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Friday, February 03, 2006

Seattle Times: Ex-Pilots pitcher, author Jim Bouton serves up football wisdom

You see, you spend a good piece of your life gripping a football and in the end…uhh…WHERE THE HELL IS SHECTER WHEN I NEED HIM!!

So what’s the best way to Score Points?

The No-Huddle Offense, of course. That’s the strategy teams use in the closing minutes of the game, when they really want to score. How effective is the No-Huddle Offense? A statistician, like baseball’s Bill James, would no doubt show that more points are scored in the last two minutes of a football game than in any other five-minute period. And this is when the entire world knows the offense is going to pass and the defense will try to stop them with something called the Prevent Defense. Exactly what the Prevent Defense prevents is not clear.

I hate to shake football to its foundations, but can you imagine if the No-Huddle Offense was used for the entire game? And the opposing team failed to deploy the Prevent Defense? The mind boggles.

Repoz Posted: February 03, 2006 at 08:58 AM | 36 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
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   1. Jefferson Manship (Dan Lee) Posted: February 03, 2006 at 09:27 AM (#1848731)
more points are scored in the last two minutes of a football game than in any other five-minute period.

If this is true, I'd suggest that it has to do with the fact that teams are calling timeouts and intentionally stopping the clock in the last two minutes.

More plays=more points.
   2. Misirlou cut his hair and moved to Rome Posted: February 03, 2006 at 11:03 AM (#1848736)
Finally, what's with taking a knee on the last play of the first half? Why not heave the ball into the opposing team's end zone?

The chances that one of your players will catch it for a touchdown are far greater than the possibility that an interception will be returned the length of the field. Our man Bill James could help you with those odds, too.


I'd imagine that the chances of a player getting injured is greater than scoring a touchdown.

As to the no-huddle thing, didn't Cincinnati employ that with some success about 10 years ago?
   3. ChuckO Posted: February 03, 2006 at 11:05 AM (#1848737)
Uh, don't the Colts use the no-huddle offense virtually all of the time? Old Jimmy boy shouldn't shoot off his mouth until he's aware of the facts.
   4. JPWF13 Posted: February 03, 2006 at 11:53 AM (#1848740)
The Bills of the early 90s used the no-huddle a lot... (at least during teh regular season- until they got to the Superbowl when their caoches would inexplicably change their entire usual gameplans...)
   5. Law Boy Posted: February 03, 2006 at 01:09 PM (#1848751)
Football is all about holding onto the ball and not making mistakes.


That's how the Giants beat the Bills in Super Bowl XXV, by keeping their explosive no hudddle offense off the field.

Football is also about creating and exploiting mismatches, and forcing turnovers.
   6. Riki Tiki Javy Lopez Posted: February 03, 2006 at 01:10 PM (#1848753)
Malcolm Gladwell suggested essentially the same thing months ago in an ESPN.com interview...
   7. A different Terry Posted: February 03, 2006 at 01:17 PM (#1848755)
Right. And the downside risk is that by throwing the ball, you not only risk interceptions but you risk not running much clock and thus giving the ball to the other team. So the other side of the equation is true (assuming relatively equal talent levels): Fewer plays for the other team = Fewer points for the other team. Like baseball, you maximize your chances of winning by keeping your offense out on the field and your defense on the sideline/dugout.

Related hijack: College football is getting pretty ludicrous. The "first down pauses the clock" rule combined with normal clock stoppages for incompletions and players stepping out of bounds are resulting in 5-hour "60-minute" games that even the NFL can figure out how to finish routinely in 3-3.5 hours. I'm kind of curious how baseball gets criticized for the time of games but I haven't seen anything about college football.

The solution might be a tradeoff of honest enforcement of pass interference (advantage offense) combined with no clock stoppage for incompletions (advantage defense; new ball can come in from the sideline) would cut a good 1-2 hours off of a game, but I'm stuck just pitying the 60-year-old side judges and referees who have to set the ball as time is running out.
   8. Clint Posted: February 03, 2006 at 01:43 PM (#1848765)
</blockquote>I hate to shake football to its foundations, but can you imagine if the No-Huddle Offense was used for the entire game? And the opposing team failed to deploy the Prevent Defense? The mind boggles.<blockquote>

