Ox Posted November 13, 2008 Report Share Posted November 13, 2008 Fourth-and-season? Go for itBy Paul Daugherty • firstname.lastname@example.org • November 11, 2008Desperate times require desperate measures, don’t they? When you’re 1-8 with an underperforming, 32nd-ranked offense that’s averaging just under 14 points a game, that defines desperate, and the Cincinnati Bengals.I have the cure.It’s simple. It’s also revolutionary, which is why Bengals offensive coordinator Bob Bratkowski chuckled Monday when he heard it. The NFL doesn’t do revolutionary. In some precincts, it needs to start. Such as Cincinnati.Go for it on fourth down. Every time.No, check that. Every time you start a possession at your 30-yard line or better.Make every four downs four-down territory. This is nuts when you are 9-0, or 5-4 and still competing for postseason face time. It makes absolute sense when you are 1-8 and couldn’t find the postseason with Mapquest and a Sherpa guide.What do you have to lose? Another game?The Bengals are a good team to ask this, because at 1-8, their season isn’t exactly riding on the next seven weeks.“It has the potential for disaster,” Bratkowski said. “It has upside, but the upside isn’t worth the downside.”Upside, downside, who cares? You’re scoring 14 a game doing it by the book. Your fans fill the postgame talk-fests with complaints of predictability. Three years ago, your offense was a bomb in your hand. Now, it just bombs. And you worry about downside?“It would put a great amount of stress on your defense. It could put you at risk, to where it would look really ugly. You could get embarrassed,” Bratkowski allowed.Embarrassed? The Bengals?Common sense says you have a better chance making 10 yards with four tries than with three. Further common sense says giving an offensive coordinator four downs instead of three is like giving Dr. Jekyll another beaker. Further-est common sense says the head of the opposing defensive coordinator would be spinning like Dale Jr.’s tires on Turn 3 at Daytona.Set a few loose parameters, dependent on the situation in the game. Don’t use the Four Down Law when you begin inside your 30. Don’t use it when you’re up 21 with five minutes to play. Football coaches love to make their game sound like Black Hole theory. It isn’t.If you know you have four downs to earn four more, your playbook expands.Second-and-10? Not necessarily a passing down. Third-and-1? Throw it. Think of the mind-mess it would do on defensive coaches. They make their living watching more DVDs than Roger Ebert. They thrive on “tendencies”: Here’s what Cincinnati likes to run on 3rd-and-8. What if 3rd-and-8 suddenly became 2nd-and-8?“It would make a big difference,” Bratkowski acknowledged. “On second-and-long, you can think of running, making a short throw or taking a shot at the end zone. Even on third down, it opens up twice as many options.”So … good idea? Am I the new Bill Walsh, or what?“Well, I don’t think you’re nuts,” Bratkowski said. “There would be some defensive coaches who think you’re nuts.”What if it worked? You couldn’t find a wagon big enough to fit the NFL band. We’d all hail the “courage” of Bengals coach Marvin Lewis. Bob Bratkowski wouldn’t be an offensive coordinator with his job on the line. He would be a “pioneer.” Any coach can go 3-13. Might as well get there in a Lamborghini, even if it doesn’t have brakes or a steering wheel.They do it at Texas Tech, where the coach, Mike Leach, has his team on a path for the national championship. Leach isn’t crazy; he’s “innovative.” By mid-October, the Red Raiders had gone for it 13 times on fourth down, and made eight. Four of those attempts were from their 30 or inside their 30. Tech averages 48 points a game. Of course, they don’t play a great opponent every week, and Leach’s players can compensate for Leach’s mad-scientist urges.But, again, the Bengals are 1-8. They boarded the Last Train to Nowhere weeks ago. What else do you have going on? Let ‘er rip.“You’re playing against the odds,” Bratkowski decided.What odds? It has never been done.You can finish 4-12 with style and innovation, offense blazing. Or you can punt on fourth down. It’s not a difficult choice.http://news.cincinnati.com/article/20081111/COL03/311110042 Quote Link to comment Share on other sites More sharing options...
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