now down to 3, Holmgren forced Alexander to run from a 3WR set (no FB) on 1st and 2nd down. And then came out on a 3rd and 10 with – get this – a natural Run formation (2WR). Am I missing something? Stop trying to outsmart yourSELF! The result? 3-and-out. The game is now in the hands of the very thing you wanted to avoid – the Defense. (Thankfully, the Defense responded quite impressively with a 4-and-out to end the game.)

-I’m frustrated all over again…

That is not the demand of the West Coast Offense, folks. Bill Walsh repeatedly ran Roger Craig heavy in the 2nd half to maintain the lead and close out games. Contrarily, Mike Holmgren has proven over and over again a stubborn insistence to ignore the game situation – and play himself. I don’t care if Atlanta is banged up in the Secondary. You do not ignore the situation and throw the ball around encouraging a multitude of possible bad outcomes in the process. Particularly when you’re watching it fall apart with your very own eyes beCAUSE you’re failing to advantage the obvious. You want to close out games? Offer your team faith and an attitude “We’re going to ram it down their throats. Now go out there and be men. Pound them into submission”.

We play like we’re losing. And that’s why we lose.

There. Now that I’ve properly shifted the attention off my own failures, let’s get to this week’s picks…

SD –5.5 vs NYG
Sunday Night Football in my hometown San Diego. Little boy blue (QB Eli Manning), gets to shuffle into the town he thought to thumb his nose at, facing a team that has no reason to hang their heads following 2 quite difficult defeats, yet find their backs against the wall at 0-2 in a Division they’ll need to post a win in this very night - if they hope to retain credibility for last seasons success. Mister Sophomore QB is going to find himself overwhelmed by a sea of hostility. That nose best find some Kleenex, ‘cuz it’s gonna get bloodied.

People may think San Diegan’s are pretty relaxed in the pleasant surrounding that we live in. This is not entirely the case. The fact is San Diego feels an inherent sense of disrespect. We’re the little town in California who never earn the headlines of San Francisco or LA. No one takes us very seriously. Little Boy Manning couldn’t possibly have been more deliberate in his disrespect. He punked us in our right to choose whoever the hell we wanted in last years draft. Our city doesn’t deserve that right? Believe me, we’ve been waiting for this day to teach him a lesson in picking a fight on the beach. That’s never a good idea if you’re an out-of-towner.

Furthermore, we like our Chargers this year. We have great respect for what they achieved last year in the face of such disgrace (hey, I’m a Hawk fan – but I support the town I live in). And this year’s team is factually more talented than last years. The city knows the Bolts need our energy. And the team knows they need to bring the lightning. Under a zillion watts of floodlights – justice will be served. There is absolutely NO WAY the Chargers will lose this game. Due to the way Schottenheimer likes to play, beating a team by 5.5 makes me a little nervous (smart line by the oddsmakers). But the Giants don’t make me nervous in the least. We’re gonna spank that arrogant butt...

NE +3 @ PITT
I feel pretty strong about this game as well. The Steelers have had it easy with TEN and HOU (the Titans are very young and the Texans Offense is inept). While the Black and Yellow D has been fantastic vs the pass - you could argue that their early leads have allowed them to tee off and send the heat at the QB (11 sacks), and thereby allow such Defensive success. Meanwhile, they HAVE been allowing 4.4/carry on an NFL average 24 attempts. Offensively, can we expect breakout RB Willie Parker to post another 100+ while ROFLburger continues with a QB rating the perfect opposite of his pre-season results? Facing a quite motivated Bill Belichick and his ever-creative schemes?

I’m thinking Pittsburgh feels pretty comfortable about their position going into a BYE next week, while the Pats are nothing but ornery and determined to snatch back respect. The Steelers stole the streak from them last year before NE went back for vengeance in the Playoffs. They are fully aware they’ll need to bring their A+ game and last weeks results only add to the inspiration for a solid week of preparation. I expect they’ll be dictating where S Troy Polamalu needs to be, rather than the other way around. The Paty’s will cake the Steelers and get things back on an even playing field (aka – I still don’t think PITT is as good as they appear to be).

IDY –13.5 vs CLE
I am not a full believer in the suddenly effective Colts Defense. I do not think such dominant success will continue for them this year. In fact, they still remain inferior to the Defense they had 2 years ago (as I think we’ll learn in the later half of the season when they actually begin playing teams that can field an Offense. Though their success vs JAX was impressive). However, I also do not expect their Offense to maintain such a low scoring output…

Cleveland is the perfect team to blow that Offense open on. You may recall I had Cleveland on my Suck list. Am I surprised they beat GBAY? Well, the Pack where ALSO on my Suck list – so, no, I’m not too alarmed. The fact remains that Cleveland stinks. Their Defense cannot possibly hold the scoring down on Peyton Manning. I know it’s Romeo Crennel and he knows how to handle Peyton Manning, but he simply does not have the personnel to do it. Meanwhile, Manning gets a chance to play that design against inferior athletes to the Patriots. It’ll be like playing the practice team. A nice tune up for the real thing Nov 7. I’m glad the Brownies won last week so I can give less than 14 here. But I suspect the Colts are going to score-a-plenty…

CAR –3 @ MIA
I’m not as comfortable with this pick as most might be. I respect the Dolphins’ coach tremendously, and they gave a quite motivated Jets team a tough game last week. They will be prepared this week as well. However, Carolina is the team we saw last week – rather than the one prior. They are a legitimate Super Bowl contender and they’re not feeling comfortable at all being 1-1 with 2-0 Tampa heading up for some wine and cheese in Wisconsin this week. There are some injury concerns in Carolina with CB Ken Lucas, FS Mike Minter and OLB Will Witherspoon all on the Questionable list (as of Thu). But I’ve got to believe the Panthers will overcome that (as they’re familiar w/such a problem) and grab a win they can’t afford to lose in Miami. We’re only giving 3. That’s definitely doable.

Also worth noting, there has been a trend down in the South this year for the visiting teams to struggle (due to overwhelming temperatures and humidity). However, Carolina ain’t too far from the furnace. I don’t think they’ll find themselves affected by that as much as some other teams have.

DAL – 6.5 @ SF
This week we’ll learn the difference between Bill Parcells and Mike Holmgren. The Monday Night meltdown will be forgotten history after the Cowboys roll into San Francisco and ride off with all the gold. The Tuna will not allow the fowl to linger. He’ll have his team in top form and they’ll find the perfect peon to beat up on in the 49ers (just as Philly did last week). The Niner Offense is frighteningly pathetic. I don’t think they have a chance of scoring more than 10 pts offensively. Defensively they may be able to rattle Bledsoe, but in spite of what some may think – he’s playing mistake-free football (with a rating of 112.3). Dallas is built on Defense and this game will play right into their hands. Giving less than a TD… I’ll have to risk another road favorite and add this to the list. (Plus, Dallas is aware they might find things more difficult the following week across the bay in Oaktown. This is a game they can’t afford to lose).

I’m highly tempted to also take the Bucs heading up to GBAY –3, and Cincy –3 @ Da Bears. I’m probably a fool for laying off the Bucs game, but I can’t take the Bengals as they’ve been a little bit too successful and may not take an out of Conference Bears Defense as seriously as they should (we might see some turnovers in Chi-town that force an upset). Officially, neither of those games are on the ledger – but if I was greedy enough they would be.

Rack em up:

SD –5.5
NE +3
IDY –13.5
CAR –3
DAL – 6.5

Beat The Man because… he represents something we inherently just do NOT like.

G. Scott Jones is a freelance writer who contributes regularly to Seahawks.NET. Reaction of any sort is always encouraged at Top Stories