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NFL coaches over think critical moments too

Pete Carroll

Back in mid-October over on The Student Section I took a look at a few head-scratching coaching decisions I observed during the weekend action from Week 7 of the college football season. You can pick a few of these every weekend of a football season, but there were calls that particular week that really got to me. They all seemed to involve over thinking the situation on the field.

From poorly timed fake punts by Mississippi State and Penn State to the trend of bad clock management and timeout use, there were some highly questionable moments from some otherwise generally smart coaches. But sometimes the heat of a moment takes over and the pressure to make something happen or rush to wasting a timeout gets in the way. It turns out the NFL is not without its own moments of over coaching.

Former USC head coach Pete Carroll is a really good coach. Just last year he led the Seattle Seahawks to a Super Bowl championship, and this past season he coached the Seahawks back to the Super Bowl. This does not happen without a really good coach, but in a bizarre moment it looked as though Carroll over thought a situation in the most crucial moment of the NFL season. On 2nd down and goal from the one-yard line of the New England Patriots, the Seahawks had quarterback Russell Wilson drop back and throw a pass over the middle to Ricardo Lockette on a slant route, but it was intercepted by Malcolm Butler to seal the victory for the Patriots. Did Carroll and Seattle offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell outsmart themselves by taking the ball out of the hands of former Cal running back Marshawn Lynch? Yeah, probably.

You can say hindsight is always 20/20, and it is, but I was floored when the Seahawks opted not to let Lynch punch in what likely would have been the game-winning touchdown of the Super Bowl…

The numbers actually show why the Seahawks may have gone away from Lynch in that situation (he has not had as much of an impact in that situation as you might think)…

Sometimes though you have to go with your gut. If I were in charge of the play calling there, I’m pounding it in with Lynch, twice if I need to. Instead, the Seahawks took to the air and it cost them. Would the Patriots have expected to see Lynch get the football? Maybe, but they still would have had to stop him. I’m just guessing they would not have done so twice from that distance.

Sometimes taking a gamble is a good move. Sometimes the most obvious decision remains the best decision. Running the football, hindsight or not, was the most obvious and best play there for Seattle.

Good coaches make good decisions. Great coaches will keep it simple.

Now, on to National Signing Day…

About the Author

Kevin McGuire
Contributor to College Football Talk on Also a contributor to Athlon Sports and The Comeback. Member of Football Writers Association of America and National Football Foundation. Follow on Twitter @KevinOnCFB.


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