I may have been pretty tough on the play of our safeties this season, but it's not without good cause. The play of Madieu Williams and Reed Doughty has been atrocious. But I believe that until you walk in someones shoes, you should not critize. Well, today I got to walk in those shoes, and let me tell you, it wasn't pretty.
My story starts out on a crisp fall morning, when I was in such a "lazy rush", that I forgot to pack my clothes to change into for football practice later that afternoon. I could go into far greater detail, but to spare you all the boredom, let's just say I was forced to go to practice wearing scrubs! I did happen to have my cleats in the trunk, and they may have been the only thing that saved my ass from a trip to the hospital. There was no school today, for obvious reasons(for which I did not partake may I add), so we started practice a bit later than normal. We were missing some kids, some due to injury, some due to Election Day, but either way, we were short-handed.
It wasn't long into practice when I heard the first wistle, signifying the start of "Team Pass vs Skelly D". Great, I thought - I would have the opportunity to yell a bit after the poor performance our offense put on Saturday evening in a loss to rival Middletown. I could not wait! I was just getting ready to get my "angry" on, when coach started screaming, "where the hell is my damn safety!" I looked over the willing and able bodies that I could have thrown into the fire, and I figured that there was no one capable of playing the position, and playing it well enough to give our offense a good look, so of course I did the next best thing.................I put myself in at safety.
Now, I was not a safety in pee-wee, high school or college, but I do know how the position is to be played. And of course, being a linebacker all my football life, I had the head-hunter mentality for it. Just two problems - I had no pads, and I was going up against kids half my age.
So back to the point of my article: Lets just say I'm no spring chicken anymore, and I can no longer run a 4.6 and jump 35 inches in the air, but screw it, I was set to make a mockery of our starting offense, but the only mockery being made was that of a 35-year-old coach trying to run with an athletic team.
The first play turned out fine, as I had put us in a cover 2, and the play was designed for short routes. I back-pedaled like a pro, pretended to come up for support, and swatted at the ball after the receiver made his grab on a slant and headed down-field. The ball bobbled in his hand, and he almost fumbled. I felt proud, AND I got to yell....."hold on to that ball #4!"
It all went downhill from there.
The next play I was burnt deep on a double-move. Oh well. Next play we went to man-over, a defense that didn't give me a specific zone responsibility. On the snap, I saw the outside receiver threatening the outside, so instinctly I went for over-the-top help. Well, I never quite made it there, as it seems I somehow got my feet tangled up with "The Turf Monster", and ended up on the ground. I could almost swear I heard laughter, but by the time I had sprung up to see where it was coming from, it stopped. The next play, I bit on a post, and the ball was thrown to the outside - not my responsibility...........whew! Then finally it happened. I guess this is why they say karma is a bitch!
I had just moved us to a cover 3. I was ligned up 12 yards deep as the left free safety. The formation was twins to our left. I cheated over. UConn, UConn I shouted, which was our signal to jump back to a cover 2. Our strong safety moved back. I snuck two yards to my left. The ball was snapped. Our outside receiver ran a slant. Our inside receiver ran what I thought was a deep out. Since I thought I had no deep route threatening my zone, I instinctly jumped the deep out.............but it was not a deep out, it was an out-and-up. I blazed to the area I thought the ball would be directed by the sharp pump-fake of our quarterback, but when I reached my destination, I realized my receiver had turnd up-field into my deep zone. It was too late. I was toast! I tried to turn and catch up, but the ball was already over my head. It landed perfectly in the hands of the waiting receiver, who trotted in for an easy touchdown.
I had just gotten Madieu'ed!
I learned a lesson today, and I hope you had some fun reading and laughing at it at my expense,.........and that lesson is - playing safety is not as easy as it looks; so maybe I sould ease up a little on Madieu Williams.
Or should I?
Moral of the story - If you don't have the athletes to play the position, don't get mad when they mess up!