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A lesson on judging play calls from Bill Belichick...sort of.

Scott Norwood's 47 yard FG attempt in SuperBowl XXV from Tampa,FL
Scott Norwood's 47 yard FG attempt in SuperBowl XXV from Tampa,FL

As anyone who has read BucEm for more than ten minutes this week knows, there has been a lot of heat on OC Greg Olsen for his play calling. Since youve read this far, your an avid Buc'em reader and you know how I feel on the subject for the  most part. Since there is a moral to this story, the comment section and FanPost/shots section are too small for this. 

It is true, that there is a time and place for a proper play call. Its also true and I'm sure every agrees that any play has any possible chance to succeed at any time, but they have their share of odds to succeed or fail.

If its 3rd and 22 from your own 20 yard line and there is only 30 seconds left in the game and you have no timeouts, running the ball is not only stupid, its giving up. Going into a game situation where you are at the opponents 1 inch line, its first and goal, plenty of time left, and you throw the ball 4 times, is pretty silly too. 

Now you don't have to be a football expert to see these examples are extremes to say the least. But the line between extremes and an extreme game plan are a little harder to discern. Jon Grudens 48 passes in the crazy wind in Giants Stadium with a rookie Bruce Gradkowski was  crazy  by anyones definition. Yet two dropped passes by Michael Clayton and Joey Galloway could have seriously changed the outcome of that game. Would a win though change the outlook on the game plan as being unsound?

So when I say that for the most part, complaining about play calls is usually very inaccurate, Im more than referring to the fact that any play, even a 3rd and 22 run has a chance to succeed, and that even if it does, its still not going to be looked at as a smart call. But where is the line we draw where the outcome DOES determine if a playcall is  a 'good' or 'Bad' one?

Probably no one has the right to tell us this info, but with the advent of Madden Football games, your average football fan can now  'judge' their play calling abilities against a computer. Some, like every facet in life, take it to the extreme and think they are capable of doing the real thing better than the real people! ...and some really could!

But to me, the perfect example of a good play call is a successful one and a bad play call is one that fails, is found in a story about one of today's best coaches, and his shining moment in history.

Unfortunately, you will have to jump to read on...

Our story is about Coach Bill Belichick, but not Head Coach Bill Belichick, but head defensive coordinator Bill Belichick, of the New York Football Giants. The Head Coach is Bill Parcells, and Belichick is his prized DC. The year is 1990, and the Giants win the NFC Championship game and must face the powerful Buffalo Bills in the Superbowl. 

Now keep in mind, hindsight is perfect 20/20 vision. We know now the Buffalo Bills are 0 for 4 Superbowl contestants, but at this time, Buffalo was considered an almost unstoppable offense. And the Giants would have to face Buffalo without Phil Simms, their starting QB who  had been knocked out for the season, giving way to back up  Jeff Hostetler.

So Bill Belichik devised his defensive game plan. It had all of the Giants defensive players up in arms. The plan? Allow Buffalo Bills running back Thurman Thomas to get 100 yards rushing. According to Bill's master plan, the Giants defense must set itself up in a way to allow Thomas to get 100 yards of rushing, something any defense prides itself on its ability to  PREVENT!  Having their trust of course, the G men obliged.

He explained that this would give the Bills a confidence that they could run the ball successfully against the Giants when they needed to, which they did. Everytime Buffalo was in a short yardage situation, they ran the ball, and usually picked up the first down, and fell right into the Giant's DC gameplan.

Because as you know, when you run the ball, you eat up clock time. On the other side of the ball, the Giants were running Otis Anderson. He too gained 100 yards, and between the two, running the ball, kept the powerful Buffalo passing game either on the bench, or held in check as they felt more comfortable running the ball for 5 yards and a first down than passing for it, which would have probably gotten the 1st down and more yards.

While the game plan kept Buffalo's powerful passing game from making a difference in the game, Buffalo's equally powerful running game gave the  Bills one last chance to win this game. The Bills moved the ball in the final minutes getting Buffalo Kicker Scott Norwood lined up for his now infamous  47 yard field goal attempt.

It was wide right. The Bills lost.

Bill Belichick's defensive game plan now sits in the NFL Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton Ohio.   The defensive game plan, in the Hall of Fame, is considered pure genius. How a great defense like the NY Giants would set up a  game plan designed to give up 100 yard rushing attack because he knew it would turn Buffalo's running game into a weapon against itself put not only the game plan in the Hall of Fame, but earned fame for Belichick as well.

But all of it hinged on Scott Norwood missing his 47 yard FG attempt. If Norwood nails his kick, Buffalo wins, and the Giants defensive game plan looks like the stupidest plan in the history of the league! Why would you give up 100 yards on purpose?!?

The moral of the story; Most times, not all, not always, not every time, A good play call is one that works, and when it doesn't work, well, it just wasn't that good of a call.