Sunday, December 26, 2010

More Football on a Sunday Full of Football

It just may be the case that icing the kicker works.  Check out this article which suggests about a14% reduction in likelihood that a kicker will make a field goal after the opposition calls a timeout.  Perhaps not too surprising* that a bit of an intervention into a routine causes an impact.  To be clear, the change is one from 80% to 66% so the kicker is still  more likely to make the kick, making it appear that icing does not work.  This study suggests that this is one thing that an opposing coach can do to affect the game. 

Of course, given how poor many coaches do time/clock management, many may not have any timeouts left at the end of the game.  I am always stunned to see a QB call a timeout in the second half when a delay of game penalty is about to be called.  This leads to a question that can only be answered by football's equivalent of sabremetricians: is 5 yards, the penalty for delay of game, of more or less value than the 14% reduction in the opposing kicker's field goal completion rate?  My guess is probably yes, but it would take some math to figure it out.  Wasted timeouts, of course, not only affect the chances of icing a kicker but lots of other endgame issues. 

Anyhow, something to think about in this penultimate week of the season.

*What is more surprising is that a piece by an adjunct prof at a liberal arts college gets such prominent play in the NYT.  But that speaks more to my biases.

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