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A Tale of Two Cities, Seven Referees, and a Very Unfortunate Wardrobe Decision (Week 9 Game Review)
Posted By ChiefsWarpath.com On November 12, 2010 @ 5:38 pm In Commentary | Comments Disabled
This Monday saw my return to the hospital to once again address some of my long standing health issues. Unlike my several visits last summer, this one was planned well in advance. I haven’t yet decided whether I prefer knowing ahead of time that I’m going to be stuck in a medical facility, or just landing there by unhappy accident. My real preference would be not to go at all, but I’ve learned over time that life doesn’t give a damn about your preferences.
This anticipated violation of my preferences was not unaccompanied on Sunday afternoon. First and foremost among my preferences was this simple premise: I do not like seeing the Oakland Raiders win. I’ve come to accept over the years that the Broncos will probably never be truly bad, though I think they might be gunning for it this season. The Raiders, by contrast, are brilliant some years and awful others. I like the latter better, particularly in years (like this one) where I have no personal investment in anybody on their roster (versus, say, the Rich Gannon or Bo Jackson years). We Chiefs fans have been spoiled for the last decade in this regard. In their good years, they were thoroughly embarrassed in the playoffs – for instance, only the Raiders could lose a starting offensive lineman (typically among the smartest players on any given team) to a drinking binge the night before the Super Bowl. In their bad years, they were as inept as any football team I’ve ever seen, Detroit included. And the JaMarcus Russell era – simply as good as it gets. The guy made Ryan Leaf look like Brett Favre.
Aside from Russell’s departure, there was no significant reason to believe the Raiders would be appreciably better than last year or the year before. By some strange, twisted fate, however, Tom Cable has molded this poorly assembled bundle of miscreants, castoffs, and questionable draft picks into something that resembles a winning team. There is a very real chance that 2010 will be their first winning season following that 2002 travesty of a Super Bowl. It’s not a foregone conclusion by any stretch, but they’re playing tough, physical football in the trenches, and that’s the type of football that pans out in the winter months.
That brings me to my second preference: I do not like seeing the Kansas City Chiefs lose. In particular, I don’t like seeing them lose as the result of a bad game plan. I haven’t been critical of Charlie Weis thus far this season, but it’s impossible to ignore a couple of very basic disconnects in his playcalling. To begin with, 3rd and 2 or less is not an appropriate time to call a passing play. Even if the Chiefs had a good quarterback, short yardage situations call for bruising, punishing runs up the gut. My understanding of the division of responsibility with the Chiefs is that Weis is responsible for picking the play, so unless Todd Haley is vetoing his calls and/or has issued a mandate that the team will opt for the unanticipated air attack on obvious rushing downs, it’s safe to say that Weis is deserving of a hearty, heartfelt “mon Man.”
More obvious, however, is the very simple personnel disconnect that pervades the running game regardless of field position – if one of your tailbacks is averaging 1.7 yards per carry and the other is averaging 5.3, go with the latter. Don’t give the lesser player twice as many carries. Why Thomas Jones is still getting the lion’s share of touches is beyond me. Jamaal Charles makes up much of the disparity in the passing game, but it’s not enough for him to get as many chances. He deserves more. He is the better player, and as such he should be the player to whom Haley and Weis are hitching their wagons.
Finally, I present to you my third preference: I prefer not to watch the same game for four hours. In baseball, a four hour game indicates either a rain delay or a test of wills between bullpens. Either of those is preferable to a four hour football game, and not because baseball is a superior sport. It isn’t. It’s better plainly because a four hour football game is almost always indicative of poor officiating. Every week I hear someone declare that the past Sunday’s game was the worst refereed game they’ve ever seen. Unless they missed the January 6, 2003 Giants/49ers game, wherein a missed call on a Giants offensive lineman playing tight end eligible altered the outcome of the playoffs, it wasn’t the worst. By that measure, this past Sunday’s game wasn’t the worst either. The outcome of the game wasn’t determined by the refs. But it was definitely up there.
My perception is that this seems to be happening more frequently this season than in seasons past. It’s to be expected to a degree anytime the rules of the game shift as much as they did this offseason. The game is increasingly complex, and in attempting to interpret and enforce these changes, occasionally the refs are gonna slip and make boneheaded mental mistakes. I’m of the opinion that the only means of correcting this (or at least reducing the frequency) is to follow suit with every other professional sport by hiring full time, year-round refs. Why this hasn’t happened yet is a mystery to me, but it’s an important and necessary step. Unfortunately, I doubt it will be addressed anytime soon. I don’t think it’s even on the commissioner’s radar.
This concludes this week’s commentary. I’m off to get fitted for a new hospital gown. Also, fire Bud Selig. I know he has nothing to do with football, but really – who likes that guy?
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