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Payton's decision to on-side kick: Is it only a good call because it worked?

Discussion in 'Sports and News' started by Double Down, Feb 8, 2010.

  1. Double Down

    Double Down Well-Known Member

    I was thinking about this a lot this morning, reading some of the coverage praising Sean Payton for how big his balls were for that decision to on-side kick to open the second half. I can't help but feel like the same people who are praising him would be crucifying him had dumbass Hank Baskett simply been able to fall on the ball, or had someone wrestled it away from Reis at the bottom of the pile. (And to watch the replay, it's a miracle Reis holds onto it. He's got one hand on it, and essentially pins it against his body and holds on for dear life.)

    I go back and forth in my head as to whether I like the call. It was a calculated risk for sure -- I see where he said on film, he saw that the Colts were bailing early -- but he's also basically gambling the entire Super Bowl on one flukey play.

    I think it sort of speaks to the difference between coaches who simply do not give a shit about criticism after the fact, and coaches who do. There are so many coaches who wouldn't gamble there, even if they saw something on film, because they know they'd get killed if everything didn't line up right. All the criticism Belichick took for going for it on 4th-and-2 would have felt like a drop in the ocean compared to what Payton would have had to deal with had Hank "Reality Show Husband" Baskett simply fallen on the ball.

    Anyway, just thinking out loud. Seemed like it deserved its own thread. Discuss.
  2. RickStain

    RickStain Well-Known Member

    I'd be curious to see if some nerd out there will do an expected outcomes analysis. It's about 35 yards of field position vs. X% chance of getting the ball at around the 40.
  3. GoochMan

    GoochMan Active Member

    I thought it was a great call. Sometimes you gotta go for the big momentum changers.

    I liked that he went for it on 4th and goal in the 2nd quarter, too...just disagreed with the actual play called. They should have gone right over the 0 and 1 hole on 3rd and 4th down. INstead they tried to run off-tackle and let the Colts' speed neutralize both plays.
  4. Steak Snabler

    Steak Snabler Well-Known Member

    Great call either way, because they figured whether it was from their own 30 or the Saints' 40, the Colts were going to score either way.
  5. playthrough

    playthrough Moderator Staff Member

    I'm not sure he was gambling the entire game. Worst-case scenario, Colts get it, score TD, up 17-6. I'm not willing to write off the Saints at that point.

    I loved the call because it was such a "feel" thing. Not enough coaches operate that way, sure as heck not Caldwell on the other sideline (who watches Manning engineer a SB-record 96-yard drive in the first quarter, then in a two-minute-drill situation at the end of the second has three straight runs, trying to play the eat-the-clock game with the worst rushing attack in the league). After New Orleans took some momentum back with the FG to end the first half, Payton wanted to keep it going with the onside kick. It's just a great "feel" play, one that I think players respond to even if it doesn't work at that very moment, if that makes sense.
  6. Steak Snabler

    Steak Snabler Well-Known Member

    FWIW, Payton said in the postgame that they had game-planned to do the onside kick at some point, it was just a matter of when.
  7. Michael_ Gee

    Michael_ Gee Well-Known Member

    The thing that interests me is that Payton was making an explicit statement of faith in his defense that he could risk so much field position. This faith was justified in the fourth quarter, but at the time he had no evidence to support it.
    It's a game where you have to go the limit to win. Here's a coach putting his reputation on the line in order to try and win. If I'd been a Saint, I'd have been well past reengerized into genuinely inspired by that call.
  8. Rusty Shackleford

    Rusty Shackleford Active Member

    Re: Payton's decision to on-side kick: Is it only a good call because it worked?

    I think it is a case of 'good because it worked'. If it fails, the Colts get the ball in great position. Assuming they score, they get a bigger lead and momentum and Payton gets blasted for going for it on 4th-and-2 and failing, the crappy 4th-and-2 play call, and the at-that-point inexplicable decision to try for the onside kick that resulted in a Colts score. That's a lot of decisions that suddenly look pretty bad, and people start saying how the pressure of a SB got to him, blah blah blah.

    That's sports though. If you think outside the box and are successful, you're hailed as some kind of genius. If it fails though, you're a fool. The difference is a very thin line oftentimes.
  9. LongTimeListener

    LongTimeListener Well-Known Member

    Haven't seen this number, but I would love to know the percentage of successful "surprise" onside kicks. Of the rates quoted, nearly all of those attempts come late in the fourth quarter when the hands team is on the field and recovering the kick finishes the game. To me at least, it seems these unexpected kicks have a very high success rate, which would make it a much better percentage play than what's being quoted.

    But I'm one who believes that math professor's study from a few years ago that punting is the stupidest thing you can do and a team should just about always go for it.
  10. Cousin Jeffrey

    Cousin Jeffrey Active Member

    Peter King did some good work on why it was a good play. The Saints saw a glitch in the Colts' return formation and wanted to exploit it. Payton told the officiating crew before the game they would likely attempt an onside kick.

    For as much crap as PK gets for his nonsense on MMQB, this is pretty good stuff.

  11. The Big Ragu

    The Big Ragu Moderator Staff Member

    Brian Burke does some neat stuff; this is how he blogged it. WP stands for "Win Probability":


  12. Big Circus

    Big Circus Well-Known Member

    Credit where credit is due. That's damn good reporting.
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