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The Chat House With Michael Wilbon: Redskins, Belichick's fourth down call, NFL, Wizards and more

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Michael Wilbon
Washington Post Sports Columnist
Monday, November 16, 2009; 1:15 PM

Welcome to another edition of The Chat House, where Post columnist Michael Wilbon was online Mon., Nov. 16 to discuss the Redskins' win against the Broncos, Bill Belichick's costly fourth down decision, the NFL, the Wizards, the NBA season, World Wide Wilbon (which is Not Just Another Sorry, No-Account Sports Blog) the latest sports news, his columns and anything else on your mind.

A transcript follows

Discussion Archive * Column Archive * Talking Points Videos

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Going For It: I noticed that you left one name off the "great coaches who would have punted."

I can see Parcells going for it, with the same arrogance (as we Texans say: it ain't braggin' if it's true) and desire to not just win, but roast your heart on a spit after the game.

Michael Wilbon: Hi Everybody. Mornin' from sunny Scottsdale where I've been since Friday. We'll start with the Bill Belichick call on fourth-and-two from his own 28 last night, the decision which handed the Indianapolis Colts a victory in one of the dramatic endings I can ever remember. And we'll probably go on that for awhile, too...

As for Parcells, I don't see him doing that. Hell, he never did it as coach of the Giants, Patriots or Cowboys that I know of ... not at the end of the game while his team held the lead. Look, there's bold and there's arrogance, and to me Belichick's was clearly arrogant. He has almost a disdain for his opponents anyway. Parcells has bravado, and plenty of it. But I don't see him making that decision. And the players and ex-players I've talked to this morning see only one coach doing what Belichick did: Belichick.

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The water: What was in it yesterday? 1) Belichick: Confidence, arrogance, or just plain stupid? 2) Del Rio: Isn't this the same league where coaches routinely kick on third down at the end of a game just in case the snap is botched? He told Jones-Drew to kneel instead of scoring when the Jags were losing the game?! Am I making too much of this, or would Del Rio's decision have been even stupider than Belichick's if that snap hits the dirt?

Michael Wilbon: Yeah, because Del Rio was LOSING the game. PATs sometimes are blocked or botched with a bad snap. It's risky. I guess you calculate in your mind the risk with each scenario and let it rip. Would you rather have the Jets with the ball at home and 2 minutes left ... or the ball and a chance to kick a 20-yard field goal with no time left? If Belichick's pass play works, how much time are we spending on this today? Very little. It would have been a curiosity, no more. But it's a results-based business, sports. You win you're covered in glory; you lose and out come the knives! And you know what? For the most part, that's totally fair.

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Washington, D.C.: I was surprised how quickly after the game the consensus makers decided Belichick made a costly mistake. First of all, to me it looks like they got the first down. Second of all, that justifies the decision - he knew what he was doing after all.

Michael Wilbon: But he didn't get the first down. His team lost. And his defensive players, no matter what they say publicly, hate his guts today because he trashed them on national TV by telling the world he has no faith whatsoever in them. Rodney Harrison, who is going straight to the Hall of Fame, ripped it immediately, as did Teddy Bruschi. These are Belichick's former players, guys who LOVE him. So, don't make it seem like people are piling on unnecessarily. When your own guys say, "That call stinks" chances are, it stinks.

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Potomac, Md.: Michael, how is Belichick's desire to "cut his opponent's heart out and step on it" different from Michael Jordan's desire to do the same? This isn't meant to be a flame, I'm intrigued at how you can stand up for Jordan's cold-blooded nature and arrogance and yet be seemingly angered by Belichick - they're both proven winners, so it can't be simple ring comparison. Thanks.

Michael Wilbon: First of all, I'm not angered by Belichick's call. I could give a damn. I don't bet on sports and it didn't involve the Bears, so I could care less beyond my fascination with it as someone who chronicles sports for a living for 30 years...It fascinates me...And there IS a difference. Now, I know Michael Jordan a lot better than I know Bill Belichick. But I know Jordan never, ever, ever had disdain for opponents. Never. He was never a day in his life dismissive of opponents. He would go after young players whom he even thought didn't take an opponent seriously, which is why he played like he did every night regardless of the opponent. Belichick, his coaching peers believe and say openly, has complete disdain for his opponents, right down to failing to shake their hands after games. THAT would be the difference. Jordan was ruthless. Belichick is arrogant, and maybe ruthless, too. It's different, yes.