Wake Forest has gone principally with a no-huddle offense the last few years. I haven't noticed anybody's mind boggling yet.
   9. Nick S Posted: February 03, 2006 at 01:43 PM (#1848766)
Also, why do teams ever call any play but a Hail Mary - when is a 1-yard run up the middle better than an 80-yard TD pass? And in hockey why don't they just play a really fat guy in goal . . . just stuff him into the net and the other team will never be able to score. And in soccer (oops, I mean "football") why don't they stand in a little line and cover their genitals throughout the entire game - it almost always works against a free kick. And in curling, why doesn't every player use a camel hair broom - it would clearly provide far greater speed control than horsehair.
   10. Hang down your head, Tom Foley Posted: February 03, 2006 at 01:44 PM (#1848768)
combined with no clock stoppage for incompletions (advantage defense; new ball can come in from the sideline)

That would be more of an advantage for the team that has the lead more than for the offense or defense.
   11. ERROR---Jolly Old St. Nick Posted: February 03, 2006 at 01:44 PM (#1848767)
I'm kind of curious how baseball gets criticized for the time of games but I haven't seen anything about college football.

Partly it's because a much higher percentage of football games take place during the daytime. When an 8:00 game approaches midnight you tend to notice it more than when a 1:00 game creeps up on 5:00.

But I'll bet that with so many postseason football games now beginning at 8:00, you'll see a lot more criticism of the these insanely long events.
   12. ColonelTom Posted: February 03, 2006 at 02:45 PM (#1848810)
Vegas would start publishing an over/under on how many of the 300-pound-plus linemen would keel over on a given Sunday.
   13. Moses Taylor hashes out the rumpus Posted: February 03, 2006 at 03:02 PM (#1848839)
Uh, don't the Colts use the no-huddle offense virtually all of the time? Old Jimmy boy shouldn't shoot off his mouth until he's aware of the facts.

Yes and no. They didn't use the no-huddle in the traditional sense, which is all about speeding up the game. Instead of huddling, they called the play at the line of scrimmage, but they still ran the play clock almost all the way down most plays. Actually, that's not true; they tried to throw off the defense's timing by varying the amount of time between snaps.

The other benefits of this strategy was to keep all the defensive players on the field and limit substitutions (similarly to the normal no-huddle) because the defense never when the ball would be snapped. Also, it allowed Manning to call plays after they already saw the defensive set-up. It would probably be a good strategy for a lot of teams; however, you need a smart qb and not every team has that.
   14. Sean Forman Posted: February 03, 2006 at 07:23 PM (#1849228)
Doug Drinen has mentioned this. We aren't sure what to think about it as a change to the game.

Clock stops for every play. Each quarter starts with 3-4 minutes on the clock.

Some other Drinen/Forman suggestions (mostly Drinen)

1) Make end zones 20 yards deep. Reduces use of field goals and opens up the passing game in the red zone.

2) Touchbacks come out to the 30 on punts (reduce number of punts from the 40 yard line on fourth and 2)

3) No more extra points, always go for two. Another option would be to narrow the goal posts to arena football widths.

4) Overtime is first team to six.



My change for basketball pro and college. Timeouts in the last three minutes only result in a clock stoppage. There is no huddle with the coaches.
   15. Greg Franklin Posted: February 03, 2006 at 09:10 PM (#1849409)
Football logic dictates that you Establish the Running Game to Set Up the Pass. (Why a team can't Establish the Pass to set up the Running Game is a closely guarded secret.)

Bouton is a good writer, but this piece including the above quote is out of date and kind of lame.

The guardians of NFL football logic -- the announcing teams -- have said teams are Establishing the Pass to set up the Running Game for about 75% of the clubs in the league, including Seattle and Pittsburgh. It's been a non-secret ever since the 49ers of the 1980s.

As to the no-huddle thing, didn't Cincinnati employ that with some success about 10 years ago?


Sam Wyche's idea, so it dated back further than that (1988). I think he called it the Sugar Huddle. The QB would call a quick, loose huddle near the line of scrimmage, then the O would fan out to line up, QB would call an audible (if necessary), and run the play. Not like the classic no-huddle.

A little web search asserts the Bengals beat the Bills with it in '88, and the Bills adapted it to as their own no-huddle offense with Jim Kelly.
   16. rLr Is King Of The Romans And Above Grammar Posted: February 03, 2006 at 11:14 PM (#1849622)
And in hockey why don't they just play a really fat guy in goal . . . just stuff him into the net and the other team will never be able to score.

