Where to begin with the stupidity from Week 7? While nothing stood out in extreme fashion, there might have been more stupid this week in the NFL than any of the first six weeks of 2013. It's only a shame that we publish this stupid post before Monday Night Football, because this Minnesota Vikings-New York Giants game is destined to be laced with stupidity.
We work with what we have, though, and the quantity of stupid moments and trends was quite high on Sunday alone. For example…
The stupidest special-teams decision
This goes to Adam Jones of the Cincinnati Bengals, who decided to field this punt from his own two-yard line…
— Dave Biddle (@davebiddle) October 20, 2013
He nearly made it back to the 10-yard line. The Bengals would score on the ensuing drive anyway, but that doesn't make his decision any less stupid. Oh, and it came one week after Jones decided to field this punt from inside his own five, gaining zero yards on the return.
Assuming both would have been touchbacks, the net loss on those two plays was 35 yards.
The stupidest health decision
This is the moment poor Nick Foles decided that he'd be better off taking a sack — and consequently getting pancaked by two 300-pound defenders — instead of throwing the ball away…
He was well outside of the pocket, so tossing it away wouldn't have drawn a flag and would have prevented Foles from taking a hit that resulted in him having to leave the game with a concussion.
Actually, that was a stupid decision from every standpoint. Had he thrown it out of bounds at that very moment, Foles would have saved his team four yards. But on top of that, a hit might have drawn a flag against the Cowboys. You know how frequently they call late hits nowadays? Just as Kevin Vickerson. The Eagles were only down seven at that point, so a fresh set out downs inside the red-zone could have changed the game.
The stupidest crunch time play call
Down nine points in the final few minutes of the fourth quarter in Indianapolis, the Denver Broncos have marched down the field in methodical fashion. Smartly, they've called seven consecutive passing plays, gaining 83 yards and killing as little time as possible to set up a first-and-goal at the Colts' two-yard line. And then, with the clock their biggest enemy and the Colts showing no ability to stop Peyton Manning through the air, they decide to hand it off on a draw play.
Not only do they decide to hand it off on a draw play, but they decide to hand it off on a draw play to 22-year-old backup running back Ronnie Hillman, rather than starter Knowshon Moreno. Not only does said running back lose a yard on said draw play, but he fumbles as well, essentially icing the game.
Hillman fumbled three times on 27 preseason touches and had put the ball on the ground the previous week against Jacksonville.
The lesson here is not to get fancy in situations like these and suddenly go against the grain by handing it off. And if you absolutely must mix it up like that, at least give it to your veteran starting running back, not a sophomore with ball security issues.
Stupid, stupid, stupid.
The stupidest hits
The combo goes to Brandon Meriweather of the Washington Redskins, who has now been suspended because he can't stop hitting receivers illegally. The stupid veteran safety was fined for two stupid hits on Todd Heap in 2010, he accrued $45,000 worth of fines for more of them in 2011 and he was docked $45,000 more for knocking out Eddie Lacy with a helmet-to-helmet hit earlier this year.
He put the icing on the cake Sunday with two more, which has me thinking he'll never learn to adapt to these rules.
Whether you agree with the rules or not, you can't keep violating them without hurting yourself, your opponents and your team. Both of those hits came on Chicago touchdown drives in a very close football game. Meriweather's stupidity nearly cost the Redskins the game.
"Maybe he needs to get suspended or taken out of the game completely." – Bears WR Brandon Marshall.
The stupidest decision(s) to punt
This is a tie between Titans head coach Mike Munchak and Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett.
Down 24 points in the third quarter, Munchak decided to punt it away twice on fourth down with less than two yards to go. Yes, the Titans were inside their own 30-yard line on both occasions, but you can't punt the ball on fourth-and-very-short when you're down three scores in the third quarter. That's just throwing in the towel with lots of football still to play, which is equally as stupid.
