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Thursday, January 7, 2010
For many NFL coaches, time's a wasting


In this week's "Hot Read" feature, ESPN senior writer Greg Garber examines the art and science of clock management.

The story is a fascinating look at how coaches so often screw up the outcome of games by mismanaging time.

"The clock management in the NFL isn't just atrocious," said John T. Reed, a West Point graduate with a Harvard MBA and author of "Football Clock Management."

"It sucks. They all suck, even [Bill] Belichick. Every second you leave on the clock unnecessarily may be the one your opponent uses to win. Every one you waste might be the one you need to start the game-winning play."

Garber's feature is loaded with too much insight to share here, but one of the more interesting elements was a list that breaks down how well coaches have hung onto their timeouts throughout their careers.

The Elias Sports Bureau devised a formula to determine how often a coach retained at least two of his timeouts for the end of a close game. A close game is defined by Elias as a one-possession game with five minutes left in the fourth quarter. After 1994, when the NFL allowed two-point conversions, a one-possession game would be an eight-point differential.

Of the 32 coaches who finished the season, Buffalo Bills interim coach Perry Fewell was the best. He was perfect, albeit with a limited sample of four close games.

New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick is eighth with a .929 rate. New York Jets rookie Rex Ryan is 16th at .875.

Miami Dolphins coach Tony Sparano is way down the list. He's 26th with an .800 rate.