Trevor Lawrence had quite a day on Sunday. Image: Getty Images
Remember that goofy cheer from high school, “Be aggressive, be aggressive?” In soccer, that only applies to the players. Please defensive end, Bull Rush right through the heart of the offensive tackle. But the rules are different for coaches.
For so long, coaches have always played it safe, and often it doesn’t improve the odds of winning. Instead, it simply lengthens the game or keeps a team competitive for a longer period of time. It makes perfect sense to bet two if you score a touchdown in the fourth quarter while you’re 14 points behind. It takes 15 points to win, so get there early and get a clearer idea of how many possessions you need to win.
What the Jacksonville Jaguars and Los Angeles Chargers did yesterday didn’t actually hurt or harm their chances of winning. Both teams scored touchdowns with less than 20 seconds remaining in control time. A successful extra point would likely have sent both games into overtime, but instead the Jaguars and Chargers opted for a 2-point conversion to take the lead. ESPN sports analysis writer Seth Walder tweeted this neither decision presented as more of an advantage.
Doug Pederson and Brandon Staley decided to try everything in one game. Both went for the game-winning two-point conversion and, unlike Tom Osbourne in the 1985 Orange Bowl, the move paid off.
Admit it, you’ve been waiting to pounce on Brandon Staley
He takes the most arrows for his aggressive decisions. The main reason for this? If he falls short, an argument can be made that the Chargers would have won more games last season had he played more conservatively.
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Certainly his critics had their slurs back when the Chargers lined up for that two-point conversion attempt. The Chargers desperately needed a win to stay in a good position in the AFC playoff race, as the New York Jets and Cincinnati Bengals both won early in the games. The New England Patriots lost on Thanksgiving, which knocked them out of the last playoff spot but not behind the Chargers.
If the Chargers had dropped to .500, it would be very unlikely that they would be able to climb to a wildcard spot. Of course, when Justin Herbert led them across the field, the easy choice would have been to kick the field goal and go into overtime.
But Brandon Staley has told us over the summer that he will keep his foot on the accelerator this season. They lined up for do-or-die play, and Herbert dropped a quick pass straight into Gerald Everett’s arms. Bow to Brandon Staley.
Good for Trevor
There was no big question as to who would be the first quarterback selected in the 2021 NFL Draft. Trevor Lawrence was the top player in his class after becoming Clemson’s starting quarterback his freshman year and was as good as advertised.
He was then drafted in by Urban Meyer, who somehow managed to become even more unpopular than he already was in less than a season as NFL head coach. Last season was a disaster and probably set Lawrence back in his early development
Lawrence has continued to struggle this season, but he looked like he was wearing Clemson Orange on Sunday. He was 29-to-37 for 321 yards and three touchdowns against a strong Ravens defense. Then, after Ravens QB Lamar Jackson fielded the Ravens for a touchdown late in the fourth quarter, Lawrence marched with his squad in a beautifully executed two-minute practice. Then, with Jackson and Justin Tucker waiting on the sidelines, Pederson decided that overtime wasn’t the way to go. They opted for the 2-point conversion and were successful with a Lawrence pass to Zay Jones.
If the Ravens were a little snappier on their last drive, Tucker might try a 60-yard field goal for the win instead of a 67 — which I swear he pulled off the first time I saw the ball take off . But Lawrence did his part, and maybe this is the game that puts him back on the path of the stars.