Browns Diary, Week 8: The Joy of Second-Guessing
Seahawks 24, Browns 20
This ongoing book tour has been such an incredible ride … but I have to say that Wednesday night’s event in Nashville is going to be something really special. If you’re anywhere nearby, I would love to see you there, as I’ll be joined by the incredible Marty Stuart, who will be bringing his guitar and improvising some baseball tunes. And Negro Leagues Museum president Bob Kendrick will also be there, and we’ll tell some Buck O’Neil stories, no doubt about it. We’ll also talk a bit about Nashville’s chances to get an MLB expansion team. It’s going to be absolutely amazing, and I hope you can make it.
Let us talk for a minute about the joy — if joy is indeed the word — of football second-guessing.
I’ve been thinking a lot about this lately as I write my book Why We Love Football — we must, in some twisted way, love to second-guess football decisions. It occurs to me that if we didn’t secretly love it, we wouldn’t keep coming back to it, right? Every single week, particularly when our team loses, we second-guess the coaches, we second-guess the officials, we second-guess the players, we second-guess the announcers for word choices, we second-guess ourselves for fantasy football lineup blunders, we second-guess our decision to eat that many wings …
Second-guessing doesn’t exactly feel good, not in any obvious way, anyway. Second-guessing generally builds around rage and regret and frustration and DAMMIT WHY DIDN’T HE RUN THE BALL THERE? DOES HE HAVE ANY IDEA WHAT HE’S DOING? THEY PROBABLY WOULD HAVE WON IF HE HAD RUN THE BALL ONLY HE DIDN’T RUN THE BALL AND WHY DIDN’T HE RUN THE BALL AND #%@^@%!
What feels good about that?
Something must. Because next week, we’ll be back at it again.
The HE in the upper-case rant this week is our guy, Cleveland Browns coach Kevin Stefanski, who seemed on his way to a monumental victory over the Seattle Seahawks, the sort of watershed victory that makes fans think: “Hey, you know what? I haven’t always been a fan, but let’s give it up to our guy KevStef! The Browns had no business winning in Seattle with a 28-year-old XFL quarterback named P.J. Walker at the helm. That’s one heck of a coaching job.
That was the feeling when the Browns led Seattle 20-17 with 2:50 left, as Pierre Strong blasted off left tackle for five yards, setting the Browns up with third and 3 at their own 41-yard line. The clock ran. This was a wonderfully surprising game-grabbing drive — the Browns had started at their own 11, and they had moved it 30 yards, and they had knocked nearly four minutes off the clock, and they had done it entirely on the ground. Well, they did try a pass on third-and-three earlier in the drive, and that pass was typically incomplete (Walker completed one pass in the fourth quarter) but the officials bailed out the Browns by calling a defensive penalty on the Seahawks.
The clock ran all the way down to 2:04 remaining when KevStef called timeout to briefly go over this next big play.
Now, obviously, I don’t know what goes on in such discussions. I imagine there was no need to go over the stakes: If the Browns got a first down, that would not entirely lock up the game — the Seahawks still had two timeouts and so could conceivably get a desperation chance with a minute or so left — but it would mostly lock up the game.
So instead, I would hope that the discussion was more big-picture.
And, to me, anyway, the big picture comes down to this:
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