Saturday, October 11, 2008

The latest wrinkle for (football) coaches to obsess over

If you've never given much thought to the pre-game coin-flip that takes place before football games, there was an article in the NY Times recently about it.

So, if you win the toss, should you defer whether to kick off or receive until the second half?

Here's something to think about:

"The latest wrinkle for coaches to obsess over is whether to defer when they win the coin toss. College coaches have long had the choice — and they defer the decision whether to kick off or receive until the second half 90 percent of the time, by some estimates — but the rule came to the N.F.L. this spring and has sent coaches scurrying for research to inform their decisions.

The reasons for deferring are myriad. If the weather is bad early in a game, but is expected to clear later, a team may defer to get the ball when conditions are better. Or if a team wants to set a tone early with a stellar defense, it could defer. But coaches mostly defer because they have a better lay of the land by the second half.

'Generally, I think that deferring is probably the thing to do because you’ll have a better idea of what’s going on as you start the second half,' [Bills coach Dick] Jauron said last week in Buffalo.

The Bills gave the rest of the league a clinic Sunday in why more coaches should consider it.

The Bills deferred, allowing their stellar defense to stop the woeful Rams on their first possession. The Bills were trailing when they received the kickoff to open the second half. They drove for a touchdown on that opening drive of the second half, closing the Rams’ lead to 1 point. It also worked for the Bears, who deferred to put their powerful defense on the field first against the Eagles on Sunday night. They stopped the Eagles on three downs.

N.F.L. coaches may need more convincing. In the 12 games Sunday, just four teams that won the opening coin toss opted to defer."