Tuesday, January 19, 2010
Guard These Things Like Gold
Much ado has been made of the end-game decision by Norv Turner to on-sides kick with 2:16 in regulation, trailing by 3 points.
In particular, Phil Simms and Boomer Esiason essentially declared it a bad move.
I'd say it was risky, but not insane. Let's take a moment to break down Norv's multiple bad options, and to once again remind people why 2nd half time outs MUST be treated like precious gold.
With just 1 timeout remaining, the Chargers would need to stop the Jets on 3 downs, and get the ball back with whatever time is left. Even then, you would have to rely on Nate Keading one last time to kick the overtime forcing field goal.
Given that Keading was in bad need of a diaper change at that point, I'd call those prospects officially: "dicey."
If you on-sides kick, you have a chance (league average: 26%) to recover immediately. If you fail, you MUST stop the other team on 3 downs.
But then again, if you kick the ball deep, you MUST stop the other team on 3 downs.
So if you need a stop either way, it does make some sense to take the 26% chance of a successful on-side recovery, IN EXCHANGE for field position.
Some sense, I said. It's not a lock. But the basic proposition is: "On-side chance FOR field position."
The Jets, once stopped on 3 downs, had the luxury of going for it on 4th down, due to field position. This was the other downside of a failed on-side kick. However, if the Jets faced a longer 4th down try - say 5 yards, not 1 - would they go for it?
I say, not likely. It would have also been a somewhat risky field goal attempt. With the ball at the 29, you're talking a 46 yard attempt that would NOT put the game away.
A Feely make, only makes it a 6 point game, with 1:09 left. No bargain there, for the Jets. A miss is even worse. Ball spotted at the 36, and Rivers has just 35 yards or so to go, to set up Nate's suicide inducing 4th miss of the day.
The bigger point, however, is the fact that NFL teams and coaches STILL fail to properly revere the value of 2nd half timeouts.
They are, GOLD! Treat them as such.
The Chargers had to burn two timeouts on defense the previous Jets possession, as they were already in extended run-out-the-clock mode. So those were understandable.
But what Rex Ryan did in the 2nd half was inexcusable. He used a 2nd half timeout JUST TO DECIDE TO KICK A FIELD GOAL!
Even though there was confusion about the spot of the ball, this was an egregious waste. Had the Jets been trailing late in the game, they would have sorely missed that timeout.
If you have all 3 timeouts remaining in the final 3 minutes of a game, and you are trailing, you are basically GOD. You can slow the game into what I call "matrix time" where everything suddenly goes slow motion.
Imagine if the Chargers had ALL 3 timeouts, instead of just one.
Assuming the kickoff and return would have lasted less than 14 seconds (which I admit, would be a close call, unless you can boot a sure touchback) then you would force the Jets to get a first down like this.
1st Down: (2:04 to go) Run, 2 minute warning.
2nd Down: (1:56 to go) Run, Timeout #1.
3rd Down: (1:52 to go) Run, Timeout #2.
Chargers would then (hypothetically of course, based on the above scenario) have the ball with 1 timeout, almost 2 full minutes, at their own 30-ish (based on an average sorta-punt).
Pretty good deal.
But that scenario is not available if you have less than your 3 full timeouts.
For the Chargers, they used them when they had to. I don't fault that. But moves like Rex Ryan, are idiotic.
I would never, ever, ever use a 2nd half timeout before 3 minutes were left in the game.
Ooooh. Five yard delay of game? So freaking, what. Not worth a precious timeout, that can save a full 40 seconds of game time.
If I have all 3 timeouts at the end of the game, I have essentially TWO extra minutes in my pocket.
I am God.
I would lock timeout coupons in a chest on the sideline, and not let my coach anywhere near them until the game was coming to a close.