Thursday, January 21, 2010

God Is In The Details

In the Jets-chargers playoff game everyone is breaking down two coaching decisions: Norv Turner going for an onside kick with a little more than 2 minutes to go and Rex Ryan going for it on 4th and 1 in field goal range.

Ryan's team made the yard, Turner's team didn't recover the kick. And the reactionary press is praising Rex and killing Norv.

Rex Ryan gets lauded because his move worked

I would have chosen the opposite in both cases. But the point is an argument can be made on both sides.

But one decision for which there is no defense is getting very little attention because it turned out to have little or no impact on the game.

Norv Turner saving his final time out until after the 2-minute warning, a indefensible move that could have cost his team valuable seconds.

Sports Illustrated's Joe Posnanski (who is fast becoming my favorite sports writer not named Peter King) uses the Turner timeout as an example of a larger trend plaguing the leage's coaches: they are horrible at clock management.

Coaches in the NFL have no idea how to use the clock.

This is astounding to me. As you no doubt know, football coaches will spend hundreds of hours every week studying film to get the tiniest advantage in a game. They will look for almost imperceptible flaws -- a lineman looking down at specific moments, a linebacker who tends to get overaggressive on reverses, a quarterback who drops his arm on certain throws, a receiver who does not run out his routes on running plays. They are looking for any edge, even an edge that, 99 percent of the time, will not matter. Coaches coach for that one percent of the time.

And yet: They treat the clock like college students treat their alarm clock. If there was a snooze button on an NFL clock, coaches would hit it repeatedly.

Papa Poop and I have often had the same discussion about the 2-point conversion. We fail to understand why coaches still don't know how (and more importantly, when) to utilize it, because it can play such an important role in deciding a game. And its so simple.

I can't understand why guys who work 18 hours a day don't devote 15 minutes one time to understanding the simple but important concepts of timeout management and the correct use of the 2-point conversion.

I recommend reading Posnanski's entire article and his detailed analysis of the best players in baseball from 1970 until now. You will gain a new appreciation for Ken Singleton, Will Clark and OPS+.


Reissberg said...

What other viable option was there on the 4th and 1? Make the field goal and it's still a 1 possession game? Going for it was the only way to end the game, and because of where they were, and with their defense, the worst case scenario was not so bad.

Jems said...

Agree with Reissberg, and if you punt you may only push the Chargers back 20 yards there.

Paul said...

Reissberg, that's like saying a baseball team down 1 or down 4 is still only 1 home run away.

A field goal there forces the Chargers to get a touchdown to win. That's a big advantage. Those extra 30 yards are hard to get when you can't run and you can't use the middle of the field.

And your logic about their strong defense is backwards too. If you had a weak defense you could argue going for it because you don't think you can stop them. With a great pass defense you can kick and rely on them to keep San Diego out of the endzone.

But the real point is that call is debatable.

But I guarantee if the Chargers had stopped the Jets there Rex would be getting killed this week.

jleary said...

Lets remember that it would have been a 47 yard filed goal which is not a chip shot, and Jay Feely is not a kicker I would have confidence in even though he did make a 46 yard kick in the game. If he misses then they would have gotten the ball at the 37 down by three. So I really think the main issue had to do with not trusting Feely to make the kick...I would have gone for it as well