By HCR Staff | Dec. 9, 2019
Buffalo Bills offensive coordinator Brian Daboll’s offensive game plan was a dud. Sunday’s home game against the Baltimore Ravens for the Bills was the biggest in years, and it offered them a chance to notch a double-digit win total for the first time since 1999. Expectations were high, and we were excited to see how the Bills would attack the game. Offensively, and given the Ravens’ struggles against the run in their home victory against the 49ers, we fully expected the Bills one-two running back punch of Frank Gore and Devin Singletary to be featured prominently. We were wrong. Very, very wrong. Instead, Bills offensive coordinator Brian Daboll put the game in quarterback Josh Allen’s hands, to disastrous results. For whatever reason, Daboll was not patient with the running game, even though there were moments of obvious success against the Ravens on the ground. The Bills have a roster full of talented and ascending young players, and we felt they were well-positioned to win this game against the Ravens. However, the offensive game plan was subpar, and we feel integral to their loss.
The Green Bay Packers secured a victory against the Washington Redskins, but it wasn’t easy and it wasn’t pretty, as Packers head coach Matt LaFleur was outcoached by Redskins interim head coach Bill Callahan. The Packers may be leading the NFC North at the moment, but in our view, they’re not a real threat to win the NFC. Matt LaFleur may have 10 wins in his rookie season, but he still has a long way to go as a head coach. That’s okay, as he’s never been a head coach before, and with more repetitions, he may get much better. In this game, however, he was outclassed by Bill Callahan. Strategically, Callahan has done two things very well. First, he’s simplified every offensive game plan. In short, he’s decided to do fewer things, but do those things well. He’s largely succeeded, as Washington has been competitive in nearly every game since he’s taken over. Second, he’s emphasized the running game, and this has served to shorten the game for Washington, and shorten possessions for their opponents. Defensive coordinator Greg Manusky had a terrific game plan yesterday as well. Washington ran a very disciplined pass rush against Packers QB Aaron Rodgers–they never got too hard up field, and largely succeeded in keeping Rodgers in the pocket, where he showed impatience and irritability because he couldn’t get outside.
San Francisco 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan and New Orleans Saints head coach Sean Payton demonstrated yesterday that when offenses are operating at a high-tempo, there is not much defensive coordinators can do. Going into yesterday’s game, 49ers defensive coordinator Robert Saleh and Saints defensive coordinator Dennis Allen had received a lot of attention this year for their work. No matter how good they might have been prior to yesterday’s game, however, both had their defenses undressed. The defensive performances were completely inept, and much of it was due to the quick tempo displayed by the offenses. Shanahan and Payton are among the elite playcallers in the game, and one of the reasons why is because the playcalls tend to come in quickly. They are decisive and bold–there isn’t much hesitation. That decisiveness makes it difficult at times for defensive coordinators to adjust.
We’ve been tough on Denver Broncos rookie offensive coordinator Rich Scangarello, but yesterday’s effort against the Houston Texans was masterful. The Broncos completely decimated the Texans on their home turf yesterday, and much of the credit goes to Broncos offensive coordinator Rich Scangarello. Scangarello finally has the Broncos offense operating at a higher tempo. The Broncos seemed quicker out of the huddle yesterday, and their energy level on offense was as high as we’ve seen it all year. Rookie offensive coordinators are no different than rookie players–everyone needs additional repetitions in order to get better. Perhaps that’s all Scangarello needed.
Alternatively, Texans head coach Bill O’Brien failed miserably at avoiding the big game let down. In Week 13, the Texans scored a huge home victory against the New England Patriots in primetime. In Week 14, they were poised to maintain distance in the AFC South race as they were hosting a losing Broncos team. The biggest issue, in our view, confronting O’Brien going into this week was to have his team take the Broncos just as seriously as they took the Patriots. After all, O’Brien spent a number of years in New England under Bill Belichick, and he surely has seen Belichick be sensitive to this issue. Well, O’Brien didn’t pass the test. It seemed as if he posted all the glowing reviews from national media about the Texans after their victory over the Patriots on their locker room wall. The Texans simply didn’t show up in this game, and that is a reflection of coaching.
Every door in the Jacksonville Jaguars organization now has an EXIT sign on it, and it isn’t pretty. Yes, the Jaguars have had a tough season. And yes, they no longer are relevant. However, when you’re facing a losing team that is traveling 3000 miles to play you at home, mustering a professional effort shouldn’t be that hard. The entire Jaguars organization embarrassed themselves yesterday, and the responsibility lies with owner Shad Khan, general managers Tom Coughlin and David Caldwell, and head coach Doug Marrone. We simply didn’t see much effort or pride.
Setting aside the officiating blunders, the Patriots had opportunities to beat the Kansas City Chiefs yesterday, but they simply weren’t good enough. The Patriots simply can’t score in the red zone. They also can’t score, on offense, outside of the red zone. The reason isn’t coaching, and the reason isn’t lack of effort, The reason is Bill Belichick’s failure as a general manager. He simply left the cupboard bare on offense. The Patriots don’t have any explosion on offense, and it’s simply a talent issue. It’s a shame, because the defense is good enough to win a Super Bowl. Offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels is trying, but there’s only so much scheming you can do to cover up the lack of physical talent. Going forward, the best the Patriots can do on offense is to maintain ball security, and convert any short fields the defense gives them.