The Trent Richardson Play Is Why I Hate Talking About Football In Public

I hate talking about football in public.

There is literally nothing worse.

Every armchair quarterback who won a Super Bowl on Madden loves to talk about the play they would’ve called in any given situation, why the Colts should’ve held onto Peyton Manning for another three years, and why, if they were defensive coordinator, they would blitz everybody all the time.

Matt Brophy likes to call it the Buffalo Wild Wings demographic, also known as the reason Matt Millen is still allowed to call football games.

If you’re someone who has either coached or studied the game extensively, you know how painful it can be to be sitting at a bar on an NFL Sunday and hear some of the most idiotic coaching from the stands you can think of. It’s why I prefer the conversation on my Twitter timeline during games, because if you’re like me, you’re following a lot of smart football people.

At times, I’ve been able to profit off of the lack of football knowledge around me, winning prop bets on whether a team will go for it or punt in a certain situation, etc (I highly recommend this approach, I’ve paid for more than a few beers this way).

Outside of writing books, visiting with coaching friends, or talking to intelligent football people on Twitter, I prefer to talk about less-frustrating topics, like politics for example.

I was reminded of this kind of thing this past weekend when I saw a video being passed around on social media that involved Trent Richardson and an allegedly bonehead play. Here’s what it was:

So according to the thousands of people who shared the video, Richardson would’ve been better off automatically cutting back the play before even trying to hit the hole off-tackle where he was aiming. Forget about the fact that the video above doesn’t even show the entire tackle box, so we have no idea who is lurking on the backside waiting for Richardson to cut the ball back, let’s just slam him right away for not automatically cutting back on power. Let’s be clear about one thing: I have no issue with the fan who took the video and posted it to Twitter. Fans shouldn’t be expected to know the intricacies of the game like coaches do, and most don’t have a clue about basic strategy. As much as guys like Chris Brown and James Light have done a fantastic job explaining different football concepts online, there are still millions of fans out there who simply aren’t educated on the game, and there’s nothing wrong with that. For most of these guys, football is an escape, a way to pass the time, not something else to work at. I have no problem with that. What I have a problem with are the many “analysts” who ran with this short video clip and used it to slam a guy who had done nothing wrong. Even worse than that, I saw several coaches on Twitter doing the same thing. This is nothing but results-oriented thinking dressed up as analysis.

Here’s The Rest of the Story

As you can see from the video below, there was a Rams linebacker just sitting and waiting for Richardson to cutback into the hole that was supposedly wide open (But I’m sure if you’re the kind of person who reads sites like this, you already knew that). Here’s the wide view of the play (h/t to Emory Hunt on Twitter):

So it turns out that the masses were wrong about this play (imagine that).

Here’s a couple other things to consider…

Even assuming that giant hole in the A gap was legitimate, the fact is that cutback runs are not Richardson’s strength. Do you really want a guy like Richardson to get in the habit of freelancing like that?

Then there are the guys who prefer to run the power with the back aiming for the playside A-gap right away instead of heading off-tackle. That’s fine, and it has its merits, but that doesn’t change the fact that in this situation, Richardson was clearly told to take the ball off-tackle. You can’t criticize a guy for doing what he’s coached to do.

These are talking points that you could use in an argument with someone about this play, but I don’t recommend it.

Save yourself the headache and annoyance and take it from me: The next time you’re watching a game in a bar or with a large group of people, and someone says something ridiculous, do yourself a favor and let it go.

You’ll thank me later.

Speaking of intelligent football conversation, check out my latest book on the X’s and O’s of The Greatest Show on Turf

You can find the complete list of all my books here.