Clock mismanagement all the rage in divisional round
Posted: Thursday January 17, 2008 12:15PM; Updated: Thursday January 17, 2008 1:05PM
Steve of Boston asks: "Is Tony Dungy completely immune from criticism?"
As a human being, yes. He's one of the nicest guys I know. As a strategist, no. He made what I think was the wrong call against the Chargers. Down by four, fourth and goal on the seven, going for the TD was, I believe, the wrong move. He had all his timeouts left and a chance to get the ball back (which they did) and win the game on a kick.
The odds on a TD are too great, especially the way the flow was going. Peyton had missed on his last four passes. A Chargers defensive uprising was taking place. The kick would have given the Indy offense time to settle down and watch the Dee force a San Diego punt, and then it could have gone back out, needing only three with a minute and a half left. A better percentage play all around.
So why, Steve asks, didn't I devote some ink to the matter? Sometimes, when you write a day later, these things get overwhelmed by other angles, such as Billy Volek and, more important, the look ahead to next weekend. I'm not excusing it, I'm just telling you the way it is. I should have mentioned it, granted.
But if you want to complain about strategy, here's one that no one at all touched on, mainly because success blunted a foulup. Giants-Cowboys, end of the first half. The Cowboys' 20-play drive is winding down, and they're on the New York two, second down, goal to go with 1:53 left. The Giants had two timeouts remaining and they should have used them. You know Dallas is going to score, either seven or three, and they're content to let the clock run. The Giants could have gotten the ball back with a lot more than the 47 seconds they had left.
It's the most common clock butchery in football, but since the Giants scored anyway, all that was forgotten. But not by me.
More Dungy. Per of Lebanon is caught up in a Dungy quote he says he once read, about how he coaches all games the same. He wants to know how this could be? Did the famous generals fight all battles the same way?
I think I know what Tony meant. Strategy changes, game to game, but any attempt to try to coach emotion into the players is bound for failure. So on an emotional level, he coaches all of them the same way. I like that. The fiery speeches and inspirational stuff don't work much after high school. I think the best motivation the players can have is to see their coach calm and in control, and most important, appearing to know what he is doing.
Still on that subject, well, sort of, Greg of Red Bank, N.J., told me that in the last two minutes of Giants-Dallas he was down on the floor with his infant son, praying. He wants to know how I like THAT strategy.
I don't like it in Dallas. The line's too long, since that's the prayer capital of the NFL. You'd have to wait all day behind the Dallas fans. Giants in Green Bay might offer you a shorter line, since the Wisconsin folks are an earthier group. But the place to pray, when the Giants were on the road was, in the old days, L.A., home of the Rams. No line at all. You'd step right to the front. Prayer ain't very big in Los Angeles.
How do you defend against Tom Brady? This question appears in many aspects. "Drop extra men into coverage and hit the receivers as much as you can," says Scott of Centerport. Nah, I don't like that. Extra men in coverage means fewer on the rush, and any defense against Brady and the boys will have to come up with the most imaginative rush ever seen. Hitting the receivers is OK if you have an officiating crew that doesn't hoist its skirts and holler eeek at the sight of some contact.