The League

Michael Kun

Michael Kun

Co-author of The Football Uncyclopedia. He is also the author of six other books and is a practicing attorney.

Timing is everything


There's a 3-1 team that could be 2-2, and two 2-2 teams that could be 3-1, but for the Best Call of the Season (So Far) and the Worst Call of the Season (So Far).

Those teams are, respectively, the Texans, the Redskins and the Colts.

It's surprising that Redskins fans haven't made more of the fact that, but for a single call by an opposing coach, the Skins would be 3-1 right now. (Not "could be." "Would be.") That call -- the Best Call of the Season -- was made in overtime in the Redskins-Texans game during Week 2. The history books will show that the Skins lost in overtime 30-27 when Neil Rackers kicked a 35-yard field goal right through the pipes. What the history books won't show is that everyone thought the Redskins had won in overtime after Graham Gano kicked the (apparent) game-winning field goal from 52 yards out. The history books won't show that Texans' coach Gary Kubiak had called timeout just before the ball was snapped. The result? The apparent game-winning field goal was wiped off the boards, and Gano lined up to try again. This time, he missed. The Texans took over possession and and kicked their own game-winning field goal minutes later.

Kubiak's call won the game for the Texans (or, at least, wiped away a loss). It was a risky call. Calling timeout well before a kick to "ice" the kicker isn't risky -- you'll never know if the timeout affected the kick of the game. But calling a timeout just as the ball is about to be snapped, knowing that the kicker is likely to go through with the kick -- that's risky. It can backfire, and you'll know if it does. Had Kubiak called timeout before Gano's kick and had Gano missed it, only for Gano to convert on the second chance, they might be calling for Kubiak's head in Houston. They aren't. He got lucky. The Texans are 3-1, instead of 2-2, as a result. And the Redskins are 2-2 instead of 3-1.

Jim Caldwell didn't get so lucky. Sunday, he made the Worst Call of the Season. (Or, if it's not the worst, it's certainly a strong nominee.) Caldwell decided to call a timeout at the end of the fourth quarter in yesterday's game against the Jaguars, who by all accounts were prepared to let the clock run out and give it their best shot in overtime. But the timeout gave the Jaguars the time to move the ball close enough for Josh Scobee to attempt a game-winning 59-yard field goal. Of course, Scobee hit it, and the Jaguars walked away with a 31-28 victory in regulation.

Caldwell's call may not have cost the Colts the game, but it did set in motion the circumstances that put the Jaguars in position to win it. Had he not called the timeout, who's to say what would have happened. Maybe the Colts would have won in OT. Maybe the Jaguars would have won in OT. Maybe the Jaguars still would have won in regulation. Whatever the outcome, Caldwell wouldn't be getting the criticism he's getting today.

Of course, it's still early in the season. When the Colts make the playoffs at the end of the season, as they inevitably will, virtually everyone will have forgotten about Caldwell's decision, just as they are likely to have forgotten about Kubiak's.

By Michael Kun  |  October 5, 2010; 8:10 AM ET  | Category:  Coaching , Houston Texans , Indianapolis Colts , Michael Kun , Washington Redskins Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
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