(Founders Note – The following is written by a life-long Green Bay Packers fan who is having to deal with feelings of bitterness in the immediate aftermath of the NFC Championship Game on Sunday.)
By JOHN JAMES MARSHALL/Designated Writers
How do you defend the indefensible? For a half in Sunday’s Green Bay-Tampa Bay conference championship game, it was Bucs quarterback Tom Brady who was indefensible. But when it was over, it was the decision of Packers’ coach Matt LaFleur that cannot be defended.
I’m usually the first guy to take up for a coach when he makes a decision that is not popular with the fan base. I always like to bring up another point of view that isn’t so knee-jerk or based on results.
But somebody is going to have to explain to me why kicking a field goal on fourth-and-goal from the 8-yard line in an eight-point game was even remotely a good idea. Green Bay’s Mason Crosby made it to cut the lead to five, but the Packers never got the ball back.
There were plenty of other decisions made on the Packers sideline that were also curious — you might want to guard against the end-of-the-half bomb, something every JV coach knows — but the Packers overcame that. With 2:05 to go, this was the one that mattered.
If someone brings up the word “analytics” to explain LaFleur’s decision, I’m going virtual postal. I don’t need a spreadsheet to tell what I always know:
(1) The risk was that they wouldn’t get the touchdown. OK, fine, they would still have to stop Tampa Bay.
(2) The reward was that they could have tied it with a touchdown and a 2-point conversion.
So by kicking the field goal, even with three time outs, you are saying that you think you can stop Tampa Bay from making ONE first down, then be able to drive the (probably) 80-plus yards after the punt to win the game. Just doesn’t making coaching sense.
Sometimes that obvious is just too obvious. You are EIGHT YARDS AWAY from possibly tying the game. That’s the best odds you can get.