Sports evolve. Whether it is due to player evolution, whether it is due to strategic advancements, whether it is due to equipment technology, or whether it is due to rule changes, sports don’t look the same as they did years ago.
All of those reasons ring true in the NFL.
So now it is time for the coaches to adjust their strategies.
This day and age it is easier than ever to move the ball. Passing is easier, it is impossible to cover for more than 3.5 seconds, and all pass interference calls are against the defense (unless you are Jermaine Kearse). We all can agree this is true.
So how do NFL coaches counter this new way of playing? By employing the same old strategies as their old coaches used 30 years ago.
This is really stupid, given the fact that this industry is worth multi-billions.
Every single week, and yes I mean EVERY SINGLE WEEK, there is at least one game where a team has the ball with around 90 seconds left, need to move the ball down the field for a TD or FG, AND THEY DO.
Sure that team doesn’t always win, but each one of these times that team gets close enough to make things interesting.
Honestly I can write a dissertation about this, citing games, delving into the X’s and O’s about what is going on, etc. But I don’t have the time, and you probably don’t have the interest. By the way, if you are interested, tell me and love to lay out my reasons. Regardless, what is frustrating from a pragmatic standpoint is that coaches do not budge from their old school philosophies of football given the fact that the game is fundamentally different on offense.
So here are four things coaches have to do en masse to…say…get with the times:
Go for 4th down more - it is easier than ever to get 1-4 yards, and by giving up your possession for the sake of 40 yards that can be easily gained back in the middle of field for the exact same offensive advantages is not a good idea. Sure, when backed up in your area punting good. But on the 40? Either side of the 40? 4th and 5? Not hard to get for a competent offense.
Never use second half time outs before you need to - who knows how these games are going to look with 4 minutes left? The ability to control the clock when you need to. Take the 5 yard delay if need be, Run a weird play instead of calling a TO. Those time outs are gold at the end and can result into getting an extra possession or getting a late FG when given only 30 seconds.
There is no such thing as a 4 minute offense anymore - I always hear coaches talk about burning the clock, running the ball late with a lead, etc. You can’t do this anymore. First off, it is too hard to run when the other team knows it. Secondly, a team can easily score with 1 minute left. Unless there is less than 30 seconds left, burning clock doesn’t work.
Do not score a TD early to give the other team time to come back - This is the heart of this post. Given a free lane for a TD with 2 minutes left to take the lead seems OK, but your win probability goes down a ton. For example in the Hawks game, if Baldwin downed the ball at the 1, take a few knees, your win % (per ESPN) is 97%. By scoring with 1:40 left, your win % goes down to 88%. Only a difference of 10%, still probably going to win, no big deal, right? WRONG!!!
If you learn anything from me, learn this: THIS IS NOT AS SIMPLE AS A 10% DIFFERENCE. A 97% OF WINNING MEANS 3/100 TIMES YOU LOSE. 88% CHANCE MEANS YOU LOSE 12/100 TIMES. THERE IS A 4X GREATER CHANCE OF LOSING RATHER THAN WINNING WHEN SCORING EARLY IN THAT SCENERIO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
The fact people in the media, and running sports teams, do not understand simple percentages sickens me. Number sense people!!!! This shows why this country needs more people like me who actually understand these damn numbers to inform the masses.
I am so mad I better cool it for now. Anyway, numbers are your friend, when used correctly, you will gain an advantage in life, not just sports.