Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Is 5 yards worth a Time Out?

I'm a football fan and have seen probably thousands of games on TV so I obviously think I know more than an NFL head coach.

There is one thing that continuously blows my mind while watching games and it seems to happen in pretty much every single one.  Why do NFL head coaches value 5 yards over preserving timeouts?

Let's take last night's Jets/Texans game.  Now the Jets probably wouldn't have won the game anyway, but wasting two time outs earlier in the 4th quarter took away any chance they had of actually trying to pull the upset:

Wasted Timeout #1

Houston is up 23-14. The Jets had just completed a big play down to the Texans' 16 yard line.  Of course they then wanted to take Sanchez out and go with the ridiculous Tebow package which causes confusion and they have to burn their first timeout with 13:17 left in the 4th quarter.  I know red-zone trips are precious but is wasting a timeout worth the difference between 1st and 10 at the Houston 16 and 1st and 15 at the Houston 21?  You're in a position at the 21 to get to within one score with TD or FG in that spot.  Are those 5 yards worth not being able to stop the clock at the end of the game if you need them?

Wasted Timeout #2

On their next drive after kicking a FG to get within 23-17, the Jets hit a screen pass on 2nd and 18 for 19 yards and 1st Down to the Houston 35 with 8:31 left on the clock.  Of course it's time to take Sanchez out and put Tebow back in which again causes personnel confusion and they burn another time out.  Once again I know it's a big spot in the game but you are within a TD with 8 and a half minutes left.  It's probably going to come down to one possession at the end of the game.  Is burning a timeout in that spot to go from 1st and 10 at the Texans 35 to 1st and 15 from the Texans 40 in that spot worth it?  A drive isn't dead when it's 1st and 15.

The Jets ended up getting the ball back at their own 16 with 3:28 to play.  They still had one timeout and the two minute warning to work with.  That's still a lot of time but Sanchez ended up throwing a pick on 3rd and 18 after a sack as he rushed to the line to squeeze one more play in before the 2 minute warning.  

I'm not saying the timeout management is why the Jets lost this particular game . Even after the last interception the Jets could have still gotten the ball back with a minute left.  Still unlikely at that point but not having any timeouts doesn't even give you a chance.

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