Over Time Nonsense

The NFL is considering new overtime rules.

New, stupid overtime rules.

According to the article, the NFL is considering making OT over when one team reaches 6 points.  The rule would also go into effect in the next playoffs.

The main complaint with the current system is that it is “unfair” because the team that wins the coin toss wins about 60% of the time right now.  Personally, I think the real problem is that people don’t know what the word “fair” means.

The current system is designed to END the football game with one team winning.  Before the toss, both teams have an equal shot at winning.  Therefore, it is fair.  The toss is designed to give one team an advantage.  That’s the point of tossing the coin.  The advantage is distributed in an impartial and fair way.   The complaint is that the toss is random, lucky.  I submit that in a game using an oblong ball every game is decided by random, lucky events.  The Super Bowl was influenced by an onside kick where the ball bounced around like crazy, and the team that fell on it wasn’t awarded it.  Oh no!  Luck was involved.  Let’s all rend our garments and wail!  Just about every team that wins an overtime game benefited from multiple ‘lucky’ plays.  Until we accept that in any close game, random chance affects the outcome as much as skill and design, we’ll never understand football.

Some say the goal should be to ‘minimize’ luck.  Though I’m not sure why that’s important at all, I believe the new system will cause more problems than the old one.

First, the idea of implementing an entirely new overtime system for the playoffs is insane.  If the system works well enough to decide playoff games, it should be used all season.  Why start the postseason with an untried system that coaches aren’t used to?  It’s a recipe for disaster.  It creates a whole new level of strategy, but doesn’t give coaches the chance to see how it works out.

Second, the solution doesn’t solve the “problem” with the current system.  The Colts lost to the Chargers in 2008 in OT on a touchdown after the Chargers won the toss.  Now, they would have played everything out differently if they had known that a TD was worth more than a FG in OT, but still, under this new rule, that game would still have ended with Indy never seeing the ball.

Third, the new rule will result in longer games and more ties.  Either the NFL creates two OT rules (one for the regular season and one for the postseason), or they will adopt this rule for all games.  I’ve already said that it makes no sense to have to very different rules governing OT, but the only thing worse would be more ties.  The current system puts a premium on going for it deep in the other team’s territory (huzzah!), by creating a system where field goals don’t mean as much as they used to.  The odds are high for a lot of empty trips.  It also means that many games will still be decided by three points, but only after the entire 15 minute period is played.  The NFLPA does not want longer games.  Longer games mean more injuries. The point of OT is to resolve the game quickly.

And that’s at the heart of the issue.  The labor strife.  The NFL is trying to create issues that they can “give back” to the players without actually sacrificing anything.  By creating a potentially longer OT scenario, the owners can negotiate it away as a concession in the labor negotiations, and it won’t hurt them one bit.

For the record, the Colts have played seven OT games in the Manning era.  They are 3-4.  I can’t determine who won the toss in the 1998 loss to the Saints, but in the other six games they won the toss three times and lost the toss three times.  They lost to the Panthers (2003 )and Chargers (2008 playoffs) without ever seeing the ball. They beat the Broncos (2002) and Chargers (2004) after winning the toss.  They beat the Bucs (2003) after losing the toss, and lost to the Dolphins (2000 playoffs) after winning the toss and missing a potential game winning field goal.  Three of the games ended on touchdowns (1998 Saints, 2000 Dolphins Playoffs, 2008 Chargers Playoffs).  Indy lost all three games.

UPDATE:  Finally, after serching all day, I‘ve found a clarification on the OT policy.  It is NOT first team to 6, as Rich Eisen reported.  Instead it’s a mishmash.  It’s only sudden death if the first score is a touchdown or safety (I assume).  If the first score is a field goal, the other team gets a chance to match that field goal.  This eliminates one of my complaints, while creating another.  There won’t necessarily be more ties because the game ends after the first possession by the other team (unless they tie the game).  Personally, I find it weird that the NFL would create a policy that discriminates against one particular method of scoring.  In addition, it creates a possible advantage for the team who has the ball second. If the first team scores a field goal, the second team will get to run their drive knowing that they have to go for every possible fourth down.  I assume the counter to that is the advantage of possibly winning the game with a touchdown drive outweighs the advantage gained by getting to see what the other team does.  Personally, I think this won’t really solve the problem.  The team that wins the flip will probably still win the game pretty regularly, only this time they’ll win it on a touch down instead of a field goal.  It doesn’t really address the perceived ‘injustice’, it just makes it seem like the team that won earned it more.  Yeah, I’m still not a fan.

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