This is a joke. But could somebody explain to me why it wouldn't work? If you hired a really huge sumo wrestler to sit in front of the goal (I assume it's illegal to actually sit inside the goal itself), there would be almost no easy angles from which to score.
   17. Misirlou cut his hair and moved to Rome Posted: February 03, 2006 at 11:25 PM (#1849639)
But could somebody explain to me why it wouldn't work? If you hired a really huge sumo wrestler to sit in front of the goal (I assume it's illegal to actually sit inside the goal itself), there would be almost no easy angles from which to score.

MAD (Mutually Assured Destruction). Assuming it did work, then every team would employ it in short order. Soon, no one can score, games become a joke, and the league then has to institute some sort of rule.
   18. The Original SJ Posted: February 03, 2006 at 11:50 PM (#1849660)
That's how the Giants beat the Bills in Super Bowl XXV, by keeping their explosive no hudddle offense off the field.

To an extent, but the Giants also played 1 or 2 DL, 3 linebackers and 6 or 7 dbs.

And when Andre Reed tried to run those quick hitting slants, he was nearly killed by Pepper Johnson, Carl Banks, and to a less extent LT (who rushed far more than the other two).

Andre Reed said that he has never been hit as hard in his life.

Jim Kelly couldn't pass in that game, they almost let Thurman Thomas steal it from them, but it was a brilliant game plan, brilliant execution and an overall brillaint performance.

Remember, the Bills beat the Oakland Raiders 51-3 seven days earlier.
   19. Nasty Nate Posted: February 03, 2006 at 11:56 PM (#1849664)
Overtime in football should be an additional period of play (5 minutes? 8 minutes?) and NOT sudden death or whatever hizzwazz they use in college. This would lessen the gravity of the coin flip and retain the authentic flow of the game. If its still tied after the extra period than settle it by scavenger hunt. Item number 1: a purple sock.
   20. Nasty Nate Posted: February 03, 2006 at 11:57 PM (#1849666)
Item number 2: a pylon
   21. The Original SJ Posted: February 04, 2006 at 12:06 AM (#1849672)
My preference in overtime, first one to 6 wins.
   22. cynic Posted: February 04, 2006 at 12:55 AM (#1849712)
This is a joke. But could somebody explain to me why it wouldn't work? If you hired a really huge sumo wrestler to sit in front of the goal (I assume it's illegal to actually sit inside the goal itself), there would be almost no easy angles from which to score.

I asked this very same question to a a friend of mine who is a hockey fan. His response was that due to equipment size limitations, a sumo-sized goalie is going to get hurt really quickly.

Seems like it might work in the meantime, though.
   23. Nasty Nate Posted: February 04, 2006 at 01:06 AM (#1849726)
if he used all his available equipment mass to cover his face, neck, joints, and genitals he could let his fat cushion the rest of his body.
   24. rLr Is King Of The Romans And Above Grammar Posted: February 04, 2006 at 01:17 AM (#1849735)
MAD (Mutually Assured Destruction). Assuming it did work, then every team would employ it in short order. Soon, no one can score, games become a joke, and the league then has to institute some sort of rule.

Sure, but the first team to try it would be awesome.

I asked this very same question to a a friend of mine who is a hockey fan. His response was that due to equipment size limitations, a sumo-sized goalie is going to get hurt really quickly.

Just wear some extra sweatshirts underneath the uniform. I can't imagine those would violate the padding rules.
   25. cynic Posted: February 04, 2006 at 01:24 AM (#1849745)
if he used all his available equipment mass to cover his face, neck, joints, and genitals he could let his fat cushion the rest of his body.

Just wear some extra sweatshirts underneath the uniform. I can't imagine those would violate the padding rules.


Good in theory, but I don't envy the guy they hire to try it out. Those frozen rubber disks can hit 90-100 mph. So...kind of like getting hit with a fastball. But harder. 30 times a night.
   26. Repoz Posted: February 04, 2006 at 01:33 AM (#1849752)
But could somebody explain to me why it wouldn't work? If you hired a really huge sumo wrestler to sit in front of the goal (I assume it's illegal to actually sit inside the goal itself), there would be almost no easy angles from which to score.

Years ago, the mayor of my slumhole town fattened out at around 750 lbs (every year around election time one of the big three news doofs would run a special on him like...LARGE AND IN CHARGE! or THIS MAYOR IS ALWAYS IN HIS ORIFICE! or some such nonsense.

