clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Adam Gase made the biggest coaching mistake of NFL Week 2 (on purpose!)

New, comments

Gase nearly cost the Dolphins a win by gifting the Chargers a free timeout, but his decision might not have been without merit.

NFL: Miami Dolphins at Los Angeles Chargers Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports

After postponing their Week 1 contest due to Hurricane Irma, the Miami Dolphins opened their season by taking on the Los Angeles Chargers in StubHub Center. It was a low-scoring, back-and-forth affair, with the Dolphins eventually gaining a two-point lead with 1:05 left in the game.

And then things got weird, leading to arguably the worst coaching decision of Week 2. Or was it? Let’s go over the end of the game.

Philip Rivers got the ball and drove the Chargers into field-goal range. After taking his final timeout, at the 19-second mark, Rivers used a QB sneak to get the ball near the middle of the field. That decision was questionable enough, leaving the clock running and the Chargers scrambling back to the line of scrimmage. Their only good option was spiking the ball and giving the field-goal unit time to set up. Only the Chargers were subbing in personnel and taking too long to get set on the line as the seconds ticked down.

The Dolphins could’ve sat back and let chaos ensue, but head coach Adam Gase strangely made the decision for LA, calling a timeout with nine seconds left. This gave the Chargers time to regroup and set up their field goal properly, which could’ve been disastrous if the kick was good. Alas, poor Younghoe Koo can’t catch a break — the rookie’s 44-yard field goal was wide right, missing his second potential game-winner in two weeks. Miami escaped LA with the 19-17 win.

At first glance, Gase’s decision looks like a comical blunder. Taking timeouts for the other team is almost never a good idea, much less with the game on the line. However, there’s one possible justification for the move, if you’re willing to be generous:

Gase himself defended the timeout with that rationale, via the Miami Herald:

“We were trying to leave enough time where if he made it, we could run another play. [Chargers quarterback] Philip [Rivers] was stopping all those guys trying to run off the field. He was going to clock it with two seconds left. We tried to call it with 12 seconds left, we got 10. So if he kicks it and makes it, we got a chance to maybe running around, throw the ball around to get something going.”

Either way, the field goal was shanked so Gase’s decision didn’t matter in the long run, but those are some awfully specific circumstances under which the timeout would’ve been a good idea. For it to work out, you also need a great kickoff return that doesn’t kill too many seconds, and then a Jay Cutler Hail Mary. Cutler was decent enough in the game, but let’s just say he’s no Aaron Rodgers on the Hail Mary. All’s well that ends well, I guess.

Gase made possibly the biggest mistake of Week 2 even though his team won, which is an improvement over last week. With no obvious Chuck Pagano-level blunders, this week’s coaching mishaps are more of the garden variety type. Let’s go over the big ones made in Week 2.

Sean McDermott doesn’t pay attention to the clock

The Buffalo Bills had no answers on offense, getting completely shut down by the Carolina Panthers for most of Sunday. However, the Panthers offense was also putrid, so the Bills inexplicably had a chance to win the game when they got the ball down, 9-3, at the end.

Tyrod Taylor was stringing throws together, and Buffalo marched down the field for the first time pretty much all day. It was an encouraging drive, but the Bills apparently forgot that the clock was running and they had two timeouts left. After a 4-yard scramble by Taylor to the Carolina 42, over 20 seconds elapsed before the Bills ran their next play, an incomplete pass to Zay Jones. It took another Taylor scramble before Buffalo finally called its second timeout, setting up fourth-and-11 at the 33 and a desperate heave near the end zone that bounced off Jones’ hands.

It wasn’t a good throw by Taylor, but the Bills could’ve had a much better shot if they didn’t waste time and got a chance to run more plays. By leaving yards on the field and a timeout in their pocket, the Bills cost themselves a chance to spring the road upset.

Mike Zimmer gets way, way too cute

I love fake punts, don’t get me wrong. When pulled off well at the right time, they can help change the game. There’s a time and place to do a fake punt, however, and that time is probably not deep in your own territory when you’re down 11 points on the road.

Apparently the Minnesota Vikings didn’t get the memo:

Never mind the terrible Pop Warner-style pass. That’s just a bad spot to be running a fake punt in. The Steelers scored a field goal shortly afterward, going up 17-3 and effectively putting the game away in the third quarter.

Vance Joseph makes a rookie mistake

The Denver Broncos are 2-0 and this absolutely did not matter in their 42-17 beatdown over the Dallas Cowboys. But at least Joseph is good-natured enough to call out his own mistakes:

Speaking of the Cowboys, where was Ezekiel Elliott?

I mean, besides that one play.

Playing the Broncos defense at Mile High is always a formidable task, but it’s kind of baffling that Jason Garrett didn’t use Elliott as heavily as usual. Giving him only nine carries is nigh-inexcusable when the entire offense is designed to feature Elliott. Dak Prescott should not be throwing 50 times in any circumstance. The Cowboys let the game get away from them, and the result was a deflating, head-scratching performance on multiple levels.

John Fox. Just, in general

After a three-turnover game, Mike Glennon is making it hard for the Bears to be patient. Well, except for Fox.

NFL celebrations are fun again. FINALLY.