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Washington, D.C.: Just read the Supreme Court refused to take the case on the offensive name of our team. Couldn't we all just agree never to say "Redskins" again and simply call them Washington?

washingtonpost.com: Supreme Court refuses to hear Redskins' naming case (Washington Post, Nov. 16)

Michael Wilbon: A lot of people do. Some just call them the 'Skins and leave it at that. You sound surprised The Court refused to hear the case? I'm not. Do I find the name offensive? Yes, along with several others ... but I didn't think The Court would rule on it.

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Stupid question: Hey Mike ... love Scottsdale

Dumb question, but on the Jones-Drew play, this is not college, so the play would not have stopped when he took the knee ... right? If the defense had let him just sit there until no time and then grabbed him before he went into the endzone ... game over? right?

Michael Wilbon: Great question. I have to look that one up in the rule book. Very smart question. Lemme get Tony Reali on this one and find out ASAP.

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Washington, DC: Last night I turned the Patriots-Colts game off after Manning threw the interception in the middle of the fourth quarter. It was late; I was tired. Man, I made a huge mistake! Let's hope those teams play again in the playoffs. That was a fun game to watch!

Michael Wilbon: I never turn these games off when two such opponents are playing, but I nearly did last night. Had the remote in my hand, was about to switch to the Lakers-Rockets game, and I saw the Colts were close enough to score and get it to 13, so I figured I'd watch one more play. That's it, one more play. And I was planning to switch when the Colts scored. Lucky me, unlucky you. Seeing it was live was unbelievable ... simply fascinating to watch it play out in real time. There are times when TiVo and replay of any kind just doesn't cut it. You need to live it then, have the suspense of it in the moment. There's nothing like the drama of athletic competition, no matter how hard reality TV tries to give us their phone winners and losers.

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Washington, D.C.: Yes the Pats lost on a dumb play. But clearly they are going to win their division, host a playoff game and possibly meet the Colts again. They more than held their own with them once and should have won. I wouldn't bet the Colts could beat them twice in one season.

Michael Wilbon: Hmmm, Game in Indy. Colts have now beaten the Patriots four of five ... or is it five of six? I might take that bet, especially if the Patriots defense is as poor as their head coach clearly thinks it is.

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Phoenix, Ariz.: Brandon Jennings is looking pretty good, huh? Do you think the year in Italy has helped him more than a year at a Div-I program?

Michael Wilbon: Yes, and yes. No question the year in Europe helped this kid, which he openly says. He talks about the transition from being a boy to being a man living on his own, and the practices, the number of games, the sitting on the bench. He's the early favorite for rookie-of-the-year, isn't he?

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Washington, D.C.: Mike, what is up with the Wizards? Is it just that Antawn is out? There was plenty to like on Saturday: comeback, Boynkins. But, can't Gilbert, our star, make one shot down the stretch? Or else can't someone else take things into their hands and say "I will get this done and win the ballgame." Particularly against the Pistons, and when Villanueva has fouled out? This does not bode well for the season...

Michael Wilbon: The Wizards look terrible now, just terrible. I thought (and think) it was going to take time to adjust to new players and a new head coach. But they look so, so ... off. And why will we ever presume they can stay healthy enough over a full season. Don't get me wrong, Jamison coming back should help loads. We're talking about a guy who'll get you 20 and 10, as he has over the past three years. Even if he gets them 15 and 7 that's a lot ...

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Richmond, Va.: I agree that going for it there was a gamble not worth taking. However, would you agree that, as a general rule, NFL coaches are way too unwilling to go for it on fourth down? You see guys with fourth-and-two at their opponents' 42 punting the ball. You also see guys down 17 points with eight minutes to go and fourth-and-eight near midfield punting the ball.

A lot of the time, it seems like coaches just opt for the "by-the-book" play and punt so they can avoid postgame criticism for being "risky".

Michael Wilbon: Yeah, I'm with you here. I think coaches ought to go for it on fourth-and-two or less more frequently ... sometimes fourth-and-three, fourth-and-four. But this doesn't fit into any scenario I can think of. Punt it. Make Peyton go 80 yards. Make him Eaarrrrn it.

