There comes a time, after all the film review and coach discussion and player meetings and practice time — after tedious hours devoted to address a problem — when a man runs out of options.
All he can do is laugh at the issue.
It sure beats crying.
And so Saturday, Mike McCoy took a well-deserved moment to release a fourth-quarter chuckle, a sound too sinister to be Santa Claus when the Chargers allowed a field-goal block six days after allowing an extra-point block. Minutes later, the same field-goal unit took the field with history in the balance.
OK. Maybe now it was time to cry.
A 45-yard Josh Lambo attempt veered right as regulation expired, giving two mired franchises reason to howl on Christmas Eve. The Browns celebrated their first win, improving to 1-14 with a 20-17 result. The Chargers sunk deeper into disarray, one game from the merciful end to their season.
There is a conversation about McCoy to be had.
It is only natural.
Losing to an 0-14 team and falling to 5-10 following a 4-12 campaign will do nothing to quiet speculation surrounding a head coach’s future. McCoy understands this. It comes with the job. Team officials were not ready to have that discussion publicly Saturday, declining opportunities to shed light on McCoy’s status.
Obviously, the result at FirstEnergy Stadium did not bolster his case.
But it also highlighted the complexity of the decision, at least to some.
“It’s not his flippin’ fault,” defensive end Corey Liuget said. “It’s not his fault. It’s up to us as players. It ain’t his fault. Players got to make plays. Players make great coaches. Good coaches, too. It ain’t his fault. He doesn’t take one snap. Does he? …
“I’m not worried about it. I feel he’ll be around. I feel like we’ll keep him. I’m playing for the guy. That’s my boss. I’m going to fight like hell. That’s just the way it goes.”
This loss may be the one for which McCoy is most remembered in 2016.
In that case, it will have to be remembered, too, how the Chargers effectively maneuvered down the field in a desperation two-minute drill to set up Lambo’s miss. McCoy made good use of his three timeouts on the Browns’ previous possession. That allowed quarterback Philip Rivers to take the field with 1:46 on the clock from his own 22-yard line.
Rivers converted a fourth-and-10 on the series with a 25-yard completion to tight end Antonio Gates.
He later found Gates for 11 yards inbounds. McCoy’s team was prepared to handle what happened next.
About 16 seconds remained. It was fourth-and-2. A spike wouldn’t do. As rehearsed at Chargers Park, a fire-drill sequence began in which the offense sprinted off the field and the field-goal unit sprinted onto it. Mike Windt delivered a long snap with one second remaining, and quarterback Kellen Clemens placed the hold.
This all went just as the Chargers planned.
Except the miss. It followed a block from 32 yards with 3:49 left.
“Great operation by the offense getting us in that situation,” McCoy said, “and the awareness of the football team to be ready to kick the field goal there at the end. Unfortunately, we just missed it.”
Said Lambo: “Just missed it. It was just one of those kicks. … I let down my teammates, my organization, and I let down the fans. This is going to be heavy on me. I’m going to do what I know (how) to do this week and get back to work. I know what to do to fix that.”
If this loss was the last straw to the Chargers firing McCoy, they’ll have to fire him knowing the injury hand he was dealt, a hand that surfaced again Saturday.
In the first quarter, inside linebacker Denzel Perryman wiped out safety Jahleel Addae on an incidental collision. Both were able to return, but Perryman later exited with a knee injury was was carted from the sideline to the locker room.
Center Matt Slauson (foot) exited the game.
Left guard Orlando Franklin (shoulder) exited the game.
Left tackle King Dunlap (knee) was inactive.
Undrafted rookie Spencer Pulley played center for the first time in his NFL career, Kenny Wiggins filled in for Franklin and Chris Hairston started for Dunlap. This line attempted to block for an offense that, when running back Kenneth Farrow exited briefly with a shoulder injury, was down to its No. 6 running back.
Tight end Hunter Henry also missed time with a chin injury.
These Browns are not rich in talent, but neither was this roster in its beaten-down form. Chargers President of Football Operations John Spanos and General Manager Tom Telesco must decide what sway, if any, Saturday’s loss had on their long-term comfort in McCoy. Ultimately, it is Spanos’ call to make.
Did McCoy’s team underperform Saturday?
Or, on a day of disastrous special teams play and nine penalties for 92 yards, is his team’s margin for error so small that, here in Week 16, it is not built to overcome such miscues, regardless of the opponent?
The Browns have been a laughing stock all season.
On Saturday, they found their match.
Published at Sun, 25 Dec 2016 01:30:00 +0000