The majority of sports fans know that coaches aren’t perfect and mistakes are inevitable. As long as no major game-changing mistakes are committed, fan outrage is usually kept to a minimum.
With three weeks of the NFL season now in the books, head coaches should be finding their groove, yet somehow they are making just as many mistakes as ever.
There were plenty of egregious errors committed by NFL head coaches in Week 3—the type of errors that could be the difference between winning or losing, and could even have a ripple effect on the entire season. Let’s take a look at four of them:
Ken Whisenhunt took the ball out of Marcus Mariota’s hands and gave it to a fullback on a crucial two-point conversion attempt to potentially tie the game
Trailing the Indianapolis Colts, 35-33, and needing to convert a two-point conversion to tie the game in the waning seconds, Tennessee Titans head coach Ken Whisenhunt put the game in the hands of his rookie…fullback. That’s right, Whisenhunt’s best play call was handing the ball off to rookie fullback Jalston Fowler, who had only five career carries for 12 yards heading into the game. Whisenhunt likely only did so because Fowler rushed for a touchdown on the previous play from just one yard out.
Whisenhunt took the ball out of the hands of his rookie quarterback. Yes, the same quarterback that was drafted No. 2 overall this year, and has completed 63 percent of his passes and thrown eight touchdowns and just two interceptions through three games. Mariota had just taken the team 79 yards to the 1-yard line to set up Fowler’s 1-yard touchdown run.
First place in the AFC South was on the line and Whisenhunt put it in the hands of his fullback, not his signal caller. Think about that. It’s not hard to imagine why the two-point conversion attempt failed miserably.
This was the best Whisenhunt had on his play sheet? A run up the gut with a rookie fullback? A run at all seemed unwise after the Titans finished the day averaging less than 3.3 yards per carry, especially with Mariota under center. It was a truly terrible call that only sounded like a good idea to the coaches at the time.
Andy Reid committed multiple gaffes, and had fans and analysts alike scratching their heads during much of the second half of the game
Monday night’s 38-28 loss to the Packers certainly won’t change Andy Reid’s poor reputation in regards to clock management.
Even if we ignore the gameplan Reid put together in 11 days to try to slow down quarterback Aaron Rodgers, we can still conclude that he coached a terrible game and was wrong on nearly every key decision.
First, Reid forgot to go for two points after wide receiver Jeremy Maclin scored a touchdown at the end of the third quarter. The Chiefs were down 31-13 at the time, so simple mathematics should’ve tempted him to try to make it a two-score game. Since extra points are now far from guaranteed, it was even more of a risk not to go for it.
Given that the Chiefs hadn’t stopped Rodgers all night, it’s impossible to believe that Reid felt his team could come back from down three scores. That part proved to be true, but the Chiefs did make it interesting until Reid intervened with two more gaffes.
First, the Chiefs scored a touchdown and then converted a two-point conversion, thanks to tight end Travis Kelce, to cut the lead to 16 points. Then, they got the ball back and were driving when Reid called a timeout with the clock stopped on 2nd-and-2 from the Green Bay 13 with 2:39 to play.
It wasn’t even a pivotal play of the drive, but Reid burned a valuable timeout anyway. Quarterback Alex Smith was sacked and fumbled on the play after the timeout, so whatever Reid called was probably worse than the original play.
A few plays later the Chiefs did score to cut the lead to 38-28, but Reid wasn’t done costing his team an opportunity to get back into the game. On the two-point conversion attempt, Kelce was on the sideline. Smith threw incomplete for Jason Avant. Game over.
Even if Kelce had been on the field and the Chiefs had cut the lead to 8, the wasted timeout guaranteed there wouldn’t be enough time to come back without an onside kick recovery. While the Chiefs probably don’t win even if Reid makes better situational decisions, he still needs to give his team a chance.
John Fox punted multiple times…while trailing by 20+ points
Chicago Bears head coach John Fox literally punted on every offensive series Sunday. Down 20-0 at the end of the third quarter on 4th-and-1 from their own 46, the Bears punted. On 4th-and-2 down 23-0, they punted. On 4th-and-5 down 26-0, they punted. They also punted on every previous drive.
Fox showed no confidence that his offense could even gain a few yards on the Seattle Seahawks. He might as well have just had them take a knee.
Yes, it was backup quarterback Jimmy Clausen against a great defense, but it’s not as if the defense wasn’t playing soft late in the game. It was a chance to get Clausen some garbage-time yards to help boost his confidence. Fox essentially gave up on his offense, and he shouldn’t be surprised if some of the team’s players give up on him down the road.
It’s hard enough to pull a struggling 0-3 team together as is, and Fox didn’t need to make it worse by conceding his team wasn’t good on Sunday.
And on Tuesday, the Bears traded away respected veteran pass-rusher Jared Allen and young linebacker Jon Bostic, which isn’t going to help Fox turn things around either—at least not this season.
The Bears are sending the exact opposite message they should be sending as an 0-3 team, but they don’t seem to care. Why they don’t seem to care is the big mystery.
Jim Tomsula called 13 straight runs after Colin Kaepernick’s two pick-sixes
After San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick threw two pick-sixes in the first quarter, they ran the ball 13 times in a row. By the time Kaepernick completed a 2-yard pass on 3rd-and-20 to end the streak, the score was 28-0.
Even down big, the 49ers didn’t trust Kaepernick to throw. For good reason, though, as he completed just nine passes and added two more interceptions for a total of four on Sunday.
On the other hand, if head coach Jim Tomsula can’t trust his quarterback to throw the football, then he shouldn’t be out there. Over a dozen runs in a row is just silly when down by two, three and four scores.
If Kaepernick can perform as badly as he did and still not get benched, he’ll never get the hook. Can Tomsula even look his players in the eye and say playing time is based on merit when Kaepernick is either out there throwing the ball to the other team or not throwing it at all?
Either bench Kaepernick or give him the opportunity to prove what kind of player he is—for better or worse. Tomsula should’ve let his starting quarterback throw the ball, even when he was struggling to do so without turning it over to the other team. Things may get ugly at times, but Tomsula, who had virtually no head coaching experience when he was hired earlier this year, can’t get caught up in the moment.