Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Going for two and the overtime bounce

So, for the balance of Monday, the divisional round post-mortem was mainly focused on the events leading up to the end of Packers-Cardinals.  There were other items, but Arians' playcalling, going for two after the hail mary, the coin toss and changing the overtime rules dominated.

On the Cardinals final drive in regulation, up by four and in virtually certain field goal range, the second down call was to loft a pass to Fitzgerald up the left sideline.  The play wasn't there, but Palmer wanted to throw him open.  Essentially, Palmer wound up throwing it away.  The incompletion ultimately gave Rodgers extra time- enough, as it turned out, for a successful heave into the endzone.

The second-guessers- and those who bona fide disagree with that strategy- were out and chirping.  While Bokolis is of the Jimmy Johnson you play to stick it in their ass philosophy of protecting a late-game lead, I nonetheless raised an eyebrow.  Not because of the riskiness, but because of the type of play.  Fully realizing that the thinking may have been that Fitzergald was having a very good second half, I wonder why even bother when the play is such low-risk low-reward.

But if he caught it, it would've been a touchdown and game over is the cunt's refrain.  If my Aunt Sally had balls Implicit in the low reward is that he had virtually no chance of catching that ball, as he was blanketed by a quality cover guy who likely had a good idea what was coming.  It's not like they had Fitzgerald isolated on some rookie corner.  If you're going to pass, put them on the back foot by having three or four guys in the pattern.  Palmer can always fall to the ground without ceding too much field position.

Now, if you tell Bokolis that Palmer can't be trusted in that situation- heh- I've got nothing.

Driving around yesterday, when I got into range, Bokolis was listening people calling Francesa to prod him about going for two after the hail mary.  Francesa initially dismissed it with the air of heresy, though he made the valid point that no coach would risk the entire season on a 50-50 play.  There was subsequently a parade of callers, alternating between the unknowledgeable and those looking to prod Francesa.  For his part, Francesa, as he does when he is at his worst, alternated between hanging up on them, shouting them down or, where he thought he could, belittling the callers.

Even where callers intimated (Bokolis' stance) that, while it's maybe not the proper call in that situation, it's not as outrageous as Francesa would have us believe.  One caller suggested that, after the hail mary, it was a good time to sucker punch the Cardinals because they were reeling.  Francesa disingenuously replied that they weren't reeling three plays later, ignoring that there were about 10 minutes to regroup in the interim.

No one saw fit to say compare it to the best time to squeeze in a baseball game is when a big or crazy play- ideally, a run-scoring play- brought the runner to third because the pitcher/team is reeling or, in the opposition's best case, psychologically willing to concede a run for an out.  Bokolis certainly isn't going to do it, as there is no way I'd engage that muthafucka on his turf and terms.  But, if I did, in a bit of psychological engineering, I'd've asked him beforehand what degree of certainty- I'd need at least 70%- would he need to take the risk in that situation.  It would allow him to play lord, and this ego-stroke would likely make him more inclined to humor the caller.

Along those lines, the callers whinged that they should change the overtime rules so that both teams get possession, even when the team with the ball first scores a touchdown.  Francesa sort of skirted the issue, even while acknowledging that the current format is not perfect, with the ad hominem rebuke of the callers, saying that the only reason they were whinging about both the OT rules and going for two was because they were butthurt that Rodgers never got the ball.

Now, Bokolis has virtually no compassion for a team that had 60 minutes to sort it out, but was burned on the first drive of OT.  But, let's say this- the current overtime format is a consequence of the NFL moving to an arena football format and the kickers getting better.  The ringmasters realized that, increasingly, teams would win the toss, get the opening kickoff, complete two passes to the opponent's 35 yard line and kick a 52, 53-yard field goal on second down to win the game, which is a cunty way to decide a ball game.

Bokolis is not going to debate any format that involves a coin toss, as they are all flawed, except to say that, in a championship game / super bowl, they should play to a defined extra time period- quarter or half, doesn't matter- and, if the game is still tied, turn on sudden death mode*.

* - if still tied, the team holding the ball when the clock runs out on the extra period would cede possession to start sudden death.  This would lead to cynical play, such as punting the ball with the clock running down.  The rules would have to be adjusted to prevent such a derby.

The right way to do a sudden death overtime format is to have some kind of face-off/scrum for opening possession. Bokolis suggests something akin to the Aussie Rules opening bounce, where the recovering side gets the ball, either at a pre-determined spot or the spot of recovery, and first score wins.  In this way, the outcome is fully determined by what happens on the field, even if the bounce of the ball will play a part.

Which brings Bokolis to the coin toss itself.  The referee voided the first toss because the coin never turned over, even after hitting the turf.  There was some clamor, as there is nothing in the rules that states that the coin has to turn over, that the referee was wrong to toss the coin again.

Aside- it's amazing and sad that, in addition to a you ain't cheatin' you ain't tryin' society, we've become so bureaucratic and such slaves to the rules that we are disturbed when something is left up to critical thought.  While the referee was technically incorrect to call for a second toss, it was the right decision.  People forget that the (holistic) purpose of rules is supposed to be to counteract cynical actions- we didn't need as many when people could be counted on to try to do the right thing- not to preserve the sanctity of process.

I highly doubt that he thought of it in the moment- if he did, he is a greater man than given credit for- but, given that it was proven possible to toss the coin up like a pizza and have it plop down on the same side, if he had let it stand, there would have been no end to the conspiracy rants.

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