Monday, November 16, 2009

Big Weekend in Sports (sport)

A lot went on in the sports world this past weekend, and here are some quick thoughts of my own, although I won't cover everything that went on.

First, Belichick's decision to go for it on 4th and 2. Mathematically, it was probably the right decision. I'm not going to go through with the EV calculation, but here's a link to a simple explanation of the calculation:
Of course you can put in your own probabilities for what was likely to occur, but I want to point out a few things. First, the Indy O had been strong all 4th quarter and had just completed an 80 yard drive in 2 minutes. Second, the Pats O had been moving the ball at will for most of the game. Finally, if the Indy O was going to score anyway from either 30 or 70 yards out, scoring from 30 would most likely leave enough time for the Pats to try to drive back down for a FG.

The two most interesting parts to me about this whole thing have nothing to do with which was the better decision. The first is that I think Belichick is one of only two coaches in the league who could actually MAKE that decision. In the sense of knowing the numbers, but more importantly in having the job security such that he does not have to care about the media backlash. The other coach is Mike Tomlin. Anyone else would be too fearful of losing their job over one decision.

The second was how the Pats D could have been so ill-prepared? The key was the back who tackled Addai at the 1 yd line instead of letting him through. Give Brady 1 min to drive for the FG and it could easily be a different outcome. Clearly the Pats D is still playing checkers while their coach is playing chess, and probably one of the reasons Belichick was not willing to trust them.

Forgotten because of this big AFC game was that Cincinnati asserted themselves as legitimate AFC title contenders by going into Pittsburgh and winning. Their defense was dominant, and let's not forget that if it wasn't for a fluke week 1 play, they'd be 8-1.

Onto other sports, Manny Pacquiao asserted himself as one of the best boxers ever with a record-breaking 7th title in a different division. More importantly, he is the pride of a nation and is himself very proud of his heritage. As he said, "It's history for me and, more importantly, a Filipino did it."

Another interesting win was Michelle Wie's first LPGA win. People have forgotten about her, but she's still only 20, and there's plenty of time for her to put it all together.

In the NBA, I had another discussion on whether George Karl is a good coach. I think that he's a pretty bad basketball coach, but that he's probably pretty good at keeping the superstars and their egos happy. How can he win so many games if he's a bad coach? Look at his past teams. Kemp and Payton, Cassell and Allen and Robinson, the current Denver bunch with Melo and Nene. All in their primes, that's how. He shows his true colors in the playoffs.

On the other hand, a really good coach who's often forgotten is Rick Adelman. This guy went to the finals with a Portland team whose best player was Clyde Drexler. He had the good Sacramento teams, but they always went up against the Shaq-Kobe Lakers. Now, he has a superstar-less Houston team playing good scrappy basketball and beating the Lakers on the road.

I'm sure there was even more going on this past weekend. I know there was a UFC event, but no real big championship implications.


rakeback said...

Michelle is only 20 years old and Tiger Woods didnt win his first tournament until he was that age. I think we need to give her a few more years before we make an assessment on whether she lived up to her potential.

Jonathan Weinstein said...

Going for 4th and 2 seems easily right to me, and your comments are spot on about needing job security to do it. But what about the 3rd and 2 play call? A lot to be said for a run or even a QB sneak there if you might be going for it on 4th. Most of the last decade the Pats love the ground game on 3rd/4th and short...but no Richard Seymour to come in at fullback I suppose :-).

The Pretender said...

Had that discussion today during dinner. It seems the Pats were confused and didn't think about going for it on 4th when 3rd down came around. Then again they were confused the whole fourth quarter. According to the Boston Globe, I read that Belichick knew he was going for it after the 3rd down incompletion, but that some of the punting team ran out and caused them to waste the last timeout. One of the other things about this "decision" is that it distracted everyone from the horrible Pats' 4th quarter meltdown.

Jonathan Weinstein said...

So, maybe Belichick knew he was going for it but the offensive coordinator didn't? Hmm. And yes, on the Colts final 3 touchdown drives it suddenly appeared there was barely a defense on the field, when they had been pretty good the whole game. On a possibly related note, I've never seen anyone get plays off faster than the Colts last night. Were they calling plays by telepathy?

Dan Snyder is God said...

Some writer suggested that Sean Payton may have also gone for that 4th down. He certainly has the job security at the moment. After him though, I don't think there are any other active coaches that would do so.