By Danny Willis
Let's pretend for a moment you're the offensive coordinator for a professional football team.
The team you're facing leads the league in sacks, and your offensive line has had problems in pass protection. Your backup quarterback is playing because of an injury to your starter, he's appeared in an average of about six games per season since 1999 and only two total since 2005. Your running back led the NFC in rushing yards last year, and your opponent ranks 11th in run defense.
What do you do?
If you answered, "Call more than twice as many passes as runs and lean on the aging backup quarterback rather than the young star running back," your name must be Jim Hostler.
The 49ers' Week 7 game against the Giants was the worst offensive play calling I think I've ever seen.
What was so bad? Here's a good example: first-and-10 on the New York 15 early in the third quarter. The Giants were getting pressure all drive. In fact, the 49ers offense got to where it was on a roughing the passer call. Everyone knew the Giants were going to blitz.
Everyone except, apparently, Hostler.
Rather than testing out the red zone ground game he called yet another pass. The Giants blitzed seven. Frank Gore looked longingly at the wide open path to the end zone while Trent Dilfer took another sack and fumbled. Touchdown, Giants!
That was the new and improved offense we were promised? Hey, coach Hostler, I have a tip for you: Run the ball. It doesn't matter if you're down on the field, up in the booth or waiting in your car if you aren't going to adapt your playcalling to the situation.
There was every reason to feed the running back the ball. The situation, the personnel, the stats and the strengths of the team as a whole. Instead, the 49ers tried 38 passes and 14 runs en route to a fourth straight loss.
I don't like telling people how to do their job, but since Mike Nolan insists on leaving the playcalling in Hostler's hands, I'm going to help him out a little for today's game. I know New Orleans is statistically worse against the pass than the run, but do not put the game on Alex Smith's injured shoulders.
Call about as many running plays as passes. It will dictate the tempo of the game, lighten the load on the quarterback and give the defense time to rest between drives. It might even draw the safeties to the line and open up the passing game you love so much.
That Gore guy is pretty good. He can handle the extra load, and I'm sure he won't mind.
And if Hostler doesn't take my advice? Just a friendly reminder that wide receivers coach Jerry Sullivan was offensive coordinator for the Cardinals in 2001-2003. His offense was never higher than 20th in scoring but that's a lot better than 32.
Contact Danny Willis at firstname.lastname@example.org
Unfair trade: Winless Fins for Beckham
Let me get this straight.
David Beckham comes to the United States to play for the LA Galaxy.
And we send the Brits the Miami Dolphins.
Talk about a poor exchange rate.
I think I understand why the New York Giants and the 0-7 Dolphins will play the NFL's first regular-season game outside of North America in London on Sunday. Roger Goodell must owe Prince Charles a favor.
No, seriously, I get it. To us colonists, the National Football League is the ultimate global consortium. The planet's most powerful sporting empire. A veritable nation unto itself. Why do you think the NFL teams that hoist the league's championship trophy dub themselves the "world" champions?
Because we're loud, narrow-minded Americans, that's why. We're convinced that we have the best everything. The best shopping malls. The best sports.
And that's why the NFL thinks it can put a Giants or Dolphins jersey in every British wardrobe.
-- Gil LeBreton, Fort Worth Star-Telegram _
Ryan, BC continue unexplainable season
They were brilliant. For three-plus quarters Thursday night, Virginia Tech's Hokies suffocated the nation's second-ranked college football team.
Matt Ryan, Boston College's acclaimed quarterback? He looked confused at best, inept at worst, as Tech rattled him with pressure and myriad coverages.
Then it all fell apart. Two touchdowns in less than two minutes with a successful onsides kick in between.
Boston College 14, Virginia Tech 10.
Lane Stadium was silent.
College football was turned on its figurative head. Again.
You'd think we'd have learned by now. In 2007, no game is a gimme, and no lead is secure.
Ever seen anything like it? Me neither, and I ain't young.
-- David Teel, Daily Press (Newport News, Va.)
MIX AND MATCH
Match these Boston Red Sox players with the major league teams they broke in with:
1. David Ortiz
2. Josh Beckett
3. Manny Ramirez
4. Julio Lugo
5. J.D. Drew
6. Curt Schilling
1. (b), 2. (f), 3. (d), 4. (a), 5. (c), 6. (e)
THAT'S A FACT
"I determined going into a casino isn't a capital offense ... I'm the CEO of the NBA, and I'll take responsibility."
-- NBA commissioner David Stern, announcing that he would not prohibit game officials from visiting casinos in the offseason
THIS DATE IN HISTORY
1989: The A's complete a sweep of the Giants in the earthquake delayed World Series with a 9-6 victory. behind pitcher Dave Stewart, who is named the series MVP.