I have to begin this week's column by passing along my best wishes to John Fox and Gary Kubiak, who each had medical episodes this weekend that caught them by surprise. In both cases, fortunately, it seems like the symptoms manifested themselves before they could become bigger problems, and it doesn't appear that there will be long-term effects to either coach's health. Kubiak's ailment, in particular, seemed so scary; to see a coach doing his job (very well, mind you) for a half on national television and return from a commercial break to see him surrounded by doctors on the ground was surreal and terrifying. In a way, it was a relief that Kubiak's episode occurred at Reliant Stadium on game day, when he could be immediately treated by doctors and whisked away by a waiting ambulance to a hospital minutes away from the stadium. You obviously hope that nobody ever has to deal with anything like this, but were this going to happen to Kubiak, it happened in the best possible location. It's great to hear that Kubiak and Fox are in stable condition.
This was a strange week of action in the NFL, and the decision-making by coaches on Sunday was no different. One of the head coaches in the running for worst team leader in league history pulled out all the stops and ended up on the positive side of the ledger. Meanwhile, a coach with a Super Bowl ring had such a high-variance day that he finished with one each of the three best and three worst calls of the week. And then, to finish the week off on Monday night, there was a call so boldly aggressive that it might even have been too strong for my tastes, and I'm basically a freak in terms of running or passing on fourth downs. Let's get into it.
The Thank You for Not Coaching docket was pretty much all booked up by the time the 1 p.m. games were over on Sunday. Bouncers weren't letting any silly timeouts or fourth-down blunders into the column unless they had showed up for the early session. Plays that would normally be locks couldn't find a table unless they slipped somebody a 20. Pete Carroll calling for a spot challenge against the Jaguars? Nope. Mike McCoy's pair of fourth-and-1 punts inside Titans territory? Not this week. Rex Ryan's pair of spot challenges on consecutive plays? Believe it or not, we're all full up. It's a full #TYFNC slate for Week 3.
Let's start, though, with some of the better decisions from last week's action before working our way down to the three worst calls.
THE THREE NIFTIEST DECISIONS FROM WEEK 3
3. The Packers go for it on fourth-and-1 in the fourth quarter.
How can a play that quite possibly cost Green Bay the game be a good choice? Well, because you have to evaluate the decision based upon the process that went into the call without evaluating it based upon its one outcome. And, in this case, the Packers were right to attempt a fourth-and-1 conversion: They were up 30-27 with 4:01 left and had the ball on Cincinnati's 30-yard line. They had been very effective running the ball in the second half with Johnathan Franklin, in for an injured James Starks, and had a chance to possibly seal the game by not handing the football back over to the Bengals.
When the rumor was circulating on Friday morning that the Packers were going to release Charles Woodson, I got more than one text message with the same question: “HOFer?” What makes Woodson’s time in Green Bay so notable isn’t my answer to that question — it’s how emphatically I gave it. I have no doubt that Woodson will give a speech in Canton one day, but the certainty in that assessment tends to make me forget about the uncertainty that came with Woodson signing in Green Bay.