Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Peter King doesn't get it

Peter King opens his mailbag for his Tuesday edition of MMQB here.

On the second page of the story, here, King responds to the question: "Do you think the NFL should adopt the same overtime rules as they have in college? Alternating possessions and then, after the third OT, they have to go for two. Can you imagine if the Jets and Pats would have traded scores a couple of times Thursday night and the excitement it could generate?''

How's the weather out in Iowa today, Brandon? Bet it's chilly.

Glad we've got this out of the way.

I've never been in favor of the college overtime rule for pro football, but I have been a constant advocate of the rule that each team should have one possession, minimum, in overtime.

I think I see where you're going. This seems fine. Let's see how you make your point.

It's ridiculous that a coin flip should have so much bearing on the outcome of a pro football game,

It is a fact that last Thursday night, when the Jets called tails, and the coin came up tails, the game was automatically declared over and the Jets were winners. Wait, you're saying the Jets still had to play the game and score?

and I don't want to hear that the team that won the toss and received the ball to start overtime has won only 54 percent of the overtime games on that first possession in the history of the system.

This statistic is bull shit.

First, if the team that won the toss scored on their first possession 54 percent of the time, there'd be way more uproar.

John Clayton, in 2002, wrote this piece in which he wrote "Since [1974], there have been 330 overtime games. Only 93 games were won by teams who won the coin toss and then scored on their first possession. That's only 28 percent."

Assuming that the percentage of NFL games that go into overtime hasn't changed drastically in the last six years, there'd have been roughly 66 overtime games between the time Clayton wrote his article and today. If every single one of those 66 games were won by teams who won the coin toss and scored on their first possession, that would make 159 out of 396, or, 40%.

Also, I don't know if I trust this completely, but RealClearPolitics (covering sports for some reason) reported that at the end of 2006, the percentage of overtime games that were won on the first possession was 29%.

I wouldn't care if it were 50 percent, or 42 percent. Every game takes on an individual quality, and the fact that you HAND the ball to a team to start a period without the other team being assured it will have an equal chance to score has always been patently unfair.

Each team has an equal chance of winning the coin toss. The team that loses the coin toss apparently gets a chance to win the game 71% of the time, after stopping their opponents on the first possession of overtime.

The proposal I favor has been shot down by the Competition Committee on several occasions.

Certainly not because it's a stupid proposal. They're just anti-Peter King.

The winner of the overtime coin flip would get a possession, and the other team would get a possession, and if one team does not have more points than the other at the end of the two possessions, then the team that scores next wins.

Peter King just suggested, in writing, that the current system is awful because the team that wins the coin toss gets the first shot at breaking the tie and winning the game. Now, he suggests that if both teams ended the first possession of overtime tied, the team that won the coin toss get the first shot at breaking the tie and winning the game.

Each team had 60 minutes to prove they were better than the other. It didn't happen. Another possession for each doesn't make damn bit of difference.

I've heard lots of arguments against it, but most notably that a defense can win a game in overtime by stopping the coin-flip winner on the first possession ...

What? The best argument against your system is that a defense can win the game for a team by stopping the team on their first overtime possession? Did I miss the sentence where you wrote that, under your suggested overtime rules, the loser of the overtime coin toss wins automatically if their defense forces a punt or turnover? Or, am I right in assuming that the team's offense would still have to score?

and that it would needlessly add time to games already destined to be three-and-a-half hours long. Fairness overrides each one of those arguments.

For national writers, the Patriots losing an overtime game without getting the ball once overrides each of these arguments.


Jarrett said...

I think we all know the real solution: Overtime Scramble. And More Tommy Maddox!

Andrew said...

An Overtime Scramble would have been a way cooler way for Brady to tear his ACL.

cb said...

Gotta agree with King here, for once.

Bengoodfella said...

I actually hate the current overtime rules but I don't agree with Peter King's suggestion either, which I think does not really solve anything. I have never had any good suggestions for overtime, but I just don't like possession being decided by a coin flip. Unfortunately there have been no other ideas offered that are decent.

I do think it is absolutely hilarious that now the Patriots lose a game and did not get the ball every columnist in the world is writing a column about how to redo the rules of OT. I remember how when the Yankees got screwed out of a homerun this year, Hank Steinbrenner started crying about instant replay and then we got an avalanche of articles about it.

It just goes to prove my theory that nothing is ever a problem in major sports until it happens to a team in the upper Northeast, then it is a major problem and needs to be fixed soon.

The Patriots lost because under the current overtime rules they did not get the ball? Get rid of the rule so it never happens to them again! What if the Patriots don't make the playoffs because of this? Would we even still have the playoffs?

Tonus said...

Meh. You had enough opportunities to win during regulation. There's your fairness. The NFL has to be considerate of the TV networks that pay them billions of dollars to televise the games. Talk to those guys about 'fair', you fat dork.

On the other hand, there is one thing I like about King's suggestion, and that is that it forces teams to think TD first and FG second when they're in OT, instead of just trying to get to the 25 so they can make an FG attempt on second down. And it could make for some pretty exciting drives when a team gets the ball in OT trailing by 3 or 7 points.

Bengoodfella said...

