Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

07 Oct 2005

Fear, Not Numbers, Sacked Holmgren

I've angered the Washington fans enough, but let's look at last week's game from the other side? When Seattle picked off Mark Brunell with 49 seconds left, why did Mike Holmgren settle for two running plays and a long field goal instead of passing to get closer? Dave Locke of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer has more on coaches who play not to lose. (Thanks to reader Jason Zanon for sending the link.)

Posted by: Aaron Schatz on 07 Oct 2005

15 comments, Last at 09 Oct 2005, 9:21am by Flux


by charlie weis (not verified) :: Fri, 10/07/2005 - 8:33pm

"I wasn't going to throw it. I have done it before where all a sudden you take a chance on a pass and goofy stuff happens. I just was not going to take the chance there"

Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha!

by Goldbach (not verified) :: Fri, 10/07/2005 - 9:02pm

Coaches can't win (if they lose). In Philadelphia, Andy Reid is getting criticized for beingtoo agressive (read: not running the ball) with a 10 point lead.

by Goldbach (not verified) :: Fri, 10/07/2005 - 9:03pm

Reading my post, I wonder why I needed the parenthetical.

Sigh, it's been a long week.

by BillT (not verified) :: Fri, 10/07/2005 - 9:48pm

This should've been called "The Marty Schottenheimer Memorial Column".

A nice tribute to the master from Coach Holmgren.

by kjbad (not verified) :: Fri, 10/07/2005 - 11:02pm

Gee, I wonder if all those drops from last season came flashing back into Holmgren's memory?

by masocc (not verified) :: Fri, 10/07/2005 - 11:40pm

I'm frantically cursing you, FO's. After reading the headline, I thought *somehow* I'd missed Mike Holmgren's dismissal.

*sigh*. A man can dream, can't he?

by HLF (not verified) :: Fri, 10/07/2005 - 11:45pm

Um, how exactly would a drop have hurt them? They'd still have a 47yd field goal (outside) left to fall back on, likely no better than a 50/50 proposition. And they had already missed a 47yder earlier this very game.

Holmgrem should not get a pass for this -- he deliberately minimized his team's chances to win, despite copious evidence to the contrary showing what a demonstrably poor (a priori) decision he was making.

Frankly it was disgusting.

Hopeless Lions' Fan,

by noahpoah (not verified) :: Fri, 10/07/2005 - 11:46pm

Matt Hasselbeck has thrown an interception in just 2.7 percent of his attempts....Hasselbeck has been sacked 6.5 percent of the time he attempts a pass....More than 56 percent of the time Hasselbeck passes, he completes the pass; 34.3 percent of his attempts fall incomplete.

2.7 + 6.5 + 56 + 34.3 = 99.5

What happens to the other 0.5% of his passes? My god, something has gone terribly awry in Seattle!

by Joey (not verified) :: Sat, 10/08/2005 - 12:29am

The problem is pro kickers are just too reliable--or at least coaches perceive them that way.

In a related example of what can happen when the coach has the opposite opinion, note the Georgia Tech-NC State game last night. Georgia Tech down 17-14 in closing minutes, playing at home. Kicker has missed two extra-point-range FGs, so pressure's on to not let it come to that. They move down inside the five in the final minute, but throw an interception in the end zone. Game over.

by HLF (not verified) :: Sat, 10/08/2005 - 1:20am

Joey, if an NFL team got their NFL kicker to "extra point range", the equation would change from a 50/50 proposition to a 97%+ prop. Then it makes sense to take the kick (in a tie game with time more or less gone).

by Krugerindustrialsmoothing (not verified) :: Sat, 10/08/2005 - 2:21am

"2.7 + 6.5 + 56 + 34.3 = 99.5

What happens to the other 0.5% of his passes? My god, something has gone terribly awry in Seattle! "

fear not...you forget the dreaded penalty my friend. now, back to my latte.

by Raul Allegre's Revenge (not verified) :: Sat, 10/08/2005 - 2:20pm

2.7 + 6.5 + 56 + 34.3 = 99.5

What happens to the other 0.5% of his passes? My god, something has gone terribly awry in Seattle!

Probably rounding, which goes awry everywhere.

After all, the line was over 56 percent of his passes (emphasis mine).

by tom shirley (not verified) :: Sat, 10/08/2005 - 8:11pm

Can someone send me the article from the Seattle paper concernign Holmguin and coaches that play not to lose?

by Joey (not verified) :: Sun, 10/09/2005 - 2:14am

Re. 10
It wasn't a tie game. They were behind and were either going to force overtime or win it in regulation. In virtually any situation, I'd like to take a shot at winning rather than ending up in OT. But, if your coach and players have zero confidence in the kicker, they might tend to be overly agressive in both their play calling and execution (not saying that's what happened to Georgia Tech, just noting the potential is there). This would be the opposite extreme to the overly conservative play calling you see when a coach is supremely confident in his kicker, like Holgren was. Either way will tend to turn out badly. The best course of action would be somewhere in the middle.

by Flux (not verified) :: Sun, 10/09/2005 - 9:21am

Re: #13 -- Sure Tom, I'm thinking it to you right now. That's the best any of us can do in lieu of you listing your email address, after all. BTW, good luck getting your left mouse button fixed.

As for the article and an end to sarcasm, I enjoyed it. Short, but it had some actual stats and such. For a non-FO daily paper site, it was damn near Moneyball-esque.

FO guys: Put more like this into the links, please. I can't surf every local site on the internet, you guys don't write about everything, and espn.com is getting deeper into the sucks every day.