If you notice the Green Bay Packers and head coach Mike McCarthy seem to burn timeouts in an odd way, one subjective study shows it clearly.
Management of the clock, and timeouts as a parallel is a critical part of an NFL head coach’s job. Pretty much every coach has hiccups managing those things, but the best come out on the positive end far more often than not. The Green Bay Packers and head coach Mike McCarthy are struggling to conserve timeouts this year.
The concept of wasted timeouts can be defined subjectively and is often done on hindsight after a result went badly. Paul Noonan of AcmePackingCompany.com has defined a wasted timeout as one taken before the two-minute warning of the first half or the final five minutes of the fourth quarter. He allowed for the idea that an early timeout can be fine, but in general, they aren’t deemed to be beneficial.
Based on Noonan’s cut-off points, the Packers lead the league in wasted timeouts so far this season with 14.
Michael David Smith of Pro Football Talk laid out the situations where wasted timeouts reduced the Packers’ chance to beat the Minnesota Vikings in Week 2.
A timeout on their first offensive drive of the game, to avoid a delay of game penalty, added five inconsequential yards to a third-and-long and they punted anyway on the next play. Late in the first half, the Packers kicked a field goal on first down since they didn’t have time for anything else.
Another timeout to avoid a delay game came on Green Bay’s first drive of the second half, and another timeout to avoid a delay of game came in the fourth quarter. Regulation ended with a 52-yard missed field goal from Mason Crosby, so those two timeouts would have allowed for moving a little closer before the attempt.
In a tie game, and with some help from Vikings’ kicker Daniel Carlson in getting that result, the Packers burned three timeouts to avoid a delay of game penalty and eventually cost themselves the opportunity to score more points or shorten a game-winning field goal attempt.
Those three wasted timeouts in one game are equal to or more than the number of wasted timeouts four teams have committed all season to this point. Bump the number up to five wasted timeouts or fewer on the season, and 14 teams fit that bill. The Packers are averaging more than two wasted timeouts per game, and nearly 39 percent of their timeouts through six games qualify as wasted based on Noonan’s criteria.
Wasted timeouts, however they’re determined, can sometimes come down to a breakdown in communication between coaches and players. The Packers are on a bye this week, so McCarthy and the coaching staff clearly has something extra to work on during the players’ idle time.