With my inaugural post here @ BB, I wanted to take an opportunity to tell you why another BB (Bill Belichick) will always top the Forbes’ highest-paid list (as long as he remains employed) and no one else need apply. There is always going to be an argument about who the best player in any sport is or who has the best run organization, but there will never be said argument when it comes to coaching. I think it’s important to put this into context, however, as Belichick’s last three years are Wade Phillips-esque. New England lost two straight HOME playoff games, both of which are directly on the coach, and we don’t really need to re-hash the game that was played in February 2008. I am not going to start bashing Charger fans about games that happened years ago, either, as we don’t need to get off on the wrong foot here. I’m Mat Latos right now. You don’t really know what to expect. Anyway, I thought it apropos to use last year’s Bolts-Pats game @ the Q to prove the above statement correct.
Coming into Week 7, the Bolts (2-4) had two games that saw Philip Rivers throw for more than 400 yards (both losses) and they were not scoring like they ultimately did to end the season. But, they had Norv, who removed a monkey by beating the Pats a year earlier, and Turner was lifetime 20-6 @ the Q. And, his QB was 28-6 in 34 career home starts with a ridiculous 51 TDs / 21 INTs, with a 98.9 rating. So, every week the Bolts are in San Diego, with Rivers, they should be @ least a 3-point favorite, regardless of the opponent.
The Pats, on the other hand, were 4-1 and coming off a week that took them to OT @ home against Baltimore, in what was a knock-down-drag out kinda game. New England was beat up and had to get on a plane to travel west; something that always raises the ire of any fan. (Dealing with travel in NFL is cliche, but it does account for something, right? I mean its what every Michael Strahan and Shannon Sharpe-type says. so it must be true.) Tom Brady had been mediocre to that point and the third-down defense for New England was dead last in the league.
So, a shootout loomed. Rivers against THAT secondary, at THAT stadium, with THAT crowd? No brainer. It didn’t happen that way, of course and it turned out to be an awful game to watch, until the end. Consequently, the end is what brings me to my point. If you recall, the Patriots brought a 20-3 lead into the fourth quarter, in large part, because of the Chargers. New England recovered three fumbles in the game, one of which was returned 63 yards when no one was looking (including Jacob Hester) and another was left on the field by a rookie wideout named Richard Goodman. That’s when Rivers went to work and brought the Bolts within a FG and New England going for it on fourth down (@ their 48), right @ the two minute warning. This is where BB earns his dough. Belichick calls a run left with BenJarvus Green-Ellis and Antwan Applewhite blew it up. But due to Norv’s decision to not use his timeout between third and fourth down (the Pats began the drive with a little over four minutes left @ their 40) and because Kris Brown (more on him later) kicked the ball out of bounds, Rivers was left with two timeouts, when he only needed one. SD began their dive @ the 47 of NWE with 1:55 left and needing maybe 20 yards to give Brown a shot at tying the game. Rivers hits Gates twice, with the last bringing SD to the Pats’ 27 and 1:14 left, bringing up fourth down. Norv, inexpicably, decides to run the clock all the way to :28 seconds and bring out Brown to force OT. Louis Vazquez jumps the snap, backs Brown up and we all know the rest.
So here you have two polar opposites. Belichick was trying to win the game on fourth down and Turner was doing other things counter to ensure his team stayed out of that situation. There wasn’t anything that BB did in that game to warrant “Coach of the Year,” as the Bolts outgained NWE 363-179, but it was the cerebral part of this made you question, “How did we lose that freaking game?” The answer is Belichick. Turner should have given Rivers more time and effort to win a home game. I would go for it on every fourth-and-short, but you shouldn’t have to be kicking a 50-yard FG when you started @ the opponents 47. I know that. And, you have a top five player at the most important position in sports and you aren’t gonna give him a shot to win on his own turf? Really? That’s why Belichick wins 72% of the time. With a 28% exception, the other coach will make the wrong decisions, at the wrong time and he won’t. What he will do, however, is get paid enough that his tax bracket equals his winning percentage.