Friday, January 7, 2011

Playoff Overtime!!!

From the desk of @jon_g_gonzalez

I was sent this article from a dear friend of the blog, Mr. Gonzalez. Why does not have an account to post on this blog is beyond me, because that would be a lot easier than me forgetting to copy paste this word document for 2 days. So without any proof reading or editing, I give you, Le Overtime.

“We want the ball and we’re gonna score.”

It’s been seven years since those words were made famous by Matt Hasselbeck after the overtime coin-toss during a 2004 wild card game against the Packers. They remain significant, as this weekend as the Packers head to Philadelphia to play in a wild card game in the first season under the new overtime rules.

For those that have forgotten, beginning with the 2010 season, playoff games that go to overtime are no longer played under a strict sudden-death format. Instead, the team receiving the ball after the coin toss can only win on its first possession if it scores a touchdown.

A field goal does not end the game, as the scoring team kicks off to its opponent. If the opponent is held scoreless on its possession, the game is over. However, if the opponent scores a touchdown it wins the game. Even more complicated, if the opponent scores a field goal, the game goes to a 15-minute sudden death period.

Although the Packers won that 2004 game against the Seahawks on an interception returned for a touchdown by Al Harris, just one week later, “4th and 26” was forever burned into the minds of Packer fans when “he who shall not be named” turned the ball over late in the game and the defense allowed the great Freddie Mitchell make one of exactly one big plays in his illustrious career.

Unfortunately, neither of these games illustrate how the new rule operates. Under the 2010 rule the “we’re gonna score” game ends just as it did, with Al Harris mobbed by a group of teammates. Likewise, because “he who shall not be named” threw his twenty-second key playoff interception in the “4th and 26” game after the Packers won the coin toss, a field goal was all the Eagles would have needed to send the Packers home losers under the current rules.

The 2003 and 2009 seasons remind us that overtime games do happen in the playoffs, and that reality quite frankly scares the living shit out of me. In 2003/2004, the Packers were coached my Mike Sherman, who nobody would mistake for a MENSA candidate. Two years later, Sherman was replaced by Mike McCarthy, who has a list of coaching blunders longer than my drink tab on a bender in Vegas.

I was fortunate enough to be sitting five rows off the field last January when Karlos Dansby flapped his wings in front of me and I had to run for cover to get out of University of Phoenix stadium. Although you can’t put that one on McCarthy, the Packers record in overtime playoff games under his regime is worse than Sherman’s. Quite frankly, I have less than zero confidence that MM has the ability to comprehend the new overtime strategy, much less properly execute when faced with a decision.
The only saving grace is that Andy Reid is just about as inept as McCarthy when it comes to inexplicable coaching blunders. Combine that history of ineptitude with the fact that McCarthy and Reid have ZERO history to work with seems like a recipe for disaster. Let’s just hope Reid’s blunder outweighs MM’s.

In an effort to avoid watching another overtime debacle I’ve decided to provide an (oversimplified) easy reference guide to 2010 Packers overtime strategy. Hopefully McCarthy reads it before Sunday:

1) If Matt Hasselbeck taught us anything in the 2003 season, take the ball and score. By this I mean there is no circumstance under which a team should defer, even though holding an opponent to a field goal lets you know what you need. The threat of the game ending on a long (cough, DeSean Jackson) score is simply too great.

2) Don’t kick it onside at the beginning of overtime if you lose the toss. I understand that the Packers special teams are so bad that kicking off to begin overtime could bring a big return (or worse). However, giving a team a short field in overtime in the playoffs isn’t ballsy, it’s stupid.

3) If you get to 4th and 1 on a questionable field goal distance (48-52 yards) on your first possession, go for the points. Giving up field position with a questionable (at best) run game is a sure-fire recipe for disaster. Also please don’t try a deep ball on 4th down in overtime. It already cost us one game.

4) If you lose the toss, go ahead and try a repeat of the Dan Connolly play. I mean, two 320 pound linemen can’t return a kick 72 yards can they?

5) Finally, if you win the toss, run your whole offense and do not play for a field goal. Unlike years past, it should be SETTLING for a field goal while trying like hell to score a touchdown. Remember, under this format, a defense holding a team to a field goal has won the matchup.

If this game comes down to overtime it is gonna be fun. I’ve now convinced myself that I need to get as drunk during this game as I was last week, if not more.

1 comment:

Juicelaw said...

That was rather amazing. After some intense research, I realize I actually met this guy one time. He should probably send Bear shit more often to cover for Bear's horrible, horrible work ethic. Finally, I appreciate Mr. Gonzalez not using His name. The 66 year statute (statue?) of limitations has not worn off yet. PS. Only a fellow member of the cloak could write this well.