And now, for your mail …
MOVING TOO FAST. Is it not odd that in an era where player safety seems to be the buzz phrase zipping around, the league welcomes a coach who’s essentially turning up the speed of the game beyond what any player is used to? Grizzled vets who’ve known one speed since pee-wee ball are gulping air at the quarter’s end, thinking it’s halftime. Exhaustion erases form, thereby making mistakes both more likely and more frequent. Poor form on a tackle can lead to paralysis.
I like Chip Kelly’s style. I like seeing well-paid pros push the envelope. It’s part and parcel of the ways sport can inspire and improve us all. Just seems odd that the NFL, while touting safety on one hand, embraces what one would think is clearly increased risk with the other.
How do you legislate the speed of the game? If a coach wants his QB to snap the ball with 18 seconds left on the play clock, do you propose to make that illegal? Do you propose to say that you can only run a certain number of snaps every game? Coaches are going to do what wins. If playing fast wins games for the Eagles, Kelly will keep doing it, the same way New England does it with Brady running a lot of no-huddle. Regarding safety, I just don’t know. It stands to reason that running more plays does increase the risk of injury. But I simply don’t think that you can legislate that a team should play at a certain pace.
On Coach Kill. I am a longtime reader of MMQB and have never written before, but your question about the University of Minnesota allowing Jerry Kill to coach football was insensitive. People in the workplace who have epilepsy are protected by the Americans with Disabilities Act. As a parent with a child who has epilepsy, I know the concerns about my son having seizures at work—he is a high school teacher and wrestling coach. Plain and simple, it is discrimination if his employer was to limit his ability to earn a living doing what he loves. The ADA requires his employer to make accommodations so that he can “enjoy equal employment opportunities.” As long as his doctor clears him for his duties, his employers would be in violation if they tried to remove him from his position for having seizures.
—Tim, Ocala, Fla.
I’m simply asking the question about how practical it is to have a college football coach on the sideline or in a locker room, going down more than once a year, on average, with a seizure—in full view of a television audience and a stadium full of fans. I’m not trying to be insensitive. I’m trying to be practical. It just seems the wrong job for that. Am I wrong? Probably. Am I being insensitive? Maybe I am.
SCHIANO’S CALL. In analyzing Greg Schiano’s decision late in the game against the Saints [up 14-13, with 4th-and-3 at the Saints' 29], you left out perhaps his best option—going for the first down. If Tampa Bay makes it, the game is over. If Tampa Bay doesn’t make it, Brees still gets the ball back, but with slightly more yards to go to win the game than with the missed field goal. Still, the field goal was Schiano’s worst option. Even if Lindell (a shaky kicker in big moments—go back to Buffalo’s 2004 finale against Pittsburgh) makes the field goal, I’m not sure I bet against Brees going the length of the field for a touchdown in a minute.
Schiano obviously has zero faith in Josh Freeman to convert on fourth down there. My feeling is simple. It’s going to be pretty easy for Drew Brees to travel 35 yards with no timeouts and 60 seconds to get in field goal range. Now traveling 60 yards with no timeouts? That’s at least more of a challenge. But, I would agree that the best solution would be to have a quarterback you trust to convert on fourth down there. The Bucs don’t have that.
HOW LOUD IS TOO LOUD? Regarding the crowd noise in Seattle, I’ve served as the compliance officer for several companies in a couple of different industries. If the noise level reached 136.6 decibels or if sustained periods over 85 decibels were recorded in the workplace, the ownership of a company is required to have a hearing protection program that includes monitoring of employees who are exposed to such noise levels, implementation of engineering controls to reduce the noise exposure, provision of hearing protection if the engineering controls do not work, and training in hearing conservation for all employees. (OSHA’s Standards for Occupational Noise Exposure, 29 CFR 1910.95). We would also cover our backsides by providing hearing protection to all visitors to the workplace (e.g. the fans in Seattle). The only industry exempt from the standard is oil and gas. Any idea how major sports avoid this requirement?
Well, that extremely high noise level in Seattle is the peak; it doesn’t happen for a very sustained period. But I do understand your thought about the risk of extended exposure to loud noise. I guess what I would say is that what the fans in Seattle were subjected to is no louder than what kids are subjected to in, say, a metal concert. So I doubt you’re going to get a watchdog group to be very worried about fans being exposed to a loud stadium.
FINE FIFTEEN MATH. A week ago, Green Bay lost a very close game at San Francisco. You ranked San Fran No. 2 and Green Bay No. 6. This week Seattle took San Fran to the woodshed, and Green Bay blew out Washington. You dropped San Fran to No. 3 (behind Seattle) and Green Bay to No. 12. Now of course, I’m oversimplifying these games, but can you please explain how Green Bay dropped six places after blowing out Washington? If you believe home-field advantage is so important in Seattle, shouldn’t it carry at least some meaning in the San Francisco/Green Bay game that Packers came pretty close to winning that won on the Niners’ turf?
Each week I judge teams based on where I think they would rank if they were playing each other at a neutral field. I have very little respect for Washington right now. I don’t consider blowing out Washington much of an accomplishment. Their secondary stinks. So what has Green Bay accomplished so far? They lost a game to a really good team. They beat what could be a really bad team. I hardly think that for a team that still has major questions about its defense, which Green Bay certainly does, it’s outrageous to have them outside the top five or six teams. Plus, many other teams that have played well and proven something in the first two weeks—San Diego and Miami for instance—made big jumps in my eyes. I wouldn’t take it too seriously. If the Packers play great and straighten out their defense, they’ll be in the top five.
THANKS, MIKE. I wanted to follow up on my chance meeting with you this past Saturday while you were at the Army-Stanford game. I walked up to you while you were strolling along the reservoir in Black Knight Alley. I love your column. I am currently stationed at West Point, but during my previous assignment I deployed to Afghanistan multiple times. During football season, would spend late Monday nights reading your column. It at least helped me get through three to four months of the trip. Great Work! Go Army
—Mike, U.S. Army
I so appreciate you checking in with me and introducing yourself. You, and so many people like you, are the reason I have this great job. So I should thank you.
A.J. OVER JOHNNY. Despite the fact that I don’t regularly agree with your views, I do enjoy your column. What picked my noodle this weekend was your blatant disregard for the true MVP of the Alabama-Texas A&M game: ’Bama quarterback A.J. McCarron. I don’t get it. On one side you have Johnny Football, a guy everyone hypes as the second coming. I saw him make bad throws and get rescued more often than not by his HUGE receivers, who were a clear mismatch for ‘Bama’s small corners. On the other side I saw a guy who tossed four TDs, drove the ball downfield when it counted, didn’t make mistakes and stayed calm in a pretty hostile environment. Not to mention that he actually won the game! But there’s no mention of A.J. McCarron in your column. Seriously Peter? Nothing?
When I watched that game, I saw a quarterback who fits in with 2013 NFL play—a mobile guy with a good but not great arm who just put up 562 yards on the preeminent defensive mind of this college-football era. There’s no question A.J. McCarron has a chance to be a good NFL quarterback, and maybe a very good one. But he’s not the guy who’s moving the needle right now. Manziel is—right or wrong. He’s the one who so many people right now are asking the same question about: is he going to be a good NFL quarterback, or is he going to be a guy who self-destructs right before our eyes?