I've been in the minority on some things I think coaches and players do in each and every game that is just plain stupid. I am willing to admit that there may be something about these things that I don't understand, but I haven't yet been convinced by anyone.
This year there is a new dumbness spreading throughout the league: Running kickoffs out of the end zone.
More after the break...My number one dumbest play, and has been for years, is punting from inside the other team's 40 yard line on fourth and short.
If you do something as a coach, at any time during a game, that pleases the other side, you have made a mistake. It really is that simple. The question for all coaching decisions comes down to doing the opposite of what the other side wants you to do. Thinking this way really simplifies the game. Example - The prevent defense. I love it when the other team stops doing what caused my team to be behind in the first place. But I digress.
Aren't you relieved, as a fan, when a team punts instead of going for it on fourth and 2 when you feel lucky to have stopped them in the first place? I have heard the "pin them deep" explanation a million times. A - it almost never works. If they get the ball on the twenty, you have saved your defense less than twenty yards in exchange for a scoring opportunity. Yikes. B - One pass and the opponent now has the ball where they would have it if you fail to convert anyway. The object of the game is to score, which is something you can't do very well if you don't have the ball. Always opt for putting pressure on the other team. The conversion rate on fourth and short is good enough to risk considering the reward is at the very least demoralizing the opponent, and at best, seven points and more clock control. When the other teams punts, I could CARE LESS if they "pin us deep." I've got the friggin ball and you didn't score on me!
Now for the newest dumb play. I say, unless severe circumstances dictate otherwise, that a player should never run a kickoff out of the end zone. This is pure math. Take the average kickoff return yardage, but subtract the average number of penalty yards, and you'd be better off at the twenty. Consider that you may also fumble, and I would gladly let my offense start at the twenty every time. I have seen so many games decided by this stupid play, it is just killing me. Guy runs it out, gets tackled at the twelve, and oops - Holding penalty. Drive killed by conservative coach, other team fired up. Or worse, the dreaded fumble. Yes, a game can turn on a good return, but this is far more rare than the negative consequences. The only exception is when a good return is REQUIRED due to game circumstances, like being behind late in a game. But if you have the lead, TAKE A KNEE!!!! Am I the only one?
Also happening around the league is the consistently epic failure of punt return men. Fair catches inside the ten. Letting balls bounce at the fifteen. This is how simple it is: Stand at the ten yard line, and if you have to move forward, catch the ball. If it is over your head, let it go. Are you, or are you not, as a millionaire, one of the best athletes in the world, capable of understanding this? It just boggles my mind. Dumb football is far too common at the pro level. I can understand when a player makes an aggressive mistake, up to a point. But when coaches do the same stupid things over and over, I think it is unforgivable. Stop playing into the hands of the opponents!