You want analysis? It’s Still Football will provide.
Before I start, the following exchange just occurred between Columbus’ QB Matt Nagy and Coach… Wilford Brimley (I don’t know), after Coach Quaker Oats Guy called a play with 1:14 left in the first half
Nagy (incredulous): “You want to run a play?”
Coach Walrus: “Yeah, run it. Go. Go!”
Some random guy off screen: “HEY! The clock’s running!”
Nagy (chin strap off, just kind of chilling): “We’re good, it’s
the 1:00 [warning]…”
Coach Walrus (petulantly): “We shoulda’ run a play…”
Nagy: “Hey, hey, come on, right? We’re good, right? This is fine.”
Coach Walrus (as if to a particularly slow, but pleasant, child): “Yeah, but we should’ve run a play before the one-minute warning.”
Nagy: “Why, what’s the matter? They’ve got three time outs.”
At this point, Coach Walrus stops pacing, and stares completely incredulously at Nagy, and gives up on any pretense of patience.
Coach Walrus: “I know. Then we could MAKE ‘EM USE THEM.”
Silence descends. Nagy is clearly gnawing on this strategic fact with some difficulty. They do not look at each other. The bloom may be off the rose.
Announcer (Merril Hoge?): “I think they’re discussing clock management.”
Me: “Jesus Christ.”
Mind you, the announcing team makes the excellent point that, with the score tied, Tampa probably would’ve let them run their play and still not called a time out, running the clock down to the 1:00 warning anyway, but whatever. I love that we get to glimpse these sorts of conversations. It’s like watching a performance of Copenhagen every week.
More thoughts, below. Maybe even some pictures.
For comparison purposes…
As I write this, Columbus has just scored on a sweep left with 26 seconds left in the first half to go up 35-28. Classic NFL Blitz error: that’s way too much time left on the clock for Tampa Bay, especially with the ensuing excellent kickoff return, and the (Not Actually) Finnish Brett Dietz at the helm. Indeed, Tampa bay scores with 8.6 left in the half to tie it up. A missed FG as time expires means that’s the way it’ll stay. We’ll back get to that game in a second.
Last night, the Soul moved on, largely due to Tony Graziani. It was a defensive slugfest (as predicted by Grampa Gary) for the first half, but Graziani settled down, and Philadelphia dismantled Orlando in the second half. Early in the game, it was mentioned that Tony Graziani was the MVP of the Soul, but the Philadelphia defensive front needs a ton of credit for causing Shane Stafford to pee himself a little on every snap during the second half. Graziani managed to settle down and stop overthrowing his recievers in the second half, while there was someone in Stafford’s face the entire game, leading to a grand total of 6 points in the second half. I don’t need to tell you that an output of two field goals is positively anemic. We predicted this one in favor of Philadelphia, and we’re feeling pretty good about that. However, they’re running into Georgia or Dallas next week, and neither Dr. Dolezel nor The Scrappy Chris Griesen are going to respond with the Cajun-infused befuddlement of Shane Stafford. Graziani has carried the Soul all season – when he was laid up, Philadelphia had nothing going for them, and now The Worldwide Leader is talking about them being this year’s Chicago Rush. On the other side, it’s simple: Other Gruden just didn’t have the tools to keep Orlando in the game. Being flagged for 9 more penalties than the Soul wasn’t something that the Predators were going to overcome, either. That directly took away 21 points and one interception, and indirectly took away immeasurable momentum.
Conciseness from Tampa Bay coach Tim What’s-His-Face at halftime: “Somebody make a play; let’s win this damn thing.” I probably should know his name – he’s the winningest coach in AFL history. Continuing this weekend’s theme of the zebras affecting the game, penalties extended the opening drive of the second half for Columbus to more than 5 minutes, moving them to the 10 before a possible fan-interference non-call stopped them on 4th and inches. I’m not going to say that Columbus got screwed, because the turnover on downs was more due to the combination of a funky call (play action) by Nagy, and the fact that Nagy’s pass was a desperation heave towards the boards because DL Tom Briggs didn’t bite on the play action at all, leading to the team-effort pass break-up by Tampa Bay’s DB and some lady in a green shirt.
In other Columbus news, I want to know why no one’s talked about the fact that Columbus offensive coordinator Skip Foster (formerly Wilford Brimley/Coach Walrus) and Matt Nagy don’t appear to get along. ESPN’s broadcast has picked up not just the conversation I’ve already transcribed, but also a playcall a the end of the first half that Nagy loudly questioned (Z-in to the middle of the field with less than 15 seconds remaining), and then hit the receiver before he had the chance to cut in, as well as a couple other contentious chats. Intriguing… Nagy and the offensive linemen also reacted blankly to a 3rd and goal “heavies” call from Foster in the 4th quarter that was blown up by Tampa Bay, and then Nagy and Foster had a quick cursing match about what to do on 4th down, forcing a frustrated time-out call. After the successful touchdown, David Saunders steadfastly ignored Foster’s beckoning him over for a debriefing. With under a minute left, they redeem themselves somewhat by managing to not screw up a conversation during a time out, leading to a 30-something yard bomb down to the two or so, and then engaging in a successful bit of clock management, falling down at the 1, and again at the half-yard line. Still: where the hell was head coach Doug Kay on any or all of these other incidents? He jumped in with less than 10 seconds left to overrule (?) Nagy and Foster on the time-out call, but then during the time out, he let Nagy and Foster engage in their Lincoln/Douglas impression again. I can appreciate deferring to your veteran quarterback, but Matt Nagy isn’t exactly John Elway. He managed to score with next-to-no time on the clock, and managed three downs with less than 30 seconds left correctly, but the Foster-Nagy discussions bode ill for the rest of the playoffs, unless I mis-read the situation.
In any event, a missed extra point by Tampa Bay’s Seth Marler after a delay of game penalty and a whisker-thin-miss on a 50+ yard field goal meant the difference in this one. Tampa Bay should’ve run away with this game in the second half, if anyone could have caught and hung on to the ball, especially considering the stunning lack of communication between Nagy and any other human attached to the Columbus Destroyers. He threw a critical interception early, and Brett Dietz’s only mistake in the second half was nullified by an illegal defense call, but Columbus shockingly moves on.
No matter: Brett Deitz is still our favorite. Even with a disappointing final score of 56-55 Columbus.