Friday, September 07, 2007

Football and Democrats

The Colts beat the Saints by 31 points last night in the NFL’s opening night game and it was a pretty pathetic display by the latter team. New Orleans had the most prolific offense in the league last year but it managed to score a paltry one field goal in sixty minutes of whatever that was it was doing, while its defense scored the team’s only touchdown. The Indianapolis offense, led by a matured Peyton Manning, is pretty much as good as the 41 points scored would indicate, but the defense is not quite the juggernaut that New Orleans made it appear to be.

I’m not going to replace anyone as head coach of an NFL team, but I played the game and I’ve been watching it intently for many years with an analytical bent. Many times I have been able to evaluate that if a team doesn’t change its game plan it is going to lose, and lose big. I saw that last night; predicted that the Saints were going to be on the short end of a lopsided score if they did not rethink their plan.

Indianapolis was playing what is called a “cover two” style of defense, one where (to simplify) they play deep to prevent long passes and allow the opponent to complete the short gains. New Orleans was playing conservatively on offense, taking the short gains that were the “low hanging fruit” offered by the Colts in the form of five-yard passes and short runs. Make a few first downs but eventually not make it on third down and have to punt. So conservative were they with this plan that, late in the game, Drew Brees was in danger of setting a record for the shortest average pass completion in the history of the league.

So in the process of “taking what the defense gave them” New Orleans scored only one measly field goal while its opponent scored 41 points against it. To win one has to be winning to challenge the defense, to be bold, to take a risk and throw right into the teeth of the coverage.

New Orleans played it safe. Even so, throwing short to avoid the risk of throwing into the deep coverage, Drew Brees threw two interceptions.

I have seen many a team lose while playing the cover two because they were playing against a team willing to challenge deep. The opponent didn’t settle for the safe, easy short gainers. They threw long into the coverage and, while some long passes were incomplete and a few were intercepted, some were completed for big gains and touchdowns.

New Orleans is trailing by 24 points with 8 minutes left in the 4th quarter, and Drew Brees is flinging the ball a heart-stopping three yards downfield. Why bother?

The lesson is, playing it safe isn’t safe and it doesn’t win.

The Saints might have had a sign on their sidelines that read, “Well, we didn’t have the votes.”

The Republicans have on their version of the cover two defense, and the Democrats are throwing short.

Afraid of looking weak on national defense, the Democratic Party tosses soft underneath the coverage, doesn’t make first down, punts and looks weak on everything.

The Democrats are on the short end of a lopsided score, it’s late in the fourth quarter, and they’re still tossing puffballs.

Okay, I’ll quit. But NFL football is back!

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