Congratulations to the Philadelphia Eagles! Your new head coach, Doug Pederson, is a disciple of Andy Reid, one of the most successful coaches in Eagles history!
One tiny problem, though. You know how Reid's lifelong bugaboo has been his mismanagement of clocks? Well, Pederson might have that problem too. Evidence: Pederson was actually responsible for calling the Kansas City Chiefs plays in the second half Sunday in their playoff loss to the New England Patriots, including the plodding five-minute drive that kneecapped Kansas City's comeback. It was the slowest drive in such a situation since at least 1998.
That a team did some confusing stuff under a certain coach's watch isn't particularly worrisome. Sometimes, weird stuff happens. What's worrisome is that Pederson tried to justify the fact that his team took a long time as an intentional strategy:
"It took us time because, No. 1, we did not want to give Tom Brady the ball back ... We were down numbers. We felt like at that point (it would have been a mistake) to give the ball back to Tom Brady. We still had timeouts and time even with the onside kick to put ourselves in a position to win the football game."
This matches what Reid had said about the situation, but now we know that a) this was an actual strategy multiple people agreed upon, and not merely Reid covering his steps and b) Pederson was responsible for it too.
So, let's remember the situation: The Chiefs got the ball with 6:29 remaining down two scores. If they were going to win the game, they were going to have to score two times. To score two times, you have to score one time. And when you score one time, the rules of football specify that you have to kick the ball off.
Pederson's logic implies that by going slower, he was avoiding the prospect of giving the ball back to Tom Brady. I'm not quite sure how he's come to that conclusion. Whether the Chiefs scored with four minutes remaining, two minutes remaining or 30 seconds remaining, the Chiefs were necessarily going to give the ball back to Brady. The only way they could avoid giving Brady the ball back was recovering an onside kick, something that is only successful about 20 percent of the time, regardless of how much time is left.
There are things that were affected by how much time was left. Let's say the Chiefs scored with, say, 2:45 left -- conceivable, since they got to the 1-yard line with 2:52 remaining. They still had three timeouts and the two-minute warning remaining, so the Pats would've needed to pick up multiple first downs to run the clock out. As it was, the Pats got the ball back with 1:13 left, and only needed to pick up a single first down.
It's worth noting that the Chiefs had little chance of winning down two touchdowns regardless of when they scored. But taking longer certainly didn't help.
Pederson's pedigree leads me to believe he's a pretty competent, if not downright good, offensive coach. But for him to imply there is some positive value to taking a long time in a situation requiring multiple scores is troubling. It shows a basic misunderstanding of situational coaching.
Reid's career shows that a knack for poor situational management can repeatedly haunt a coach with an otherwise fine track record. Now, a first-time head coach from the same football lineage is displaying a similar trait before even taking the reins for the first time. That's ... troubling!
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