Tag Archive for 'game theory'

bad clock management #4

If you’re second-guessing anything from the Saints’ 26-23 win over the Falcons, it’s probably that fake field goal late in the 4th quarter. I’ll get back to that later, but the real mistakes were a few clock management errors that made the result far closer than it should have been. First, the Saints didn’t run enough time off the clock at the end of the 1st half, enabling the Falcons to mount a scoring drive of their own; second, the pass-happy playcalling on the drive leading up to that fake field goal let the Falcons save their timeouts and gave them more time to drive down the field for a tie or win. Continue reading ‘bad clock management #4′

bad clock management #3

Now, I’m going to start this with a disclaimer: I didn’t see much of the LSU/Ole Miss game because I was moderating at a quiz bowl tournament. But I did hear everything from LSU’s failed two-point conversion and successful onside kick through to the end of the game, and when I got home I rewound and watched the game from the same point on. But I’ll just be concerning myself with the last minute of the game, so that shouldn’t matter.

LSU got a remarkably good break with their successful onside kick, and then another when Brandon LaFell made a superb play, racking up the yards after catch en route to the Ole Miss 31-yard line. At that point LSU was in excellent shape, with two timeouts left and within Josh Jasper’s range (he had already made a 50-yarder earlier in the game). That said, a 48-yarder is no gimme, so Les Miles was entirely justified in trying to pick up more yards through the air. But Jordan Jefferson has got to have the pocket presence to get rid of the ball. On first down he successfully avoided a sack by throwing the ball away, but on 2nd down the 10-yard loss was a killer. Certainly one could argue for running the ball there, but the fault for the sack has to rest with Jefferson. The 3rd down play call for a screen pass is one of those things where if it works right, we’re all talking about how much of a genius he is. That’s the sort of play that very easily could have gotten fifteen yards and put LSU solidly back within Jasper’s field goal range. Was it the best call? Maybe, maybe not, but I have to rail against the results-oriented thinking I’ve already bitched in my Belichick post. If Ciron Black gets out and makes a block there might’ve been a decent gain on the play instead of a loss. While Les Miles and Gary Crowton’s playcalling was certainly questionable, it was also defensible. Continue reading ‘bad clock management #3′

the people who bash Bill Belichick’s 4th-down decision

People are bashing Bill Belichick’s decision to go for a 1st down on 4th-and-2 from his own 28-yard line. Now, I think Bill Belichick is probably the biggest douchebag ever to coach an NFL team. He strikes me as a brilliant and driven but despicable and classless human being. His petulance every time he loses a big game (as he did last night, or as he did in the Super Bowl against the Giants) is the antithesis of the sportsmanship players and coaches should display.* But there is one decision he made that should be defended: his decision to go for it may have caused an uproar, but it was the right call.

Some people, even ones with Super Bowl rings (including Tony Dungy, former Colts head coach), said that Belichick should have gone with the “percentages.” What a load of crap. The percentages don’t tell you this, not even close. The tired, hackneyed conventional wisdom tells you this. Coaches are far too conservative. As the blog at pro-football-reference.com notes, “If [Faulk] catches the ball [cleanly instead of bobbling it and being knocked back], the Patriots win and he’s the hero. If he drops the ball, Belichick becomes the goat. And that’s why most coaches never go for it in that situation.” When a “gutsy” call goes wrong, they get the blame. When they play it safe, the players get the blame. Continue reading ‘the people who bash Bill Belichick’s 4th-down decision’

bad clock management #2

I watched the Saints’ win over the Falcons. After the Falcons turned the ball over on downs with 1:49 left, I thought, “I realize they can’t quite run the clock out, but with an 11-point lead the Saints should kneel on the ball and then punt on 4th down. I realize this is one of those things where people are going to say, “Kevin, you’re only saying this because of what happened.” Well, that’s true; had the Saints run for a first down, had there not been an injury, had there not been a fumble, no, I probably wouldn’t be writing this right now. (I’d still be right, though.) But I definitely thought the Saints should have taken a knee. And my dad said the same thing when I talked to him after the game, and I checked a few message boards and saw at least one more person agreed with us. Click here for my explanation.

the nfl overtime rule

There are about a thousand different ways to deal with a tied football game. You can leave it tied, as was the rule in college for many years. You can let the teams alternate possessions starting at the 25 or the 10, as is the case now in college and high school. Neither of these solutions is ideal. The current college and high school system eliminates the importance of field position, punting, and the vertical passing game, while placing a heavy premium on turnovers, field goal kicking, and two point conversions. And obviously, ties must be avoided in the NFL playoffs. But either of those proposals is a huge improvement over the NFL’s joke of a playoff system. In fact, just about any system would be an improvement. It is far too easy for the team that wins the coin toss to march down the field, kick a field goal, and win the game without a single possession for the other team. Of six NFL overtime games this year, three have been decided by a field goal on the opening possession. Continue reading ‘the nfl overtime rule’