Not everyone is hard-core about clock management, but here at Pride of Detroit clock management is serious business just like special teams analysis. An item that came across our feed this week was a fun article on the use of timeouts courtesy of league data scientist Tom Bliss and NFL Football Operations’ fun zone called “The Extra Point.”
How does your team's head coach use their timeouts? Which head coach uses their timeouts most efficiently? We explore timeout usage at the #ExtraPoint.https://t.co/VuVWS6Txaa pic.twitter.com/qSLe9p6ZR8— Tom Bliss (@DataWithBliss) November 11, 2021
The article emphasizes the value of timeouts by first referring the reader to Brian Burke’s work from 2014 that estimated the situational (field position, score, clock) win probability value of having more timeouts. Admittedly, Burke’s input dataset was somewhat restricted since it only included “1st downs in the 3rd quarter near midfield, with the offense ahead by 0 to 7 points,” but at least it yields usable answers. The value varies situationally, but the NFL Football Operations article simplifies it down to a decent rule of thumb: “each second half timeout is worth about 3% in win probability.”
Assessing the timeouts actually used by current NFL head coaches in the 2021 regular season so far, the article divides them into three general bins: time-saving (used on offense or defense to conserve clock), unnecessary (used on offense or defense to prevent a mistake or penalties like substitution errors or delay of game), and a miscellaneous bin to get everything else like challenges or timeouts for injuries. Looking at the chart in the tweet above or the bigger version that’s easier to read in the article, we find Detroit Lions head coach Dan Campbell fourth from the bottom - which is good! The order in which coaches are sorted is their timeouts used per game for unnecessary (bad) reasons.
Campbell’s most frequent reason for using a timeout this season has been to conserve the clock in defensive situations, followed by clock management in offensive situations. The combined clock management reasons (2.7 timeouts per game) account for nearly twice as many timeouts used by Detroit as the unnecessary reasons (1.4 timeouts per game). While the win-loss record this year obviously hasn’t been fantastic, this is another data point to suggest the Lions are actually a pretty well-coached team.
The article acknowledges the Lions have been playing from behind quite a bit with their bad record, which may have something to do with their heavy use of timeouts to conserve the clock. However, many of their non-Philadelphia games have been down to the wire and a bunch of gutsy calls gave the team legitimate chances to win. In any event, it’s pretty cool to see attention being paid to clock management at all.
Now, on to the rest of today’s Notes:
- For those with young Lions fans in their households, the team is running a sweepstake for a pretty cool prize package of Thanksgiving stuff for one lucky child.
- In case you were wondering why new Lions wide receiver Josh Reynolds is wearing jersey number 8, the team posted the entire media appearance from Wednesday and the answer is in there.
- ESPN’s Kevin Seifert believes Jared Goff will not be the Lions’ starting quarterback next season.
- Everyone should get a chance to play this game, not just those of us who obsessively doomscroll on Twitter:
Time to play: Guess the NFL player! pic.twitter.com/2pdBsW5YGt— Jeremy Reisman (@DetroitOnLion) November 12, 2021
- A number of articles about the red zone went up recently. Dave Birkett at the Detroit Free Press wrote about the defense’s league-worst opponents’ touchdown conversion rate (20 out of 24 red zone trips ended in a touchdown). On the other side, Tim Twentyman from the team’s official site wrote about how the team should look to tight end T.J. Hockenson to help increase their own 30th-ranked 50 percent touchdown conversion rate on offense. To double-dip and get them both in one compact package, you can also take a look at an article by Justin Rogers at the Detroit News.
- For anyone qualified and interested, this is cool:
- This week’s episode of The Sideline with Dannie Rogers was posted to the team’s official YouTube channel today. Also posted yesterday was this week’s episode of X-Factor with Rogers and T.J. Lang.
- Each week, Fox 2’s Dan Miller sits down with a player for a quick exclusive interview. This time it’s rookie Levi Onwuzurike’s turn:
WATCH-@DanMillerFox2 talks with rookie defensive lineman @LeviOnw. Among the topics they discuss are adapting to life in the NFL, as well as getting more playing time. Perhaps most important though is the plan to stop Steelers running back Najee Harris. https://t.co/HmkrrjMYJq— FOX 2 Sports (@FOX2Sports) November 12, 2021