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Washington, DC: I understand the coach-in-waiting idea for schools like Texas and Oklahoma. But Maryland? Shouldn't a school that (according to Mike Wise's recent column) is frequently out-recruited in its own backyard, is not a destination for the top out-of-state players, plays in a weak conference, and has not consistently been among the college football elite, try to find the best candidate wherever he may be when the time comes?

Michael Wilbon: Hmmmmmm, let's see....Aaaaaahhhhh, YES. Yes, I'm with you, on every point you made. Yes. Absolutely yes. Maryland football, outside the state, is completely irrelevent. That's not good.

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South Bend, Ind.: Is it time to give Charlie Weiss another 10 year contract?

Michael Wilbon: How's that move working out? The Charlie-is-our-next-Ara contract move? What happens after the Irish lose to Stanford to go 7-5? Yes, he's going to be fired.

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Toss Up, Va.: Toss up: Manny or Maryweather?

Also, who can I lobby to get Andy Reid to run the ball more?

Michael Wilbon: Manny in an early KO and no. Andy Reid must be one of the game's best preparation coaches and one of the league's worst in-game coaches. How come he never has timeouts left to do anything at the end of games? Manny ... best pound-for-pound fighter since Roy Jones in the early 1990s.

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Tinton Falls, NJ: Mike-

As a Redskins fan who might be looking at a rookie quarterback next year, I'm still trying to figure out if Tebow is a pro QB. There is no question he is a big strong leader, but that does not seem to be enough. Does it all boil down to who the next coach is and what type of offense he wants to run?

Michael Wilbon: It comes down to a lot of that. But there's nothing to suggest Tebow has the arm for it. And I haven't talked to any scouts or former players who say they see it either.

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Bethesda, Md.: Why are a lot of golfers (men/women) so hard on Michelle Wie? I am happy she won her first tournament. I never thought trying the men's tour would have created such ire. Is there more? Am I missing something?

Michael Wilbon: I'm so incredibly happy for Michelle Wie to have won her first LPGA Tournament. But I'm one of the people who was angry she was wasting her talent goofing around with men's events. For what? If she couldn't win a women's event why is she playing with the men. Annika Sorenstam or Juli Inkster or Dottie Pepper or many others had earned the chance to do that if they wanted. Michelle Wie needed to hoist that trophy or plate above her head before all these gimmicky stints with men's tournaments. It was a waste of everybody's time and she got some terrible, terrible advice, apparently from her dad ... I know the professional advice she got and it wasn't what she did. Too bad. I hope this is the first of a great many wins for Miss Wie on the LPGA Tour. I watch her wherever and whenever I can.

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Washington, D.C.: Speaking of Brandon Jennings, how bad does Donnie Walsh look right now? Jennings is a potential Rookie of the Year, he would have fit the Knicks' biggest need, Jordan Hill is at the end of the bench for the foreseeable future, the salary cap for 2010 is shrinking, and the Knicks' 2010 draft pick is owned by the Jazz. He got rid of some bad contracts and Gallinari looks like a good pick, but the rebuilding process in New York may take a little longer than he hinted at.

Michael Wilbon: Spoken like a very frustrated (but smart) Knicks fan. Thanks for that.

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Harjo: As a Native American JD in D.C. let me point out quickly that there are no Native American federal judges (there have been two) and there has never been a Native American Supreme Court clerk.

So this dodge was not at all surprising. In fact, it was cowardly.

And Washington certainly has played well for six quarters now.

Michael Wilbon: Thanks for all of that.

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Herndon, Va.: Mr. Mike: The fourth down attempt with two yards to go - isn't Belichick well known for going on fourth down when others wouldn't? Not that I agree with his call - just noting he has a tendency to do that on fourth and short a lot more than most coaches.

Michael Wilbon: Not there. Not winning the game, on the road, with Peyton Manning on the other side. Win the game, right? Belichick's first instinct was to pound the other guy instead of just win, baby.

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Alexandria, Va.: I have an odd question for you, and would like your take on it.

With the Caps leading their division and one game from leading the Eastern Conference; why is it they are getting second fiddle showing on the Comcast Sports Net channel in low-def, while the Wizards with their horrible season opening record have the Top CSN HD channels for their game (when both teams play at the same time)?

It would seem that the Caps, with their continued penchant to WIN, should get the better TV channel in the local D.C. market.