I used to help a friend of mine deliver pizzas and every friday night the mayor would call in his order of 8 pies. We'd watch him fold a single pie over and over until it was ONE HUGE DRIPPIN' SLICE OF PHONEY CHEESE!

Anyweighs, in between future vomit scarfs...I drunkingly asked him if he ever thought about laying down sidewards in front of the Rangers net (he was always watching hokey) and just block out everything without even trying.

I got a lot of parking tickets that year.
   27. Danny Posted: February 04, 2006 at 01:39 AM (#1849757)
Overtime in football should be an additional period of play (5 minutes? 8 minutes?) and NOT sudden death or whatever hizzwazz they use in college. This would lessen the gravity of the coin flip and retain the authentic flow of the game.


I don't know how long an average possession lasts, but it seems a 5 minute period would make the coin toss more important. Also, doesn't the team that loses the coin toss win a bit more than 50% of the time?
   28. Harold can be a fun sponge Posted: February 04, 2006 at 01:46 AM (#1849766)
I love Bouton, but I agree that a lot of what he says here doesn't really hold up to scrutiny.

A statistician, like baseball’s Bill James, would no doubt show that more points are scored in the last two minutes of a football game than in any other five-minute period.

This would be interesting if teams were each given a certain amount of time with the ball. But points per possession is far more important than points per minute, and you also need to factor in turnovers and field position.

4) Overtime is first team to six.

This is a really interesting idea. I think I like it a lot. Was this a Drinen/Forman original, or has it been discussed/considered by the NFL or in the mass media?
   29. Backlasher Posted: February 04, 2006 at 01:49 AM (#1849770)
Good in theory, but I don't envy the guy they hire to try it out. Those frozen rubber disks can hit 90-100 mph. So...kind of like getting hit with a fastball. But harder. 30 times a night.

Is anybody big enough to really take up a 6' by 4' space? It could be interesting.

The Oilers are leading 3-2, it looks like they are bring out Abdullah the Butcher to close this one out.

Of course then LaRussa would come along and LOSOGG and make another switch.

And in curling, why doesn't every player use a camel hair broom - it would clearly provide far greater speed control than horsehair.

First I heard of that one. What does a cameltoe broom do?

But here are some others that fit that mold:

(1) Why doesn't everybody just take, getting a walk is better than hitting a weak grounder to second?

(2) Why don't they just stick anybody in to close? Even a guy with an 8.50 ERA can convert a save with a three run lead?

(3) Why not swing for the fences every pitch, a HR is the best output in the game?

(4) I think the NBA should press more, look at 40 minutes of hell at Arkansas?
   30. Squash Posted: February 04, 2006 at 01:57 AM (#1849776)
This is a joke. But could somebody explain to me why it wouldn't work? If you hired a really huge sumo wrestler to sit in front of the goal (I assume it's illegal to actually sit inside the goal itself), there would be almost no easy angles from which to score.

I think you're underestimating just how big a hockey net actually is. 6 feet would be an awfully wide person. Count in the decreased mobility and your poor sumo wrestler would get slaughtered.
   31. Joyful Calculus Instructor Posted: February 04, 2006 at 02:07 AM (#1849787)
Just from observation, offenses work better in the no-huddle last two minutes. However, I think that is due to the awful prevent defense, which is a horrible defensive strategy with more than 30 seconds left.
   32. Joyful Calculus Instructor Posted: February 04, 2006 at 02:08 AM (#1849789)
6 feet would be an awfully wide person.

They could go in sideways and only need to be four feet wide as long as they're six feet tall.
   33. rLr Is King Of The Romans And Above Grammar Posted: February 04, 2006 at 02:13 AM (#1849793)
They could go in sideways and only need to be four feet wide as long as they're six feet tall.

That's the spirit. And if the sumo wrestler isn't big enough, they can hire one of those 700-pounders from Maury Povich's program.
   34. Backlasher Posted: February 04, 2006 at 02:20 AM (#1849801)
That's the spirit. And if the sumo wrestler isn't big enough, they can hire one of those 700-pounders from Maury Povich's program.

If they layed on their back, they would need about a 150 inch waste just for their gut to cover to the crossbar, and that would still leave space above the legs and face. That would be one big mofo.
   35. Joyful Calculus Instructor Posted: February 04, 2006 at 02:47 AM (#1849820)
So somebodys job would be to be extreamly morbidly obese, and then to get hit by 90 mph frozen pucks. Could they even live through a whole season?

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