Lombardi: Jauron's call appropriate

December, 17, 2008
12/17/08
5:10
PM ET
Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Graham

Lookie here.

I found somebody willing to defend Buffalo Bills coach Dick Jauron's decision to throw on that fateful play the New York Jets defense turned into a miracle touchdown to win Sunday's game at the Meadowlands.

NFL executive Michael Lombardi justifies Jauron's call at that point in the game -- if not the personnel Buffalo had to execute it -- but can't fathom why Eric Mangini would call a timeout with 2:06 left in the game.

The real miracle, according to Lombardi, is that the Jets overcame their coach's boneheaded decision.

Here is the explanation from Lombardi's always-informative blog:

The reality here is that Eric Mangini made the wrong call in the game, not Dick Jauron. You never call a timeout when the clock is under 2:10 because part of the reason for calling a timeout is to force a specific play call. When the clock is under 2:10, then the run/pass option is in play, and as a defense, you have to defend the whole playbook. Had Mangini let the clock run down to the two-minute warning, the Bills would have been forced to only run the ball at that point since the clock and the Jets were the opponent.

Now, the Bills made a mistake because putting the ball in J.P. [Losman's] hand was a bad play. But in the reality of game management, they did the right thing. They should have spread the field and forced the Jets to have to declare their hand and then maybe taken a shot down the field. But as mad as Bills fans are at Jauron, he fundamentally made the right decision -- but they did make a bad call.

While we're at it, I also have ESPN analyst Floyd Reese's take on the play. Reese was the Tennessee Titans GM from 1994 to 2006.

When I asked Reese what he thought, he referenced a lesson he learned while the Minnesota Vikings linebackers coach under Bud Grant.

One thing he always stressed was "If you're going to put a player in position to win the game, you better be darn sure you have the right player doing it." The bottom line is, there are a lot of players who want to do it and will try as hard as they can, but are just unable to pull off that special play. I think maybe that was a little bit of the case there.

Personally I always told a coach "I won't fire you for making a decision, whether I agree with it or not. But please don't do anything stupid."

I wouldn't say [Jauron's call] was stupid. A lot of football people will say it was the right call. Mike Martz will say it was the right call. Bill Belichick would say it wasn't.

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