Michael Wilbon: If the soccer and lacrosse teams at Maryland win huge and the men's football team goes 2-9, which do you think attracts the most viewers and makes the most money for the university? Please, if you need more than three seconds to think this over you're not really checked in. Television is business, Sir/Ma'am. A business. Basketball, in about 90 percent of the cases of NBA vs. NHL in the same market, gets more eyeballs. Lots more. That's why.

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Arlington, Va.: Not so fast with the Colts/Pats rematch. One or both of those teams may have to knock off Cincy first. What a turn around.

Michael Wilbon: Yeah, from 4-11-1 (I think that's what Cincy was last year) to in control of the division, having swept Baltimore and Pittsburgh...sounds like story-of-the-year material to me. And Cedric Benson (I hope he's not hurt badly) is leading the way.

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New Orleans, La.: My problem with Belichick's decision is what it says to his defense. He obviously weighed the percentages between punting and going for it and decided that he had the better chance (albeit small) going for it. To his defense he said "You guys have no chance stopping Peyton Manning."

Michael Wilbon: Yes, he did. For those of you who want more on this google Teddy Bruschi's comments ... Wow.

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"Maryland football, outside the state, is completely irrelevent.": To be fair, it's pretty much irrelevant in the state too. The crowd at Saturday's game seemed like it was all Virginia Tech Fans.

Michael Wilbon: Really...Can anybody give me an attendance figure for Saturday's game. I didn't even realize the were playing at home...

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Washington, D.C.: re: Tebow as an NFL QB

Do you think it's a bit of a double standard that when a black dual-threat QB gets asked to move to a different position it's blamed on racism (I'm not saying this wasn't the case back in the day).

But with Tebow it's dismissed by "he can't throw"?

Also, Tony Dungy said last week or two weeks ago he thinks Tebow would make a great NFL QB.

Michael Wilbon: I think it's quite possible Tebow will be asked to change positions, except that the "Wildcat" seems suited for him if he goes to a team that embraces it (like Miami) instead of a team that just pays lip-service to it but is clueless when it comes to using it (Philly)...Will have to ask Tony Dungy about his observations on Tebow...I love Tony Dungy on NBC...No nonsense, logical, measured, authoritative without being overbearing. It's like that period when Joe Gibbs went to NBC and it was like, "Wow, who knew Joe would be that great on TV." Dungy is great ... Not good, great.

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Bethesda, Md.: How about the Patriots goon who threw the NFL films cameraman to the ground for having the temerity to get within a few feet of Belichick? I mean, c'mon, this is NFL films, not TMZ.

washingtonpost.com: Patriots Coach Bill Belichick Bully Throw TV Camera Guy to Ground after loss to Colts (YouTube)

Michael Wilbon: I saw somebody fall to the ground but thought he slipped or tripped. Oooops. Thanks for sharing.

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Herndon, Va.: Mr. Mike:

You probably don't get much tiem to check out the Big 12 North (not much reason to), but do you have an explanation for its current mediocrity? I'm an aging Husker fan, and, even giving Bo Pellini some credit for what he's doing to get NU back on its feet, NU, KSU, whichever, will probably be at least a two-touchdown underdog to Texas in the Big 12 championship.

Michael Wilbon: All those kinds of ups-and-dows, regardless of what division in what conference, are usually cyclical.

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Houston: You indicated that you were watching the Rockets-Lakers game. I know its a bit early in the season, but thoughts on the Rockets so far without Ming and McGrady?

Michael Wilbon: They look surprisingly good, though I don't know that Houston can sustain that. Interesting to see how T-Mac fits in when he comes back in the next week or two. Trever Ariza does a lot of things for the Rockets, just like he did for the Lakers. Still not certain about that "swap." Would be great if Houston could hold on until T-Mac and Yao come back. Unlikely, but ...

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Overland Park, Kan.: I think that an NFL player can "give himself up", so the official can call the play completed. This came up a few years ago in a game involving the 49ers, if I remember. I don't know if the NFL changed the rule after that season, though.

Michael Wilbon: Thanks ...

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U.K.: Just to clarify, does Belichick call the offensive plays for the Pats? I always thought he was the defensive guru going back with the Giants, Browns and Jets.

