Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Yes, Green Bay should have gone for 2

ProFootballTalk considers Mike McCarthy's decision to settle for overtime:
Three days later, the sports world continues to buzz about the epic Packers-Cardinals playoff game. And one of the many questions that continues to bubble up from time to time is this: Should the Packers have gone for two after scoring on a :00 Hail Mary pass?

In hindsight, absolutely. But if coach Mike McCarthy had opted to go for two and if his team had failed to convert, he would have become a pin cushion for criticism in the aftermath of what would have become his team’s latest failure in a playoff game. Apart from the fact that coaches who do the conventional and fail get a pass while those who do the unconventional and fail don’t, a McCarthy decision to go for two would have been directly responsible for the fifth straight failure to get to the Super Bowl despite having one of the best quarterbacks of the Super Bowl era on his team.
It's not hindsight. It was the obvious thing to do. In 2015, the Packers went for it 6 times and scored the conversion 4 times for a 66.7 percent success rate. The league average was 47.8 percent.

But Mcarthy's decision is even worse than the statistics indicate. The Packers were underdogs. The underdog should ALWAYS go for the winning two-point conversion. I was at a Vikings-Cowboys game in 1995 when the Aikman-Smith-Irvin Cowboys were the defending Super Bowl champions and the dominant team in the league.

The Denny Green-coached Vikings managed to tie the game with 30 seconds left. It was a chance at a huge upset; the Cowboys were clearly the better team and the only reason we were in it was due to a very rare Emmitt Smith fumble. The two-point conversion was our one shot at winning the game.

But like Mike McCarthy, Denny Green choked, and played to continue the game rather than to win. Sound familiar?

The Cowboys won the coin toss and needed just five plays to win the game. Smith broke through a huge hole on the left side and outran safety Charles Mincy to the end zone just 2 minutes 26 seconds into overtime. 

The players can tell when their chickenshit coach isn't even trying to win, and they play accordingly.



Blogger Sun Xhu January 19, 2016 2:35 PM  

The Packers have had terrible coaching for decades. They always try to "play it safe", so they almost always lose the close/clutch games. Their play-calling also makes what should be easy wins, close games.

And example: Up by 10 points in the second half? Packers play 2-deep prevent... Bloody idiotic.

Blogger JDC January 19, 2016 2:37 PM  

This is for Vincent Castrillo and Nate

SEC Wins Again Bet

Anonymous Faceless January 19, 2016 3:04 PM  

I'm not a huge pro football fan, but, I do appreciate in football at any level - if it's 4 and 2 and you're anywhere mid field or beyond, try to punch it through. If you're down by one, go for two. At least go down swinging and be able to say you tried to win. Playing for a regulation time tie with the NFL "a touchdown wins it" rule seems just beyond stupid - if you couldn't punch it in before, why will you be able to punch it in after four quarters?

Blogger Dave January 19, 2016 3:13 PM  

That was one of the biggest disappointments about Chip Kelly. He was supposed to be unconventional, against the grain, was going to revolutionize the game. Instead the more he coached in the NFL the more timid he became.

In other news

"According to the drive finder at Pro Football Reference, there have been 2,111 drives in NFL games since 1998 in which the team with the ball trailed by 9-17 points (in other words, they needed to score more than once but weren’t totally out of it) with less than seven minutes left. Out of those 2,111 drives, only one took more time than the 5:16 the Chiefs took off the clock on Saturday."

Now we find out Pederson who the Eagles just hired has been calling the plays in the 2nd half of all Chief games since they played the Steelers. That's inspiring.

Blogger Jourdan January 19, 2016 3:15 PM  

Absolutely agree. If you can't seize an opportunity to WIN in the playoffs, you have no goddamn business in them.

Anonymous WillBest January 19, 2016 3:23 PM  

Yeah that will be on top 10 stupid coaching mistakes in Packers history for awhile.

1) Your team just demoralized a defense with 2 hail marys, and they are gassed
2) Your offense is pumped up on pure adrenaline thinking they can do the impossible
3) The only reason you were even in this position is because you just performed a miracle, and the only reason that miracle was enough is because the opposing QB was playing well below normal, but was starting to find a rhythm by the end of the game.

You could put the game in the hands of one of the best QB's in the league at the 2 yard line in an all or nothing.

But you opt to:

Throw away that momentum and take a 50/50 shot at collecting the ball on your 20 having to either drive the length of the field or come up with at least 1 defensive stop.

Blogger Aeoli Pera January 19, 2016 3:23 PM  

Game theory doesn't get easier than this.

Anonymous joe doakes January 19, 2016 3:28 PM  

Vikings fans remember different low spots over the years, but everybody hates "The Knee."

Anonymous DavidKathome January 19, 2016 3:31 PM  

As Vince Lombardi said after the Ice Bowl, "If you can't run the ball in there in a moment of crisis like that, then mister, you don't deserve to win. Those decisions don't come from the mind. They come from the gut."

Granted, it was so cold he may have gotten past the point of caring that day, but decisions like that are why the Super Bowl trophy is named after him.

