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Tavern talk: McDaniels manages the game well

Play calling at end of half can be important. Michael Lombardi

Print This November 10, 2009, 04:59 PM EST

Pittsburgh was very impressive Monday night in its win over the Broncos, but also impressive were Josh McDaniels’ comments after the game when he was questioned about his end-of-the-half game management. Here’s a link to the video, and if game management interests you, please watch it.

McDaniels is asked about his strategy to make sure he ends the half without giving the ball back to the Steelers. So his first objective is to run time off the clock and prevent them from making a play — not get into his two-minute. If he can reduce the time, he knows all he will need to score is around 1 minute, 30 seconds in the half, so there’s no sense in running the two-minute drill. The reporter never really understood, but this is another example of why McDaniels will be so successful. He gets the objective at the end of the half, which so many in the NFL fail to understand.

Here’s an example of what not to do -- and since Eagles coach Andy Reid holds the title of worst game manager in the NFL, is there really a need to spend time breaking down his mistakes from a week ago? I said on the Bill Simmons podcast that Cowboys coach Wade Phillips must have hijacked Reid’s headset and made every call for the Eagles that would benefit the Cowboys the most. How else can you explain Reid’s actions? I know he’s won over 100 NFL games, but that’s what makes his game-day actions even more bizarre. There’s good Andy and there’s bad Andy, and bad Andy always has the red flag. Someone needs to get that flag away from him. His judgment at critical times in critical games makes every Eagles fan doubt his ability to lead this team to a Super Bowl. And even diehard Reid fans know this is an area of great concern.

Back to end-of-the-half strategies -- first in New England with the Dolphins failing to make the right choices.

S.Gostkowski kicks 70 yards from NE 30 to end zone, Touchback.

PENALTY on NE-J.Sanders, Offside on Free Kick, 5 yards, enforced at NE 30 - No Play.

S.Gostkowski kicks 75 yards from NE 25 to end zone, Touchback.

Miami Dolphins at 2:45

1-10-MIA 20 (2:45) C.Henne pass short left to B.Hartline to MIA 38 for 18 yards (B.McGowan). P9

Timeout #2 by NE at 02:18.

NEW ENGLAND ONLY HAS ONE MORE TIMEOUT LEFT SO IT MUST RUN THE BALL AT SOME POINT TO FORCE THE PATS TO USE IT. THEIR GOAL IS TO SCORE, BUT THEIR SECOND GOAL IS TO MAKE SURE IF THEY PUNT THE BALL BACK, THE PATS ARE OUT OF TIMEOUTS.

1-10-MIA 38 (2:18) R.Brown up the middle to MIA 36 for -2 yards (T.Banta-Cain).

Two-Minute Warning

2-12-MIA 36 (2:00) MIA 6-White now at QB. (Shotgun) P.White pass incomplete short right to G.Camarillo [T.Banta-Cain].

BAD CALL HERE. HAD THE FINS RUN THE BALL, THE PATRIOTS WOULD HAVE NOT BEEN ABLE TO STOP THE CLOCK UNLESS THEY USED THEIR TIMEOUT — SO A RUN WOULD BENEFIT THE FINS MORE THAN ANY OTHER CALL. BUT THE INCOMPLETE PASS GIVES THE PATS AN EXTRA TIMEOUT.

3-12-MIA 36 (1:55) MIA 7-Henne now at QB. (Shotgun) C.Henne pass incomplete short right to D.Bess.

WITH THE PASS CALL THE DOWN BEFORE, THIS PLAY SHOULD BE A RUN SINCE THE FINS ARE NOT A GOOD THIRD-AND-LONG TEAM. BUT THIS INCOMPLETE MEANS THE PATS HAD FIVE TIMEOUTS FOR THE HALF.

4-12-MIA 36 (1:50) B.Fields punts 50 yards to NE 14, Center-J.Denney, fair catch by W.Welker.

New England Patriots at 1:43

THIS IS BAD. THEY GET THE BALL BACK WITH MORE THAN ENOUGH TIME AND ONE TIMEOUT. VERY POOR GAME MANAGEMENT BY MIAMI.

1-10-NE 14 (1:43) (Shotgun) T.Brady pass short right to K.Faulk to NE 21 for 7 yards (J.Taylor, G.Wilson).

2-3-NE 21 (1:19) (No Huddle, Shotgun) T.Brady pass incomplete short middle to S.Aiken.

