For lack of a better word, the offense was useless. The defense rushed from the outside in an effort to contain Troy Smith from rolling out, where he'd done most of his damage the past two games. In theory, taking at least two, maybe three guys to the edges of the field would suggest the middle would be easier to run through since less defenders would be there. Add in the fact that the Bucs had one of the leagues worst rushing defense and Frank Gore should have been in for a big day. Instead, he gained just 23 lousy yards. The passing offense was just as miserable, and Smith found himself sacked six times (almost doubling Tampa's total number of sacks as a team before the game - sigh).
The most disconcerting thing to me was something I've seen throughout this entire season:
It should be embarrassing to call a timeout on the first play of a period. A team should go weeks, months even without a delay of game penalty. These things happen all the time. The team is often openly confused, arguing on the sideline with each other or officials. The team talks as if it's a strong defense, power running team but has a woefully inconsistent offensive line, prone to drive-killing false starts and holding penalties, and the defense has barely stopped anyone.
After the game, Coach Singletary gave a press conference where he answered more than half of the questions with some variant of, "I have to watch the film" before being able to answer why things went so pear-shaped. But after looking at the film, he said that part of the problem was that Tampa Bay simply took some things away from them.
He needed the film to tell him that? It was obvious while it was happening, and even I'm not cynical enough to believe Singletary and his staff didn't recognize it immediately. Of course they did. But, what I do think is that this team simply isn't built to adapt during a game - if their game plan happens to work, as it largely has done a few times this season (New Orleans, Atlanta, Oakland and St. Louis were games where the offense largely 'worked' to various degrees - the team managed to lose two of these, though it won in Denver by just not being as bad as the Broncos were.) But if it doesn't, it's helpless. I expected the offensive line to be inconsistent - starting two rookies will do that - but veterans like Joe Staley were making penalties week after week. That's coaching.
All of that - the lack of a flexible game plan, the lack of team discipline led by a head coach who does little but preach exactly that, the inability to harness talent on both sides of the ball ... this all falls on Coach Singletary, and those that put him into the position in the first place.
|A Vision of Faith -- AND bad coaching!|
It's fairly clear Singletary does not have that. At all. Instead? He believes in himself, in what I call the "Power of Singletary." Singletary is utterly convinced that he's a great coach, saying he "was born to do this," and seems genuinely put off by the fact that the media doesn't simply agree with this assessment. When the team got off to a rough start, losing game after game, Singletary would often say, "I just believe we're going to turn this around" and quotes of that nature. While one can read too much into quotes like this, it reflects mostly that he's unprepared; he's staunch in his belief that some good will happen, but desperately short of the how it's going to be corrected. And week after week, results reflect just that.Coach, we all want winners - and as a player, as a man, you are certainly the very definition of that. But as a head coach? Not even close. You've lost the fans, you've lost the media (both by your performance and attitude) and it's impossible to believe that you haven't lost your team. When you had them, it's true that you probably coaxed more out of them than others would have, and you've definitely helped mold Davis into the player he is and can be.
|It's true, THIS franchise really won all of these.|
Guys like Wade Phillips and Brad Childress have been justifiably fired for poor coaching - and yet each of them can coach circles around Singletary.
I've always mocked guys like Herm Edwards, Mike Nolan and Mike Tice for being all talk - great at a press conference but useless as a coach - and Singletary has redefined that level of futility.
The organization is almost assuredly going to relieve Singletary at the end of this season, but more importantly, they need to understand why Singletary is a failure. They need experience, an offensive philosophy and plan, and someone who can bring a good team with him. It's a pipe dream to think they'll lure Jon Gruden, who in most ways would be the ideal hire (youth, experience, offensive mind and connection to the franchise) - but if he even wants to come back to coaching, he'll likely have a few other choices. (Sure, Jason Garrett is doing wonders in Dallas, but if Jerry Jones could get Gruden? See ya, Red.) Any coach worth his salt (and that includes other wishlist guys like Jim Harbaugh and Brian Billick would insist on more control, and would love to be in a professional organization. That is the very definition of this franchise used to be and simply isn't any more.
It's painful to see a team that has struggled for so long need to wipe the slate clean yet again, and start over to some degree. But a good coach, with a strong coaching staff, has plenty to work with. (Though, again, not at quarterback - for if this season has proven anything, it's that for whatever the reason, Alex Smith is simply not going to be the 49ers quarterback of the present or future. Looking around the league at guys like Aaron Rodgers, Matt Ryan, Joe Flacco, Sam Bradford and Matthew Stafford, among other QBs taken since Smith was drafted, makes me pretty queasy, to say the least.)