Michael Wilbon: He was...which makes if even more difficult for the defensive players to swallow. Belichick still sits in on the defensive meetings ... BUT, only the head coach is going to make the call to go for it on fourth-and-two from his own 28. No coordinator in the world gets to make that call. What I wonder is whether there's an assistant on the Patriots strong enough and secure enough to say into the headset, "Hey Bill, have you lost your mind?" Some coaches tolerate that, even promote it. Others would never have it.

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MJD Taking a Knee: While you're normally not down until touched in the NFL, you can electively "take a knee" (see: QBs at the end of the game or a DB who makes the game-clinching INT and then decides to just go down instead of running it back). If you do that, the officials will blow the whistle and the play is stopped.

Michael Wilbon: Yep, we've got lots of smart chatters out there who know the updated verion of the rule. Thanks much.

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San Jose, Calif.: Mike,

I'm wondering if Belichick makes that call because he knows that, at worst, he is still up 2 games in his division and is in great shape to make the playoffs, win or lose. He was gambling with house money, so to speak. If he's a game back in his own division, I think he makes a different call. Think his lead in the AFC East made him more of a gambler?

Michael Wilbon: I don't know. But doesn't Miami have both games remaining with the Patriots?

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Washington DC: Mike,

Who do you think benefits more from last night's game - the Pats or the Colts? Obviously the win was huge for Indy -- it should give them confidence -- and hopefully it is another step in the evolution of their rookies on both sides of the ball.

But -- if Belichick is really as smart as everyone says he is -- does the loss teach him something about himself and his team that makes him even more dangerous down the line?

Michael Wilbon: Perhaps. That's a nice philosophical spin. But human emotion and egos are involved, even on teams as balanced and as successful as the Patriots. Guys have feelings. We're talking about careers here, and emotions. I think it's going to take some smoothing over and I wonder if Belichick sees it that way. He's an awfully, awfully smart man and coach. I don't see the Patriots imploding over this at all, but I don't know it's an easy fix, either. Judging from all four NFL players I've talked to since the game (two current, two former) He's got to square things with his defensive players.

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Washington, D.C.: All together now: "Who dey! Who dey! Who dey think gonna beat them Bengals?" Yes, it's a bit lonely being a Bengals fan in a Redskins world, but what a satisfying win, and what a fun team to root for. Watching the game yesterday, I couldn't help being grateful that Marvin Lewis coaches for Mike Brown instead of a Dan Snyder-type. He hasn't had many winning seasons in his tenure thus far (before yesterday's game, I think his record was 50-50), but patience is paying off- he's made some good draft picks, brought in a talented coaching staff, and encouraged a strong work ethic amongst a team that only a couple of years ago was more known for their arrest record than game record. It took a while, but things are finally coming together this season.

Michael Wilbon: Things were pretty good three years ago when the Bengals went 11-5, before a hit ravaged Carson Palmer's knee...It's more or less getting back to where it was, right?

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Washington, D.C.: Do you honestly think the Pats defense was going to stop the Colts no matter where they were on the field? I hate Belichick and the Pats and all of Boston sports with a white hot passion, but even I think that was the right call at that point in the game.

Michael Wilbon: I think you make Peyton Manning go 80 yards ... or as long as possible. Didn't the Patriots already intercept Manning twice in the game? When wouldn't they do it again?

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Rockville, Md.: Larry Brown and Stephen Jackson: Volatile mix that will bring only trouble to Charlotte, or a sure way to get the Bobcats into the playoffs?

Michael Wilbon: I'm crazy enough to think Charlotte can make the playoffs. I really do. Especially if a team like the Wizards, who I have penciled into the No. 7 spot, can't get their act together...I thought the Cavaliers were going to take a run at S. Jackson ... I think Cleveland needs something else, which is why I like the idea of Allen Iverson going there to play with LeBron. Doesn't seem Cavs GM Danny Ferry is feeling it, though, which is what really matters.

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Washington, D.C.: Rough game for Romo and the Cowboys. Beginning of their annual late-season swoon or just one bad game?

Michael Wilbon: Fair question. I don't think the Cowboys are particularly good, so this is about what I expect of them. They're going to pound the Redskins next week though. Now, if Dallas goes home and loses that game they're done ... and maybe it would suggest the Redskins are starting to actually get better.

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Manning the reason: I think it was not a sign of arrogance, but as a few have reasoned, it was the fear of giving Manning the ball period that spooked him. That was fear, not arrogance. Just like Brady, no team wants Brady to have the ball with time, no matter the distance to score.

