Reggie Bush's knee injury is tough to take for the New Orleans Saints, but it has to be even tougher to deal with since Saints coach Sean Payton blew the situational coaching at the end of the half, leading to the punt return on which Bush was injured.
Here's the scenario: Panthers facing a fourth-and-4 at their own 15. The Saints have one timeout as the clock clicks to 10 seconds. So what does Payton do? He calls timeout with seven seconds.
What he should have done was allow the clock to tick to four seconds, and then call timeout. The reason is the little-known free-kick rule. If a team punts the football, and the return team calls and makes a fair catch, they can place the football at the spot of the catch and take a shot at a free kick. That can happen at any point in the game, but it's useless until the final seconds because teams look to score touchdowns. The kicker would then have the choice of a holder or a drop kick, and if it goes through the uprights it would count for three points. The opposing team has to be 10 yards off the ball, so there would be no rush.
As it turned out, Jason Baker punted 49 yards in the air, which would have made for a long try, but kickers can nail that without a rush all the time. Have you seen some of their kickoffs?
Maybe, but probably not, Panthers coach John Fox would see the Saints trying for the free kick and tell his punter to punt it out of bounds. He didn't with seven seconds left, which is another mistake, so what's to think he would have with four or two seconds?
Bush tried to return that punt and injured his left knee as he was tackled on a 7-yard return. Bush tore the meniscus and will need surgery.
To think, it didn't need to happen.
---While I'm questioning Payton, here's something else to ponder. Why was Drew Brees, arguably the first-half MVP, in the game throwing passes in the final seconds with the Panthers leading 30-7? What does that prove? Brees actually took a shot on the final play of the game as he tried to throw a touchdown pass. What if he was hit low? What if his leg got caught in the turf? What if he broke his pinkie? When will coaches learn to pull star players when the game is over?
---The NFL is so hypocritical. Matt McCoy is proof of that. Early Saturday morning, McCoy, a linebacker for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, was arrested and charged with driving under the influence, a misdemeanor. The Bucs cut him later that day.
I'm not in any way condoning what McCoy did, but how can the Bucs waive him and keep troubled player Jerramy Stevens, who has a rap sheet like scroll, on the roster? Here's how: McCoy is a stiff while Stevens is a good player.
It's that simple.
There's no way what McCoy did is worse than the laundry list of indiscretions on Stevens' resume. When Stevens was re-signed this summer, the fans revolted.
One fan reportedly came up with a Web site, called nojerramystevens.blogspot.com.
Moral of the story: If you can play, you can get in trouble and the team might look the other way. If you can't, don't be stupid enough to drive drunk.
You will be out of work soon thereafter.
Treating all players alike? What an NFL myth.
---Can we do away with the freezing of the kicker now? It doesn't work. For the past two weeks, a coach called timeout at the last second and the kicker missed the kick. Only it didn't count. They both then nailed their kicks, including Sunday in Oakland when Jets kicker Jay Feely made a 52-yard game to send the game to overtime. Oakland won the game, but new Raiders coach Tom Cable might want to re-think that idea.
---The Wildcat formation is about to go the way of the Members Only jackets, which is bye-bye. Teams have figured it out. The secret, blitz the heck out of it like the Ravens did Sunday in shutting down Miami's version. Again, why take the ball out of the quarterback's hands.
---It says Favre is a vindictive SOB. Why else would he do it?
---It says the Lions don't absorb their lessons well.
----It says the Detroit coaches are just as guilty as Favre in the wrongdoing.
The reality is it's a bunch of nothing. Do you really think there are secrets in the NFL? If the Lions coaches don't know what the Packers offense looks like after playing them the past couple of years, they should be fired on the spot.
It's like when a team cuts a player and their next opposition picks that player up. The immediate reaction is they are doing so to pump them for information.
Do they really help?
I doubt it.
---Who do you take in the office pool to go winless, the Bengals or the Lions? I'll go with the Lions. Their schedule is a lot tougher.
---Is it me or are there way too many short, quick passes being thrown to receivers still at the line of scrimmage? Down the field, boys, down the field.
---Charles Woodson showed again Sunday why he's the second-best corner in the league to Champ Bailey. He totally shut down the Indianapolis receivers in man coverage. Hawaii is calling, Charles. About time.