Blogger Mr.MantraMan January 19, 2016 3:37 PM  

Rub the salt in a little more

Blogger Gapeseed January 19, 2016 3:50 PM  

That was one of the biggest disappointments about Chip Kelly. He was supposed to be unconventional, against the grain, was going to revolutionize the game. Instead the more he coached in the NFL the more timid he became.

Makes me think of Luke 17:33 and wonder if Jesus is a secret football fan. Whoever seeks to preserve his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life will keep it.

Blogger Jourdan January 19, 2016 4:06 PM  

Chip Kelly is not NFL coaching material, as many Oregonians know all too well. Like with players, there are coaches that excel at the college game and don't translate to NFL football, and vice versa.

Kelly, however, is even a more rare type: good enough at both to get a shot, but not a winner.

Anonymous Anonymous January 19, 2016 4:06 PM  

Totally agree. Not only were the percentages in their favor, as you pointed out. But they were playing on the road with an elite clutch quarterback who can not only throw, but run (extend plays etc).

It's not like they had Trent Dilfer or some well known choker at quarterback. We're talking Aaron freaking Rodgers here. This ones a no brainer. McCarthy needed to reach down and find his balls, if he has any.

Blogger Ministry of Truth January 19, 2016 4:33 PM  

As a Panthers fan, several seasons ago i was on record as saying that the Panthers would NEVER be successful with Ron Rivera as their HC - in great part because of feckless decisions with play-calling like the above.

Then came the advent of "Riverboat" Ron. With Rivera's 3rd straight 1-3 start (in his 3rd season as an NFL HC), Rivera, with his back against the wall and his career in the cross-hairs of new Carolina GM Dave Gettleman, grew a pair....

No longer did the panther punt it away on 4th & inches, and suddenly the Panthers won 11 out of 12 and finally turned the corner from perennial mediocrity to 3 time division champs.

The moral of this story is just like Voxs blog post: Sack up & go for it.

"...Err on the side of boldness."

Anonymous Alec January 19, 2016 4:55 PM  

On a related topic: Much was made last week of every road team winning in the wild card round. I haven't seen any mentions of the fact that every one of those teams lost in the divisional round.

Anonymous WillBest January 19, 2016 5:13 PM  

Wild Card Weekend is more about finding opponents for the teams that are demonstrably good. Although it is important to note that two of those teams (Packers and Steelers) had leads.

Anonymous GreyS January 19, 2016 5:52 PM  

I consider McCarthy to be one of the most overrated coaches in the league, but this doesn't qualify as some huge coaching mistake. A legitimate case can be made for either course.

You have the best QB in the game and the opposing QB was playing terribly- skittish and nervous all night long. If the Pack gets the ball first in OT, good chance they go down and score. If AZ gets the ball odds are they get merely a FG with Palmer panicking all night.

I could see going for two there but oftentimes in those situations your emotions get the best of you and you rush the decision and rush the ensuing play.

Blogger Miguel D'Anconia January 19, 2016 6:03 PM  

Playing to win is very different from playing not to lose.

Anonymous tublecane January 19, 2016 6:18 PM  

@16-Yes, IF they get the ball first, or IF they stop Arizona. But with a two point conversion you already have the ball and you don't have to march downfield. Why give that up for a chance at being in the same position later? Why, aside from the boneheaded Monday morning quarterbacks, that is.

Anonymous GreyS January 19, 2016 6:31 PM  

As if there's no "IF! IF!" in a two-point try there-- especially when the NFC Championship game is in the balance.

I wouldn't fault him for doing either one if I was a Packer fan. But play-acting as if this was some definitive test of McCarthy's manhood is laying it on a bit thick.

Anonymous G.Veil January 19, 2016 7:07 PM  

Well McCarthy also settled for field goals on those early Russell Wilson INTs last year in the championship too when they had 4th and Goal from the 1 twice. It's why the Packers only had a 19-7 lead. He's never had a particularly bold stroke to just play for the win, amusing considering that those PATs aren't guarantees anymore, but at least that way it's not all on him. He took the easy way out and got mostly left off the hook for it, or at least the blame was more evenly distributed.

Blogger Greg Doyle January 19, 2016 8:42 PM  

This is assuming, of course, that the GB Coach was operating autonomously, and not following orders from on high.

Sports placates the masses.

Blogger Greg Doyle January 19, 2016 8:42 PM  

This is assuming, of course, that the GB Coach was operating autonomously, and not following orders from on high.

Sports placates the masses.

Blogger Michael Maier January 19, 2016 8:52 PM  

I don't get it. Before they moved the extra point spot back, 2 point conversions were over 50% successful over the entire NFL. I often wondered why NOT go for them more?

Now we even have Adam Vineteri missing extra points in the regular season and it doesn't seem as though any coaches are using the two point conversion more often.

Very odd.

