ShareThis Page
Analysis: Is Steelers’ Mike Tomlin as bad at timeout management as we think? |
Breakfast With Benz

Analysis: Is Steelers’ Mike Tomlin as bad at timeout management as we think?

Tim Benz
| Friday, October 19, 2018 7:12 a.m
Jason Behnken/AP
Pittsburgh Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin talks to defensive back Coty Sensabaugh (24) during the first half of an NFL football game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers Monday, Sept. 24, 2018, in Tampa, Fla.

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 , 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 or via Twitter @TimBenzPGH. All tweets could be reposted. All emails are subject to publication unless specified otherwise.

Tim Benz is a Tribune-Review sports columnist. You can contact Tim via Twitter .

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.