First of all, my flight to San Jose departs in 3.5 hours. Thanks to everyone who made an Aquathon Donation on my page, especially ones I don't know how to contact who apparently read either this blog, 2p2, or my twitter feed. Every year I am astonished at the generosity of my friends, and this year was no exception. Thanks again. My schedule for the weekend is already pretty booked (the Aquathon, gambool at Bay 101, football at Kilowatt, lunch with an old college buddy, then a drop in on my original boss at Oracle, then the flight back) for the entire 44 hours I'm in town, but if you're itching to see me and don't know how to accomplish it, shoot me an email or text and hopefully we can link up. I do sorely miss the Bay Area still, especially places like Bay 101 (oddly) and Kilowatt, so I'm really looking forward to this trip for nostalgic reasons.
Moving right along to another topic of my choosing, why is it that NFL teams still suck at clock management? The Saints and Packers, two top shelf organizations, still do idiotic things. The Saints blew two timeouts early in the second half of a contest in which they were trailing, timeouts that would have drastically altered the end game and likely drastically increased their chances of winning. Then Brees refused to spike the ball on 1st down...dumb. I won't even talk about the Saints play calling (there are two things I hate...bringing 3 rushers against an elite QB and the entire concept of the "goal line package", both of which they employed heavily with predictably disasterous results), just their clock management sucked. You don't call those timeouts; you take whatever consequence is coming to you by not calling them and save them for the end of the game when the can literally alter the entire strategy of the game.
This all got me thinking about something that the Packers did regarding the clock that really boggled my mind. They had 2nd and 7 with 2:15 to go on about the Saints 40 yard line. The clock was stopped, the Saints were out of time outs (because they are idiots) and the Packers lead by 8 points. At the time I told Danielle that they had to run the ball, ensuring that the 2 minute warning stoppage got out of the way; I was sure that was the correct course of action. That's exactly what they did, gaining like zero yards, and advancing the clock to 2:00. Then they did the really dumb thing; they threw a pass. At the time I didn't realize why this was so stupid, but after some thought it's pretty obvious. Throwing there puts Mr. Rodgers in a really, really tough spot because he absolutely cannot commit a turnover and he also absolutely cannot throw and incomplete pass. It is CRITICAL that 40 seconds run off the clock, as the difference between 1:45 and 1:05 for Drew Brees and his merry band of timeout-less fools to march the entire length of the field is just massive. So the answer to the puzzle was that if you were going to run on 2nd down, you needed to run on 3rd down and just accept that you were going to punt the ball and rely on your defense.
But here's the thing...that's not even correct, and I don't think it's particularly close (what boggles my mind is that ESPN hasn't taught me about this and I don't actually KNOW the answer). Here's why. The Saints chances of winning that game if they get the ball back with 1:55 (even two incomplete passes and the punt would have burned through the 2 minute warning) on the 20 yard line are very, very small. First, they have to march down the field and score a TD. OK, fine, chances of that are honestly probably something like 50/50 (this could be high but it's a round number). But then they need a 2 point conversion just to tie. That's basically another 50/50 proposition, and I'm ignoring their chances of winning if they don't get that, as the chance of recovering the then necessary onside kick is super duper low. Then they need there to not be enough time left for Mr. Rodgers to lead a game winning field goal drive. They're probably like an 80/20 favorite for that. Then if all that happens, which by my calculation is generously something like a 20% shot (.5 times .5 times .8), they still have to win in overtime! That's another 50/50 shot, so they are literally like 10% to win the game.
Well no shit Jesse you're probably saying. They're stuck 8 with less than 2 minutes to go, of course it's gonna be a tough one to pull out even for Drew Brees. And I feel ya bro, I feel ya. But here's what's important to realize....all those multiplicative effects (the .5, the .5, the .8, the .5) all degrade any gain in game state the Packers generate by running the ball into the pile twice. If Brees has only 1:05 instead of 1:55 or whatever, he's probably like 25% to lead the TD drive. But then any chance the Packers have to retaliate has been reduced to practically zero, AND the Saints still need the 2 point conversion and to win the overtime 50/50 flip-a-ment. So what I'm basically saying is that running the ball into the pile twice probably only reduces P(victory) for the Saints from like .1 to something like .06.
But what about throwing the ball twice? In his last 8 quarters of play Rodgers is something like 206 out of 220 for 1700 yards, 12 touchdowns with negative 3 interceptions and a QB rating of 347, right? This isn't Tavaris Jackson we're talking about here; it's not even Ben or Tony Romo. This is Aaron fucking Rodgers; go get some! You throw the ball twice, your chances of making the first down are at least 75% (almost certainly more), and boom if you get it P(victory) for the saints drops to zero. You have a 75% chance of dropping it 10 points for an EV of 7.5 points (tough math there I know take another read at it if you need to), vs running the ball into the pile and dropping like 3 points off it. And yes, I just realized I completely ignored the possibility that you actually convert the first down running the ball, but you're the Packers you've spent the last 58 minutes proving you can't run the ball and like I said Aaron fucking Rodgers just go get some.
That is all, Danielle is home, here's to the freakin' weekend.....