By HCR Staff | Dec. 17, 2019
Here are HCR’s observations from Sunday’s games.
Bill Callahan continues to impress as Washington Redskins interim head coach. Washington’s season was lost a long time ago, but as we’ve noted in this space previously, Bill Callahan has done a terrific job in leading the franchise. In virtually every game he’s coached since he’s taken over the reins, Washington has competed hard and had a chance to win. Additionally, he’s doing a good job in bringing along a rookie quarterback in Dwayne Haskins, who continues to improve each week. It’s clear the players like playing for Callahan, and even though Washington will have a new head coach in 2020, Callahan will be sought after as an offensive line coach, and possibly as an offensive coordinator.
Andy Reid appears to have the Kansas City Chiefs peaking at the right time. In 2018, Andy Reid’s Chief’s were the sexy team, getting all the headlines and accolades. This year, the headlines belong to John Harbaugh and the Baltimore Ravens, and the Chiefs have been flying under the radar. That actually may work out better for Reid, as he quietly has the Chiefs generating momentum toward the playoffs. In yesterday’s victory over the Denver Broncos, the Chiefs controlled the game from start to finish, and their victories are getting tidier as the season progresses. The Chiefs didn’t display any lapses of concentration yesterday, and there weren’t really any moments of carelessness. Perhaps they kicked too many field goals for their liking, but a positive trend is the play of their defense, which continues to show improvement each week. Whether at home or on the road, it’s pretty clear the Chiefs are going to be a tough out in the playoffs.
Cincinnati Bengals head coach Zac Taylor just got too cute in the Bengals loss against the New England Patriots. If you were to look at the final score of the Patriots-Bengals game, you would think that the Bengals never had a chance in this game. You’d be wrong, as the Bengals actually controlled the first portion of this game, and actually led 10-7. The Bengals defense was playing with great energy, but the lead was established mainly by a strong power running game, which was working quite successfully. For some reason, Bengals head coach Zac Taylor decided to veer away from a successful running game and veer into a disastrous passing game. We see this every Sunday–too many head coaches get too cute by trying to do too much. The Patriots were struggling to stop running back Joe Mixon, and Taylor decided to help them. Whatever happened to “keep doing it until they prove they can stop it?”
San Francisco 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan went strangely conservative at the end of yesterday’s loss against the Atlanta Falcons. Shanahan has a reputation as one of the game is most aggressive play callers, and it is well deserved. However at the end of yesterday’s game against the Falcons, his reputation took a hit. Prior to the Falcons game-winning drive, the 49ers led 19-16, and confronted a 4th and 1 at the Falcons 25 yard-line. A first down would ice the game, and a successful field goal would give the 49ers a six-point lead, but would put the ball into Falcons QB Matt Ryan’s hands for a potential game-winning touchdown drive with plenty of time. Shanahan’s choice was to trust either his offense to convert a yard or trust his defense, which was playing the game without several key starters and backups (Richard Sherman, Jaquiski Tartt, D.J. Reed, Dee Ford, etc). Shanahan gambled on the field goal and his defense. It was the wrong choice. The Falcons marched easily down the field and converted the game-winning touchdown. We were surprised by Shanahan’s decision because his 49ers offense is among the league leaders in third-down conversions, and in a Week 14 victory against the Saints, converted a key fourth down at the end of that game. Shanahan tends toward the aggressive calls, but in this one instance, he wavered.