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Stop Hatin’: In defense of some players and coaches

We’re coming to the defense of a few people around the league. Everyone is bringing torches and pitchforks to these guys. Stop hatin’.

Le’Veon Bell by Brook Ward is licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0

Stop Hatin’: In defense of some players and coaches

Estimated Reading Time: 7 Minutes

This past week I noticed there have been a lot of analysts, writers, fans, talking heads, and social media police who threw around a lot of hate and ripped on some players and coaches from this past Week 5 in the NFL. I know, I know, I am guilty of that too. Like when I rip on the Jets all the time. But I’m only joking around (only half the time)…right?

Anyway, stop the hatin’…stop the trollin’… I want to come to the defense of a few people around the league. Everyone is bringing torches and pitchforks to these guys, and I think it’s over the top. Here are the THREE people I am defending today!

#1: Stop Comparing Le’Veon Bell to Antonio Brown

Stop it. They are completely different players who had completely different situations when they were in Pittsburgh. I hear people this week say that Bell is toxic…he doesn’t have it anymore…he’s a diva like Brown…he’s just like Brown…the Steelers are drama queens…and so on and so on.

First of all, I’m not an expert, but the last time I checked I’m pretty sure practically every NFL player is a diva in some way, shape, or form. Steelers are drama queens? Dude you’re talking about a team that has six Super Bowl championships and have had three head coaches since 1969. The Browns have had three head coaches in like…three years. Get a grip. Oh an by the way, those “drama queens” are currently 4-0 and were a practice squad last season and they still finished .500. Big Ben is playing well and personnel are happy. I don’t know about you, but I think the drama might be gone.

But back to Bell vs. Brown. Here’s the deal…Bell just wanted his money. He wanted the GUARANTEED money. Because really that’s what it was all about. And the Steelers decided they didn’t want to overpay for a running back. Fair enough…probably a good business decision, unfortunately for Bell. But Bell was not toxic. Bell was always a good teammate. And he had a good relationship with Mike Tomlin and probably an even better one with James Conner. Bell was a good mentor for Conner.

Brown On The Other Hand…

Totally different. And no Bell is not like Brown.

When JuJu Smith-Schuster came onto the scene and had that big 2018 season winning the “Team MVP” award, that’s what set off Brown. He had enough of missing the spotlight. A good teammate would have elevated JuJu. A good teammate would have praised his accomplishment…supported him. But Brown instead despised him.

Bell wanted more money. Brown wanted to be THE GUY. He used to be. And the moment that he wasn’t, Brown went off the rails. As a result, Brown ended up being a terrible teammate. I think most of the toxicity in that locker room lied within Brown and his situation, not Bell’s.

Bell Signs With The Chiefs

I’m happy for Bell. It seems to me he has chosen a path that puts him with a stable organization…a winning organization…with a great coach and a great quarterback…and he’ll have the opportunity to mentor rookie running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire. Instead of choosing money, which is what he did by signing with the Jets, he chose WINNING and signed with the Chiefs. Going from the Jets to the Chiefs is like going from 0 to 100. Good for him.

#2: Mike Zimmer Did Not Make A Dumb Decision

So in the Sunday Night game last week, the Vikings had a 26-21 lead on the Seahawks. There was two minutes left in the game and the Vikings were 4th and inches only six yards from the goal line in the red zone. Mike Zimmer decides to go for it. Cousins hands off to Alexander Mattinson (Dalvin Cook left the game with a groin injury) and Mattinson was stuffed, falling just short of the first down. Russell Wilson leads a great Seahawks drive 94 yards downfield for a game-winning touchdown.

Everyone blasted Mike Zimmer for his decision to go for it on 4th and inches. A lot of people said he should have just kicked the field goal to go up eight points and force the Seahawks to score a touchdown and get a two-point conversion. Everyone argued “just take the points!” but see I disagree with that, and here’s why…

Normally I would agree with the masses – take the points! But see the thing is, there are probably only three quarterbacks (maybe four) in the league who I would avoid giving the ball back to at the end of a game to run a two-minute drill down the field. Patrick Mahomes, Aaron Rodgers, Tom Brady (maybe not so much today, but still), and RUSSELL WILSON.

