Peter Stevens '70C, '73L is never one to hide behind the "anonymous" moniker when it comes to making comments about this Lions team we all love.
Here's his important analysis of where we are right now:
Roar Lions Roar Multiple choice question:
We lost Fordham game because of:
A-Wilson's offensive system;
B-Wilson's offensive play calling;
C-Wilson's decision to throw sideline pass on 4th and goal from 3yd line;
D-All of the above,
D is the correct answer.
As for A, the offense against Fordham was exactly the same offense we used last year. (1)Try to run up the middle, and when that fails, continue to try to run up the middle-- so we are always facing 2nd and long. And bear in mind that we do not have a power back who can get these tough yards inside so the folly of this is even more ridiculous.
2) Force Brackett to be drop back pocket passer. This is exactly what Norries did last year in 1st half against Fordham and reason we lost that game. By employing this scheme, he is taking away from Brackett's strengths--mobility, running ability, speed, and knack of evading the pass rush. Plus, he's shown he can throw well on the run. It is a rule of thumb in football circles that when you have a good running mobile QB who can also throw that it is incumbent on the defense to keep him in the pocket and make him beat you throwing the ball from there. Moreover, without a running game to keep the defense honest, Brackett as a drop back pocket, passer was continually under pressure to get rid of ball.
Wilson has also remained in love with the sideline pass--even after we had great success throwing over the middle in the first half. Why we abandoned this I don't know. I don't think we did so because of Fordham's making adjustments at halftime. And as we also know and painfully experienced-- throwing sideline passes poses great risks, especially down by the goal line .(See C below)
And the option remains part of our offense too. Why I don't know. First and foremost, precision is required to run the option. And this precision comes from repetition. You can only achieve this precision if the option is a main stay of your offense.It's hard to use it occasionally. The option is also high risk as there is a good chance of fumbling. Finally, the option is a good way to get your QB hurt--something we cannot afford to do. Despite all this, we run the option.
For our offense to succeed, especially if we don't get Gerst back-and it painfully clear that Garrett is no Gerst , is to maximize Brackett's talents--throwing on the move (whether via sprint-out or moving pocket). This will also give him the option of running if he can't find receiver and help him to avoid sacks. Also, we have to do more play action, screens and draws to keep blitzing defenses from getting to Garrett. (Look how nicely, Fordham was able to evade our blitzes by throwing short passes and screens. Their 61 yd TD came on such a play.)
As for B, it looks like each and every play Wilson runs is independent of the play before it and after it. I see no sequencing or set-ups in an effort to either keep the defense off balance or flat out fool them.
As for C, enough has been said about his call on 4th and goal at Fordham 3 yd line. Up until that point, we hadn't been able to run. Plus, Brackett was missing badly, especially throwing to sidelines from the pocket--his earlier TD pass was almost picked off. Why Wilson didn't put Brackett on the move and give him chance to run or throw it in is beyond me. The dangers of keeping Brackett in the pocket and throwing a sideline pass--esp. at goal line-- was fully realized and cost us the game.
I have come to the sad conclusion that we will continue to lose close and winnable games because of the offensive play calling. BTW, I don't want to hear that it's the offensive coordinator's fault. Wilson is responsible. And didn't he come to us as an offensive coordinator?
The only joy last Saturday afternoon was watching the defense. What a contrast from last year when we sat back in our vanilla 4-3 and never blitzed. Our guys were blitzing all over the place. Sure this can be risky, but on balance it's going to help us a lot.
On a related note, it's nice that very few guys leave the team under Wilson. but it's painfully clear that Wilson's recruiting, esp. at skill positions is inept. We have no depth at QB, no depth at RB, only 1 quality WR, and no tight end. And what happened to Childress? If he's hurt, that's one thing, but if he can't break into lineup that's quite another.
In sum, Wilson has more than demonstrated his inability to be a successful head coach. This team has the talent to post a winning season, but based upon Wilson's lack of improvement as a head coach, I think we'll be hard pressed to do so.
If I am wrong in my assessment of Wilson and we go on to post a winning season, I will be one of the happiest old Lions alive, apologize to all concerned and keep my big mouth shut gong forward.
Peter Stevens ‘70C ‘73L