As my first post for the 2011 season, I thought I’d review what happened in 2010 to determine the worst clock management coaches in the NFL and college football. I looked at my blog and counted the number of times each was mentioned for any type of clock management mistake (I excluded a few that had minimal impact like not taking a knee). These mistakes included the typical improper use (or non-use) of timeouts, bad play calling based on down/distance/time remaining, punting instead of going for it, etc.
First let’s look at the NFL. This one is a slam dunk! By far, the worst coach is Rex Ryan of the New York Jets. I counted 11 mistakes he made across seven games (including three games with two mistakes in them). He made four mistakes in three playoff games and he was the “loser of the week” twice last year which tied him for top honors with Colts Head Coach Jim Caldwell and Packers Head Coach Mike McCarthy. Interestingly, despite his bad decisions, the Jets won four of the seven games in which he made a mistake.
Second place may also surprise you. Packers Head Coach Mike McCarthy is the second worst coach with five mistakes across five games including the two on national television on Sunday night against the Patriots and Monday night against the Bears (meaning everyone saw them). McCarthy was also “loser of the week” twice (shared one week with Giants Head Coach Tom Coughlin).
Based on numbers, third place would go to Bears Head Coach Lovie Smith with five mistakes as well (McCarthy wins the tie-breaker with his weekly awards) but I have to at least give him a tie for third with Colts Head Coach Jim Caldwell who only made two mistakes but boy were they big one’s. His decision in week 4 to call a timeout while on defense gave the Jaguars incentive to try for a game-winning field goal. And he committed a FIREABLE OFFENSE violation in the playoffs against the Jets when he inexplicable called timeout on defense late in the game to stop the clock for the Jets. I can’t imagine Peyton Manning tolerating this incompetence for much longer.
The tie for fifth place with four mistakes is split between Marvin Lewis (Bengals), Eric Mangini (ex-Browns), Chan Gailey (Bills), Sean Peyton (Saints). Lewis, Mangini and Gailey all had one “loser of the week” award.
Honorable mention needs to be given to former Cowboys Head Coach Wade Phillips who sabotaged the Cowboys season in the first game right before halftime with the dumb short pass that was fumbled and returned for a TD by the Redskins (our week 1 “loser of the week”). That set the tone for a miserable Cowboys season and I attribute this play to Phillips’ firing.
3 Mistakes – Steve Spagnuolo (Rams), Tom Coughlin (Giants), Ken Whisenhunt (Cardinals), Pete Carroll (Seahawks), Jim Schwartz (Lions), Mike Smith (Falcons)
2 Mistakes – Mike Singletary (ex-49ers), Tony Sparano (Dolphins), Norv Turner (Chargers), John Harbaugh (Ravens), Jeff Fisher (ex-Titans), Gary Kubiak (Texans),
1 Mistake – Bill Belichik (Patriots), Todd Haley (Chiefs), Brad Childress (ex-Vikings), Jason Garrett (Cowboys), Andy Reid (Eagles)
Finally, these coaches were also “loser of the week”: Tom Coughlin (Week 15), Josh McDaniel (Week 13), Ken Whisenhunt (Week 9), Mike Singletary (Week 2 – this was a tough one as his team scored too quickly).
This is a little tougher to score because there aren’t nearly that many close games in college football and thus fewer opportunities to make clock management mistakes. So I’ll just highlight a few “winners”.
Top honors go to Iowa’s Kirk Ferentz and LSU’s Les Miles for three mistakes each (Les made two in one game even though they won it).
Two mistakes go to Brian Kelly at Notre Dame, Mack Brown at Texas and Lane Kiffin at USC.
Weekly college football loser of the week awards went to Butch Davis (ex-North Carolina), Brian Kelly, Kirk Ferentz, Steve Spurrier (South Carolina) and Andy Talley (Villanova).