Being a fan of a sporting team can be fickle. Start the season winning five in a row and you’re on top of the world where nothing can bring you down and the team is untouchable. Lose the next two, by a combined 7 points, and the wheels are falling off and everyone needs to be fired. I know that might be a bit of an overstatement of the general opinion of the team right now, but that is how it seems. With the offense firing on all 26 cylinders, and a blame needing to be placed somewhere for the sudden demise of the 2017 season (sarcasm), the defense is going to take center stage for today’s installment of the “Blame Game”. What is a captain if he cannot take the sword for his crew, so Bob Sutton will represent the defense as contestant number one.
The defense is taking the brunt of the blame when it comes to our “losing streak”, and rightfully so. Sutton has employed a bend-don’t-break philosophy for the last couple of years, and the ability of the defense to both create turn overs and clamp down in the redzone has taken the focus off the fact that Sutton is not a very good Coordinator. This year, the defense has not been able to replicate the foundation of their success over the last couple years and it is bringing Sutton’s ability, or lack thereof, to light. I don’t know in what world one would think the gameplan that hasn’t worked for three quarters will suddenly shut an opponent down in the fourth. For the last two games, Sutton has thrown any thought of adjustment out the window and stuck to letting Bell run wild and Cooper take the top off the secondary. Because, as we all know, letting the opponent move the ball at will is the basis of a defensive gameplan.
Marcus Peters has been singled out, with some saying he has been figured out and is not the caliber player most thought he was after his first two seasons. If you are one that is placing blame on Peters, you might want to redirect it to Sutton. Peters is an aggressive, in your face press man corner. Sutton has had Peters playing 8-10 yards off the receiver, dropping in zone coverage without help over the top. For a corner as aggressive as Peters, this is akin to asking a fish to stand up, walk down Main Street and greet all he passes. It simply doesn’t work. Peters is obviously not delivering the same performance as he did his first two seasons, but it is less on Peters and more on Sutton, in my opinion.
The misuse of Peters is just one example of the incompetency of Sutton. Don’t get me wrong, Justin Houston is decent as a coverage linebacker, but do you want your best pass rusher dropping in coverage what seems like most of high probability passing downs? Especially after your best pass rusher gets torched in consecutive weeks? Maybe he is trying to be unpredictable, maybe he knows something we don’t know, maybe Houston is not the same guy that missed the single season record by a half a sack… HALF A SACK!! Guess what, it was unpredictable the first couple of times and even then, it was quickly read and exploited. When reviewing tape, opposing offensive coordinators first thought is “hopefully Houston will keep dropping in coverage, keeps our QB clean and allows the TE to move the chains with ease”.
There are plenty more examples of why Sutton’s prize on the “Blame Game” should be an office cleaned out for him, with a request he collect his belongings at the front desk. Yes, I am calling for the head of Sutton. I have been since year two of Sutton at DC. In the time he has been leading the Chief’s defense, all he has shown is an inability to make sound football decisions. As I said before, the only thing that has saved him from being contestant number one is the natural ability of the talent on the field coming through when it is needed most. This year, the team has not been as opportunistic, and for me this should be enough for the blinders to come off and for Sutton to be replaced with someone that can use the talent on that side of the ball in combination with the ability to be fluid with the gameplan throughout a 60-minute contest.
Is this a bit of an overreaction on my part? Sure, but I can live with that. I have been less than not a fan of Sutton’s for years, and if it takes 2 losses due to the defense getting burnt to have him replaced, I can live with that too. What do you think, am I out of line here? Has Sutton done ANYTHING to warrant keeping his post? Does the defensive struggle rest on more shoulders than Sutton’s? And if so, does anyone deserve to carry more weight than Sutton?
Bonus Thought: Derek Carr and the Raiders will have a tough outing against the Bills, and the Broncos offense will look like a resurrection of the Greatest Show on Turf. I hope Alex Smith and the gang are prepared for another air raid.
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