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NFL Unfiltered Week 10: Why Can't NFL Coaches Tell Time?


National Football League games end in ways that seem as scripted as the results in World Wrestling Entertainment.  

No, not because the fix is in like it is in professional wrestling.  But because week after week, NFL head coaches predictably ruin any chance of winning due to an inability to properly manage the clock.  

These guys need help, the kind of help that comes in the form of a booth coach.  

While baseball managers rely on a bench coach to help make decisions, and NBA coaches charge assistants with the task of keeping track of timeouts and players fouls, NFL head coaches check almost every detail alone.  Photo: www.businessinsider.com

It isn’t working. And for proof, look no further than New York Giants’ Tom Coughlin.  

Including playoffs, Coughlin has coached 329 games, so it is fair to say he knows football and has seen just about everything. Yet, there he was, standing on the Giants’ sideline watching his team put themselves in position to beat the undefeated New England Patriots.  All he had to do was manage the clock correctly.  

From a bar stool, it seemed like the simplest thing.  Down 24-23, Giants’ quarterback Eli Manning completed a pass to wide receiver Dwayne Harris for an 18-yard gain, making it first and goal at the Patriots’ five.  

The goals at this point in the game were crystal clear: score, while making sure Tom Brady has as little time left on the clock as possible.  Coughlin couldn’t do it.  

What did he do?  

He began by ordering a timeout at the 2:06 mark, right after Harris’ big play. At the time, the Patriots only had one timeout left, so that blunder effectively gave the Patriots not one, but two more ways to stop the clock.  Their own timeout, and the two-minute warning.  

Then, Coughlin allowed the Giants to attempt three passes.  Naturally, the first two fell incomplete.  Yes, Odell Beckham Jr. should have made the catch on first down, but even if he had, two minutes and a timeout are more than enough for Brady, no matter how many points he needed.

After Josh Brown’s relatively easy field goal, Brady, one of the best quarterbacks in NFL history, trotted on to the field with 1:47 left to guide his squad to a winning field goal attempt.  

Since only :03 seconds elapsed during the ensuing kickoff, which meant the Giants used a measly :16 seconds after Manning’s big completion to Harris.  

Clearly, Coughlin knows better but somehow, he still failed.  Why?  

In my view, he failed because he didn’t have someone to tell him to accept the 5-yard delay of game penalty on 1st and goal.  He needed someone to remind him the Patriots could only stop the clock once more, so taking a knee three times gave him his best chance to win.  

Instead, he seemingly went with his gut and simply gave away a win in a league where wins are difficult to get.    

Be it arrogance, fear, stubbornness or something else, NFL head coaches continually hurt themselves with poor clock management.

It is time for coaches to leave clock management decisions at the end of halves to someone else.  It needn’t be an actual coach, per se.  Anyone who understands pro football at a rudimentary level, knows your best chance to beat Brady is to leave him with as little time as possible.  

Coughlin didn’t see it that way, and cost his team a win.

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-For those annoyed by the Rooney Rule, or fear an NFL where qualified white candidates don’t get a fair shake, know there’s always room for mediocrity. How do I know? St. Louis’ Jeff Fisher is 12 games under .500 with zero playoff appearances since 2009.  

-Beckham Jr is a very good player, but he is too easy to find in the Giants’ offense. Very little motion or work from the slot, means defenses know exactly how to defend him before every snap.

-So, Chip Kelly didn’t see quarterback Nick Foles as a viable NFL starter.  And evidently, neither does Fisher.  By sending the Rams a 2nd round pick, it’s as if Kelly wanted to make sure the Rams were okay once Foles didn’t work out.  

-Kelly’s allegiance to receiver Riley Cooper is as strange as any coach/player union in Philadelphia sports history. Cooper has demons and isn’t a good player, but Kelly keeps him on the active roster.  It’s like a man who keeps a woman’s phone number years after a relationship in case she changes her mind one day. When you write Kelly’s Eagles eulogy, start it with Cooper.  

-A.J. Green is one of the league’s many good receivers but when watching him play, he just doesn’t invoke the fear he should.  Maybe it’s his skill set, a byproduct of Cincinnati’s system, or the lack of respect defenses give quarterback Andy Dalton. Regardless, he just isn’t scary like Terrell Owens once was.  

-Too often, Dalton decides where to throw the football right after he gets the play call from offensive coordinator Hue Jackson.  That’s why you cannot trust him in a big spot.

-Browns quarterback Johnny Manziel’s production against the Pittsburgh Steelers is exactly why numbers are a small part of any story.  His 73.3% completion percentage and 372 passing yards were as inconsequential as it gets.  

-Quarterbacks changing the play at the line of scrimmage is a bit overblown.  To me, it is far more important quarterbacks decipher the defense after the snap of the ball.


Earl Myers is a freelance writer from the Philadelphia area. He closely follows North America's four major sports leagues but just about any sporting event gets his attention. His goal is to provoke a little thought in his readers.


Contact Earl at emyersiii@gmail.com  and follow him on Twitter @EMyersIII


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Photo: businessinsider.com