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AFM Magazine

Letter From Publisher

Slide or Fall Down?
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I may be accused of 'Monday morning quarterbacking,' but, during the 1997 season I saw a growing trend of what I believe to be an under-utilized weapon in the arsenal of coaches: clock management. I remember each time telling myself. 'How can this be?' 'I am not a coach, I must be wrong. These guys are the experts; there must be a good reason they did not do this or did do that.'

Yet, certain results or potential results could be avoided with proper time management and the exercise of foresight. Mistakes in clock management can cost a team a game. Moreover, the proper study and use of the science of clock management could win a coach a game or two each season.

During week four of the NFL season there was an example that caused me to ask the question, 'What can be done to improve this area of the game?'

In the Indianapolis-Buffalo game, the Bills had the ball on their own 46-yard-line, first-and-ten and Buffalo leading 30-29. There was 1:24 left in the fourth quarter. The Colts had two time-outs left. Things looked hopeless for Indianapolis. Buffalo called an off-tackle run to rookie RB Antowain Smith. He broke through the line and raced 54 yards for a score. After the extra point, the Bills led 37-29, with 1:14 left on the clock. The Colts took the kickoff, with 1:08, and in 60 seconds drove down the field and scored on a Paul Justin-to-Marvin Harrison TD pass. Only a disputed no-call on a failed two-point conversion kept the game from going into overtime and averted a potential Bills loss.

This near-disaster could have been avoided. All the Bills needed to do was have Smith fall down or slide after he ran past the first-down marker. Once Smith hit the ground, with the first down safely secured, the clock would have kept running for the 40 seconds allotted between plays in the NFL (or, the Colts could have taken an immediate time out, but, this would have simply delayed the inevitable by one play). Thereafter, Buffaloís QB, Todd Collins, could have simply taken a knee for three straight plays and the game would have been over, with no chance for Indianapolis to score.

Should Smith have been coached to not score or was he informed and failed to follow instructions? Yes! By scoring, he gave the Colts a chance to win-their only chance. In this case, more points was not the best thing for Buffalo. More was not better; enough is enough. A one-point win is the same as an eight-point win.

Many of you will say, 'Who would have thought of that?' Every coach should think of such things to help his team win a game. There is absolutely no reason whatsoever a coach cannot prepare for these situations and practice proper clock management. By anticipating and practicing for these end-of-the-game or end-of-the-half situations, a coach could simply signal into his players they were in 'take a knee' position and his team would execute the prepared plan.

The information on when to kill the clock, take a knee, stay in bounds, let the clock run between plays is the type of emperical information that can be charted and studied in the same manner as mathematical formulas. These are rules of clock management; they are just the same as laws of physics. They cannot be disobeyed without the likelihood of suffering dire consequences If you are in a 'kill the clock' situation, you had better 'kill the clock.' No ifs, ands, or buts. Remember the 'Miracle of the Meadowlands.'

In researching the issue months ago, I came across an excellent book titled Football Clock Management by John T. Reed. This book is a one of a kind and an outstanding source of material. I was so impressed with this book I called Coach Reed and asked him to author a series of articles us on some of the fundamental principles and theories he has discovered. Additionally, I requested that he serve as our Editor for Clock Management Issues. Fortunately for all of us, he accepted and, in addition, recently was one of the most popular speakers at the first AFM University. In this issue in his article Deliberately Allowing an Opponent to Score a Touchdown, he analyzes the controversial ending of the 1998 Super Bowl when Green Bay conceded a TD to the Broncos. Features like this on clock management are the type of editorial information that can be used by every coach.

As always, if there is ever anything I can do to help you or your program, please feel free to call me at 561-355-5068.

Sincerely yours,

Barry Terranova


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