A coach's decision to go for it on fourth down is an interesting paradigm. If the team makes it, he's a genius. If they don't, it's the worst call they've ever made. There really is no in between to this concept. Whether or not it is a good decision to go for it on fourth down has the very unique ability of only being decided in hindsight. It's kind of interesting how some things can be so black and white. Is there a way to predetermine whether or not it is a good idea to go for it on fourth down early in the game? Let's try.
Our Defense is good. I would say the Chiefs are definitely above average with Lewis and Berry only getting better. Our Red Zone defense ranks amongst the best in the NFL and the Chiefs displayed it during the Colts game. Opposing quarterbacks are starting to avoid Brandon Flowers thus making for less options. Hali barreling down doesn't give the QB that much time to read his options as well. If Haley chooses to gamble instead of taking the three points, can that be construed as a knock against the defense? Perhaps. I don't know about you but I think the Defense so far this year has earned enough respect to warrant Haley to just take the points. I'd hate to think Haley goes for it on fourth down to keep his defense from getting egotistical, so let's just rule that right out. Therefore, I scratch my head as to why Haley just doesn't TAKE THE POINTS! and trust his defense to get the ball back for more opportunities.
Think about how that early field goal would have changed the whole dynamic for the rest of the game when they played the Colts. Who knows? Chiefs down 19-12 would have been a different team on that drive than when they were down 19-9 wouldn't you agree? No field goal attempt needed on that drive, right? This was the case in the Bills game. Taking that early field goal would have changed everything. Yes, I know, I'm speaking in hindsight. We're not here for that, we're here for foresight. So let's look at the more painfully obvious reason to slow down this "go for it" mentality.
Matt Cassell is simply not that good. Yes, I know, here we go again, blah, blah, blah. Look, I don't think there are really that many quality QBs in the league today to begin with. Can you Imagine Cassell slinging it in the league in 1986? You football historians know I'm right. Remember, Steve Young was a back up for a long time. But with the field that's out there, Cassell is pretty average amongst them. I have never seen an offensive scheme so catering to the faults of a QB in my entire football fandom career. I can just hear Charlie Weiss coddling Cassell while watching film, stroking his arm and saying "so therefore Matty, you will only have to throw it a couple of yards-just a couple....(squeezes his cheek) and let their speed do the rest. Don't worry Matty, we won't force you to throw down the field until you are absolutely ready." Here's an equation to find out how good Matt Cassell is: If John Elway is a 10, what would you rank Cassell? Boom, end of discussion. He's very average at best on that scale so no more Cassell discussion. Therefore, putting faith in Cassell to execute such a costly down seems not only too risky, but borderline stupid. You're the Chiefs not the running and gunning Houston OIlers with Warren Moon at the helm! If you have a chance at getting points, take them! And until I see Matt Cassell consistently hitting receivers in stride instead of the 5 yard button hooks even Steve DeBerg to this day could execute, I will stand by this arguement. See the fourth down pass to Bowe at the beginning of the Colts game for a reminder of what exactly I'm talking about. I think Cassell IS getting better and he has a very good understanding of passing the ball to stationary targets 7 yards downfield. But this isn't a post to knock Cassell, this is a post to knock Haley. So let's change gears and focus on something else Haley should consider.
Ryan Succop is supposed to be our new Adam Vinatieri, right? I mean....isn't he going to the pro bowl this year? Wasn't he supposed to be one of the best kickers around? Well, it's kind of hard to tell with him getting fewer opportunities. Personally, I think Succop is a little overrated right now. However, I think he definitely could have hit these chip shots we passed up in the Colts game and today's Bills game for the "automatic" three. Succop is in his second year and the only way you get better at kicking FGs during game situations, is to kick a lot of field goals in game situations. It looks like this kid could use the practice. I know the wind was blowing hard at Arrowhead today but Robbie Gould had a pretty good year kicking in Chicago a few years ago and that's windy as hell. The points is, we need Succop to start being a lot more "automatic" if we expect to do any damage in the playoffs (yes, I went there). Thinking Buffalo was going to hang 30 points on us and not giving Succop more game opportunities is a thought process I'm trying hard to relate to. I'm pretty sure our rushing game was going to get us into field goal position every drive. Miami won today with 5 field goals and a TD. Why did I bring that up? Because Miami is now 4-3 and we need to start thinking about other AFC teams losing. Let Succop kick it and trust your defense. Why this isn't happening is a mystery.
Now, I'm aware of certain situations where a team needs to go for it on fourth down instead of kicking it, but I assumed you dismissed that. Remember, this is about Haley's aggressive calling on fourth downs instead of taking the points. Our Defense has proven that if we just take the three, the red zone defense can step up and only give up three as well. We rushed for over 240 yards today and only put up 13 points. Isn't that bothering anybody else? Our defense was handling the Bills, why not just take the early 3? It would have caused much less stress today which is admittedly the reason of this post. Venting.
So is Haley egomaniacal? I personally approve of the guy and have kept that no secret all along. But is he over confident? Does he think the other team is going to hang 35 on his team today so they better get crackin'? Does he not see Matt Cassell staring down his receivers on these fourth down calls? Is he noticing that the Defense can actually win him games this year so he doesn't need to be so aggressive with offensive points? Maybe he sees something I don't. And of course, if he would have been successful, they already would have given him coach of the year. But enough is enough. Haley simply doesn't have the tools to turn down a field goal for points. Yes, I like the fourth down aggressiveness too, but unfortunately, not with Cassell. I just hope Haley realizes this before we lose a home playoff game by three points. (to be said in Stewie's voice about Brian finishing his novel) See why I'm so discouraged by this? Chiefs win division? Get home playoff game? Haley and his aggressive fourth down calling early in the game fails? End result, Chiefs lose by 3? Anybody for that? Anybody? You want to.....want to think about that?
Hey Haley! Welcome to the wonderful world of preventative measures and Take the Points!! Especially when we're up against one dimensional teams. Turns out we have this guy Romeo who eats one dimensional teams for breakfast. Gates, Gore, Manning, and now Fitzpatrick. All players representing the one dimensional offenses they are on and all neutralized by the Chiefs defense. Pretty impressive for a Defense that ranked at the bottom last year. So please Coach Haley, maybe start considering that our Defense is good, Succop needs the experience, Cassell is not Kurt Warner, and we should just TAKE THE POINTS!