I've got to vent right now or I will not sleep a wink.
First, even though I know you guys won't hold it against me, apologies for dropping f-bombs after the first half.
Now, let's start with the good (and there is SOME)
-Ben's second half--friggin' awesome
-Trai Essex--not the answer at LT, but did pretty dang good and shows that we have a little depth at oline (very little)
-Tomlin--finally showed some emotion
-Heath Miller--Need I say more? FINALLY got the kind of attention he deserves in the passing game
-Defense--considering the injuries and the horrible position we put them in, I thought they played pretty well overall. Only gave up 17 points, but did not make the big play when we needed it most.
-James Harrison--His usual studly effort. Has officially replace JP in all aspects, including the most-held player in the league.
-Lamar Woodley--I have always been a supporter of Haggans, but by the end of the night I was relieved to see Woodley in the game. And he delivered.
NOW, for all the rest of it:
BIG BEN: I will get into all the playcalling sheeha when I get to BA (I can't bring myself to type his name). But Ben laid a big ole egg with the three INTs in the first half. I give him a bit of a "pass" on the screen play, as the guy just lucked into an unbelievable gift on a play we never should have been running. But, What in the hell was he thinking when he threw that slant? And even worse, what IN - THE - HELL was he thinking when he tried to throw the bomb to Davenport? HELLO, BEN, SanAntonio was RIGHT FRIGGIN' THERE!!! Or, do what you absolutely refuse to do, and throw it AWAY! It's about damn time that some of this crap changed, and it got into his head that you don't HAVE to make some huge play every time. Isn't it about time to learn that lesson, Ben, after 4 seasons and multiple lessons? it's the COACH'S responsibility to make sure that happens. Which brings me to everybody's all-american...
BA: This guy is an absolutely, complete, and total pansy candyass clown. Ben's been lighting it up for the entire half, take a short pass and get the dang first down and we probably win this game. Just ONE first down may have done it. But what bothers me about it is that we didn't even TRY to get the first down.
I was totally impressed with the opening drive and the game plan. Throw it short, get the ball to Heat, take what the D is giving, surprise them with the run, throw on 1st down and keep them totally off-balance. The Jax D didn't know what had hit them.
We come back and what happens? Run on 1st down for 4 yard losses. Keep trying to throw it long--back to the routes where NO ONE even tries to go short!!! Keep trying to force throws that aren't there. And where does that get us? Into a 21-7 and 28-10 hole.
And the "screen" passes? Fade route on the second try for two? Please. I would have preferred that fade on the try after the penalty, which gives us a better chance than Ben having to run for his life to get it in.
And isn't it his job, or the QB coaches' job, or his job to tell the QB coach to grab Ben and tell him NOT TO FORCE THE BALL and TAKE WHAT THE DEFENSE IS GIVING? I'd say it's about time that some coach tells him to do that.
The most telling issue for me is that, when we're going no huddle and Ben is calling the plays and making more (not all, but more) of his own decisions, we move the ball much better. When BA is making all the calls out of the conventional "offense," we look like pooh most of the time. I know, it's his first year, it won't change, the oline needs to improve...but it's no excuse for what we witnessed tonight in the way of playcalling, particularly at the most crucial point in the game.
NAJEH DAVENPORT: As they say in The Waterboy, Cut - His - Ass!!! I know some of you guys are big fans of his and were a little excited to see him get the nod and Willie out. But I haven't seen anything from him that tells me he's worth keeping. There are a hundred other backup RBs as good or better than him. And his kick returns were painful--the only time he fought for yardage was when we needed him to hit the ground to save time.
TYRONE CARTER: As they say in The Waterboy, Cut - His - Ass!!! Twice, he stood flat-footed and watched a guy run by him without so much as even making a play on the football.
SEAN MAHAN: Renegotiate - His - Ass!!! He is not a starting center, and I doubt he's a starting guard.
In his defense, the holding call on him was TOTALLY bogus, and it negated a great throw and catch for 2 that would have changed the game. Not his fault--on THAT one. Not to mention that Jax got away with blatant holding all night, including on Garrard's big run.
KENDALL SIMMONS: Renegotiate - His - Ass!!! How many times do we have to watch him play matador before we give Kemo a shot??? He's a backup at best, or give him a shot at center.
DICK LeBEAU: For the most part, I have no complaints, save one. The TD pass to Jones-Drew, he left Farrior one-on-one with him. That is never going to work with a RB who is that quick. Got to do better than that on 3rd and 10, Dickie.
CLARK HAGGANS: There is NO WAY we should bring this guy back next year unless he's a backup/ST guy playing for the league minimum. He looked flat-footed and slow when he was in there.
SPECIAL TEAMS: Let me ask you this: How could we look so awful in the first half and so great in the second half?
And why did we ever kick the ball to Jones-Drew in the first place?
DANIEL SEPULVEDA: Didn't we draft him to make big punts in big games? Well, he surely shat the bed tonight in that dept.
MIKE TOMLIN: For the second half of the season, we looked like a team being coached by a rookie. We certainly gave that appearance in the first half tonight. However, I hope that we saw glimpses of the future in the second half. He was less stoic and much more emotional, and must have given a pretty good halftime speech to get a second-half effort like we did.
The call that everyone seems to be discussing is going for 2. On the first try, I thought it was a good call. The second was a given when we missed the first, but the play call was terrible (see ARIANS, BRUCE above). I mean, the fade pattern TWICE on the goal line?
The one call that I REALLY question was not kicking the ball after the penalty. At that point, it was probably better to do that than to try for two. Overall, I think that was a foolish decision.
What else is there to say? I didn't see anything out there that made me believe either team is capable of beating NE, so perhaps it's all for naught anyway. But the fact is we handed this game to the other team on a silver platter, and that's going to leave a nasty taste in everyone's mouth until kickoff next year.
And for the team and coaching staff and FO, I hope it tastes like sheeha, so bad that they'll do whatever it takes to get that taste out.