About a month ago, we listed seven game management gaffes at the end of the half by Princeton alum Jason Garrett, who at the time, was 31 games into his NFL coaching career. Let’s throw another one on the pile.
At the end of the first half last night, Tony Romo hit a wide open Jason Witten down the seam for a 28 yard gain to the 1 yard line. He was tackled with about 54 seconds left on the clock. Dallas had all 3 of their time outs remaining. It appeared that the Cowboys didn’t want to rush down the field and get the next play off in haste. That’s fine. Take a timeout, and call a play you like.
However, the timing of the called time out, from a strategic perspective, is pretty simple. You let the clock run down to about 20 seconds, or if you want to leave yourself a little extra time in case of a pass interference call in the end zone (and thus a new set of downs), maybe you leave 25 or 30 seconds. With two time outs still in your back pocket, your entire goal line playbook is open, and time expiring is not a concern.
What did Garrett do? He called time out with 45 seconds left on the clock. Next play… Touchdown.
That left the Eagles 41 seconds before the end of the half. Five plays later, the Eagles had driven down inside the Dallas 30 yard line, and Alex Henery drilled a FG to close the half.
Andy Reid has long been criticized for his time management skills, which is warranted. Jason Garrett is worse.