Monday, December 28, 2009

VSR: You Play to Win the Game

Work nearly made it hard to get this started but I'm making time since most of my stuff is done at this point. Let's roast a rookie head coach shall we?

So Indianapolis Colts coach Jim Caldwell decided in the middle of a game to rest his starters for the playoffs. There's nothing wrong with that in theory because coaches have done it for years in the NFL. The problem is the timing when you do it - most tend to do it in blowouts (whether losing or trailing.

Common sense says don't do it in the middle of a CLOSE game where neither team has an advantage. I don't care if you are going for perfection or not, don't quit in the middle of a battle. Let the other team beat you.

You can argue it was a meaningless game for Indy and it was. But the first reason we play sports is to win. Nobody plays to lose, you may play for fun but the day I play a sport with the full purpose of losing and not trying my hardest is the day I quit forever. What Caldwell did by pulling Peyton Manning and other in a dog fight is the equivalent of not bothering to try and his team followed suit and laid down in their loss.

You play to win the game. You don't play to lose. Let the other team beat you because they were better, not because you give them the game in the middle of a fight. Had he rested his starters earlier or with the game not in doubt, we don't have this conversation.

(But Mr. Virgo - what about injury risk? What if Peyton Manning wins the MVP holding crutches at the press conference?)

From SI's Peter King: "In the last two years, [Manning] dropped back to pass 1,132 times and been sacked 24 times. That's one sack per every 47 dropbacks. Offensive coordinator Tom Moore and Manning are smart. They could easily have formulated a gameplan including only quick and intermediate throws, to even further lower the risk of injury."

That tells me that the odds against injury are slim. If Peyton Manning hasn't missed a start in years and is having his best season ever, ride out the wave until it crashes. A perfect season may not mean much if you dont win a ring but resting starters never guarantees you get the ring either.

Considering the Colts resting themselves for the postseason has seen them only win one Super Bowl and fall short several times despite home-field advantage in some cases, I'd say stay on a roll and let it carry through in January.

Caldwell has done a great job manning the Colts' ship but he made a rookie mistake by trying to play smart and instead looked stupid in defeat. Playoffs are all about momentum, not the best team. It's why the No. 1 team entering the postseason has rarely won it all and it's why the Eagles and Chargers are the most feared teams to face right now. Now we know why the Colts will lose at some point - my guess, the Chargers in the AFC title game...

I've been a critic of Cowboys QB Tony Romo on here and in conversations for the past 2 years. His inability to win big games and play well in December is well known but right now, i'd say Philip Rivers is the only QB playing better right now.

Come again? Peep his stats the last 4 games. 7 TD's vs. 1 INT. A Completion percentage average of 66%. Translation: he's making almost no mistakes and doing what needs to be done instead of forcing his hand.

We are watching a young QB grow up and start turning the corner into being a consistent player. It's why I'm optimistic that when he gets a new coach/offensive coordinator next year, it could be even better for his development. This is the point of year where Romo should rightly be judged and so far, he's not shrinking under pressure. It's time to avenge last year's 44-6 season-ending loss to the Eagles on Sunday....

I've said this once before but it bears repeating (c) Jack White - NOBODY wants to see the Chargers next month. NOBODY. Don't be surprised if the Chargers and Eagles make their conference finals and are slight favorites.

Anybody seen Andrew Bynum on the Lakers? He's been invisible since Pau Gasol got back and last I heard, he was busy collecting fouls instead of rebounds.

For that matter, has anyone seen our bench? I see Lamar Odom and the occasional Shannon Brown highlight but other than that, the Bench Mob has produced like Da Lench Mob. Nothing significant away from its leader....

Correct me if I'm wrong but I find it weird that the USC men's basketball team has almost more wins at this point (8) than the USC football team (9). I know I can't say anything because UCLA is barely doing jack on the court against real competition (yaaawn Delaware State??). But Kevin O'Neill for Pac-10 Coach of the Year?

But it's time for the Pac-10 season to start and I'm curious to see how good Arizona is when they face UCLA on Saturday. I saw freshman Derrick Williams play in an All-Star game last year and he was the most impressive guy on the court outside of Jordan Hamilton (now at Texas) and Tyler Honeycutt (UCLA).

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