Marc Trestman has an important game management lesson for all of us
For those of you that missed the Ravens - Bears game on Sunday, with Chicago up 20-17 late in the game, Baltimore took over at their own 16 yard line needing to go 84 yards to punch it in the end zone for a win. The Ravens ended up driving the ball down to about the three yard line, and had multiple opportunities to score with about a minute to go, and instead of using one of his three timeouts, Bears head coach Marc Trestman decided to keep all of them in his pocket. That decision had a lot of fans, media members, and coaches scratching their heads after the game.
The Ravens ended up settling for a field goal as time expired, sending the game to overtime, where they eventually lost 23-20. After the game, everyone was wondering why Trestman decided to take the three timeouts home with him and what he told reporters, (which you can hear for yourself here at the 9:20 mark) is a lesson in game management for all coaches.
"When you call timeouts at the end of halfs, you want to do it in succession, otherwise there is no value in them." Trestman explained.
"So just a little bit of history, when you start a drive from the 16 yard line, you have a 13% chance, over the past five years, of scoring a touchdown. So you have to take that into consideration when you go into the game."
"The normal thinking is that you never want to leave the game with your three timeouts, but the fact of the matter is that there was really no time to use the timeouts, and when you're in a two minute situation and you use your timeouts and there is no way that you can call them in succession, you give them more time each and every play to get the people that they want out there to get that play done, so you have to consider that."
Trestman then explained that the only time he really seriously considered a timeout was after Ray Rice ripped off an 11 yard run to get the Ravens down to the 5 yard line with just over a minute remaining.
"When you put it all together, if you call all three timeouts right there in succession, you're still only getting the ball back with 18 seconds left, but if you let it run, they're in a two minute mode and now they have to call their two timeouts, so a couple things come into play. Number one, they didn't call a timeout after the first one, so that means that they had to call a play out of their two minute package instead of using their red zone package. They didn't call a timeout and get into a different personnel group. And then, by using their two timeouts, we knew what they had to do on third down, they had to throw it because there wasn't enough time left to do anything else."
"So we cut the percentages in half of run to pass, and then it was one big leap of faith. But if we go back and call three straight timeouts, we have 18 seconds left at max. So the percentage of them scoring...it's a leap of faith. 3 points to tie the game, yes, but seven points, we're talking that 13%."
For better or worse, Trestman is well known as being one of the more cerebral head coaches in football, and it's game management insight like he displayed Sunday that have many coaches adding a brainstorming session with him and Kevin Kelley to their holiday wish list.