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Clock Management and Penalties

A couple of weeks ago a penalty ended a potentially game winning drive in scoring position early, taking the final seconds off the clock. So whose fault is it?

True the coaches should be able to better manage the clock, but is it their fault? Game planning is something all coaches do, or should do. So how can a coach let their team be in a position of needing a score at the end of a game with only enough time for one or two more plays? Granted life happens and the game happens too. All the planning in the world will only help you so much, especially when you face great offensive execution by the opposing team.

This leads us to the players. The people in a game that execute the plan. It is up to the players to play better than their counterparts. So is it the players fault when they’re behind and within scoring range at the end of a game? Yes, but the amount split between the players and their coaches is another topic. Players get penalties all the time. Sometimes these penalties will later be blamed for the team losing the game. But a penalty that takes the final seconds off the clock from the team that is losing truly does cause them to lose a game. Regardless of what the results of their final play(s) might have been.

This brings us to the league. The NFL has designed rules with penalties for breaking those rules, but this game is a physical competition. And as much as the league or anyone else may try to say it works on paper, the game was created as a physical sport between players. So does the league have a right to penalize something with ending the game early, when that something probably isn’t actually cheating in any way and doesn’t sway the odds of the game in a way that would be at least frowned upon by the competitors who made this game with their hard work and their desire to compete on the field.

In the end it is up to the NFL what rules are made or kept or changed, and the penalties that come with breaking those rules. No matter how hard the NFL tries however, they will never be able to convince the player that the game is made better by winning without playing. Sadly, however, this may not become an issue until the result involves a title, or the Super Bowl.

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