Tandler's Blog Part II: Gibbs Taking Heat?

Joe Gibbs is taking a lot of heat for sending his field goal team onto the field on first down in overtime in Sunday's win over Miami.

It doesn't matter that he made it—and it shouldn't. The result of a decision doesn't not necessarily determine the quality of the choice that was made. If I jump off the roof of my house and I emerge without any major injuries, that doesn't mean that my decision to jump off the roof was a sound one; it just means that I got lucky and, in the long run, I will be worse off if I continue to make decisions like that.

Still, the line of criticism that says that it would have been better for Gibbs to run some more plays to try to set up a closer field goal attempt is off base. Gibbs explained after the game that in similar situations in the past he had been burned by penalties that pushed the team out of field goal range. Is that a legitimate concern?

Yes. Including punts and kickoff there were 132 plays in the game combined for both teams. During the course of those plays, there were three fumbles, four sacks, two interceptions, and 15 accepted penalties. That's 24 of "those things", or nearly one in every five plays (18%, to be exact).

Yes, the Redskins were running pretty well but until Portis' run to the 21, the threat of a pass was present. Had any plays from scrimmage been run after that, the Dolphins, a pretty good defensive team would have stacked up against the run. I don't think it's unreasonable to estimate that the Redskins would have been doing pretty well to pick up five yards in three plays.

Now, are the chances of being successful on a 34-yard field goal attempt better than the chances of hitting one from 39? The NFL doesn't break down its stats to that fine a point, but common sense would tell you yes, it is. Is it 18% better? Common sense would tell you no, it's not. Can we say that it's about 5% easier to make? The way Suisham was booming the ball, and has been booming the ball all year, I think even that may be too high.

So, if something bad happens about once every five plays, why would you risk that to improve your chance of making a field goal by about such a small amount? This was very reasonable, smart caution being exercised by Joe Gibbs.

Quick Hits:

  • I don't get all the heat the secondary is taking. The Dolphins gained a pathetic 3.9 yards per pass play. Even if you factor out the sacks, Trent Green averaged just 5.17 yards per attempt. As bad as Mark Brunell was last year, he averaged 6.9 per attempt.
  • I imagine that Clinton Portis has fewer detractors today than he did last week. Yes, the guy does need to utilize a filter in between his brain and his mouth from time to time, but he is all about winning.
  • Those who were hoping for improvement by Brandon Lloyd didn't have much of anything to go on yesterday. His one, short reception was negated by a penalty. It didn't look like he put up much of a fight on the deep interception on the first play of the fourth quarter. Even on the Hail Mary at the end of regulation, he was lined up on the left with James Thrash as part of the trips right with Moss and Randle El. If he keeps that up he'll find himself a weekly inactive by October and cut in February.

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