A whole lot of stupid this week, so let's jump right in.
The stupidest challenge
Mike Shanahan cost his team a timeout in the fourth quarter of a close game by challenging whether Brandon Myers of the Giants made first-down yardage on this play…
The stupidest technicality within a smart rule
I understand why the NFL has a policy that says a play is dead the moment a ball carrier's helmet comes off. But that shouldn't apply so literally when a player is going to the ground. Le'Veon Bell landed in the end zone Thursday against Baltimore, but his helmet was dislodged while his body was simply succumbing to gravity. Thus, it wasn't a touchdown. But as Pro Football Talk's Mike Florio points out, that rule should be tweaked so that he can at least finish the process of falling, which legally can't cause any more harm anyway.
"Moving forward, this specific situation should prompt the NFL to consider modifying the rule to include the phrase “unless the player is in the process of going to the ground.” Indeed, if a player’s helmet comes off while he is going to the ground, no one is going to stop what they’re doing because a player’s helmet has come off. The action will continue until the guy is down; killing the play does nothing to help protect him at that point."
Bell deserved that touchdown.
The stupidest use of the clock
I know you won anyway, Eagles, but when you're trying to hold on for dear life in the fourth quarter of a game that has been slipping away from you, it makes no sense to snap the ball with 12 seconds on the play clock.
The stupidest officiating blunder
This might have been the biggest screw-up of the year, and of course it came from Jeff Triplette's crew.
Down seven points, the Redskins faced a 2nd-and-5 on their own 41-yard line with two minutes to play. Robert Griffin III completed a pass over the middle to Pierre Garcon, who was tackled just short of first-down marker. But the chain gang moved forward and the down box on the sideline indicated it was first down. No measurement was made.
Believing it was a first down, Griffin attempted a deep pass, which was dropped by Fred Davis. But with 1:31 to play, the officials announced that it was in fact 4th-and-short, rather than 2nd-and-10. Of course, the 'Skins would have called a different play had they known that was the case. And it turned out that Redskins head coach Mike Shanahan was even told by an official that they had the first down.
Shanahan on that last sequence: "Well, I said I wanted a measurement and he said, 'You don't have to, it's a first down.'"
— Chris Burke (@ChrisBurke_SI) December 2, 2013
You can't just go back retroactively once the damage has already been done. What a mess. It may have cost the Redskins the game.
The stupidest turnover combo
Cleveland Browns quarterback Brandon Weeden managed to turn the ball over three times in the final three minutes of the first half against the Jacksonville Jaguars, leading to 13 Jacksonville points in a game the Browns would end up losing by four.
I need to know how Weeden, a first-round draft pick, felt it made any sense to throw into this coverage:
Or this coverage:
“They weren’t good decisions,” said Browns offensive coordinator Rob Chudzinski, per ESPN.com. “The coverage was tight and, as I said before, those are the things that I know Brandon would want back.”
But this isn't all about Weeden. I'd also like to know why the Browns would be silly enough to have him drop back to throw from his own territory with no timeouts and 14 seconds left in the half, considering what had happened twice in the last two offensive possessions. Weeden's late fumble under pressure set up one final Jags field goal before halftime.
Stupid Browns and their stupid quarterback.
The stupidest coaching decision
This won't just cost Mike Tomlin a wad of cash, but it was also dangerous.
I understand gamesmanship, but that's just stupid.
The stupidest coaching strategy
For this one, we get a guest contribution from Awful Announcing's Matt Yoder, who can't comprehend what the hell Marc Trestman was thinking in overtime of Sunday's Vikings-Bears game:
The Bears may have cost themselves a playoff spot on Sunday with a coaching decision that defies all logic, but one that is commonplace in NFL circles. After the Vikings missed a 57-yard field goal in overtime, the Bears took over at their own 46. They proceeded to march into Vikings territory rather easily:
And then at 2nd-and-7 from the Vikings 29, they just stopped. The Bears sent Robbie Gould on for a game winning 47-yard field goal attempt. Of course, Gould missed his kick and Chicago lost the game.
This is an NFL coaching tenet that blows my mind. Coaches have such little faith in their offenses and are so paranoid about a turnover that they will stop trying to advance the ball once they inch their way into the outer edges of field goal range in many game-winning situations. As soon as teams hit the 30, the playbook narrows down to a halfback dive to prevent a turnover, gain a couple yards, and attempt the game winning kick. In the process, these coaches are giving their kickers a much more difficult kick than it has to be. Trestman opting for a near-50-yard field goal on second down in the middle of a successful drive is the most extreme, most confounding example yet. Did he think it was the CFL and he only had three downs??? Why not at least run one more play to gain extra yards???
Field goal percentages are higher than they've ever been, but a 27-yard field goal is still a lot easier to kick than a 47-yarder. That much hasn't changed. For the Bears to not even try to advance the ball further into Vikings territory and voluntarily kick as long of a field goal as possible boggles the mind. If Trestman has that little faith in Josh McCown, Matt Forte, Alshon Jeffery, and Brandon Marshall to gain 10-15 more yards without coughing up the ball, they shouldn't be on the field in the first place.
In any other game situation, you would never even consider voluntarily stopping at the opponent's 30-yard line. This was a stupid decision that deservedly blew up in the face of the Bears.
Thanks, Matt. And I can add that Trestman's official defense of that strategy was just as stupid.
“There’s no guarantee that we would get any yards on second down, third down—there’s no guarantee of that,” Trestman said, according to the Chicago Sun-Times. “I just thought we were in range and let’s get it done…We just didn’t get it done.”
Less of a guarantee you'll make that kick, Marc.
The stupidest delay of game penalty
In that same overtime, Bears offensive tackle Jermon Bushrod was given a delay of game penalty after dropping the ball behind his back:
The ball did roll a few yards further than Bushrod probably expected, but there was no malice. Bad penalty call, especially in a situation like that.
The stupidest television-related football decision
The NFL introduced flex scheduling with the intention to avoid December Sunday Night Football games between teams with losing records, and yet there we were Sunday night watching the 3-8 Redskins and the 4-7 Giants on NBC. C'mon, man!
The stupidest penalty, player edition
The clock had run out on the first half in the Titans-Colts game, and then Tennessee linebacker Moise Fokou inexplicably hammered a defenseless receiver, drawing a personal foul and giving the Colts a chance to kick a field goal on an untimed final down.
That changed the flow of the entire game, and the Titans ended up losing. Unbelievably stupid.