Context Matters

You’re going up against Sam Darnold? Sure, take the points…kick the field goal. Going up against Matt Ryan? Matthew Stafford? Drew Brees even? Yeah I’m choosing to kick the field goal.

But against Russell Wilson? Nah, I’m going to be aggressive. I don’t want to give him the ball back; I’m trying to shut that shit down. Put the game away.

When you go up against someone as great as Russell Wilson, you have to roll the dice…you should be aggressive…and sometimes, you gotta be lucky. How many times have we seen teams lose to the Bill Belichick because they were too conservative? Try a lot.

And here’s the other factor I think we are forgetting to consider. Say the Vikings DO kick a field goal. You’re up eight, and Seattle has to score a TD AND get the two-point conversion. But remember, after you make a field goal, guess what your team has to do? You have to kick off to your opponent. All Seattle has to do is touchback and they start at the 25-yard line, or potentially even further downfield if they decide to return the kick.

Would You Rather…

So would you rather have Russell Wilson try and drive 94 yards downfield, or drive only 75 yards or potentially less downfield to score a touchdown? I got news for you: if Russell Wilson was successful going 94 yards scoring a TD, chances are he most likely would have scored going 75 or less yards too. He’s that good. And yes, you could have kicked the field goal and forced overtime, but I don’t think you want to face Russell Wilson in overtime. Basically, I think Wilson would have scored anyway.

If the Vikings were 5 yards away from first down and 20 yards away from the end zone, then yes, kick the field goal. Six yards? Just go for it. If you get it, the game is over. If not, Seahawks have to go 94 yards. And they did…just got to tip your hat to a great player. Against Baker Mayfield? Going for it on 4th and inches would have been dumb. Against Russell? No way. Context matters….situational awareness in sports, matters.

Mike Zimmer didn’t make a dumb decision. He simply rolled the dice and tried to put the game away, and it didn’t work. There’s a difference between being risky and being dumb. Was going for it on 4th and inches only six yards away from putting away the Seahawks dumb? No. Risky? Yes, but against someone as great as Wilson, it’s worth the risk.

#3: Tom Brady Made a Mistake…So What

Last Thursday night, Tom Brady and the Buccaneers squared off against Nick Foles and the Bears. Brady was driving downfield for a potential game-winning drive, but unfortunately was not as successful as Russell Wilson.

Brady had a major gaffe…he forgot it was fourth down, and he thought he had an extra down. So the Buccaneers failed to get within field goal range being only down by one, and they lost to the Bears 20-19.

People ripped on Brady saying that him losing count of downs is an indication that he should retire. How could he lose count of downs?! Dude I woke up the other day not knowing what day it was. We are in a shitstorm of a year…in the middle of a pandemic. Things are really weird.

Cut the Man Some Slack

Brady was on the road playing in a new offense with a new coach against a good Bears defense getting knocked around at 43 years of age. And he forgot A DOWN for once in his 20-year career. How many times do we see baseball players forget how many outs there are or what the count is when they are at the plate? Brady got on a plane to Chicago and did all THAT and forgot what down it was. You woke up, walked 15 feet to your kitchen and forgot what day it was. So Brady made a mistake…he’s the GOAT…cut him some freaking slack.

Ok I’ve spent more than enough time playing defense attorney and ripping on the Jets. It’s time to get to my picks and get through them quickly we will!

Matt lives in Newnan, Georgia but was born and raised in Upstate New York. He is a fan of the New York Yankees, New York Rangers, Pittsburgh Steelers, and Boston Celtics. At the collegiate level, he is a Notre Dame and Syracuse fan (yeah he can root for both, and what?!) He must, however, find a soccer team to root for. So him out there. All suggestions are welcome. You can catch Matt on the Turf mostly covering NFL, NBA, MLB, College Football and Basketball, and Horse Racing (that is not a typo, he practically grew up on a racetrack). It's nothing's strictly sports.

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