I don't post often (or ever, really...what's the point when the writers here are pumping out good material left, right and center?), but I feel like a little non-OT (ie no drunk language...we got that out of our systems last night) discussion is in order for us to overcome the trauma that was last night's abortion.
Will we end up like the poor vietnam vets? Or will we comeback and kill fiddy men like Cotton? My thoughts after the jump...
So my initial reaction to the game was that our strategy was FUBAR by the second quarter. I know we had some success moving the mall into enemy territory early on, but much like the Tampa game once we crossed the 50 we couldn't get out of our own way fast enough. As many have pointed out, when we went empty backfield I wrote the words "Game over" in my notebook (See Gregg, I can state the obvious too!), because so far this season we seem incapable of putting up anything resembling a resistance when there's no backfield blockers. Never did I think I would lament the loss of Byron Bell on the right side, but it didn't seem to take much to outwit Garry Williams on that side (Or Piggy for that matter, who seems to have regressed quite a bit in the pass blocking arena), and as a result we were unable to generate anything resembling momentum when we needed it the most. By now you must be wondering why I would start off by mentioning the strategy, and then proceeding to rip the execution. Well, it's all part of my master plan to explain our woes last night.
To be sure, our offensive strategy seems to be ill equipped for digging us out of any sized hole, and it seems like we haven't done anything to progress the playbook from last year (I thought the second year was when we were supposed to open up the playbook more?) However, my more rational side has taken over this morning, and after watching the postgame presser I really do agree with Ace on this one: We are simply not executing up to our standards. Sure, we need to think about something other than running deep routes on every other play (Attn: Chudz, when the defense is playing zone like that, take a page from their O's playbook and start short crossing them down the field...clearly it works wonders for every team we play), but then again what amount of strategy is going to fix us allowing four down lineman to get significant pressure on 1st and 2nd down? I'm sure someone far more enterprising than myself will examine the film and break everything down a bit better, but I feel like the biggest reason I jumped on our strategy so much after the game was because I was subconsciously in denial about our team's execution. I want to believe that it's a simple matter of altering the gameplan, but reality is telling me that no amount of adjustments is going to fix our inability to get out of our own way at this juncture. It's going to take some deep gut checks and some size 12's going up multiple asses in order for our execution to get back to where it needs to be, simple as that. Are the coaches up to the task? I have faith that Rivera is capable of it, mainly due to his track record. I have significantly less faith in our coordinators, but a healthy dose of optimism is never a bad thing :p
Don't let my focus on the offense fool you though, for I get hotter than a pitbull in heat when I start thinking about our defensive performance the past three games. I know we played well against NO for a portion of the game, but I think our W clouded our judgement a bit. Let's face it: We almost let NO comeback last week in a short period of time, letting them do the same stuff they were running on us in the 1st quarter. Thursday night? Same story, different outcome. I'm not sure where to lay the blame coaching wise for this one, but Opie's track record so far does not give him the benefit of the doubt. We have some great talent at key positions on defense, and yet I cringe every time someone is one on one with a ball carrier because I know that there's a 50/50 chance they're going to whiff. I hate to bring up the 49ers like some dime-store commentator named Collinsworth, but my god it is impossible to avoid the fact that when they make contact, there's no breaking the tackle. How we are not capable of that is beyond me, and ultimately it does fall on the coaches shoulders to make sure guys know how to tackle. Of course, it's also on their shoulders to know when the "bend, don't break" strategy is not working. I think we all figured this out at roughly 13:30 left in the 1st quarter. Evidently, the staff didn't realize this until the clock read 00:00 in the 4th. I don't confuse this with Madden, and don't think we need to send the house every other play (got to see that in Washington for many years, and I can tell ya it doesn't help in the long run). However, we haven't had the line talent (re: DT) to push with the front four in years, and CJ will only do so much when he's getting double teamed for the majority of the game. Something needs to change on defense, and I'm hoping one of y'all will come up with a better answer than me (my strategy? Re-adopt the Del Rio system we had going. I know it leaked some big plays here and there, but if we had the offensive talent we have now for that year it would've been playoffs, no question. I know the line was better, but our back 7 was nothing to write home about at the time outside of Minter and Morgan when healthy). Maybe Ron needs to just take over the D full time? If he could get his system to work in SD and Chicago with similar levels of talent, what's stopping it from working over here? It can't be any worse than the death by slants that we are experiencing now.
I won't even go into ST right now, other than I actually thought they played decently outside of the muffs (Joe, it's not a loaf of bread, so don't hold it like one). Really, our ST is not that bad right now, it's just the return game that is lacking anything resembling consistency (at least our coverage is doing well)! Anyways, kinda hoping to see what insights CSR nation has to offer on this game, minus the drunk rambling and calls for the guillotine. Remember, the key to therapy is getting the issues out in the open, not suppressing them into the dark recesses of our minds!
P.S.- Games like this are why I hate media attention. For an agnostic, I am terribly superstitious when it comes to football, and we all know we're secretly doomed when the media hype is directed our way...