What was Troy Smith thinking?
The cameras caught a heated exchange between 49ers QB Troy Smith and head coach Mike Singletary during the fourth quarter of the Rams' 25-17 win on Sunday and I couldn't believe my eyes.
First, it's very rare to find QB's yelling at their head coaches in the NFL. There are certainly many times over the course of a season where tempers flare up during games and sometimes even on the sidelines. Those matters, however, are almost always addressed behind closed doors the day after in the coach's office.
Football is a game of emotions and the sport is played by passionate athletes. Everybody wants to win. Certainly Troy Smith does, because he's used to it. He won the Heisman Trophy at Ohio State after leading the Buckeyes to a 25-3 record as the starting QB, including an appearance in the 2007 BCS National Championship game.
The 49ers needed a win at St Louis to keep their playoff hopes alive. But it is absolutely ridiculous for a fourth year player, without a Pro Bowl resume, to be yelling at his head coach on the sidelines during the game, whether he was right or wrong. If Dan Marino or John Elway would have yelled at Don Shula or Dan Reeves, that would have been one thing. Each had bled for their respective teams over long careers.
Troy Smith hasn't accomplished anything yet. Nobody knows what spawned the heated exchange, although I believe it may have had to do with Smith's benching in the fourth quarter in favor of Alex Smith. It's easy to get caught in the moment, particularly if you're an emotional player, but Troy Smith needs to ask himself: does he want to keep playing for the 49ers?
And shouldn't he have been scared to death of butting heads with a Hall of Fame middle linebacker who made a living eating QBs like him for breakfast?
Now that Mike Singletary is out as head coach, will the new head coach and GM favor keeping a signal caller that demonstrates his leadership by yelling at his head coach? How does this look to the other 31 teams in the NFL? Would they want to risk bringing in a free agent QB this off season, who leads his team this way? It's unfortunate that teammate WR Ted Ginn Jr. arrived on the scene too late, as he began throwing a towel in Smith's mouth to prevent the QB from saying something he might regret. The words had already been uttered, and the damage may have already been done for Smith and his impending career in San Francisco.
Tom Brady is on fire, having set a new NFL record with 319 consecutive pass attempts without throwing an interception.
Are you kidding me? Brady hasn't thrown a pick since Week 6 and it's no surprise that during that stretch, the New England Patriots are 9-1. I think a lot of people will hear 319 attempts and assume that Brady has been automatic for 10 games - which he has.
I believe that luck plays a little part for Tom Brady and the New England Patriots during this magical stretch.
Believe me, it's very easy to throw interceptions in the NFL. All is takes is one wrong decision in a split second for a QB and the football is going the other way. NFL defenders are so crafty and wise; they've played the game long enough to understand the intricacies of the game. They are masters at bating QBs into throwing the football to an area, or a wide receiver, that they can make a play on. And before you know it, the possession arrow has changed.
But forget bad decisions, because Tom Brady doesn't make many. What about inaccurate passes? Surely Brady can't hit the bull's eye on every throw! Especially when you consider the types of weather the Pats have been playing in recently (see NY Jets or Chicago game). But still, Brady continues to impress, and demonstrate that he is one of the game's most accurate passers.
It must be luck. How many times have we seen passes hit their intended receiver in the hands, before being bobbled up into the air, and into the awaiting hands of a defender. We see it every week in the NFL! How about when a QB is just about the throw the football, and then a defender hits him, forcing the football off it's intended course and into the hands of the other team? Multiple times each week! Whether it's good fortune or expert skill (it's more of the latter, trust me), Tom Brady has played well enough for the Patriots to lock up home field advantage throughout the playoffs. He's the NFL's MVP in my opinion at this point. Football is the ultimate team sport, but it starts and ends with the QB. Former NFL QB coach Frank Cignetti once told me: "Every team in the NFL starts the season 8-8, but their QB determines what record they finish with.”
Judging by the way Brady is playing, it's very possible we don't see another Pats loss this season.
Hail to the Chiefs
The Kansas City Chiefs are the AFC West division champs. You read that correctly.
After struggling to a 4-12 finish a season ago, the Chiefs have undergone the greatest single season turnaround in franchise history, sitting at 10-5 with a week to go in the regular season.
With a 34-14 throttling of the Tennessee Titans and with the Cincinnati Bengals defeating the four-time defending AFC West division champion San Diego Chargers this past weekend, the Chiefs have guaranteed themselves a home game in the wild card round of the playoffs.
What a remarkable season it has been for second year head coach Todd Haley! Many wondered whether it was possible for a franchise with 10 combined wins in the past three seasons to finally compete for the post season, and this young team responded magnificently.
For starters, QB Matt Cassel was fantastic this season, completing 60 percent of his passes for 3,001 yards and 27 TDs versus only five INTs! What's most remarkable to me is the way he has been able to play down the stretch of the season, when it has mattered most. After undergoing an emergency appendectomy on Dec. 8, Cassel was able to return to the field two weekends ago, leading his team to a huge win at St Louis.
I had the same surgery, and to think of coming back to play in the matter of two weeks was out of the question! Cassel was on fire Sunday, completing 10 of his first 11 passes, on his way to three TD passes on the day.
The Chiefs' young stars continued to prove their worth Sunday, as RB Jamaal Charles caught 2 TDs in the first quarter alone, while rookie safety Eric Berry returned an INT 54 yards for a TD. What I love about this team is their killer instinct in big games. The Chiefs understood what they needed to accomplish in order to have a shot at the post season heading into Sunday and they played like it.
In fact, the Chiefs totaled 327 yards of offense on their way to a commanding 31-7 lead in the first half! This team has showed surprising balance this year, as it is only the third time in franchise history that the Chiefs have had a 1,000 yard RB and WR in the same season (Jamaal Charles and D'Wayne Bowe), and the defense currently ranks ninth in the NFL in scoring defense, giving up only 19.7 points/game. The Chiefs' D has also proven to be sturdy early in games. The Chiefs have not allowed first quarter points in seven games this season.
It's very unlikely that the Chiefs can make it far in the playoffs, but regardless, it has still been a magical season in K.C.
A Giant Fall
How quickly they forget. Fans in New York are calling for the head of Tom Coughlin, after suffering another embarrassing defeat, this time at the hands of the Green Bay Packers.
It was only three seasons ago that the New York Giants were world champions.
Today, the Giants sit at 9-6 and they are no longer in control of their playoff destiny.
The New York Giants were supposed to win the NFC East this season.
Two weeks ago, the G-men were 9-4 and sitting in great shape. Then came a fourth quarter collapse at the hands of division rival Philadelphia in the Giants home stadium. That was then followed by an embarrassing 45-17 loss this past Sunday at Green Bay. The Giants' once ferocious defense has now allowed 73 points in the last five quarters. Eli Manning currently leads the NFL with 24 INTs.
Head coach Tom Coughlin, one of the most respected coaches in the NFL, was able to orchestrate one of the most improbable Super Bowl victories in NFL history three years ago. But Giants fans expect championships every year. A Super Bowl ring can buy you a hall pass for a season in Gotham, but you are then expected to deliver again.
Consider that in Coughlin's seven seasons as head coach of Big Blue, the Giants have reached the playoffs 4 times, but have been ousted three times in their opening game of the post season. It has been widely rumored that former Super Bowl champion head coach Bill Cower is interested in coaching in New York if the job were to become vacant. Tom Coughlin has only one year remaining on his contract after this season.
Regardless, the Giants have not lived up to expectations this year, and it may cost Coughlin his job.