Monday, November 16, 2009

Belichick's Call

I'm going to put my opinion in the comments, but here's a great analysis by the cold numbers. Run your own numbers here.

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At 11/16/2009 01:16:00 PM, Blogger Mike said...

When I run my own numbers, it comes out pretty even, so I think, in theory, it's not a bad call either way. If you feel confident in Brady, do it. But, this isn't theory, and you're going to get killed if it doesn't work out. Most people aren't reading Football Outsiders, and aren't thinking of these percentages; they're just remembering how it's always been done. Going against Orthodoxy and failing is a good way to get killed, if only metaphorically in this case.

So, if you're playing this on Madden, or if it's a meaningless game, I think it's likely the right call. But, not here, not with these emotions.

At 11/16/2009 01:28:00 PM, Blogger Mike said...

And yes, as with any emotion, a more informed public could lead to more informed emotions, and this call being more accepted in ten years. It would take that long at least for anything like that to be accepted.

And maybe in time we can stop seeing punts on 4th and 1 at the opponents 32. Statistically horrible. I HATE those.

At 11/16/2009 02:06:00 PM, Blogger Kennelworthy said...

Well... I have always wondered why some brave NFL coach doesn't essentially eschew punting altogether, like I've read a couple high school coaches have done to some success.

I just feel like if you think going for it in the Pats/Colts instance was a good idea, then you should maybe consider firing your punter altogether.

Bring up the dreaded "momentum" argument if you want... but the Pats defense had routinely stopped the Colts offense all game long. There were several three and outs and the Colts punted more than any game in recent memory. Why would you not take a shot at stopping them again... I guess it's because the Colts had scored the last two drives and looked hot. But something tells me a guy like Belichick is more of a numbers/odds guy than a "emotion" or "momentum" guy.

I'm willing to listen to the argument that the math isn't so bad on his decision... but I swear to you it was not about math... it was a large-scale pissing contest. "I'm going to get it here and stomp on you."

If they had converted, everyone would be praising them--that alone should tell you it's not as bad a decision as you're being made to think it was.

But it was completely against conventional wisdom. I have to believe that if there was solid math to back up the idea of punting less or not at all... then someone would be doing it.

It doesn't make Belichick's decision outright bad, but it's not exactly smart either.

At 11/16/2009 03:02:00 PM, Blogger Chris said...

It's conceivable Belichick was going for the win in a pissing contest. Hell, he thought it was a good idea for Brady to play in the 2nd Half of a 45-0 game earlier this year. He's an asshole.

However, the dynamics of a game are different in the present time of a game versus every other moment in the game. Just because the Pats defense had two gift INTs and shut the Colts down on three-and-outs previously doesn't really mean anything. Conversely, I can't say just because Manning had orchestrated some very quick scores in the 4th Quarter that he was definitely going to do it again.

I can say, it's obvious, that the teams with great offenses and awesome QBs (that might be redundant to say) are more likely to plow serious yardage in the final 2 minutes than not. We always stand in amazement when a terrific QB orchestrates yet another comeback when it seemed the offense was lying dormant the entire game. I think it has a lot to do with how defenses are allowed to prepare in those moments.

How many times do we see the no-huddle rip defenses apart? Especially when you have Manning (and Wayne, Clark, et al). The only reason you don't see it all the time is that your offense would be a tired mess if they did it the whole game.

I say if the Pats punted, the Colts would have been back at the Pats' 30 within one minute and that would have left a minute to charge down the field. The Colts may not have had the luxury of running, but I think that was an effort to kill clock anyway.

At 11/16/2009 03:04:00 PM, Blogger Kennelworthy said...

At least we can all agree that Belichick is a dick.

At 11/16/2009 04:57:00 PM, Blogger Mike said...

First of all, I made my notes without realizing anyone else had written anything. Just so you know.

