fun gus wrote:
That's a red herring. I blame the coach and the QB. They are supposed to 'lead'. They are supposed to be working thier a$$ off in those two weeks.
See that's dubious. The team with the first round bye is 11-9 in the past 5 years in the second round of the playoffs.
Are you suggesting that when the Jets beat the Chargers in '09, it was because Rex Ryan/Mark Sanchez "led" better than Norv Turner/Philip Rivers?
Two years earlier, was Norv/Rivers better at "leading" than Dungy/Manning when they went into Indy and beat the Colts? Did Rex/Sanchez "lead" better than Belichick/Brady in 2010?
Winning football games isn't about "leadership." Although leadership certainly factors into it. It's about players, it's about matchups, it's about coaching. If the Falcons play the Seahawks in Round 2, Matt Ryan can't "lead" or "inspire" Tyson Clabo to have a good game against Chris Clemons. If Clabo plays well against Clemons, then he does so on his own skills and abilities, not because in the 2 weeks off, Matt Ryan gave inspiring speeches or watched a bunch of tape. And if Clabo plays poorly against Clemons, who along with Bruce Irvin combines for 6 sacks of Matt Ryan, it wasn't because the Falcons lacked leadership from Ryan and/or Smith, it's because their tackles aren't as good as the Seahawks defensive ends.
Football is like any sport where timing, continuity, consistency, rhythm, repetition all are beneficial. And that is especially true for offense, especially on teams where they tend to pass the ball a lot because so much of passing is about timing and rhythm. You said it yourself, it's risk/reward. You rest them Week 17, the reward is you have a healthier team come playoff team, but the risk is that you increase the chances they come out rusty in the playoffs. If you treat Week 17 like any regular game, the risk is much higher that you lose a key player that definitely inhibits your chances in the playoffs, but the reward is that you're team is potentially less rusty going into the playoffs and more likely to hit the ground running coming out of the bye.
Look, there is no definitive answer. But I can't help but notice the number of top offenses that come out flat when they play in the 2nd round of the playoffs against teams that have often been going full bore for multiple weeks, and I think there is a correlation there. Maybe it's small.
I think the best solution is incentivizing things. I think Mike Smith tells the guys that in order to get your rest, he needs to see 2 or 3 quarters of excellent football this week. If he sees that, then guys will get their welcome rest. Maybe a couple of guys you deactivate that would have been playing this week at 85-90%. Hopefully that incentive works, the Falcons come out and play excellent football in the 1st half, build a big lead, and you pull them in the 2nd half, and you get both. But if not, I think you have to be a bit flexible. I don't think you head into this final game thinking, "I'm going to pull them in the 2nd half no matter what."
That IMO is not good leadership. http://www.nationalfootballpost.com/NFP ... -3645.html
NFP Sunday Blitz
by Dan Pompei
What to do when home field is clinched; Executive of the Year race; notes on Wayne, Gates and more.
December 23, 2012, 06:00 AM EST
So your team has clinched its playoff position but still must play a meaningless regular season game. How should the head coach approach it?
It’s a question for which there is no definitive answer. Different teams have had different results with different approaches. Sometimes, approaches might even change from year to year.
Mike Smith of the Falcons will be wrestling with this issue next week, as his team clinched home field throughout the playoff Saturday night. Indications are he plans on resting his key players in the team's regular season finale against the Bucs. Gary Kubiak of the Texans also could be in the same position based on what happens Sunday.
Old school NFL wisdom says rest your starters when possible. Hall of fame coach Marv Levy was a front man for this philosophy when the Bills were on their great run in the late ‘80s and early ‘90s. And it worked well for him.
LevyMarv Levy didn't make it to the Hall of Fame by making dumb decisions.
His philosophy was to treat that meaningless regular season game almost like a bye week. “It helps them revitalize, and there is a thought of protecting them from injuries,” Levy said. “I like to give them some work, but it varies for each player. It also gives you a chance to look at other players and get them some chances.”
Dick Vermeil, who could join Levy in the hall of fame one day, played it similarly during his career with the Eagles, Rams and Chiefs. When his teams had home field clinched, he viewed the last game of the regular season—and the practice week that preceded it--as a time to start preparing for the playoffs.
He thought that gave his teams an edge, but his primary motivator was avoiding a potentially catastrophic injury. “I feel the healthy players you have are the reason you have the opportunity to proceed,” he said. “If you get one of them hurt in a game that is not important to win in regard to status in the playoffs, you are hurting the team.”
Packers coach Mike McCarthy was of similar mind. At least until last year, that is.
His Packers had wrapped up home field advantage early in 2011, and in the meaningless regular season finale against the Lions he decided to rest Aaron Rodgers, Clay Matthews, Charles Woodson, Greg Jennings, Randall Cobb and others. The Packers surrendered 502 passing yards but won a wild game, 45-41. Then two weeks later they were upset by the Giants 37-20 in their first playoff game.
“I don’t think the last game particularly helped the confidence of the defense,” McCarthy told me. “That was something we probably didn’t want to admit to. We sat some guys and it was a damn seven on seven drill. I’ve never seen so much offense in my life, both sides of the ball.”
McCarthy won’t say resting his stars was a mistake. But he also won’t say he would do it the same way again. It would depend on the situation.
“To me the best team is a healthy team for the playoffs,” he said. “The decision would be based on what you do the last two weeks. That’s one of the times I talk with [general manager] Ted [Thompson]. It’s good to hear his perspective. He’s more cautious by nature than I am. We were a little on the fence—do you play them or not? At the time, I felt us being fresh would have been more important.”
Football teams get better by playing games. So the risk of stagnating, or losing momentum, is what drives coaches like Bill Belichick to keep fighting even through meaningless games. Levy said he never felt any of his Bills teams lost momentum by taking their foot off the gas late in the year.
“We happened to have a great group of people and leaders who understood what we were doing and why, and we explained it very well to them,” he said.
Resting starters in these situations is always the right decision—until your team gets knocked off in the playoffs.