When we first caught up with Tumba, he was squatting in a small clearing in the forest. He was fashioning a penis sheath, carefully peeling the bark from creepers and laying the curls flat in the vain hope they might dry in the breathless humid fetid air. His first reaction, upon seeing us, was panic: he leaped to his feet and dashed headlong into the bush, where he discovered, to his chagrin, that the mature banyan tree proves strangely unyielding to the sudden assault of a human frame.
He regained consciousness with the sense of fatality typical of his tribe, and made no further attempt to run away. The Mwarani are a small, inconsequential people, making their living raiding the middens of the larger tribes of headhunters haunting the central highlands of New Guinea. Once we had established communication with him, he explained that he had been expelled from his band, not essentially for being a witch but for being an ineffective one, and that his sheath had been taken from him before he was chased into the forest by the women and children and dogs, the men taking no part as they scarcely ever left their hammocks. He could not return without a sheath, as that would be shameful. When asked if he hadn’t already endured more shame than a man could decently bear, his response was a shrug. “No. Not really. Why?”
Tumba was not a convivial companion. Squat, hairy, smelly, eyes like BBs but lacking the BB’s aura of intelligence. That, plus the heat, plus the bugs and snakes and still-undiscovered viruses we longed not to discover, brought us to our point quickly. We had come, we explained, to interview him. The Mwarani were perhaps the most isolated culture on Earth; and we were curious if we had perhaps finally found the most clueless man alive.
“Yeah, sure,” he said. “Whatever. Got any gum? It freshens the breath and helps remove tartar build-up.”
This was looking promising…but no, no gum. No time for pleasantries, either, so we posed our questions. Had he ever heard of the NFL?
“Yeah, but…you know, just rumors. Something about football played at a professional level by the best athletes in the world in the faraway land of Kardashian.”
Close enough. We continued: suppose he were a head coach, and he was leading by a point with 11 seconds left. His opponent was about to attempt a 49-yard field goal—not a gimme, by any stretch of the imagination. Quaere: do you call a time-out in order ice the kicker?
“Well, yeah. Of course. I mean, you have to ice the kicker, right? Everyone knows that.”
And with that, we had proved our case. Improbably enough, we had found the one man remaining alive on Earth who did not yet know that icing the kicker doesn’t work. The one man, that is, who isn’t an NFL head coach.
I mean, seriously: what the fuck was Pete Carroll thinking? Has be been living in an orgasmatron (he looks like the type) for the past decade, that he hasn’t heard the news? Kickers love it when you try to ice them: that just gives them a practice shot. Which is exactly what Matt Bryant got—because when he missed the first kick (!!!!!) he got to try it all over again. And of course, he drilled the second.
And, for that matter, what was that defense? A half-minute yet to play, your opponent needs only a field goal, so you revert to the Kutuzov defense? “Let them conquer the entire country…we’ll beat them in the second half!”
I’m no defensive coordinator, but why hasn’t anyone in that circumstance tried this: the 308. Three down linemen, eight defensive backs. You only rush three, and yeah, that gives Matt Ryan a lot of time to find a receiver, but so what? Let the clock bleed as much as it wants to. You put your best cover guys in a deep Cover-2 look, the safeties dropping deeper as the play develops because nobody should get behind the defense. And the other four backs? Their job is to line up man-to-man against the wide receivers. At the snap, they jam them—and I mean knock the crap out of them. Do whatever you need to do: trip them, grab them by the facemask, tackle them, whatever. Do not let them get downfield. Who cares if we get a five-yard penalty on an incompletion that strips 14 seconds from the clock?
Now, granted, this accounts for only four receivers. There will be a fifth—and you’ll have to cover him with those other four guys. But since it will be obvious which receiver doesn’t have man coverage, it’s pretty easy to predict which receiver the quarterback will pass to. Can you say, “jump the route”?
Or hell: just rush nine. If I’m going down, so are you. Let the Falcons faithful process this: Rodney White celebrates in the end zone, while Matt Ryan’s body quivers at midfield.
But no. That just wouldn’t be right. So instead, the Seahawks went into the
pussy prevent defense, thus setting the stage for Carroll’s massive attack of mental flatulence.
And so the Falcons, the NFL’s luckiest team this season, who continue to win by their opponents’ unforced errors, moved on to the NFC Championship, because of an idiotic decision made by a coach. And amazingly enough, it wasn’t even the first time last weekend that that happened.
Let us return to Tumba. We also asked him: suppose he were an NFL head coach, and at the two-minute warning he had the ball and the lead, 3rd and 7 at his own 47. His opponent had no timeouts. Two rushing plays have gained three yards…because the defense is expecting him to run the ball. Knowing that a first down wins the game, what would he do?
“Oh, just hand off. Run the ball. Bleed the clock as much as possible, then punt and rely on your defense.”
But your quarterback is Peyton Manning. He’s made critical third down conversions so regularly he’s used as a backup to the atomic clock. Does this affect your decision?
“Oh no, not in the least. This is a playoff game, right? That’s pretty big stakes…better play it conservatively, by the book. You don’t want to take any risks, after all.”
Which is, of course, what you would expect from John Fox. And so, instead of actually trying to, you know, win, the Broncos ran the ball. For no gain. They punted; and with 1:09 on the clock, the Baltimore Ravens embarked on a tying drive that took all of 38 seconds. And, of course, inevitably, because the football gods are disgusted by cowardice, won the game in overtime.
Why is John Fox considered a good head coach? I’m sure he knows more about football tactics than I do, and can impart his knowledge to his players as a teacher. So maybe he’s a good position coach. But he’s also a gutless fool: his team lost the Super Bowl because he began needlessly chasing points early in the fourth quarter, and as a result the Patriots’ final kick was for a win instead of a tie. People routinely blame John Kasey; but it was Fox who blew it. Not because he doesn’t understand football, but because he doesn’t understand strategy. Nor ever will.
Not unlike Tumba, who has the saving characteristic of being fictional (yes: sorry to disappoint you). The Broncos’ loss, on the other hand, was real; the Seahawks’ loss was real; those fanbases are actually having to face facts and work through their frustration and grief this morning—unlike Tumba, who is still working on his penis sheath.
And Carroll and Fox? Well, Carroll needs one big enough for his head. Fox, on the other hand, is already good to go, since he’s dickless.