Five biggest coaching mistakes in NFL Week 6

Cleveland Browns v Tennessee Titans

There might be times when the average Joe wishes he made the kind of money an NFL head coach makes, even if it means working 90 hours a week from July through January. Well, hopefully January.

But people with five-figure salaries in humdrum jobs should count their blessings. Their boss might have something to say about their work, but they don’t have millions of people criticizing decisions they make in the office.

With that in mind, let’s question some coaching decisions that were made in Week 6.

Browns going for two down nine points with two minutes left

Hue Jackson should show up to work early a couple of times this week and study math before he studies film.

Terrelle Pryor caught a five-yard touchdown pass from Cody Kessler with 2:07 left Sunday to pull the Browns to within 28-19 at Tennessee.

Then the Browns went for two.

And failed.

Therefore, it remained a two-possession game.

Jackson has been part of various NFL coaching staffs since 2001. Hasn’t he been around long enough to know that when you’re down multiple touchdowns, you go for two only when you have to?

Apparently not.

His mistake was magnified when the Browns recovered the onside kick and scored again, making it 28-25 with 27 seconds left. Had the Browns just kicked the extra point earlier, they’d have been down 28-26 and could have tried to tie it with a two-point conversion and not needed to recover a second onside kick.

Instead, the Browns kicked the extra point and trailed by two when they tried another onside kick. The Titans recovered to secure the win.

The Browns are 0-6, their worst start since 1999, the year the franchise came back to Cleveland. Half of those losses have come by a touchdown or less and can partly be blamed on Jackson’s poor tactical decisions.

Colts going shotgun on fourth-and-1 instead of kicking field goal

The Colts had a 13-9 lead over the Texans late in the third quarter Sunday night in Houston.

On fourth-and-1 from the Texans’ 8-yard line, all they needed to extend their lead to a full touchdown was a 25-yard field goal from Adam Vinatieri, whose head is chiseled into the all-time Mount Rushmore of NFL kickers.

But instead of going with one of their few strengths, they not only went for it but Andrew Luck was in the shotgun. The Colts needed to move the ball forward one yard, and to do that they snapped it four yards backwards. Frank Gore stood right next to Luck in the formation, but in a short-yardage situation why would the Colts hand it off to a guy who ran for 106 yards and averaged 4.8 yards a carry in the game? Luck dropped back to pass and was sacked by Whitney Mercilus.

The Colts (2-4) could have used the three points. They eventually built a 23-9 lead, but the Texans rallied to tie it and win the game in overtime.

Now they’re last in the AFC South, and Chuck Pagano’s seat is getting warmer. But what else is new?

Steelers calling Landry Jones pass on third-and-1

Landry Jones replaced Ben Roethlisberger in the second quarter Sunday in Miami after Roethlisberger left the game with what turned out to be a torn meniscus.

With the Dolphins leading 9-8 and 5:23 left in the first half, the Steelers turned to Le’Veon Bell, who cranked out runs of 12, eight and six yards. Then on third-and-1 from the Pittsburgh 46, Jones threw a pass to David Johnson. No, the Cardinals didn’t trade Johnson to the Steelers. This David Johnson is a blocking tight end who has caught 26 passes in his seven-year career.

He didn’t catch this one, and the Dolphins had enough time to drive for a touchdown and a 16-8 halftime lead.

Jones can’t throw the ball like Roethlisberger, but it’s hard to imagine there’s that much of a dropoff when it comes to handing the ball off. Feeding Bell was a good way to overcome Roethlisberger’s absence. If there ever was a time to stay conservative, this was it.

That wasn’t the only time the Steelers should have handed the ball to Bell but didn’t. Despite averaging 5.3 yards per carry, he ran the ball just 10 times.

It’s also hard to fathom the Steelers (4-2) losing 30-15 to a team that had just one overtime win over the winless Browns entering the game.

Falcons throwing with a one-point lead

Sure, Richard Sherman got away with pass interference on Julio Jones. But since that’s been the talking point of the game, it’s allowed the Falcons to get away with questionable play-calling.

They clung to a 24-23 lead when Ra’Shede Hageman blocked Steven Hauschka’s extra point with 4:47 left in the game at Seattle.

Instead of running the ball to protect the lead, the Falcons threw it not once, not twice but three times.

The first two passes were complete and Atlanta picked up a first down, but the third was intercepted by Earl Thomas. Hauschka kicked the game-winning field goal with two minutes left.

The Falcons had gained just 2.9 yards per carry in the game, but huge gains aren’t needed on every play to run out the clock. Matt Ryan threw for 335 yards. But the Legion of Boom is the Legion of Boom. At some point, the Seahawks secondary is going to lower the boom.

Packers kicking two field goals on fourth-and-short in first half

Mike McCarthy took a page out of his game plan for the 2014 NFC championship game and called for the field goal unit in a short-yardage situation.

He did it twice in Sunday’s 30-16 home loss to the Cowboys.

Dallas scored a touchdown on its opening drive. The Packers (4-2) had a fourth-and-1 at the Cowboys’ 19 on their first possession. Instead of going for the first down, McCarthy decided to answer the Cowboys’ seven points with three points.

In the second quarter, the Packers faced fourth-and-2 at the Cowboys’ 25-yard line, and again kicked a field goal to trim the Cowboys’ lead to 7-6.

The Cowboys extended their lead to 17-6 at halftime and took control of the game from there. The Packers didn’t score a touchdown until there were less than seven minutes remaining in the game, narrowing their deficit to 27-16.

The Packers might have had a touchdown sooner, and it might have been more of a game in the fourth quarter, if McCarthy had gone for the first down at least one of those times in the first half.

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