Gregg Williams’ Jets blunder joins list of all-time coaching brain farts
On Monday, Gregg Williams was fired as the Jets’ defensive coordinator. It was the direct result of his boneheaded play-call for an all-out blitz in a Hail Mary situation against the Raiders in the final seconds of a dreadful 31-28 loss that dropped Gang Green to 0-12.
With that in mind, The Post looked back at some of the worst coaching decision in recent history.
Like Williams, this move — or in this case, lack thereof — cost Grady Little his job as Red Sox manager. In Game 7 of the 2003 ALCS against the Yankees, Little stuck with Pedro Martinez far too long, allowing the Yankees to rally from three runs down in the eighth inning. They would go on to advance to the World Series on Aaron Boone’s walk-off home run in the 11th inning. With runners on second and third and one out, Little went out to the mound to meet with a tiring Martinez. He stuck with him and Jorge Posada pulled the Yankees even with a two-run double.
Seahawks coach Pete Carroll had one of the game’s premier short-yardage running backs on his side, a player who had run for over 100 yards already. And yet with the lead just a yard away, and Marshawn Lynch in his backfield, Carroll called a pass on 2nd-and-goal. It was intercepted by Malcolm Butler with 20 seconds left, sending the Patriots to the Super Bowl 49 title. Carroll took ownership of the call later, saying it was “all my fault.”
It was well known that Bill Bucker had physical limitations by this point in his career. The Red Sox had rallied for two runs in the top of the 10th inning in Game 6 of the 1986 World Series. Manager John McNamara had Dave Stapleton available as a defensive replacement, as he had been for most of the postseason. But McNamara stuck with Buckner. And, of course, the ball found him, on Mookie Wilson’s infamous roller down the first base line that went through his legs, allowing Ray Knight to score the game-winning run in the Mets’ thrilling 6-5 victory.
Even the great ones can have brain freezes. Take Gregg Popovich, for instance. His decision to put Hall of Fame forward Tim Duncan on the bench, to have more mobility on the perimeter, in the final seconds of Game 6 of the 2013 NBA Finals cost the Spurs a title. It enabled the Heat to grab two offensive rebounds in the final 30 seconds of regulation, leading them to force overtime after trailing by five, and they won in overtime and prevailed in Game 7. “It’s what we’ve done all year,” Duncan said, defending his coach.
The game was all but over. The Giants were up 17-12 and just 31 seconds remained in the Nov. 19, 1978 contest. They were in possession and the Eagles had no timeouts left. But instead of taking a knee, they ran a play and quarterback Joe Pisarcik botched an attempt handoff to fullback Larry Csonka. Herman Edwards picked up the fumble and ran 26 yards for the winning score. Big Blue would lose all but one of their remaining games and finish in last place. Giants coach John McVay wasn’t brought back and never coached again, though he did take a job in the 49ers’ front office.
Zack Britton was arguably the best closer in baseball in 2016, helping the Orioles reach the AL Wild Card Game and notching 47 saves and a 0.54 ERA. Yet, with the game in the balance in extra innings, he was never called upon by manager Buck Showalter. Instead, with one out and nobody on base, Showatler went to starter Ubaldo Jimenez, who would allow a three-run, walk-off homer to Blue Jays slugger Edwin Encarnacion in a 5-2 defeat. “No one has been pitching better for us than Ubaldo,” Showalter said.
After a rousing series-opening victory over the Rays in October’s ALDS, the Yankees got cute. Too cute. Manager Aaron Boone — with plenty of input from the front office and general manager Brian Cashman — started rookie Deivi Garcia with the intention of using him only sparingly. J.A. Happ dug them a deep hole, allowing four runs in 2.2 innings in a 7-5 defeat after taking over for Garcia in the second inning. The hope was that the left-handed Happ would do well against the Rays’ left-handed heavy lineup they had gone to against Garcia. The Yankees would lose the series in five games.
Terry Collins let his emotions get the best of him. He let Matt Harvey talk him into staying in the game. Ultimately, it may have cost him a shot at extending the 2015 World Series. Instead of going to closer Jeurys Familia, Collins let Harvey start the ninth inning of Game 5 with a two-run lead. He could’ve pulled Harvey after walking Lorenzo Cain to start the frame, but didn’t. Harvey then allowed a run-scoring double to Eric Hosmer. Familia came in, but the Royals manufactured a run against him and plated five runs in the 12th to win the series.
“Obviously, I let my heart get in the way of my gut. I love my players. And I trust them,” Collins said. “It didn’t work. It was my fault.”
Butch van Breda Kolff
It was Game 7 of the 1969 NBA Finals. Wilt Chamberlain was ready to check back in after earlier injuring his knee. Coach Butch van Breda Kolff told him he wasn’t needed. Van Breda Kolff had liked what reserve Mel Counts had done as the Lakers had trimmed the Celtics lead to one. So Chamberlain sat down. The Celtics would prevail and van Breda Kolff would resign. The Lakers won the title the next year with Chamberlain playing a pivotal role.