Monday, December 30, 2019

Belichick is right and you're wrong: Episode 442 - The Clock and Timeouts

I'll state two things before getting into the meat of this post:

1) Bill Belichick is not always right. He is fallible. He has made, and will make incorrect decisions.

2) You are not smart enough to judge when those incorrect decisions have occurred. In other words, I will defer to Belichick over you, always. That means any "you" who might be reading this (including me). From the geniuses on sports radio, to the sofa stains who yell at the TV with their rational coaching insights. Belichick understands football at a level beyond most professional football coaches, let alone the Madden All-Pros out there or the former high school standouts who caught two TDs in the Thanksgiving Day game to make the Division 6 all-star team.

Bill Belichick was conservative at the end of the first half. He didn't use a timeout on defense to save the clock. The first offensive play was a draw which lost 2 yards. That pretty much ended the drive. Why so conservative?

Because the Patriots' offense struggles to get first downs, and Miami had 3 timeouts.

What do you think was more likely, a Patriots scoring drive, or a quick three-and-out?

So your options are to get the ball with 1:40 on the clock, 2 timeouts, and a very real chance of giving the ball back to Miami with 1:00 remaining. Or you get the ball with 1:00 of clock, 3 timeouts, and see if you can string together a few plays without giving Miami a chance to touch the ball again.

You are either in control of the clock and therefore the game, or you have to hope to move the ball in order to be in control. And you're not good at moving the ball.

It's like a basketball team dribbling out the clock at the end of a quarter, waiting until the clock is near 0 to shoot so as to prevent the other team from having an extra possession.

Don't forget, Buffalo scored after getting the ball with 0:33 before halftime last week. The defense is not immune to allowing big plays and quick drives.

And if you think scoring with 1:40 and 2 timeouts is likely or possible, yet somehow with 1:00 and 3 timeouts scoring is impossible, I really don't know what to tell you. Good luck with that.

And if you don't like the draw play call, go back to all the other 2-minute drives the Patriots have started with draws, screens, and other conservative plays. Go all the way back to Super Bowl 36 and tell Belichick that a 5 yard pass to Redmond is too conservative a play to call with 1:21 on the clock.

They frequently start those types of drives with low-risk plays. If they get some yards, you crank up the speed of the drive. If not, you keep the ball and go to the locker room.

The Patriots also seem to, in many situations, give timeouts a higher value than 40 seconds of time. Timeouts keep your play-calling flexible and your playbook wide open. There are 3,600 seconds in a football game, and there aren't many 40 second blocks that are more valuable than being able to call a run play or use the middle of the field.

This offense has struggled almost all year, but the struggles get even worse when their range of plays is limited. Having more timeouts makes you less predictable.

So the Patriots wanted control of the clock, didn't want to give Miami a chance to score like Buffalo did, and they value a timeout more than actual time.

The end. You're wrong, Belichick is right, we're on to Tennessee.

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