Houston we have a problem
The big change happened Monday in Houston when owner Cal McNair pulled the plug on the Bill O’Brien experiment. Bill the GM had let Bill the Head Coach down over the last six months with questionable trades, signings and team building. In the end, however, it was Bill the offensive guru with a lack of pass protection, no running game and really no answers on offense, that led to his dismissal. Wearing too many hats, having a large ego and an abrasive personality are a hard combination to tolerate at 0-4. Those are not my words but those of boots on the ground in Houston.
Personnel decisions by BOB slowly eroded what little confidence the players had in him in the locker room. Players are your biggest critics as a GM. Even though fans don’t often hear about it publicly, those are the feelings I cared about most when I was in charge of a team. The players have to believe in what you are doing. When O’Brien toyed with the idea of signing former Seahawks and Ravens safety Earl Thomas, the players spoke loudly- No thanks. They thought it important enough to take their feelings upstairs. That’s embarrassing as a GM. The confidence they had in their GM was gone. That was the last straw, IMO.
The GM, HC and OC jobs are all singular in 2020, requiring three people to do them all with different skills and mind sets. The Texans have learned the hard way. Let’s see if they can get it right in the future with a sound organizational structure that builds a consensus and teamwork. None of us are smarter than all of us.
3-man race for MVP
Seattle quarterback Russell Wilson and Green Bay QB Aaron Rogers are joined by a surprise third signal-caller in the early running for league MVP. QB Josh Allen has led Buffalo to a 4-0 start and, in doing so, is trying to prove the skeptics wrong. His accuracy, his acumen, and his overall ability have been questioned by the experts, talking heads and even some in personnel departments around the NFL the past two years. However, his development and confidence have climbed at a steady pace. I really think the biggest reason for this is the stability provided by the Bills organization. It’s amazing what a well thought-out plan, some savvy decision-making in the front office, and solid coaching can do for someone’s career. Allen’s size, physical strength and athletic ability are greater than Wilson or Rogers and now his ability as a passer is on the rise. It’s going to be fun to see if he can keep this up over the entire season.
Thursday Night- Denver at Jets
I know this seems like forever ago, but one must give the Broncos credit. They had a game where I didn’t care about the numbers and really didn’t care about the score. It was only about the result. I wasn’t sure they had it in them but they proved me wrong. Going cross country, on a short week, with a rookie QB and needing a win to jumpstart your season was a tough task, no matter the opponent. This was a game, if you ask any Broncos coach, player or staff, they would say we need it BAD, and we don’t care how we get it or about style points. The late head coach of the Seahawks, Chuck Knox, used to say, “don’t tell me how rough the water is, just get in the boat”. The Broncos put it all on the line and showed toughness (both physical and mental) guts, focus and were able to overcome all the intangibles to get it done. Even though they had me shaking my head watching the conclusion of the game (two needless pass plays that about got their QB killed), while they should have just kneeled down to run out the clock, this game will get glossed over because the opponent was the New York Jets. But from the Broncos perspective, this was a much-needed victory. Fans may not understand how hard the win was to pull off but insiders truly do. Denver’s win got respect from the rest of the league, at least for a few days.
Much like Denver, New Orleans, Minnesota and Philadelphia all needed tough road wins in Week 4 to stop the bleeding and position themselves as a contender for the second half of 2020. They all got what they needed. Again, no style points needed, JUST WIN BABY. Even though road teams have a higher winning percentage in games played to date, the travel, the distractions and the extra COVID-19 protocol are substantial hurdles visitors still have to overcome.
Week 5- Game of the Week | Indy -2.5 at Cleveland
The band is playing “who’d a thunk it?” Two teams have established who they are and have an identity on offense. Both want to run the ball, with physical downhill styles and nasty offensive lines. We just might get our first 2.5-hour game because of it. The Browns embarrassment of the Cowboys last week by rushing to the tune of 307 yards was impressive beyond the norm. The Colts have the league’s top defense in several categories through the first four weeks. DeForest Buckner, the DT acquired from SF in the offseason, has brought a presence to the Colts run defense they had hoped for. Trash talking QB’s, granted one is six inches taller than the other, only adds to the watch-ability of this game. This should be BIG BOY FOOTBALL and must watch TV.