Team Should Give Owens Chance To Prove Himself... And Owens Should Grow Up And Shut Up
January, 30, 2002
The main story coming out of an otherwise successful season for the San Francisco 49ers is the ongoing conflict between head coach Steve Mariucci and Pro Bowl receiver Terrell Owens.
Owens has continued to rip Mariucci since the Playoff defeat in Green Bay, questioning both the playcalling and his role in the offense. This has been the case since the 49ers allowed Chicago to comeback from a large deficit and ultimately win the game in overtime.
Owens' criticism of Mariucci regarding that was that once his team had a big lead he eased up on his friend Dick Jauron's Bears and cost themselves the game.
Anyone with any memory of the game will recall that that was the game that Jeff Garcia suffered the sprained knee that robbed him of most of his mobility and quickness. They will also remember that it was Owens who bobbled what for him is a simple catch straight into the hands of Chicago safety Mike Brown who ran it back for the game winning TD.
Following an embarrassing defeat at Dallas Owens again criticised Coach Mooch for his playcalling and failure to get him the ball.
It was Owens' antics in the previous game against Dallas and in the week leading up to the game that had the Cowboys fired up, and coupled with his own inability to do anything against the resultant blanket coverage this time it was a case of Owens deliberately looking to draw Mariucci into a confrontation and not being adult enough to admit that he was at fault.
Owens has almost 200 catches in the last two seasons, and his efforts after the catch make him the teams most dangerous weapon. Many have termed the receiver a big game player, including Owens himself.
Unfortunately this statement is not backed up by results. The 49ers biggest games this season came against the Rams, Bears and Packers. Against the Rams in week three Owens repeatedly dropped the ball when in position to make a catch and the Rams won 30-26.
The Bears mishap we know about, whilst in the playoff game in Green Bay he failed to come back for the ball on a under thrown deep ball from Garcia leading to an interception and eventually the clinching score.
Not only that but he was rendered ineffective by Green Bay corner Mike McKenzie.
Also, he totalled zero TD receptions in the 49ers five losses this year.
Perhaps the 49ers lost because they couldn't get the ball to Owens in the end zone. Perhaps they lost because of offensive over-cautiousness.
Whatever, Mariucci and Owens need to air their grievances face-to-face. Not in the press. Alone, in private.
Mariucci also should give Owens the chance to catch 10-15 balls a game, the chance to live up to his own hype.
And if he does that, and provides game after game full of the breathtaking plays that have made his name in the NFL then both Mariucci and Owens will be winners. More importantly, the team will be also.
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