The first week of the 2010 NFL season is in the books. Underdogs had quite a lift off. The Chiefs beat the Chargers, Texans over Colts, Redskins over Dallas. All these 2009 bottom dwellers were playing at home, although the Texans were not exactly bad last year, and all beat the division favorite team. The Rams came within an eyelash of beating the Cardinals.
So, the 49ers had some company in the egg laying department. Unless 2012 has come earlier than expected, these aberrations will soon be corrected and the bad teams will soon return to stinking it up, while the good teams return to winning football.
Do the 49ers belong in that group of “good” teams, though? They laid by far the biggest egg of the weekend, scoring the fewest points of any team in the league, and being the least competitive of any of the surprise losers.
The 2007 49ers season began with fans talking about a return to the playoffs. Much like this year, but with a bit more wishful thinking than solid expectations. It was Mike Nolan’s third year as HC, just as it is Mike Singletary’s third year now. Nolan relied on his defense to overcome an inept offense, but that defense eventually lost heart and could not save the day. Need I point out that Singletary follows the same formula?
The 2007 team started off 2-1, but did it despite an almost unwatchably poor offense, featuring one three and out after another. Then injuries to Alex Smith and Manny Lawson exposed the team’s woeful depth chart, and the season quickly disintegrated, leading to an implosion of player and fan confidence that ultimately cost Nolan his job.
This 2010 team now faces the very real possibility of duplicating that team wide 2007 melt down. It has the same ominous feel to it. Fans in the Bay Area are getting far too expert in recognizing this stench. And the aroma is in the air.
Singletary berated Smith and Michael Crabtree in the locker room immediately after the game. Smith contradicted his mechanical failure explanations of the late play calls, laying the blame on Jimmy Raye. Raye then gave a shot to Smith for not using available emergency plays. Excuses were trotted out that have become lame and tiresome. The “we’ll get it fixed” lament has become as irritating as fingernails on a blackboard. Singletary is beginning to lose credibility, just like Nolan did as the promises stayed right there in the promising arena and never became reality.
Excuse me for a moment, I have to go throw up.
Okay. Better now. The blogosphere went berserk on Monday. It was difficult to tell who was getting the most venom among Singletary, Smith, and Raye. Singletary said the team was contemplating moving Raye from the booth to the sideline, eliminating Mike Johnson as the middle man in relaying the play calls to Smith on the field. Also contemplated, a wrist band for Smith with the plays numbered so Raye would only have to call out a number rather than a ten word phrase. Did these problems not occur during the pre-season games? Why weren’t they fixed then?
What is obvious, yet unstated, about this contemplated change is that Raye and/or Johnson were not properly performing their duties. Singletary insists Raye will continue to be the play caller, much like Nolan insisted Jeff Hostler would continue to be the play caller in 2007. What’s unsettling is that the question is being asked of Singletary openly. That means everyone in the world can see there’s a problem with the play calling. Subtle insider coachspeak explanations no longer suffice to dilute the criticism. It’s definitely gotten to the “Even my wife/ten year old kid can see there’s a problem” time.
Singletary has been generally quick to pull non-performing players, but it is doubtful he will do that with Raye. His regime has now reached the stage of sink or swim with the guy he hired fresh out of the box in 2009, and his tenure as the 49er HC hangs in the balance. This offense should be potent. It is not.
This is an angry fan base right now. The wolves are at the door. Will the players continue to buy into what Singletary is selling? The next few weeks will give us that answer.