Yesterday, Jason Lisk put together a post on questionable NFL coaching decisions. It was lengthy. With a poor choice late in a loss against the Packers Sunday night, Giants coach Ben McAdoo has made the list.
After an Odell Beckham Jr. tiptoe touchdown brought the Giants within one score, the Packers were seeking to run out the clock. James Starks got stuffed for a three-yard loss on first down, and the Giants called timeout. They had one remaining.
On the ensuing play, which is above, Aaron Rodgers threw a short pass to Starks, the ball came loose, and the Packers recovered. A closer look at the play reveals that Starks might not have had control of the ball, and this could have been ruled an incomplete pass as opposed to a completed catch and a fumble.
Though turnovers are not challengeable anymore because they are all subject to automatic review, a ruled fumble that is recovered by the team that already had possession is something that McAdoo could have challenged to see if it was an incomplete pass.
Instead of challenging the play, Ben McAdoo just called timeout. If he had challenged it, the clock still would’ve stopped because when a challenge is unsuccessful the NFL rulebook treats it the same as a timeout.
If the referees had reversed the call, which again appears plausible, the Giants would have then kept their final timeout, and the Packers would have been stuck in 3rd-and-13 instead of 3rd-and-10. Even if McAdoo lost the challenge, there were only 30 seconds left until the two-minute warning (where all reviews come from the booth), and he would’ve lost the timeout that he’d just burned anyway.
If the Giants had their final timeout, they either would have been able to force the Packers to pick up one more first down than was ultimately necessary, or if they had stopped the Packers on 3rd-and-long, it would have been at their disposal on offense.
This isn’t a decision along the lines of going for it or kicking a field goal or anything like that which in part depends on gut feeling; it’s a fundamental clock management tenet that McAdoo, who has worked in the NFL for over a decade, blew. It continues to be baffling that these professional workaholics who analyze every angle on film throughout the year to gain any semblance of an edge continually shoot themselves in the foot when it comes to basic in-game strategy. If you have a challenge remaining, and you were going to call timeout anyway right before the two-minute warning, then any close play should be challenged.