I flew up to the game on monday to root for my beloved lions, and this is what I saw...FIRST OF ALL, there are things that you just don't see when you watch a game on TV. With that in mind; We arrived at Ford Field 2 hours before game time. OBSERVATION #1--
The first players on the field were the kickers (Akers and Tucker). They are out their kicking FG's for a good 30 minutes, from all distances. Shortly after the kickers came on to the field, John Harbaugh came out to watch the kickers. But No JIM SCHWARTZ before the game, watching kickers. "hmmmm? well if anything, it shows Harbaugh cares" I said to my buddy next to me. And if you watched the kickers practice, you would have seen Justin Tucker kicking 65-70 yard field goals consistently. We will come back to that shortly...Moving on...We all know how the game went; started off great, crowd into it, and if CALVIN JOHNSON catches that pass on 3rd down, that was thrown perfect, he probably scores, but at the very least we get 3 points, the crowd is EVEN MORE INTO IT, and the Ravens have a much deeper hole to crawl out of. But even with the dropped pass (that changed the whole complexion of the game), we still had our chances. And when our talent doesn't win the game, our COACHING is supposed to kick in and win it for us instead. Well time after time, this coaching staff has shown it will ALWAYS lose if it comes down to that, but lets continue examining what happened that night. So we get the ball back with 2 minutes left in the half. I say to my friend, " ok, obviously if I am the coach, I am getting in a huddle with my players, going over situations, and putting together a quick plan of attack for the final 2 minute drive of the half, reminding them of "common sense" stuff that the players should know,but why chance it? After all, I am the coach and thats what I am paid to do---COACH!" But wait, where is SCHWARTZ? he's not in the huddle, or talking to STAFFORD, or... oh there he is, ON THE OTHER END OF THE BENCH ALL BY HIMSELF TALKING ON HIS HEADSET!! Are you kidding me? Loner Schwartz is all by himself when his team needs him most, and what happens, we fail to score on the final drive of the half.
So the game goes on, and time after time I see Schwartz by himself, never talking to the players individually like other coaches do (COACHING DURING THE GAME), and it gets down to the final few minutes of the game. The Defense kept us in the game despite a bad game from our Offense. Now sure, I consider myself a couch coach at times, but I have a pretty damn good knowledge of the game. I understand there are more people who think they know the game, that really don't, than there are people like me, but if you are a coach in the NFL, you should at least have a football mind that is on my level (should be much higher).If his coaching ability was only at my level, we have won 3 of the 7 games we lost if not all 7 games. However, we don't want to stray from THIS GAME in particular. Returning to the final drive of the game by the Ravens, we pick things up as the Ravens are backed up in their own end, and it's 3rd and long: The crowd was as loud as it had been all game, its 3rd down, we don't blitz and Flacco makes a great throw over the middle. As time is ticking away, I was running through the scenarios of what could play out in the coming seconds. The Ravens had made it to the 45 yard line (or just around it), and the first thing that came to mind was Justin Tucker's pre-game warm-ups. I did the math in my head of how far a FG would be from the 45, and remembered that Tucker was kicking beyond 62 yards in pre-game, so it was in his range already. The lions made a few great defensive plays on 1st and 2nd down. On third, the ravens ran the ball getting it to the 43 and in the middle of the field with 1:03 on the clock. INSTANTLY, my "football" mind said they were positioning themselves for a fg, But the Ravens lined up as if they would go for it. As the crowd was going crazy, I was the ONLY PERSON in my section that was yelling "CALL TIMEOUT!!! CALL TIMEOUT!!!". EVERYBODY that was in my vicinity looked at me like it was a dumb idea. People actually turned around that were in front of me, and were saying "NO LET THE CLOCK RUN OUT", and I said " OBVIOUSLY HARBAUGH IS LINING UP SO SCHWARTZ DOESN'T CALL A TIME OUT, THEY AREN'T GOING FOR IT" but they didn't see that at first. I have a feeling, Schwartz and his coaching staff didn't see that either. This is exactly what I mean; if you have a good "FOOTBALL" mind, you are able to make those quick decisions on the fly, in the heat of the moment. Harbaugh then calls a time out with 8 seconds on the play clock probably because it was so loud and he didn't want something dumb to happen i.e. a penalty that would push him out of field goal range. But what made the difference in this game, was what happened before the game had started. Harbaugh knew that Tucker was feeling good today. He watched as he kicked 65-70 yard FG's in warm-ups. Schwartz, who didn't take the time to be as detailed, didn't know that. And so Harbaugh, though he didn't run the play clock all the way down to 1 before he called the timeout, did enough, and ran the clock down to 38 seconds. Schwartz had 3 time-outs at the time, and would have saved his team 25 seconds had he called a timeout after the run on 3rd down, that SPECIFICALLY SPOKE TO positioning themselves for a long FG, had he been a coach with a football mind that equaled or bettered mine (a couch coach from florida).
having 38 seconds, as opposed to 1:03 is a huge difference when it comes to the mindset of the players. There is way less pressure, and they wouldn't have forced the ball as much because they would have had more time to operate. FOOTBALL IS VERY MUCH A PHYSICAL GAME BUT IT IS WON AND LOST BASED ON THE MENTAL ASPECT OF GAME TACTICS. Any game between the lions and another team will be determined on 2 factors: 1-
if it comes down to the talent of players, the lions will win 9 of 10 (thats how talented this team is), and 2-
if it comes down to coaching (i.e. clock management, knowing when to run or pass and when not too, who to put in at certain times, what to tell players when the pressure is on so they keep their composure and make the play) we loose 10 out of 10. The problem IS THAT most people in this world don't TRULY HAVE A FOOTBALL MIND, and most people in this world ARE NOT INVOLVED in NFL operations. Somehow we continue to find the latter when we hire our coaches. A guy like Martin Meyhew has a mind like my own. But unless he gets total control of the team, we will continue to be mediocre at best, because when it comes down to it, The coaches are the key to winning a SUPERBOWL, not the players.