This week’s Poscast is with Mike Vaccaro -- columnist extraordinaire for The New York Post and one of the world’s foremost experts on television theme songs -- and we span the sports world to argue about numerous things: The future of the Yankees, who should be the American League MVP, Billy Joel. Well, maybe next time we’ll go full contact on Billy Joel. It’s an entertaining argument we’ve had many times.
We also hit upon a subject we agree on: We both wonder why sports teams don’t try cool stuff more often. The discussion this time was built around the Jets’ indecision about Tim Tebow. Mike doesn’t believe -- and I don’t believe -- that Tim Tebow throws well enough to be an every-down quarterback. Neither of us believes that he should be the quarterback over Mark Sanchez. But why does it have to be an either/or? Tebow is obviously a fascinating player.
So why won’t the Jets try cool stuff with him?
When people ask me who is the best coach in the NFL, I go with the standard answer: I think it’s New England’s Bill Belichick. But the reason I think Bill Belichick is not because of his methods, or his secrecy, or his organization, or his clothes, or even his ability to break down film. I think the Belichick coaching offspring who have tried to BLB -- Be Like Bill -- have copied his awful fashion sense, his maniacal control issues, his occasional unpleasantness to the press.
But what they have not copied is this: Belichick will try ANYTHING if he thinks it will win a game. Throw the ball 65 straight times? Yes. Put a pulling guard at wide receiver? Sure. Drop 10 in defense and rush just one? Absolutely. There simply aren’t many people in sports like that, people who try whatever to win.*
*Here’s one offbeat example: There is not a fan out there who has not thought through the final-minute drill when you are down by 10 or fewer. The only way to win is to kick the field goal absolutely as soon as you in certain field-goal range -- I’d say 45 yards and in, maybe even 50 -- and then kick onside. Every NFL fan I know understands that.
But no coach seems to understand that. They try to score the touchdown first, ticking the clock down until victory is impossible. Or they wait until fourth down to kick the field goal. This is mostly pointless -- you’re probably not going to win no matter what -- but the point is that fans know this instinctively, and think about this stuff all the time. And coaches seem so buried in the minutiae and difficulties of their daily life, they don’t seem to spend a lot of their time going over scenarios for actually winning. I think this is part of the reason why NFL teams seem so remarkably bad at time management.
Here’s a question: How many times have you been watching an NFL game, and you noticed a definitive mismatch between receiver and corner, and you wondered: Why don’t they throw the ball to that guy EVERY SINGLE TIME? Didn’t you think this when the Vikings had the young Randy Moss or when the Chiefs had the young Tony Gonzalez? I’m sure coaches would give a hundred reasons why, and I’m sure they’re viable -- football’s a team game, one guy can’t win, if the defense knows what’s coming it will crush you, and so on. But I would bet at least one of the reasons is because that isn’t how things are done.
You see this in sports all the time -- people playing it safe, or playing it conventional, not necessarily because it will help them win, but perhaps because it will not put them in the crosshairs. Why wouldn’t one NFL team, having looked at the numbers, go for it every single time it was fourth-and-two or shorter? Why wouldn’t one baseball team try a brand-new kind of bullpen where the best reliever was brought out when the situation was direr? Why wouldn’t more golfers layup on certain par 5s if the numbers show they will make birdie more often doing it that way?
I think it’s at least partly because of an unwillingness to stand out. I have no idea if the Jets could figure out a way to make Tim Tebow a fierce weapon, as some sort of triple-threat guy, running, receiving, blocking, throwing. Mike doesn’t either.
But we both wonder: Why not try? Why else would you get Tebow in the first place?
Note: Episode 2 will soon be available on iTunes.