Blogger Vincent Castrillo January 19, 2016 9:19 PM  

GB (reasons you do not even consider the extra point beyond just it's obvious you scared dummy)
1)You played last week, Cardinals didn't.
2)You are on the road.
3)You just got a hail mary (again) and have no business winning that game. Steal it.
4)Your defense stinks compared to the other teams. OT rules almost always favor the sounder defense if you look into it. Low and behold my No.1 fantasy failure last year Larry Larry walks 70 some odd yards to your 3 yard line. Game over.
5)ALL of your fans will support you regardless. If you went for 2 and failed, they would understand the logic and move on. Those who didn't would figure it out or who cares about morons anyway?
6)You have Aaron Rogers in full 4 leaf clover mode. 2 yards to victory is %50 and GB's even higher. Going to OT is %50 at best and that's if you believe that they were equal teams. They weren't Why not settle it there again???? Like a boss.
7)Yes, it's not huge but a 20 yd EP and a 30EPin the winter outside is not full proof either.
8)There is literally 0 reasons to not go for it here.

Blogger Vincent Castrillo January 19, 2016 9:24 PM  

So in summary, if your teams constantly make it to the playoff but never win look at your coaches. There is a reason the Bellicheks, Sean Peytons, even Nick Sabans win way more than they should. You have to take charge of the flow of a game and NEVER worry how you will look after the game.

When in doubt, What would Bellichek do? and then just do it. On no planet would he, Sean Payton, or Pete Carroll not go for 2 there. Heck Les Miles would of had them line up for the 30 yard extra point only to fake it and let the kicker throw it deep....

Blogger So Meh January 19, 2016 9:32 PM  

nope. correct decision to go to OT. not all 2 point conversions are the same. so the stat 4 for 6 needs examined...were the 2 point conversions mop up plays when down multiple scores? or against non top 5 Detroit or Chicago? I would tilted the decision for going for it, if you defense is gassed for playing horrible ok then go for it, but you have a 50% chance of winning the coin toss (not a coin flip) and Packer's defense is/was playing good to very good. You could say, the Packers defense in OT played too good by getting (a horrible playing) Palmer to scramble and finding a uncovered larry fitzgerald for a great play in overtime. i like it when the Packers lose. broke my heart to see those two hail marys for 4th and 20 go for 50+ yards and the next one for the TD. the Cardinals did their best to give that game away, but the Money Line still paid off for a day of free pizza. Packers covered (+7) with those 2 hail mary passes and so it goes. Go Bears.

Anonymous Anonymous January 19, 2016 11:29 PM  

Well McCarthy also settled for field goals on those early Russell Wilson INTs last year in the championship too when they had 4th and Goal from the 1 twice. It's why the Packers only had a 19-7 lead

Yep, I'm convinced that McCarthy's timid style infected the whole team in that game, and it's what allowed the Seahawks to come back. Not just kicking the field goals, but laying down after that last INT with 20 yards of open grass in front of him.

I also get the impression Rodgers doesn't like that.

Football ain't a sport for timid men.

Anonymous Cyclone Bob January 20, 2016 12:44 AM  

GB's final 2 drives:

4yd pass
1yd run
Inc pass
Inc pass
Inc pass
-10yd sack
Inc pass
60yd hail mary
Inc pass
Inc pass
TD hail mary (bobbled, 2 inches from incomplete)

Only a retard or a degenerate gambler follows up that "momentum" with a season-ending 2pt conversion. However gassed the defense was, they had a 5 minute timeout during the TD review.

Anonymous GreyS January 20, 2016 1:33 AM  

When in doubt, What would Bellichek do? and then just do it

Belicheat has been in that position four times. He has kicked it every time.

Anonymous WillBest January 20, 2016 2:34 AM  

Cyclone Bob, you are making my point. They had no offense, so why would you risk needing to go 50 yards when 60% of your possessions were 3 and outs. Meanwhile the cardinals scored on every 2nd half possession Palmer didn't throw an INT.

Blogger lordabacus January 20, 2016 11:01 AM  

Conventional wisdom says go for 2 on the road, which is what I probably would have done. (But I don't think it's a no-brainer by any stretch.) X-O guys, what do you call in that situation? My instinct is something where Rodgers has a pass/run option. Would have been a great spot for a fake EP if the NFL hadn't moved the point-afters back this season as a solution to a nonexistent problem.

Blogger jon spencer January 20, 2016 11:35 AM  

Should have at least lined up for two and if Rodgers did not like what what the defense was doing then taken a timeout or delay of game and then try the kick.

Blogger RobertDWood January 20, 2016 11:52 AM  

Thank you for this analysis

Blogger exfarmkid January 20, 2016 2:44 PM  

Vikings fans remember different low spots over the years, but everybody hates "The Knee."

And I hate you for reminding me of that travesty.

Blogger Hank Brown January 20, 2016 5:10 PM  

Even bigger chickenshit call by Denny Green: NFC championship game hosting Atlanta. Vikings are 1st @ goal with seconds left on the clock. Vikes have the most powerful offense in football. Green has them take a knee to end regulation.

Anonymous tublecane January 20, 2016 6:30 PM  

@20-There's really only one "if" with a 2-point conversion, and it's less of an "if" than the overtime alternative, statistically speaking.

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