Paul's Passing Thoughts

A Lesson in Thinking for Church People Using Super Bowl 49

Posted in Uncategorized by Paul M. Dohse Sr. on February 3, 2015

I am old enough to know that standing by your personal convictions will never yield more friends. This is a solid and reliable principle that will serve you well if you live by it. This principle has even worked very well for me in the realm of Christianity which offers the most formidable test for such a notion. This is because no other people group is comprised of a larger percentage of lazy thinkers who believe reason is some sort of works salvation.

And after Super Bowl 49 ended Sunday night, things were looking a lot like church. At the end of the game, the Seattle Seahawks, who have the best running back in the NFL (Marshawn Lynch), had the ball on the Patriots’ one-yard line with 26 seconds left on the clock and one timeout. As most know by now, Pete Carroll called a short pass play that was intercepted by undrafted rookie  Malcolm Butler.

I Googled and Googled and Googled and could not find one advocate for the Carroll play call. While some stopped short of aping the consensus; i.e., “the worst play call in NFL history,” the assertion that it was actually a good call is nowhere to be found.

This always makes a thinker suspicious unless they are in church. Whatever is the consensus in church is usually wrong if not damning, so it’s really confirmation more than suspicion, but when a situation is immediately obvious to everyone in the secular realm, individual integrity should still be maintained. Often, everybody but the thinkers are doing it.

What are some basic principles of independent thinking? We have already mentioned one: stand by your convictions and let the chips fall where they may. In other words, don’t be ashamed of what you believe to be true. Majority rarely sides with truth. Secondly, evaluate the opinion/position by thinking about the words that make up what is being said. Before you agree/disagree with what’s being said, do you really understand what’s being said? Thirdly, does history support the position? This is just good old fashioned, grammatical historical interpretation that works in church or out of church.

Hence, let us consider: “One yard, and you don’t give the ball to the best running back in the league?!!” “There is doubt that the guy known as ‘beast mode’ wouldn’t gain a yard?!!” “Instead of beast mode, Carroll went least mode.”

Shockingly, this was virtually asserted by many former hall of fame players and the top sports commentators. Why is that shocking? Because when the ball is on the one-yard line, that’s the line of scrimmage and NOT the length of ground Lynch would have had to cover to make it into the end zone. As you can see from the picture below of the actual beginning of the play, Lynch needed to cover about six yards in the midst of a brawl of 300-plus-pound linemen.

SB 49 0ne

But regardless, note the following placard and think…”But, it was NOT just one yard!”

Rob Lowe

And it’s far from being a sure thing anyway. In Super Bowl 16, the 49ers stopped the Bengals who had the ball on the one-yard line. They stuffed running back Pete Johnson, a human bowling ball, on the line of scrimmage. Johnson had a reputation for running directly at defenders and mowing them down. In addition, the Bengals also had the greatest offensive guard to ever play the game, Anthony Munoz. Johnson and Munoz from the one—a sure thing, right? Wrong, because when the line of scrimmage is the one, what you have is a six-yard war zone where anything can happen.

Granted, Lynch had averaged more than four yards per carry during the game (which is really about ten yards of ground covered), but that is not the same as red zone goal line running. In open field play, the offence is far less predictable because of the length of field in front of them. So, what is Lynch’s goal line running history? It’s abysmal. The following statistics are from sports writer Eric Goldschein:

On the other hand, there are also statistics for Lynch’s success from that distance all season, and they’re not pretty: He went a mere one of five from the one this year, succeeding only against the Giants (in three attempts). Whether teams know they’ll have to stop the run when Lynch gets in that close, or the offensive line simply isn’t as good up front when the box is stacked, Lynch is generally unsuccessful in the red zone unless there’s some ambiguity about the play call (he was 6 of 15 from the five).

Undoubtedly, these statistics weighed in on Carroll’s decision. If Lynch got stopped on the first try, Seattle is still on the one-yard line or farther with about 10-15 seconds left on the clock and no timeouts. That’s a bad situation. That leaves one do-or-die play.

Instead, according to Carroll, if the pass play didn’t work, they could have run at least two more plays including a running play because they still would have had a timeout left. Not only that, as you can see from the picture below, the play should have been an easy touchdown.

SB 49 two

The fact is, the right call was made, but Butler executed a stellar defensive play on the ball. Butler had done his homework, recognized the formation, and did what is known as “jumping the route.”

I will close with a fourth principle: the thinker’s curse. Knowing that the call was actually the right call, you will have to endure constant rhetoric about “the dumbest call in NFL history,” and worse yet, from people who should know better. Regardless, never back down from being a thinker.

Is Pete Carroll a thinker? I am not sure, but he has a thinker’s attribute, viz,  leadership. Ironically, in the national TV broadcast of the game, former Bengals wide receiver Chris Collinsworth who played in the aforementioned Super Bowl 16 also fustigated the call. Collinsworth (who apparently has some memory issues) argued that if Lynch could be stopped from the…here we go again, one yard-line, then so be it. In other words, Carroll could have insulated himself from criticism by calling a more conservative play. If they lost, no one would blame him.

But that’s not what a leader does. A leader makes the best call because it’s the best call. He/she does not make decisions based on Facebook friends list repercussions.

A thinker thinks and stands by their convictions formed by the thinking, and they define themselves by those convictions and let the chips fall where they may. And the results will ALWAYS be the same….

Their friends list will be grounded in quality, not quantity.