Friday, August 30, 2013

Seriously, Ron

Last night the Steelers played the Carolina Panthers in a preseason* game. Thousands of people in Charlotte paid scores of dollars apiece in order to see their teams' stars dress up like football players and cheer for their teams' scrubs and flotsam.

In the middle of the second quarter, Carolina quarterback / crisp, delicious pickle Jimmy Clausen drove the Panthers down to the Steelers' 1 yard line.  On 2nd down, the Panthers sent running back / baking soda Armond Smith over the top, and the Steelers defense stopped him just short of the goal line.

Panthers head coach / inscrutable guru Ron Rivera decided, at this point, to throw a challenge flag.


Why, Ron? Why would you do that?

Touchdowns in a preseason game are meaningless.  You play preseason games to assess your players.

If you didn't score, you now have two more offensive plays with which to assess your goal-line offense.  Isn't that worth more than six points in a preseason** game?

(Spoiler alert: It is in fact worth more than six points in a preseason game. )

Seen from this perspective, Rivera's decision to kick the field goal two plays later, on fourth-and-3, is maddening. Make another try. We're all pretty sure that the Panthers special teams can hit the trey from inside the 5-yard-line. Find out what your offense can do, Ron.

Apparently too many head coaches have internalized the only thing anyone will ever remember Herm Edwards for:

That's not what the preseason is for, Ron.

* I originally wrote "meaningless preseason game" but that first adjective is kind of assumed.

** Ibid, only moreso
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