Just to make a point, there is solid math to say that punting should be more rare, but should still be used in many situations. Like that 4th and 1 should be attempted far more often, but that going against the CW isn't worth it for the hit on a coach's career. So I basically disagree that if something is correct, everybody would be doing it. I mean, there was a New Kids on the Block reunion last year. Logic prevents that.

I really love commentary that assumed if he'd punted they would have won. Like he couldn't have driven them 70 yards. He likely would have. No huddle is awesome and should be used more often by great teams.

And Belichick likely was somewhat in a pissing contest. He's a touch autistic to the point of genius, but which also means he can be vendictive, arrogant, and over-reliant on math over emotion, as Chris says. I think he needed more balance here.

So, it's often takes being an asshole to be brilliant. I don't like humans much.

At 11/16/2009 05:14:00 PM, Blogger Kennelworthy said...

The new kids on the block line was pretty brilliant.

And yeah, I'm not suggesting no one should ever punt again. I'm just saying that if you buy the logic of Belichick's move in that circumstance... then there are a hell of a lot of circumstances when you should also believe punting is not correct.

And I hate humans too. We can at least agree on that.

At 11/16/2009 06:02:00 PM, Blogger Chris said...

I still think there might be a fallacy in thinking that the situation was mere Belichick Dickery (Dock?).

In other words, if he does it here, and not anywhere else in the game, then it's pure ego and trying to stick it to the other guy. Note: I think Belichick does this regularly, so it's not out of the realm of possibility.

But I think it's far more likely he does this to be a dick in a game that he's leading 51-6 than in a game that could be lost if he gambles incorrectly. It would be far more dickish to go for it on 4th down in a game like that than in this last one.

And the game situation dictates a tough decision there. Earlier in the game, you could trust your defense to make stops, and your offense to put more points on the board. Not so in the last 5 minutes of this game, when the no-huddle was tearing the Pats apart.

If the argument is that the Pats defense has been "making stops all game" then they should be able to make stops at any moment. The Colts still need to score a touchdown, and with the back of the end zone working as an extremely huge 12th man, it's as good a spot to be in as any other.

Does anyone agree with me that if the Colts started at their own 30, they would have been back at the Pats 30 within at least a minute? The argument then would be that well, it cuts the time in half that they did have, but I still say 30 yards in one minute is nothing for this offense, and therefore 70 yards in two minutes is definitely manageable.

I guess the chance for error is increased, but we're also talking about a highly efficient offense not likely to make mistakes when the blitz can't even get to the guy in the speed of a no-huddle operation.

At 11/16/2009 08:03:00 PM, Blogger Kennelworthy said...

It's just hard for me to take a position that defends Belichick. He's a cheater and a jerk and he keeps getting away with both because his team wins a lot (by cheating, apparently).

So while I think you may be right that there wasn't a bad decision... while I think you may be right that he was banking on a Colts score and wanted more time left for his team... I can only say that I'm exceedlingly glad that he's being criticized for this and that his team lost to my team after this decision. After years of everything going the Pats way in this rivalry (they were 7 of 8 in the beginning), my team is finally holding their own (5 of the last 6).

To sum up: yay colts. boo belichick. yay bud adams flipping the bird like a horny old man, and boo to belichick. yay to the Titans win and the play of Chris Johnson, boo to belichick. The end.

At 11/20/2009 01:42:00 PM, Blogger Mike said...

After reading the latest Simmons column, I'm glad he went for it. And I'm glad the Yankees won. In Boston, it's like the late 90's all over again. Their despair keeps growing, and soon it will bring down their teams on the field. Feels like putting on a comfortable pair of pants you hadn't seen in years. Comfy...

At 11/20/2009 03:23:00 PM, Blogger Chris said...

Yeah, the Simmons article is like "the way you lose" matters more than losing itself.

It sounded like he would have been totally OK with losing that game if Belichick punted.

Boston just won 6 championships this decade. I guess it's not enough to erase all the big losses of the decade.


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