Game Management  

 

Haley's sideline antics wearing thin in Kansas City

I feel bad for Chiefs general manager Scott Pioli. I feel bad for all the injuries. I feel bad for the toll they have taken on his team.

But mostly, I feel bad for Pioli having to constantly watch his coach, Todd Haley, act like a maniac on the sideline each Sunday.

Pioli spent over a decade in New England with Bill Belichick who, as we have seen on NFL Network's "A Football Life: Bill Belichick," is calm and controlled on the sidelines -- other than cursing at Derrick Mason. Belichick wants his team to be poised and composed, therefore he acts poised and composed. Much like when a basketball coach screams at every call, it's not long before his entire team is yelling at the referees and not focusing on the game. Pioli knows the right way to behave on the sideline. This act by Haley has to be wearing thin on Pioli.

This is Haley's third season as the Chiefs coach -- you would think he would have learned to handle his emotions and realize that the opponent is not on his sideline, but rather across the field. The more Haley screams, especially on Sunday when it embarrasses the players, the faster he is going to lose their attention and their will to play hard. If that happens, he will lose his team.

I am not suggesting that Haley not demand from his team, but there is a difference between coaching and being a raving lunatic. Haley's temper tantrums make things seem personal, so instead of learning from the wisdom of his coaching, the players resent the way he delivers the message.

Calm down, Todd.

Reid my lips: No timeouts before the 2-minute warning

What would a column about game management be without having a chance to review the work of Eagles coach Andy Reid? He has a penchant for making some questionable decisions regarding managing the game, particularly when it comes to the use of timeouts late in the fourth quarter. For as smart as Reid is with regard to football knowledge, it's frustrating to watch him consistently make the same mistakes.

In Week 4 against the 49ers, the Eagles turned the ball over with 2:06 to go in the game and trailing by one point. Philly had two timeouts left. The 49ers' goals at this point in the game were: 1) get just one first down; and 2) get the Eagles to use all their timeouts in case they fail to get the first down.

The 49ers called for a run on first down, but it only took 4 seconds. Reid immediately called a timeout with 2:02 on the clock.

Why?

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Reid's timeout here actually helped the 49ers, not his team. When a similar opportunity has presented itself throughout his career, Reid has always has called a timeout before the 2-minute warning -- the last time in 2009 when the Eagles lost to the Raiders -- which clearly indicates he believes he is right. In reality, he is so wrong.

The object of sound clock management is not only to get the ball back for your team, but also limit the play selection of the opponent. So when the clock dips below 2:07, common sense tells you to let it run down to the 2-minute warning. If you pull a Reid and call timeout, it allows the opponent to call a pass without having to worry about stopping the clock.

By calling timeout, Reid gave the 49ers the option to pass on the next play without worrying about an incomplete pass inadvertently stopping the clock and helping the Eagles. The Niners didn't take advantage of this, instead handing the ball off to Frank Gore. He gained 8 yards and collected the first down, so it still worked out for them.

Reid keeps getting away with making the wrong call because his opponents, like the 49ers, keep calling runs, which is what Reid's defense is hoping they do. The same thing happened in Dallas last Monday night, when Redskins coach Mike Shanahan gave the Cowboys a huge advantage by calling timeout with 2:03 left. But like the 49ers, Dallas called a run on the next play.

But had the 49ers or Cowboys been smart, they would have called for a play-action pass. Even if the ball is thrown incomplete, the clock is going to stop either way, so there are no bad consequences. And don't try to tell me it's too risky. There is as much of a chance to fumble as there is to throw an interception, so this is not a ball-security issue. With a play-action pass, the receiver would be out wide, with all the defenders coming forward to stop the run, so it would be an easy throw.

Why call a run when the opponent has given you a perfect opportunity to win the game? It is just not the right thing to do, no matter how many times Reid does it.

Follow Michael Lombardi on Twitter @michaelombardi

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