Wednesday, March 24, 2010

The Sudden death of Sudden death

-- So last night I was in a drunken stupor and in no shape to be blogging, but unfortunately (in many semantic ways) today that's not the case, so it means I can blog. And what better place to start than with the firing of 49ers ex-GM Scot McCloughan. By all accounts it was an personal issue and not a football related thing so there's no real info on the 'why' it happened (and I try to avoid that sort of thing until all the facts are clear, which is why I haven't mentioned the Ben Roethlisberger situation). I don't know what to make of the impact it will have. I can't imagine that this close to draft day it can be a really good thing, but the 49ers have been so erratic in the quality of their drafting in recent years, maybe, just maybe, we'll get a nice stable guy come in and fix things. Or we could end up with Charley Casserly.... (don't do it Jed!!) -- It's official, the new overtime rules for the playoffs have been authorised and I for one am not happy. There are pretty much two rules I think are essential to a debate. Number one is don't interrupt people, let everyone have their say. Interrupting someone is a good way of showing that you're not listening to what they're saying, you're just waiting for your chance to 'convert' them to your point of view. The second rule is that all facts presented must be relevant and accurate to the best of your knowledge. Spurious use of statistics and percentages is one of my biggest bugs in football right now. And it's here that the leagues decision making process falls foul of rule two. The number that's being banged from wall to wall in every discussion about this rule change is 60% (it's actually 59.8%). This is the percentage of teams that since 1994 have won the overtime coin toss in a playoff game and then gone on to win. Except that it has zero bearing on the new rule change. Zero. Because (sorry grammar guys) the stat that really matters is 34.4%. That's the percentage since 1994 of teams that have won a playoff game in overtime, on the first possession. Now to me, that's really not all that bad. And when you keep in mind that from 1974-93, before the kickoff was moved back 5 yards, that percentage was only 25.4%, it really doesn't seem to give the first possession team that much of an advantage. A small one yes, but nothing huge. So why not just forget all this major change business and just put the kickoff back where it belongs? Now we're back to a 75% chance that both teams will get a shot at victory. What this really smacks off is another one of these "how can we help the QB?" type things. Because (sorry again) now Peyton Manning and Tom Brady get their chance to take the field. Now, a mere field goal kicker cant win a game with his boot. Now, Lords Manning and Brady get the chance to come back onto the field and work their magic. And of course, if the receiving team of the kickoff gets a TD then it ends straight away anyhow. This is basically an anti-special teams measure, 'cos the NFL wants it's marquee men to finish the job. But what they may get instead is something much worse. The game might just end on an onside kick or an incomplete pass. So here's the deal. I choose to receive and score a field goal on the opening possession, which means I now have to kick back to you. But if I go for an onside kick and recover, it's over. Your "possession" just ended without you touching the ball. Or maybe I pin you inside your 10 and you have difficulty getting out. It's fourth down now and you can't punt. So you throw it, the ball bounces off your receivers hands and it's game over. Tuck in. At least with the field goal, whether you like them or not (I do), the game is ending on a scoring play. It's a big moment when a guy lines up a kick and everyone holds their breath, waiting to see what happens. Now we could see games end as a ball miserably sails over a receivers head and onto a teams bench. But worse, there's something even bigger at stake here! All this time spent, sorry wasted, on this rule change could have been used more productively. By getting rid of that damn tuck rule! Have a great day everyone.

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