Canzano: Mailbag deals with fourth down, Pac-2, Big Ten, football, Blazers sale, and more
Your questions... my answers.
I felt terrible for the Detroit Lions. Dan Campbell should have just kicked a field goal or two. He knows it now. But I’m left thinking about what happens when a person’s nature collides with fourth and short.
Campbell is a grinder. I mean that in a good way. He’d put a bib on and eat a shoe if it helped his team win a game. He has a deep, undying belief in his players and assistants. His confidence oozes from the Lions’ operation. And so whenever he’s faced with a fourth-down decision, he’s caught in a complex internal tug-of-war.
His heart and all that belief in his guys carried the Lions to the NFC Championship game. Once there, it betrayed him. Detroit could have just laid up, kicked a couple of field goals, and put suffocating pressure on the 49ers. Instead, the Lions went for broke. Those unsuccessful fourth-down tries are like turnovers. And there’s a debate raging today about whether Campbell should have ignored the spirit and essence that helped deliver his team to the conference title game and just sent the kicker out there.
It’s the same conversation we had after Oregon coach Dan Lanning went for it on fourth down a few times against Washington last season, isn’t it?
I thought about Lanning and his gunslinger mentality as the 49ers were running out the clock on Sunday. He felt sick after losing to UW in the regular season. But I’d like to think that young head coaches — and Lanning still is one — learn from a moment like that.
They self-evaluate. They find a healthy relationship with fourth down. Or maybe they just identify an assistant they really trust (Think: phone a friend) to get in their ear and serve as a sounding board during a moment of truth.
On one hand, Dan Campbell needs to keep being Dan Campbell. He must stay true to his core values, his brand, the mission, and his mentality. But amid that, he’s got to remember what Don Shula always preached in the playoffs: “Take the points.”
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Onto the Monday Mailbag…