I had a dream last night that the 49ers beat the Eagles 59-0. In the dream, as the team lined up for its first offensive play of the game, one by one little light bulbs popped up over the helmets of each player until all eleven of them had a twinkler atop their noggins. The last one to pop up and glow was the one over Alex Smith’s head. When it flashed on, David Baas hiked the ball and the rout was on.
Mike Sando of ESPN’s NFC West blog noted yesterday that the Niners had the youngest offense in the NFL. Indeed, with Eric Heitmann out and Moran Norris off the field, every single player has been in the league five years or less, and all of them were drafted by the team. That’s pretty amazing.
While this augurs well for the future, it also explains a lot about the present. None of these guys has ever been on a winning NFL team. Their only taste of success came in college — a distant memory by now. Some day, my light bulb dream is going to happen for these fellows. It would be nice if it happened NOW. This week. But if not, it adds another precious dimension to the weekly matter of rooting for the team. Is this going to be The Light Bulb Game?
The defense is another oyster altogether. Four of the eleven are FA imports and getting into the 30+ years of their NFL lives. Each of the four, Abrayo Franklin, Justin Smith, Takeo Spikes, and Nate Clements has also never been on a winning NFL team. Although Franklin’s former team was a winner, he was a young 4th stringer with little, if any, playing time. Two players, Shawntae Spencer and Isaac Sopoagna have been around longer than five years, but none of those years featured a winning product. So, nobody on the defense has ever been on a winning NFL team, either.
Twenty-two guys, and none of them have any experience about what winning in the NFL is all about. What it even FEELS like. I dare say, no other team in the league can claim this dubious distinction.
And as Jack Benny would say, “Wellllll …., noooo wonder!”
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What went wrong?
This is the Atlanta TD play. They’ve bunched three receivers on the right, split another on the left and put a RB in the backfield with Ryan in the shotgun. I’ve indicated the approximate routes these receivers will take. We’re in a nickel D with our pressure guys on the line. Clements is up on the LOS to jam Gonzalez.
In the second screen shot Spikes will cover Roddy White and it appears to me that Brown and Mays see only White and Gonzalez and pay no attention to Douglas(83) as he heads for the corner. (arrows)
In the following shots it looks to me like Brown started his break on the ball too late to get in front of Douglas and defend the stripe. Clements will get behind Gonzalez and break for Douglas when he reaches the 3 yard line but too late.
It appears in the final screen shot that Brown is actually working to shield Douglas from Clements as he cuts Clements off and whiffs on his attempt to push Douglas out. I’m sure it didn’t happen that way. Right?