Analysis: Is Steelers’ Mike Tomlin as bad at timeout management as we think?
Stop me if you’ve heard this before …
“Mike Tomlin has to be the WORST coach in the NFL when it comes to wasting his timeouts!”
You’ve probably listened to a Pittsburgh talk-show caller or two vent that opinion.
But according to one set of numbers, that’s not true. The data says Tomlin is not great, but he’s average.
Via ProFootballTalk.com , I found this post on a Packers-related site. It breaks down how all NFL coaches manage the clock and use their timeouts. I’ll let you click on the link to get the specific formula of how this is figured out, but here are the basics.
The author, Paul Noonan, went through every team’s timeout usage. He eliminated any timeouts burned by failed challenges or timeouts used in the last two minutes of the first half. Also, he discarded any timeouts cashed in during the last five minutes of the second half.
The theory being, those were timeouts used strategically in an effort to manipulate the clock to gain extra possessions or extend potential game-tying or game-winning drives.
I’d argue that the five-minute buffer is a little generous. But let’s not quibble.
At any rate, it appears that the author proved the point he was trying to make, which was no team has burned more timeouts outside of those high leverage areas than the Packers in 2018. They lead the NFL in that category with 14.
The best teams in the NFL at using its timeouts wisely by the formula? Jacksonville and Philadelphia. Those two teams have only been guilty of wasting timeouts twice.
As for Tomlin and his Steelers? They’ve wasted six timeouts in 2018. Four other teams have matched that total. That’s right in the middle of the league. Fourteen teams have burned more. Thirteen teams have burned fewer.
So more proof that, as often as Steeler fans love to make wide-sweeping declarative statements about Tomlin, the truth is usually much more in the middle than they want to assume.
However, I would argue that — especially with Tomlin’s rotten challenge history of late — incorrect challenges may need to be included in the analysis.
Tim Benz is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Tim at firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter @TimBenzPGH. All tweets could be reposted. All emails are subject to publication unless specified otherwise.