I think Peyton has that same reverence - he was scared - and it showed with that call on fourth-and-two. He was plain scared and had no faith in his defense, which by this point in the game was getting worked.

Michael Wilbon: If you think Bill Belichick was scared you're not really paying attention over the last 10 years.

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Washington, D.C.: Mel Kiper has said Tebow is a Tight End. He said this to Tebow's face.

Michael Wilbon: Are you serious? To his face? When? Man, that's cold. I think Tebow can run the Wildcat in the NFL. Why not?

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Harbaugh going for 2: Tempest in a teapot or tacky faux-pas?

Michael Wilbon: Great question. No, when he arrived at Stanford Harbaugh said he was going after Pete Carroll...Wow, he's done it, too. Carroll, speaking of arrogance, has pounded people over the last six, seven years. So now that he's getting pounded, don't expect me to step in and ask for a standing 8-count. I'm not taking Harbaugh to a neutral corner just yet. By the way, do you believe he's going to really extend his deal to stay at Stanford, or go back to his alma mater, Michigan?

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Washington, D.C.: Hi Mike, What's the basis for you saying that Rich Rodriguez is gone from Michigan? As a Michigan grad (and Northwestern JD), I'd love to see him go, but I can't imagine they won't give him a couple more years. Thanks very much.

Michael Wilbon: Conversations with people who know Rich Rod and who are affiliated with Michigan. I DON'T want to see him go and have a problem thinking that will really happen. You clearly heard me on the radio with TK this morning, and I was simply reporting what I was told Saturday/Sunday be people who are a whole lot more plugged into that situation than I am.

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Pats fourth quarter: Hi Mike, You didn't even mention the mismanagement of the timeouts at the end of the game.

The Pats had two timeouts with roughly 2:30 to go and wasted both of them by the two minute warning. I think at the very least, they should've lined up on 4th down, tried to get the Colts to jump offsides and then call the timeout. Teams do it all the time. Instead they immediately took the TO to discuss whether to go for it.

Michael Wilbon: Great point, thanks for bringing it up.

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Washington, D.C.: I saw Belichek's decision as more of an uncharacteristic brain (freeze) than anything else. He was staring at Manning with the ball, 2 plus minutes and a 6 point deficit and he panicked, plain and simple. Just proves that even on Mount Olympus, they make stupid decisions once in awhile.

Michael Wilbon: Nawwwww. Belichick's too smart for that. He doesn't have brain freeze. I give him WAY more credit that that. I think he was as clear mentally as he's been on any decision he's ever made. He wanted to hold onto the ball and take a knee and send a message that Manning can't do any more than Belichick will allow ... And it backfired. But "stupid" decision? I don't buy it. Belichick is too razor sharp, too on top of his game.

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Washington, DC: "But, only the head coach is going to make the call to go for it on fourth-and-two from his own 28 ... No coordinator in the world gets to make that call."

Except for maybe Sherman Lewis, if Danny won't let Zorn make the call.

Michael Wilbon: Well, doesn't that make the point?

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Washington, D.C.: Michael do you think they should start Betts the rest of the season in place of Portis? He certainly delivered yesterday.

Michael Wilbon: I would. But I make no pretense at understanding the Redskins' decision-making, and I would turn a deaf ear to anybody else who claims to know.

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Washington, D.C.: One coach would have gone for it, because he did in the past -- Barry Switzer. About 15 years ago, the Cowboys were in the same position the Pats were in: Fourth and short in their own territory against Philly. Switzer went for it -- and came up short. Then the refs intervened, said fourth down never happened because of the two minute warning. So having won a reprieve, Switzer went for it again -- and Dallas came up short a second time.

Philly got the ball, ran out the last two minutes, and kicked the field goal they needed to win. It was perhaps the dumbest coaching decision ever made -- not least because Switzer made the bad call not once, but twice.

Not sure that Switzer's the best company for Belichick to be in, but he also won a Super Bowl...

Michael Wilbon: You know, I vaguely (now that you mention it) remember Switzer doing this ... I gotta have Reali find this game and the circumstances ... Switzer, though he has a Super Bowl, couldn't get into a club with Bill Belichick unless he paid a cover.

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Washington, D.C.: Wilbon, just curious: would you have written your "Arrogance" article this morning if it had been Jim Caldwell who made the same fourth down decision instead of Belichick?

