NFL coaches are really bad at game management. With how much money NFL teams have, it really doesn’t make any sense why they don’t hire someone to handle this. And it’s not surprising that some coaches consistently struggle with this. Take Sean McVay. His responsibilities include, head coach, Offensive Coordinator and offensive play caller. With his attention being pulled so many directions, it’s no wonder he has made some game management errors.
Even head coaches that have less responsibilities still struggle with this. Let’s look at one of those coaches and how his game management blunder cost his team drastically.
NFC Divisional round 2017 – Green Bay vs. Dallas
Coming down the stretch, Dallas had the ball down 3. They had just gotten into FG range and with the clock running called a timeout. There was no need to call a timeout at this juncture and the ramifications of this decision lead to there being enough time left on the clock for Green Bay to kick a field goal and win the game.
After the game Jason Garrett defended his decision by saying they were going for a touchdown and he felt taking a timeout would result in best chance for that. Even assuming this line of thinking was correct, which isn’t necessarily the case, it is still am unnecessarily risky and irresponsible decision. Should Dallas had not taken that timeout, you still have a very reasonable chance to score a touchdown and win the game, but at the worst have a field goal to send the game to overtime. You could have removed the chance of Green Bay getting the ball back with enough time to win the game.
Sure, you would have liked to win the game on the current possession and avoid overtime, but even if the game goes to OT, you should have liked your chances. Dallas’ offense was rolling and Green Bay’s offense had done nothing recently.
The head coach’s job is to put their team in the best position to win. By taking a timeout and allowing Green Bay the ball with the game tied, Jason Garrett did not do that.
Week 2 2017 – Dallas vs. Denver
There were a number of situations where Jason Garrett’s decision were poor. Perhaps the worst part is that they don’t fit with one another. At one point of the game, Dallas had a 4th and 3. They punted signaling that Jason Garrett wanted the game to be an onside kick game. What this means is they would rather stay in the game and hope they can recover an onside kick, rather than risk going for it and conceding the loss if they do not make it. This is the conservative approach.
Later on, they had another 4th down with the opportunity of kicking a field goal, keeping the game theoretically winnable. In this situation, he decided to take the aggressive approach and go for the touchdown. They did not convert and any hope of winning the game was lost
Ultimately, in this game the cowboys were outplayed and that’s why they lost. However, Jason Garrett made the wrong call in the first situation and then showed no constancy. In the first situation, converting a 4th and 3 is much more likely than winning an onside kick game. You go for it.
In the 2nd situation, going aggressive after choosing to be so conservative makes no sense.
Ultimately it is not just Jason Garrett struggling. Many head coaches do in this regard. I just don’t understand why they just don’t admit it and hire someone to manage this.