Long have I held the position that most football coaches either are on automatic pilot with their situational football decisions or that they make decisions based on what questions they will be asked later and who to either credit or blame for the outcomes. To quote Herm Edwards, “You play to win the game,” which was his response to reporters who questioned his bold decision rather than accept a defeatist move that they would approve of.

Example: if a coach sends in the punt unit when the team is down by 10 in the second quarter, ball at the opponent’s 40 yard line, that’s what’s expected of him. The line “The team is forced to punt” is spoken many times every Sunday by the commentators. I have a newsflash for you.


The coach always has a decision to make. They have never been forced to do anything. To say that they were forced to punt is to cover for cowardly decisions based on the common practices of other coaches who are also fearful of the questions the media might ask if they do fail on a bold play, and how that might result in the termination of their positions.

If the punt team takes the field in the first half, nobody asks why. If a coach goes for it on 4th and 1 on the opponents side of the field and they fail to make it, he’ll say something about how the team needs to execute better. Which means that his players didn’t hold up their end of the bargain. That’s coaching from behind.

Let me repeat for you the words of Herm Edwards. “You play to win the game.” You might note that Edwards is no longer a head coach. That’s not because he took too many chances that failed. He was among the more “conservative” play callers out there, with predictable play calling.

I haven’t directly been on Twitter for years. I think I may have sent a message to one guy a few weeks ago through it, but now I’m considering a return, if only for the statistical program that often agrees with me that going for it is often the play that gives you the best return, and indeed makes the most sense. That’s what Twitter is all about, you know. Finding people that agree with you so you can hear more of what you already think. Brilliant. The same holds true for all flavors of social media, by the way. That’s a rant for another time though.

Anyhoo, if you want to expand your football IQ, and if you still use Twitter, considering following  @NYT4thDownBot for some real time opinions that are based solely on scientific data, rather than on a coach’s aversion to scrutiny. You can argue with the robot if you disagree. Heck, you can say nasty things about it’s non-existent mother for all I care. You won’t hurt its feelings. It doesn’t have any. And that allows it to make the most intelligent choices that would revolutionize the game, add excitement, and lead to championships.

Fortune favors the bold. Especially in sports.