The Schein Nine  

 

Robert Griffin III, Matt Schaub headline week of gaffes and flubs

When you sit and watch football all day, you find some head-scratching moments, bad plays, poor calls, odd coaching decisions and goofy comments.

Welcome to Week 11 in the NFL, which had me more fired up than usual. Here's a collection of "can't make 'em up" moments from Sunday, Schein Nine style.

1) Trouble in Washington

The Redskins' season gets worse by the minute.

On third-and-1 from the Eagles' 18-yard line and down a score late in Sunday's game, Robert Griffin III coughed up a gruesome interception -- another bad play in a season of bad football for the quarterback and his three-win team. It was the kind of outcome that has become the new normal in this season of frustration for the second-year pro.

This game wasn't close. Washington was down 17-0 at halftime en route to an embarrassing loss in Philly. And then the postgame interviews took place.

Griffin passed the buck on blame, ripping the play-calling by saying, "They (the Eagles' defense) kind of knew what was coming before it was coming, and that was disheartening."

And there it is.

The quarterback cannot point the finger; he always must direct the thumb at his own chest. After a rookie year in which he oozed leadership, RGIII has regressed. And obviously, we haven't seen him be the same dynamic player on the field that he was in 2012.

Yes, in four seasons with Mike Shanahan as their head coach, the Redskins are 10 games under .500, a nugget that cannot be ignored. Offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan's play-calling is under scrutiny.

But media types like me -- not the face of the franchise -- should be the ones questioning the team.

We wrote the epitaph on Washington's season in September. Given RGIII's health and how it was handled -- especially in the public -- and the awful Jim Haslett-led defense, the Redskins couldn't make a return trip to the playoffs.

On Sunday, RGIII looked underwhelming again. And his postgame news conference was worse. Both facts are alarming.

2) Houston, we have many, many problems

When I penned the "Blame Gary Kubiak for leading the Texans to rock bottom" column in October, I didn't believe the team could sink any lower.

So, what's below rock bottom?

It would, in theory, be enough for Houston to lose at home against an Oakland Raiders team led by an undrafted quarterback (Matt McGloin) making his first NFL start. In theory, it is enough for a preseason Super Bowl favorite to have just two wins through Week 11 and be facing a matchup with the Jaguars that could help determine who gets the top pick in May's draft. That's hellish.

But then quarterback Matt Schaub (hey, a Matt Schaub appearance!) threw an incomplete pass in the end zone to Andre Johnson on fourth-and-7 with just over a minute left to play. The usually professional and classy teammates jawed at each other on the sideline, with Johnson eventually walking off the field before the game was done. When asked if he wanted to be in Houston after the game, Johnson said, "I'm under contract." Frustrations are bubbling to the surface in this season of underachievement.

The Texans are a mess. Big changes are coming -- they have to be, right?

3) Game over?

The minute I saw the story that Rex Ryan took the Jets to restaurant/arcade chain Dave & Buster's the night before their matchup with the Buffalo Bills, I cringed. That kind of thing can't happen. Fairly or unfairly, it blurs the line on perception versus reality when it comes to the coach and his team failing to take Buffalo seriously. It blurs the line on Rex being Rex.

Did it have anything to do with New York losing? Chances are it didn't. I picked the Bills to win because of their defense and coaching, and the fact that they had home-field advantage -- and also because the Jets, who beat the New Orleans Saints their last time out, have alternated wins and losses all season. Of course, Gang Green's day was worse than I imagined, as Geno Smith looked very shaky and irresponsible with the football. The rookie quarterback completed just 34.8 percent of his passes for 103 yards with three interceptions and one fumble lost, providing an example of why this team is tough to trust.

The Jets had a golden opportunity to take hold of the No. 6 AFC playoff seed, but they kissed it goodbye, getting destroyed 37-14. At least they got to play Whac-a-Mole the night before.

4) The Schwartz is not with you

There are bad coaching moves, and then there are wretched and unthinkable decisions that adversely affect a team's momentum and the outcome of a game.

Ladies and gentlemen, meet Jim Schwartz!

The head coach has done some goofy things since assuming control of the Detroit Lions, but Sunday's gaffe takes the cake.

In a surprisingly tight contest with the beleaguered Pittsburgh Steelers, the Lions, clinging to a four-point lead after mounting a furious comeback, were about to go up by a touchdown with 12:56 to go in the fourth quarter. It was simple, really: On fourth-and-5, you kick the field goal. Everyone would kick the field goal in that situation.

