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Who is doing the quitting around here?


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One issue that I would like to raise is that there seems to be a very palpable problem with the competitive fire of this team, but to the best of my knowledge, this is only coming from one side of the ball.

Say what you will about our inability to protect Ramsey, that is another discussion altogether, but the lack of heart and, dare I say, effort that we are watching towards the end of games the past couple of weeks can definitely be isolated to the defensive side of the ball.

Art has gone on record to say that the turning point in the Tampa game, and, in hindsight, likely the turning point in our season was Fred Smoot's injury. When Smoot went out, the Buccaneers offense, which had been very average up to this point in the season, and showed it again this week, was able to clearly impose their will over our defense. Gruden actually seemed, check that, WAS more in control of our defense than George Edwards was.

This shouldn't all come back to Smoot's injury, but having one more corner out there who's disciplined and talented enough not to allow a backbreaking play or mental lapse has been key to our collapse.

Gruden knew exactly what plays and what fakes to run to make our defense react and certain way. When we, very predictably, bit on the same d@mn fake over and over again, the defense lost faith in its scheme and what you saw was a complete meltdown, that extended not only in its ability to execute, but also, unfortunately, its desire to execute.

There is simply no reason that a defense with the talent that we have, albeit somewhat hampered by injuries, should lay that big an egg in any game, even to the best offenses in the league. Correct me if I'm wrong, but didn't Tampa score TDs on four straight posessions? And weren't most of them on drives that started deep in our territory?

The Bills and Travis Henry, to their credit, ran a dominant ground game on us, that would have had success in and of itself, but it wasn't the reason for the complete meltdown in the second half. The reason we lost our "fight" most clearly manifested itself on the play fake to Henry which had all of our defense going the wrong way, leading to an easy touchdown to a wide open Josh Reed. I'm not saying that they should have quit like they did, but as an athlete, it is very hard to maintain a high level of intensity when you are constantly being outsmarted on plays in spite of your best efforts.

Collinsworth made a comment last week that exemplifies our recent defensive woes. "They're taking advantage of Lavar's aggressiveness and using it against him," or something to that effect. Now, it has become the strategy du jour for manhandling our defense.

The offense is going to go out there and fight as long as we have a chance to win; they've proved that over and over again in the first several weeks of the season.

Spurrier isn't a defensive guy. He simply is not a legitimate mind as far as NFL defenses are concerned, and he largley trusts George Edwards to do that, for all intents and purposes, by himself. We thought we'd be ok losing Marvin Lewis because Edwards planned to run the same scheme, but it appears that that may have been an error in judgment.

Obviously we couldn't have kept Marvin, but it's looking more and more like George Edwards is not the man for the job. In any case, in light of the above, it doesn't surprise me that much to hear that Spurrier throws around, or dances around, the "q" word. He's a good offensive coach and he has no real control when the defense is out there. It has to be every bit as frustrating for him as it is for us as fans and how do we describe our team's performance? I hear us calling them out for quitting left and right.

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