You’d be hard-pressed to find a superstar athlete who didn’t have at least one bad game in his or her career. The Pittsburgh Steelers’ Sammie Coates is probably hoping that his one bad game is now behind him after his rough performance on Friday night.
Most fans will point to his two fumbles (allegedly the only fumbles of his career dating back to Pop Warner) and well they should but there were two other instances that concerned me just as much if not more.
The first instance occurred when Coates came in motion all the way across the formation. As he was doing so, he looked over his shoulder towards the quarterback. While not totally uncommon, it caused him to swerve on his route. So much so he could have easily been flagged for moving towards the line of scrimmage.
The confusion led to him bobbling the wide receiver screen thrown to him and resulted in a gain of one yard at best. I’m certainly not an expert but it looked to me like Coates wasn’t quite sure what was going on. OK, these things happen in preseason football, especially the first game, but I’m still concerned.
As discombobulated as Coates looked there and on his fumbles, the one play that concerned me the most was when he “took a dive” rather than hang in, catch the ball and take a hit. In the business this is what we call “alligator arms.”
Coates was breaking over the middle and the ball was well-thrown but he flat-out failed to make an effort on it. Hey, I know going over the middle in the NFL is a tough chore but it’s part of the job requirement. Catch the ball, take the hit and move on.
The reason this one play weighs more heavily than even the fumbles is because now Coates has some serious confidence building to do. He has to rebuild confidence in himself and just as importantly he needs to prove to his teammates that he can be relied on. I’m not so sure it’s that easy though because once you duck chances are good you’ll duck again.
I’m not suggesting Coates can’t bounce back and become the receiver many think he can but he’s got some work to do. He said all of the right things in his postgame comments as he owned up to his mistakes. That’s the first step towards rebuilding the confidence of his teammates and more importantly his own.
Photo courtesy post-gazette.com