You Play To Win The Game

Ashley Fox from ESPN.com:

Greg Schiano must cut the act: The whole business of rushing a team that is in victory formation is sophomoric and amateur. It doesn’t fly in the NFL, where professionals play the game for money. These are not kids on athletic scholarships.

Schiano called for the play again Sunday at the end of Tampa Bay’s loss to Dallas. The Cowboys had won the game 16-10. All that remained was to take a knee. The Bucs rushed. And they lost.

It is understandable that Schiano is trying to establish his program and instill a never-quit attitude. But come on. Try being more effective on offense. Try getting better play out of the quarterback. Try to win the game in the first 59 minutes, not on some rah-rah Rutgers play at the end that isn’t going to work.

This is the National Football League, after all.

I know we talked about this extensively on the podcast this week, but I can’t believe people are still saying this strategy is wrong. This nonsense about “unwritten rules” and “sportsmanship” have to stop. I’ll say it again, this has nothing to do with sportsmanship and everything to do with trying to win the game.

The team taking a knee isn’t trying to be a good sport. They are trying to end the game the least risky way possible. That means taking a knee in victory formation. Anyone who asks “how would Schiano feel if they were throwing it around trying to run up the score?”, my answer would be, “he’d love it.” These teams taking a knee are protecting their players, but more importantly they are trying not to blow it. Running regular plays leaves too much opportunity for something bad to happen.

If this was just about sportsmanship why don’t teams take a knee when up three touchdowns with 6 minutes to go? Because it’s not about sportsmanship. If this is about a courtesy, why do they even have to run the plays? If the other team has no timeouts left, there is less than 1:20 to go and it’s first down, why does the winning team even have to run the play to take a knee? If this was just about waving the white flag, the game would just end, in the same way that baseball doesn’t play the bottom of the 9th if the home team is winning after the top of the 9th.

Players take a beating when they don’t play hard every play. Coaches get fired when they don’t win enough games. In this case the Bucs are opposing those two things and are getting criticized for it. It’s totally ridiculous. The fact that these are professional plays is more to my point. They are paid to play as hard as they can for the entire game.

And the next person that plays the sportsmanship card better watch an NFL game. Ridiculous dances and posturing after virtually every play doesn’t promote sportsmanship in the least. So let’s not pretend this sport is all about “good game” handshakes and picking guys up after plays.