I don't really like the coin flip at all simply because I don't want my favorite team to lose because they did not get the ball first, but I would be happy if they won the coin toss and got the ball first. I just have nightmares of my favorite team losing the Super Bowl on a coin flip and then the defense can not stop the other team.

I would agree King's suggestion does make a team think whether they should go for a TD or a FG and that is a good thing. On the other hand he is Peter King and he is fat and wrong.

Edward said...

You forgot this gem:
I wouldn't care if it were 50 percent, or 42 percent. Every game takes on an individual quality, and the fact that you HAND the ball to a team to start a period without the other team being assured it will have an equal chance to score has always been patently unfair.
Actually, you KICK the ball to the other team. There's no rule against onside kicking to start OT, either.

In general, I have no problem with the current system. Yeah, it sucks that there's a chance the loser of the coin toss may not get the ball, but it's not like they didn't have the ball at all the entire game.

The best proposal I ever heard came from Football Outsiders is to let one team declare a yard line to kick off from, then let the other team decide whether the want to kick or receive (more details here: http://www.footballoutsiders.com/ramblings/splitting-overtime-pizza). If team A set the kickoff at the 50 yard line, team B would most likely choose to kick. If team A set the kickoff at the 20 yard line, team B would choose to receive. This way, however, would eventually just result in an equilibrium position, maybe the 40 yard line?

As far as reasonable changes go, the only one that makes sense to make the rule that in order to win, a team must possess both the lead and the ball. This way, if the coin toss winner scores right away, they would still need to stop their opponent in order to win.

cs said...

The "you guys already had enough time to play" argument for the coin toss is terrible. Both teams played equally and came up tied. In every other sport, the game continues, and if the rules change, they change for both teams equally. Imagine if baseball had the NFL's rules. Flip a coin, and the winner gets to bat. If that team scores, the game is over... that'd be fucking madness but for some reason people just shrug their shoulders at it in the NFL.

Martin said...

I think the only really acceptable answer is a timed overtime. Not a whole quarter, maybe 10 minutes. It screws the time for the networks, but hell they have enough tv timeouts as is to lengthen the game. (Reminds me of MLB bitching about making the games shorter while shoving 2 1/2 to 3 minutes of commercials in every half inning.) Both teams would be likely to get the ball, and like in regular time, you'd have to decide to kick a field goal or go for the 6.

Peter King sucks.

Fred Trigger said...

what everyone is forgetting, is that the pats had them at 3rd and 15 on their own 20 (I think) and somehow gave up the first down. So their shitty 3rd down defense is more to blame, I think. Although, I do think the system needs to be changed.

Anonymous said...

"I just have nightmares of my favorite team losing the Super Bowl on a coin flip and then the defense can not stop the other team."

Actually, you would be happy to know that the Super Bowl is not sudden death, but rather another full 15 minute quarter.

Also, just to throw in my irrelevant two cents, there is no way that the coin flip will not give one team an unfair advantage.

In a timed overtime rather than sudden death, the team that wins the coin toss will, not considering turnovers, have either the same number of possessions or one more possession than the team that loses. Thus, the team that wins the coin toss will still have an advantage.

The unfair coin toss advantage for the "each team has a possession" method has already been discussed in the post.

I agree that it is unfair that the winner of the coin toss has such an advantage, but I contend that regardless of which system is adopted, the winner will still have an advantage.

What we really need to figure out is a replacement for the coin toss.
We need a way to determine who gets first possession based upon performance rather than chance so that the team that has the advantage earns it in some way.

Bengoodfella said...

Anonymous, I am glad to know the OT is a full 15 minute quarter. I will not have to worry about that as much anymore I guess. I did not know that though, call me Donovan McNabb. Though my favorite team has to make it to the Super Bowl before they can lose it.

I think each the team's head coaches should have to wrestle at midfield to determine whose team gets possession first. That seems fair.

Anonymous said...

Sorry to get your hopes up, because while I thought that I had heard and read many times about the full 15 minute quarter, everything I can find online (which I conveniently didn't research till after I commented, in true Woody Paige style) says that the Super Bowl is indeed sudden-death, so I'm an idiot. Glad I posted anonymously...

Larry B said...

We wouldn't expect anything else from you, Anonymous.

Tonus said...

cs: "The "you guys already had enough time to play" argument for the coin toss is terrible."

John Clayton agrees with me! That automatically makes him a total badass.

Seriously, I understand your point. But football is so different from those other sports that I don't see that there's a good way to make overtime "fair." As Clayton points out, it could lead to teams dogging it in the final minutes of a tie game (a problem that the NHL has had to deal with) and it could lead to more tie games, which is bad when your season consists of 16 games in total. OT in the NFL is the ultimate crapshoot, so if you can't close it out in regulation, you gotta live with the consequences.

cs said...

Tonus, it's an interesting point. Teams have 60 minutes to win, and the pressure should be on to win before that time is up. I agree, it should be that way. I know this isn't what you are saying, but maybe the NFL should do away with OT all together in the Reg Season. Yes, there would be a shitload of ties, but so what? I'm not sure what would happen to the various dynamics that exists today, one of them being "should the coach try to punch it in on 4th down with 3 seconds left, or just kick for the tie?".

But judging from Sunday's game, I think fans want to see resolution, so I don't know.