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Wild Card Weekend Wonders

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Wild Card Round - Philadelphia Eagles v Chicago Bears Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images

If this weekend’s Wild Card games proved anything—-the outcome of big games comes down to expert coaching, precise execution and being on the right side of strange bounces.

Worst Coaching Decisions:

  • Seahawks playing McCoy ball.
  • Ravens playing McCoy ball.
  • Bears running a play on 3rd down with 15 seconds left and no timeouts.
  • Texans’ defensive gameplan particularly in defending the run and WR T.Y. Hilton.

Best Coaching Decisions:

  • Bears doing double moves on the the young, over-aggressive Eagles’ CBs, with Trubisky pump faking and throwing strikes.
  • Eagles on 4th and goal, having Nick Foles drift right and Golden Tate freeze his defender with a look back to the QB from the inside and then a quick out to a flat opened up by Alshon Jeffery’s fade.
  • Chargers’ DC Gus Bradley playing gap ball with his stout 4 DL and defending Lamar Jackson and the passing game with 7 DBs—-with speedy safeties playing linebacker.
  • Cowboys’ high disciplined run stuffing and contain on Russell Wilson.
  • Colts’ balanced attack and first half passing clinic in the red zone.
  • Eagles’ HC Doug Peterson icing the kicker.

The Worst and Best Coaching decision all at once:

  • John Harbaugh electing to stick with struggling rookie QB Lamar Jackson, despite everyone in the world knowing that Joe Flacco is the better passer at this point in Jackson’s career. Harbaugh’s loyalty to Jackson who was the catalyst for the Ravens’ 5-1 record down the stretch was tested, no question. But Harbaugh stayed the course, hoping that Jackson could find a spark that would reward him for all the good work he’s given the team. Jackson did find that spark and even though it was a little too late, this bodes well for his and the team’s development.

The Closer:

One has to wonder if teams are going to try to make a more concerted effort to have two QBs ready to play in case the starting QB gets injured or struggles and/or in case the team likes to throw in a change-of-pace offensive wrinkle.

Nick Foles is going to spawn a new trend in the NFL. His calmness under pressure and superior focus in tight situations is a testament to good coaching and the willingness for coaches to invest so much time and money in a backup QB.

Kudos to the Eagles for structuring his contracts in such a way that even if and when they decide to move in from Foles, they are going to get significant value in return on a trade—-this has been a staple of Andy Reid’s and Bill Belichick’s philosophy—-and is about to become more of a widespread trend.

The Kicker:

So much depends on the success of kickers these days that teams are going to have to start hiring kicking coaches. Most special teams’ coordinators are not kicking gurus—-and therefore, it would make sense to have one on board. interesting that CBS has made Jay Feely a key member of their sideline reporters—-and his reports are often very informative and pertinent.

Some fans at ROTB were perplexed at to why we have had pages and pages of discussion on kickers this year. But, as we saw last night and throughout this zany season, so often close games come down to clutch kicks.

Head Coaching Matches (a guess):

Green Bay—-Josh McDaniels

New York Jets—-Kliff Kingsbury

Denver Broncos—-Vic Fangio

Tampa Bay Buccaneers—-Bruce Arians

Miami Dolphins—-Brian Flores

Cleveland Browns—-Gregg Williams

Cincinnati Bengals—-Eric Bieniemy

Arizona Cardinals—-Zac Taylor

It wouldn’t be surprising to see Zac Taylor emerge as the Cardinals’ top choice. Michael Bidwill was very keen on Sean McVay two years ago when BA’s health was a concern. The Cardinals’ top priority is to ensure the development of QB Josh Rosen, thus the Rams’ QB coach appears to be Taylor made for this assignment.