I was listening to FoPP’er (Friend of PatsPropaganda) Jerry Thornton’s appearance/flash guy audition on Dennis and Callahan this morning and the good old boys decided to ambush my fellow Hoodie Head by rehashing the whole “Gronk shouldn’t be on special teams, Welker shouldn’t be returning punts, they’re too valuable” argument. I wanted to jump through my internet radio feed listening to it, as I usually do when listening to D & C try to wax poetic on football strategery.
So here’s my two cents, because as a card carrying Belichickian with a forum to express my opinion I’ve been too silent on this issue.
Really, before Gronk who was the last Patriot to get injured doing something the sports pundits deemed him too valuable for? Who was the last guy to get injured on the extra point team? Or even returning a punt for that matter?
It’s never that cut and dry or simple, and this stupid argument has gone on far too long. Almost as long as the running up the score one but that’s another post for another day.
Look at 2009. The Pats were ready to sit Welker in the finale against the Texans after a couple series, knowing he was too valuable. What happens? First possession he blows out his ACL making a simple cut that he’s made a thousand times (albeit on some shoddy sod).
Or how about 2008 when Brady didn’t take a single snap in preseason? Well that makes sense, right? He’s too valuable to get hurt in preseason. Then he goes out in the first game, looks like his timing is off and ends up getting his season ended after holding the ball far too long and stepping right up into Bernard Pollard’s oncoming low blow.
The point is that if you want to be a successful coach you don’t do it from a perspective of considering which players are more important than others or which situations are more dangerous than others.
You play your best players where they’re best because that’s what makes you the best team.
You cannot coach and prepare your team with “not getting people injured” as impetus, not only because it’s a waste of time, but because of the message it sends your team as well.
“Player A is too important to do this, but hey shitty Player B you should be a fine stop gap in there and if you get hurt it won’t matter. You might fumble the ball or miss a block and totally screw us, but hey, at least our important guys will stay healthy.”
That’s not how you coach to win week in and week out.
And there’s no closing that Pandora’s Box once you open it. Devin McCourty’s our best defensive back, should he really be playing kick off coverage? And forget about the extra point team, what was Gronk doing on the kick off return team where he basically gets in a car crash every play?
While we’re at it should Mike Vrabel have really been playing offense? He was one of our best pass rushers. Or what about Troy Brown playing defense? I know we need him but defensive backs get hurt far more frequently than wide receivers.
You could make a case for any number of starters who shouldn’t be playing special teams, or in roles outside their normal positions, or in games that are already decided or have no meaning.
Injuries are the worst part of sports, but there’s no way to predict or avoid them. You’ve got to try to make your team the best it can be at every spot and if guys get hurt doing something that might not be their forte so be it.
At least they got hurt doing everything they could to help the team win, and that’s what this is all about.
And I really hope Jerry gets the flash job now so he can continue to be the voice of genius football coaching on D & C. They need someone there to enlighten them on a permanent basis.