I. Failed fake punt shouldn’t condemn Pagano
It can indeed be regarded as one of the poorest executions of a play in recent memory.
Still, the unsuccessful fake punt attempt by Indianapolis against New England on that Sunday night should not be construed as a broad critique of Chuck Pagano’s coaching tenure.
Such a reaction would be a hasty and exaggerated response. The well-known replay has been reviewed numerous times now.
With 1:14 left in the third quarter and trailing the Patriots by six, Indianapolis delved into their bag of tricks.
At their 37-yard line on fourth down, punter Pat McAfee and eight other Colts shifted to the right while two players remained over the ball.
The Colts aimed to create confusion and gain a numerical advantage, but the Patriots remained unfooled and stationed four players near the ball.
Unexpectedly, the snap was initiated, and the unfortunate pseudo-quarterback, Colt Anderson, was promptly tackled.
This turn of events resulted in a New England touchdown, a 13-point lead for the reigning Super Bowl champions, and a 34-27 road victory.
Indy tried something innovative and they executed it poorly. That one play is not an indication that Pagano is in over his head, so stop it.
On Tuesday, Colts punter Pat McAfee clarified the situation, shedding light on the play’s design and intent.
Ultimately, the play’s failure can be attributed to the decision to proceed with it after one of the key players, Clayton Geathers, who was meant to be the snapper on the fake, suffered an injury earlier in the game.
His replacement, Griff Whalen, had not practiced the play during the week. The embarrassment in this situation lies with the coaching staff, whether the head coach’s responsibility or the player and special teams’ coaches.
Considering the defensive look presented by the Patriots following the formation shift, it was evident that the play should never have been executed. It’s as simple as that.
However, the exaggerated reactions that followed seem more like a feeding frenzy around Chuck Pagano, potentially for reasons unrelated to that isolated play.
Indianapolis attempted something uncommon in many NFL playbooks, but they faltered due to poor communication.
Nonetheless, this play should not be construed as evidence that Pagano was overwhelmed on the sideline, and such criticisms should be dismissed.
II. Steeling the AFC North thunder
Amidst all the chatter about the Cincinnati Bengals in the AFC North, the Pittsburgh Steelers managed to secure two victories in three games without their starting quarterback.
Notably, they defeated one of the NFL’s top teams, the Arizona Cardinals. Even when Arizona effectively neutralized Pittsburgh’s star wide receiver, Antonio Brown, the Steelers managed to generate offense with their third-string quarterback.
Furthermore, their defense allowed only five touchdowns in the past four games.
A potential win in the upcoming week against a struggling Kansas City team will position Pittsburgh for a significant showdown against Cincinnati, who will be coming off a bye week.
Adding to the intrigue, quarterback Ben Roethlisberger is expected to make a return for that game on November 1.
In the NFL, successfully weathering a team’s respective storm is often the most crucial achievement.
Every team confronts various forms of adversity, and what stands out about the Steelers this season is not only their ability to endure challenges but to excel by effectively utilizing the resources within their roster.
III. No-win situation for Manning
He could secure victories on the field, but eluding media scrutiny remained challenging.
A few years ago, during Peyton Manning’s prolific regular season performances, many skeptics dismissed his success, emphasizing the need to see him perform in the playoffs.
In the present year, fans find it perplexing that a 39-year-old quarterback, who has undergone neck surgery and grapples with hand numbness, doesn’t resemble the player he was at 29.
Manning’s current form is undeniably lacking dynamism, but his offensive line shares the blame for the struggles—furthermore, the Broncos rank as the fourth-worst team in the NFL in yards gained after the catch.
The situation is compounded when, amid offensive adjustments, the highly-paid wide receiver starts dropping passes.
Like in any NFL team, attempting to simplify team issues down to a single soundbite or finger-pointing often overlooks the broader context; all elements must work in harmony.
During this bye week for Denver, Manning can recuperate and work on syncing up with the offense.
While Manning may not be the most pivotal figure for the Broncos, they are learning to secure victories despite his difficulties—something not often seen in Manning’s illustrious career.
If and when Manning manages to iron out these issues, the team will transform into a more well-rounded, playoff-ready unit.
IV. Bengal nudes in the locker room
A few other professions will find individuals completing their work, returning home to shower, and then having reporters with cameras waiting at their doorstep. This unique situation is exclusive to the NFL.
Just last week, the NFL Network captured some Cincinnati Bengals players in a state of undress, wearing only their team stripes. While we live in an era where people desire total access, there is a need for change. Suppose the locker room was full of women.
In that case, the public’s response might involve an outcry reminiscent of citizens assembling pitchforks and torches to meet with attorney Gloria Allred at the airport. Not every aspect of the NFL warrants excessive attention.
As with many challenges in the NFL, the simplest solution is often the most elusive. It’s a matter of common sense—interviewing individuals in a setting and at a time when they are not in the process of changing clothes. It’s not a complex issue to address.