Meanwhile, Garrett had his Cowboys punt on a fourth-and-five from the Philadelphia 36-yard line. Why the hell would you do that? They netted only 21 yards there. You're better off throwing a Hail Mary into the end zone and giving them a touchback, resulting in a difference of only five yards. At least attempt the field goal, or run a safe play to attempt to keep the driving going. A punt, though, is just a remarkably stupid thing to do in that spot.
The stupidest decision to attempt a field goal
Whatever happened to the aggressive Chip Kelly we saw at Oregon? Not only has Kelly been incredibly conservative on fourth downs in the NFL, but he's been so conservative that it has bordered on stupid. That's the only way to describe his decision to have kicker Alex Henery attempt a 60-yard field goal with 14 seconds remaining in the first half against Dallas. Let's review the stupidity that went into this decision…
1. Henery had never made a field goal beyond 51 yards. He had missed three of his four attempts beyond 50.
2. It was fourth-and-one on the Dallas 42-yard line. From that spot, you'd have a better chance of getting a pass interference call or completing a Hail Mary than converting that field goal (which, by the way, missed by a wide margin).
3. You wouldn't have even needed to attempt a Hail Mary, because you still had one timeout left. You could have thrown a pass anywhere on the field and stopped the clock to set up a shorter field goal.
4. The odds of converting on a quarterback sneak are significantly better than making that field goal. At least if you do that, succeed and stop the clock later, you don't leave Dallas any extra time with good field position. Even if you fail to convert, you've left the Cowboys with worse field position. But by attempting a prayer of a field goal that early, you give Dallas superb field position while also leaving them nine seconds on the clock. And after getting to start the ensuing drive at midfield, the Cowboys actually came very close to scoring at the end of the half.
In closing, it was literally one of the most nonsensical decisions I've ever seen a coach make.
The stupidest…um…I'll let the picture tell the story
That's the Houston Texans defense, biting on a fake handoff to nobody. Alex Smith would run it in for the touchdown.
The stupidest rulebook
This goes to the NFL, giving me a chance to finish a way-too-long column with a short rant.
Every official in the NFL is supposedly the worst of the worst. They all suck. Literally every Sunday afternoon in the fall, I see tweets from fans and the media about how Walt Coleman is the worst. Or Walt Anderson. Or Jerome Boger. Or Mike Carey. Ed Hochuli and Jeff Triplette taking beatings every week, as does Ron Winter. They all do.
But if they're all bad, and if they're the best of the best — which they clearly are, because it's not as though the replacement refs or college refs fare(d) any better — then aren't they actually just victims? Maybe it has simply become impossible to officiate NFL games in a satisfactory way. We add rules every year, some of which are necessary and helpful, and some of which are ridiculous. But we never take any away.
The system is flawed, and the officials are patsies. They take the heat for throwing flags like the one umpire Tony Michalek threw when he and Boger penalized New England's Chris Jones to keep a the New York Jets' game-winning drive alive after a missed field goal in overtime Sunday.
When Michalek threw the flag, he was doing his job. He was doing his job properly, whether we like it or not. In 2013, "pushing" is a penalty, and the game changed based on this:
All that matters here is that, based on a rule change made this past offseason, a player can no longer push a teammate into the opponents' formation. That's a violation of Rule 9, Section 1, Article 3 (b) 2. The rule is stupid. It's one of many stupid rules that these officials are obligated to enforce. Those are just the breaks.
I'm not saying officials don't make bad calls, but I do wonder how often those bad calls come because they're overwhelmed by a job that nobody has been able to master in recent years. Most of their errors, like this one made in Detroit Sunday, seem to stem from the fact they have too much on their plates. Maybe the system has to change. More officials on the field, for example, and certainly a less convoluted rulebook.
The former vice president of officiating agrees with me.
“The question has to become," Mike Pereira said back in September, "has this manifesto become a little bit too big and too confusing?”
Yes, it has. Some might even call it stupid.