Coaches Make Decisions…
I remember watching a Patriots v Colts game several years ago where the Patriots had a 4th down and short in their own side of the field late in the game. They had one of the best QBs in football, a dynamic isolation receiver, and only needed 2 or 3 yards to get a first down, secure the win, and burn the clock.
Conventional thinking would be to punt the ball away and play defense, but they would be giving the ball to the other “best QB in the league,” with plenty of time to score. The Pats decided to go for it, the pass fell incomplete, and they wound up losing the game on a short field touchdown. I recall thinking how bold and brilliant that call was, but the next day I heard all of sports talk radio criticizing the call made by one of the greatest coaches the game has ever known. Why the criticism? It was the right thing to do, with the right people, at the right time. It just did not work.
Fast forward to our game this past Saturday. We opened our season with the team we defeated in the state championship game last year, who is also the team who defeated us in the 2016 state championship. The game was back and forth. They had a dominant running game and we dominated in the air. During the first 3 successful Points after touchdown, I noticed that they were only rushing 2 guys off our right side and were not rotating anyone over to cover for them.
I had made the decision in the first half that if this is still a back and forth game in the fourth quarter we would fake and go for two. Playing them in overtime did not favor us. Their success on the ground gave them a decided advantage on the short field, and short fields are no friend of the passing game. So when we got the ball in the fourth trailing by 7, (28-21), I told our QB that when we score, we will fake and go for two. It was the right thing to do with the right people at the right time, but the ball fell to the ground incomplete. We wound up losing 35-33.
Good call or bad call?
I posed that same question to a longtime friend and student of the game. He responded:
“Good Call… Remember, the ball has points, and therefore like life, bounces in unpredictable ways. You make the best call you can given the information available at the time, and let the chips fall.”
What do you think? Good call or bad call?
Coach Rich Alercio is available to discuss coaching philosophy, X’s & O’s, or teach his O-Line “techniques in the trenches.” Contact Coach at firstname.lastname@example.org and share http://www.olineskills.com with your colleagues and friends. Thanks for your time!