Michael Wilbon: No. Do Belichick and Caldwell seem like the same people to you? Do you think anybody in football thinks they're the same? Belichick is arrogant. Don't argue this, because you'll just look like an idiot. I'm not saying arrogant is bad. He's a great, great, great coach and an arrogant coach and it's probably a characteristic that's served him very well. Do you think Eddie Jordan and Pay Riley have the same personality? Why would you even ask?

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Little Rock, Ark.: Here's my two cents worth on "the call" in the Colts/Pats game. First, whether it came from confidence or over-confidence or arrogance or stupidity, I love that a coach decided to call a play to win the game right there, rather than hope to not lose by punting.

Second, I wouldn't want to face the Pats defense the rest of the year. To me, the decision reflected a lack of trust in the defense, which had already given up two long, fourth quarter TD drives. So how would you expect a group of men competing at the highest level of their profession to respond? I think their attitude will be, "You don't trust us? Oh yeah, we'll prove you wrong."

Michael Wilbon: So, let me ask you this in all your decisive analysis: Where does intercepting Peyton Manning twice in the game and making Indy punt six times in the first half fit into your thinking? Right.

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Washington, D.C.: Is Manny Pacquiao the best boxer of the last 20 years?

Michael Wilbon: I think he's the best since Roy Jones after the Seoul Olympics. Yeah, I think since, what, 1995...so the last 14, 15 years. I think he'll bounce Mayweather, I really do.

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Charlottesville, Va.: Mike, do you think there is any chance Ernie Grunfeld is going to rethink his choice of coach after the way the Wizards have started off this year? I'm having flashbacks to last year and Eddie's untimely departure... Or do you think Flip will be given a few years to work with these guys?

Michael Wilbon: The NBA's season is a very, very long one. I don't jump to any conclusions after 10 games or whatever the Wizards have played. It doesn't look good early, but there's way too much time and the Wizards do have some talent to work with.

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Belichick's call: Why are we parsing this arrogance/confidence distinction? If the play works, it's the right play. If it doesn't, it isn't. Who cares why the coach made the call? Assuming a character trait formed the basis of the decision, and not a rational thought couched in a coach's intimate knowledge of his team's greatest strengths and weaknesses, this doesn't prove Belicek is arrogant. He may be, but this doesn't prove it. He just made the wrong call ... this time.

Michael Wilbon: Okay, you say it's confidence and I say it's arrogance ... Your point would be what? That you like your word better than mine?

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Arlington, Va.: RE: Caps vs. Wizards viewers

You said in 90 percent of markets the NBA draws more viewers than the NHL. Last year (and yes, I realize this is a new season, and I don't have numbers one way or the other) the Caps actually had better TV ratings than the Wizards (per the Sports Bog). Maybe DC has actually shifted into that 10 percent?

Michael Wilbon: Okay ... maybe it's 15-18 percent, too. But there are some places where hockey is a huge sport (Detroit, Chicago) but the NBA team still draws as many viewers or more. I wonder about the Detroit ratings. The Red Wings are hugely popular, but so are the Pistons ... Will have to ask somebody in Big D about that.

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Washington, D.C.: Can we start the countdown to the firing of Rich-Rod and Weis? Michigan and the Domers embarrassed themselves this past weekend.

Michael Wilbon: It sounds, from the people I talk to who are close to these two programs, that the countdowns on both are indeed on. I really think that would be unfair to Rich-Rod at Michigan...I think he has to have a third season and that Michigan would be hasty if he's relieved. On the other hand I think Rich-Rod will go somewhere else and win again. Charlie Weis? I really wonder. Doesn't he have everything necesssary to win at Notre Dame? Is there something flawed now at the school when it comes to football? Who is going to win big there again? Urban Meyer? Jon Gruden? Who? Nobody's won big since Lou Holtz and the 1980s were another time in college football. These are two proud and unhappy football programs right now that we'll be watching closely in the final two weeks of the season ... Ok, gotta run and leave for PTI and then a flight home to D.C. Good chatting with you all today. The Belichick decision continues to fascinate ... and resonate. Guess what we're leading PTI with today? See you next week as we head into Thanksgiving. Happy Birthday to all the Scorpio people out there ... We're also Valentines' babies. Have a great week people. MW

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