Well, everyone but Jim Schwartz, who haphazardly called for a fake on the road. It didn't make sense. It wouldn't have made sense even if it had somehow worked. The risk-reward ratio wasn't on Detroit's side. If you're the Lions, you make sure the Steelers can't do more than tie it up with a touchdown.

Of course, Pittsburgh subsequently mounted a 97-yard touchdown drive and proceeded to outscore shell-shocked Detroit 14-0 after the fake. Congrats, Schwartz. You blew it, cowboy. You blew it.

5) A puzzling penalty

Actually, Fox's cameras caught 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh using much stronger language to refer to a key flag thrown in Sunday's showdown with the Saints, and I don't blame him. The personal foul called on San Francisco linebacker Ahmad Brooks when he hit Drew Brees in the shoulder-pad/neck area was a joke.

Watch the play again. What was Brooks supposed to do? It wasn't a late hit. It wasn't helmet-to-helmet. It wasn't dirty. That's football! And that call totally changed the game.

To make a call like that in that kind of spot, it must be crystal clear. The penalty came with the Saints facing a third-and-2 at the 49ers' 35 and less than four minutes left. Instead of San Francisco taking possession (Patrick Willis had recovered the ball after Brees coughed it up on the hit), New Orleans got a fresh set of downs. Brees and Co. capitalized by marching down the field and tying the game.

On the flip side ...

6) Use your head, Kassim

After the Niners failed to answer the Saints' tying drive, they punted with 1:48 left. Returner Darren Sproles waved for a fair catch, but foolishly and inexplicably, Kassim Osgood ran into him, incurring an unfathomable 15-yard penalty against San Francisco. Brees, given the ball at his own 40, predictably took advantage of the short field, setting up the winning field goal.

Those kinds of mistakes can't happen.

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7) Dead birds

When assessing the 2013 Falcons, the first thing to discuss is how injuries -- to key pieces like Julio Jones, knocked out for the season after Week 5; Roddy White, who has been hobbled for much of the year; and Steven Jackson, who missed a four-week stretch early this season during which Atlanta fell to 2-4 -- derailed their campaign.

But this team appears to be lifeless, having put together its first four-game losing streak since Matt Ryan and Mike Smith arrived in Atlanta. And that's on the head coach.

The Falcons were destroyed by the Buccaneers of all teams, with Bobby Rainey -- who didn't even join Tampa Bay until the end of last month -- gashing Atlanta for 163 yards on the ground. Sunday's result -- a 41-28 Bucs win -- wasn't remotely as close as the final score might indicate, with 15 of the Falcons' points coming in fourth-quarter garbage time.

Mike Smith called it unacceptable, and I agree. Atlanta's coach shouldn't be absolved of blame for this two-win disaster.

8) Off the Marc

I love Bears coach Marc Trestman, but what exactly was he thinking at the end of regulation against the Baltimore Ravens?

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NFL Replay
will re-air the Chicago Bears' 23-20 win over the Baltimore Ravens from Week 11 on Tuesday, Nov. 19 at 2 p.m. ET.

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In stupefying fashion, Trestman failed to use his timeouts, letting Baltimore eat up the clock before Ravens kicker Justin Tucker tied the game on a field goal with three seconds left. Trestman could've called a couple of timeouts to try to get the ball back -- after all, you can't keep them after the final whistle blows, and you can't bring them with you into overtime.

Luckily for Trestman, Chicago secured a needed and huge win behind a Robbie Gould kick in the extra period.

9) Mistakes cost Kansas City

So much for my call that the Chiefs would beat the Broncos ...

Battista: Just not good enough
The Chiefs' defense deserves respect, but their offense just can't keep up with the Broncos, writes Judy Battista. READ

Credit Denver's offensive tackles for having a really strong outing, preventing Kansas City, which entered the Sunday night matchup with the most sacks in the NFL, from reaching Peyton Manning. The game was competitive, and nearly every possession felt meaningful.

But things like dropping passes and committing a crucial turnover in the first quarter will come back to bite you against Manning and his explosive aerial attack.

The Chiefs hung tough and proved they belong, but they cannot make costly errors like that.

Follow Adam Schein on Twitter @AdamSchein.

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