As a general rule, one of the tasks of a football coach is to teach essential skills to defensive players.
Among these skills are such fundamentals as blocking, tackling, covering receivers and not lining offside.
In Andy Reid’s world, that last task should fall to the referee.
The play at issue, of course, is the Kansas City Chiefs’ game-sealing interception that wasn’t against the New England Patriots in the AFC championship on Sunday, a neutral zone infraction that, since the foul occurred before the snap but no contact was made with an offensive player, is in essence a “free play” for the offense.
And indeed, had Tom Brady thrown a touchdown pass and not a pick, it would’ve been, “Offsides, No. 55 on the defense, penalty is declined, touchdown.”
The unfortunate Dee Ford neutral zone infraction. pic.twitter.com/PlTTFG0HHA
— Drew Brooks (@Dbrooks5884) January 21, 2019
But Reid insists the officials should have warned Dee Ford — the “No. 55 on the defense” in question — that if he didn’t take a step or two back, he’d be flagged.
The coach told reporters he thought Ford was offside “by a few inches. I thought it was legitimate. He was — it looked like on the angle of our camera, at least, that he might have been off by a tad.”
Reid then added, “Normally, you’re warned and the coach is warned when somebody is doing that before they throw it in a game of that magnitude.”
While Ford didn’t dispute his coach’s version of events, he apologized for letting his team down and took responsibility for his actions.
“Sloppy football on my end at the end of the day,” Ford said. “Whether it was 6 inches or however many inches, I was offside.
“I can’t go back and change it. If I could I would, but at this point we can create a new narrative and that’s what I’m all about. I’m going to get to work.”
Ford did, however, confirm that referees do customarily let players know when they’re on the wrong side of the line of scrimmage, since unlike the fans watching on television, players don’t get a giant blue line superimposed on the field to tell them where to line up.
“I can’t expect that,” Ford said. “I just have to line up onside at the end of the day. I’m not an excuse maker. … I’m looking right at the ball. Honestly, it’s just a critical mistake on my end.”
Ford’s spatial perception has been something of an “area of improvement” for the Chiefs’ defender; he drew two offside penalties and two neutral zone infractions during the season before his fifth such penalty came during the most crucial moment of a game to determine who gets to play in the Super Bowl.
Reid was seemingly looking for a scapegoat after once again getting outcoached by Bill Belichick; Reid coached the Philadelphia Eagles during Donovan McNabb’s infamous “six-minute drill” during Super Bowl XXXIX in 2005, a game the Patriots won largely because the Eagles chewed up too much clock getting the game back within one score when they were down 10 in the fourth quarter.
Reid’s clock-management skills, or lack thereof, have dogged his reputation ever since.
There’s plenty of stuff Chiefs fans can complain about in this game.
There’s the NFL’s overtime rule, which allowed the Patriots to win the game 37-31 thanks in part to the luck of a coin toss.
There’s the roughing the passer call on Kansas City’s Chris Jones that was rightly mocked on social media.
This brutally violent act by the Chiefs’ Chris Jones on Tom Brady drew a roughing the passer penalty. There’s simply no room in the sport for such gruesome violence. Please do not allow small children to watch this video. #NEvsKC pic.twitter.com/WlHo0ICbM1
— NOTSportsCenter (@NOTSportsCenter) January 21, 2019
And there’s Reid’s failure to use his timeouts when his tired defense couldn’t do anything to stop the Patriots late in the game.
But referees not kindly warning an elite professional player that he was offsides? Nope.
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