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On Wasting Timeouts

(Getty Images, via FanHouse)

The conventional wisdom is that the Redskins must surely be close to the league lead in wasted timeouts. Yesterday we were treated to an agonizing display of timeout profligacy, with four timeouts being spent for virtually no reason at all, that being a season high. The response from the mediablogorama was immediate.

Mister Irrelevant: "Gibbs burns timeouts like [edited edited edited]."

Wash Times: "Q: How can a Hall of Fame coach be so inept at clock management? A: It's pathetic the Redskins are still having these issues four years into Gibbs' second tenure."

FanHouse: "It's all very weird and makes you wonder if this timeout rule is a new one; maybe teams had an unlimited ability to stop the clock in the '80s and early '90s. Or maybe the game has just passed Gibbs by."

Mike Wise: "[Part of] the blame certainly goes to Gibbs and the clock mismanagement that continues to plague his comeback era."

Boswell: "You're going to excuse the way Gibbs wasted a timeout at the Eagles 5-yard line in the third quarter because his field goal team couldn't get organized? This is the replay age. Hoarding timeouts is vital. You take a five-yard, delay-of-game penalty. You don't call a timeout. Then you kick your chip-shot field goal from 28, not 23, yards."

Paul Woody: "Gibbs' decision to call a timeout in order to get the field goal unit on the field, with 9:17 left in the third quarter, was a waste....The Redskins could have used that timeout later in the game. If those five yards mattered so much that they were worth a timeout, if the Redskins field goal unit is so easily flustered, then the Redskins need a new kicker and new field goal unit."

In general, I've always thought you should save your timeouts until the final three minutes of both halves, unless someone's life is in danger, because your regret about not being able to stop the clock at crunch time will always be more acute than your regret about taking some five-yard penalty in the first quarter. But I wanted to see some hard numbers comparing Gibbs's blatant disregard for timeout frugality with other teams around the league. The surprising results, and Gibbs's comments, after the jump:

I looked at every game this year for the Redskins and the four bestish teams in the league: New England, Indianapolis, Dallas and Green Bay. This was my definition of a wasted timeout: a failed replay challenge, or a timeout taken outside of three minutes in either half (unless an earlier timeout was obviously being used to stop the clock). The rankings:

Wasted timeouts
New England 18
Green Bay 12
Washington 12
Dallas 8
Indianapolis 5

Games with multiple wasted timeouts
New England 7
Green Bay 5
Washington 4
Dallas 2
Indianapolis 1

Which leads to the conclusion....jeez, I have no idea. I guess some good teams waste timeouts, and some good teams don't, and Washington's timeout profligacy probably wouldn't be considered such a glaring problem if the team were undefeated.

Joe Gibbs on the lack of timeouts at the end:

"One of 'em we had a timeout on the field, Jason felt like....I can't go back right now and re-trace all of 'em. But then I challenged one because I thought a challenge there was worth taking. So we wound up without timeouts there towards the end."

On the pre-field-goal timeout:

"[We were] late getting people in, people tried to decide exactly how far it was and everything and so I decided that what I'd rather do there is take the timeout, make sure we're squared away and kick the field goal."

By Dan Steinberg  |  November 12, 2007; 11:54 AM ET
Categories:  Redskins  
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Next: Redskins Fans: Still Weird!


"Joe Gibbs takes time out to decide on how to use remaining time outs."

Posted by: The Onion | November 12, 2007 12:16 PM | Report abuse

If Joe Bugel would stop beating Gibbs so badly in Madden 08', maybe the games would be closer and he would know what to do with the timeouts.

Posted by: | November 12, 2007 12:19 PM | Report abuse

if you've DVR'd the game, go look at the "incompletion" to mccardell towards the end of the game. He clearly bobbled it and then gained possession with two feet in. He was called out of bounds. If we had a TO that play would have been reversed EASILY. But we didn't b/c our coaching staff is inept.

Posted by: inept | November 12, 2007 12:31 PM | Report abuse

Guys, this is very simple math. Consider the following:
1) The Skins always waste tons and tons of money
2) Time = money
3) Therefore, it follows that they would waste time as well.

But, we should remember the following as well:

1)Jesus promised to return
2) Joe Gibbs did return
3) Therefore, Gibbs > Jesus

Give Saunders his pink slip, please.

Posted by: Scroot | November 12, 2007 12:48 PM | Report abuse

To defend Gibbs slightly--Boswell rips Gibbs for taking a time out at 2:08 of the first half, because the two-minute warning was coming up. And yet, in a game earlier this season (I think the Giants game), Gibbs was ripped by Troy Aikman on TV (and by everyone the next day) for not taking a timeout before the two-minute warning to save 10 seconds or something. So which is it? The guy can't win. (For the record, I think Aikman was correct, but it was not nearly the big deal he made it out to be on the broadcast.)

And while Gibbs' lack of time management is just maddening, does anyone really think a couple timeouts left in the last three minutes would have mattered? Yeah, they may have been able to get that McCardell incompletion overturned (but that was probably too close for a overturn call), but the offense wasn't going anywhere, in those last two drives, time out or no time out. The game was over after the Westbrook TD.

Posted by: Eric | November 12, 2007 1:11 PM | Report abuse

i think your numbers make it clear. some teams are good enough to overcome wasted timeouts. the 4 other teams listed have a combined 4 losses compared to the redskins 4. when you can win w/out your TOs, you can waste them. the skins haven't accomplished the first part yet. the team that controls the clock controls the game. it would be interesting to see those numbers in conjunction with time of possession.

Posted by: facekdr | November 12, 2007 1:37 PM | Report abuse

you could overturn the mccardell incompletion by watching it on normal replay, no need for slo-mo at all. That was like a 20 yard pass that would have set us up near the 50 with 3 minutes left and down one. How could that not spark our offense that was rolling. That non call put us in 3rd down and 13.

Go look at the tape. The bad call plus no TO to challenge killed us

Posted by: ugh | November 13, 2007 3:22 PM | Report abuse

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