PENALTY on MIA-V.Davis, Defensive Pass Interference, 13 yards, enforced at NE 21 - No Play. X14

1-10-NE 34 (1:14) (Shotgun) T.Brady pass short right to W.Welker to NE 43 for 9 yards (N.Jones) [C.Wake].

2-1-NE 43 (:56) (No Huddle, Shotgun) T.Brady pass incomplete deep left to R.Moss.

3-1-NE 43 (:50) (Shotgun) T.Brady pass short right to W.Welker to MIA 43 for 14 yards (T.Culver). P15

Timeout #3 by NE at 00:44.

1-10-MIA 43 (:44) (Shotgun) T.Brady pass incomplete deep right to S.Aiken.

PENALTY on MIA-T.Culver, Defensive Pass Interference, 17 yards, enforced at MIA 43 - No Play. X16

1-10-MIA 26 (:38) (Shotgun) T.Brady pass incomplete short middle to S.Aiken.

2-10-MIA 26 (:34) (No Huddle, Shotgun) T.Brady pass short right to W.Welker ran ob at MIA 12 for 14 yards. P17

1-10-MIA 12 (:30) (No Huddle, Shotgun) T.Brady pass incomplete short left to B.Green-Ellis.

2-10-MIA 12 (:23) (No Huddle, Shotgun) T.Brady sacked at MIA 16 for -4 yards (C.Wake). HAD THEY RUN THE BALL ANY TIME ABOVE THE HALF WOULD HAVE BEEN OVER AT THIS POINT.

3-14-MIA 16 (:04) (No Huddle, Shotgun) T.Brady pass incomplete short right to R.Moss.

4-14-MIA 16 (:01) S.Gostkowski 34-yard field goal is GOOD, Center-J.Ingram, Holder-C.Hanson.

MIA 10 NE 16, 10 plays, 70 yards, 2 penalties, 1:43 drive, 15:00 elapsed

These three points could have easily been avoided had the Fins made the right call when they had the ball.

Not often can you find a Colts game where Peyton Manning makes a mistake with his end-of- the-half game management, but this one was a huge blunder and really allowed the Texans to get back into the game mentally and emotionally. The Texans were driving to a score when they fumbled, allowing the Colts to get the ball with two minutes and their full complement of timeouts. Meanwhile, the Texans had two timeouts left. Here’s the drive:

Indianapolis Colts at 2:00

1-10-IND 20 (2:00) (Shotgun) P.Manning pass incomplete short left to R.Wayne (G.Quin).

2-10-IND 20 (1:54) (Shotgun) P.Manning pass incomplete short middle to D.Clark (G.Quin).

3-10-IND 20 (1:50) (Shotgun) P.Manning pass incomplete short middle to D.Clark (E.Wilson).

PENALTY on HST-E.Wilson, Unnecessary Roughness, 15 yards, enforced at IND 20 - No Play. X17

1-10-IND 35 (1:46) (Shotgun) P.Manning pass short left to R.Wayne ran ob at IND 48 for 13 yards. P18

1-10-IND 48 (1:38) P.Manning pass short right to D.Clark to HST 46 for 6 yards (D.Ryans).

2-4-HST 46 (1:25) (No Huddle) P.Manning pass incomplete short right to P.Garcon (B.Pollard).

3-4-HST 46 (1:21) (Shotgun) P.Manning pass short left to J.Addai ran ob at HST 34 for 12 yards. P19

1-10-HST 34 (1:17) P.Manning pass short left to R.Wayne ran ob at HST 22 for 12 yards. P20

PERFECT CHANCE TO CALL A RUN AND KEEP THE CLOCK MOVING.

1-10-HST 22 (1:12) (Shotgun) P.Manning pass incomplete deep left to A.Collie.

2-10-HST 22 (1:07) (Shotgun) P.Manning pass short middle intended for J.Addai INTERCEPTED by B.Pollard at HST 14. B.Pollard to 50 for 36 yards (R.Lilja).

To start the drive, the Colts throw an incomplete pass, but they must get the clock moving in their favor. The last thing they want to do is punt the ball back to the explosive Houston offense. The Colts’ refusal to run the ball at any point here allows the Texans to make one play with enough time to attempt a long field goal. This play selection by the Colts is normal in terms of down and distance, but not in terms of the end of the half. They have to respect their opponents’ offense, even as good as their offense can be at times.

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