Monday, December 22, 2008

I Sound Like Joe Morgan: Mangini was Inconsistent

When I look at each of Eric Mangini's decisions this past game, I can understand each one of them individually. But when you put them all together, they paint a very inconsistent picture of the third-year coach. Let me go through the key decisions and point out in each case what Mangini must have been valuing.

Opening drive of game, 4th and 2 feet, 2.5 yard line of Seattle (0-0):
Mangini decides to kick the field goal instead of going for it. He takes the (all but) guaranteed 3 points instead of taking a slight risk of no points. His decision here is conservative, valuing points on the board above a higher risk play. He also disregards the field position the Seahawks would start with. That early in the game, I completely understand just wanting to get some points.

Early in 4th quarter, after Feely nails a 45-yard field goal negated by a delay-of-game penalty (10-3 Seattle):
This time Mangini decides to play for field position. He has Hodges punt and pin Seattle on their 6 yard line (way to save your job, Reggies) instead of risking giving them the ball at about midfield. Again Mangini took the conservative play, but this time he was playing for field position instead of points. (And let's not forget that Feely absolutely drilled the 45-yarder so well it would've been good from 55 yards).

Late in 4th quarter, 3rd and 2 on the Jets 21 yard line, about 2:40 left (10-3, Seattle):
Most analysts will tell you Mangini's big mistake came on 4th down, but I think he screwed up on third down. We know in hindsight that Mangini was planning to go for it on 4th down (assuming the Jets didn't lose yardage). Why not run the ball? You have 3 time outs. You have the 2-minute warning. You have plenty of time. Thomas Jones averaged around 4 yards a carry. Or you could call a draw to Leon "Hot" Washington from the shotgun. Here Mangini lost sight of the game clock, really. He had tunnel vision and forgot about the run.

Late in 4th quarter, 4th and 2 on the Jets 21 yard line, 2:21 left (10-3, Seattle):
Ok, so incomplete pass, now it's 4th down. Mangini decides to go for it. Isolated from the rest of his decisions, I like this call. If you punt it, all Seattle has to do is get one first down and the game is basically over. And how hard is it to get 2 yards anyway (see previous play)?

But this decision is on the complete opposite side of the spectrum from his other decisions. He eschews field position, despite knowing that if they don't get a 1st down, the game is really over, as Seattle will kick a field goal to make it a 2-score game. Again, tunnel vision. He was in "4-down situation" and could not consider other options (the CBS crew did a good job pointing out the reasons to punt the ball there).

Of course, they don't get the first down (Favre decides to throw deep into good double coverage when all they needed was 2 yards?). Mangini is clearly showing his inexperience and lack of skill. He's not as smart as I thought he was.
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