Bill Barnwell of Grantland is one of the people I look to for help in understanding proper decision-making from an analytics perspective.
Fortunately for me, his "Thank You For Not Coaching" column doesn't run until Tuesdays, which gave me a two-day head start in writing about Mike Munchak's end-of-game choice on Sunday in a 37-34 overtime loss to Arizona.
Barnwell rated it as the second-worst coaching decision of Week 15.
The Titans, as an organization, spent this entire offseason investing just about everything they had into running the ball well near the goal line. Their head coach was already a Hall of Fame offensive lineman. They already had a running back, Chris Johnson, who was among the highest-paid backs in football. That wasn't enough. They signed Shonn Greene away from the Jets specifically to be their short-yardage back, giving him a three-year, $10 million deal in a market that didn't pay the veteran middle class or give running backs contracts with much money at all. They made Bills guard Andy Levitre one of the highest-paid interior linemen in football by giving him a six-year, $47 million deal. Then, they used their first-round pick on mammoth Alabama guard Chance Warmack to play across the center from Levitre.
And yet, on Monday, Munchak said that running the ball from the 1-yard line wasn't an option because his team, which had run the hurry-up for most of the fourth quarter, hadn't run the ball in an hour. How perfect do the conditions need to be for a team that invested all that money and its biggest draft asset to run the ball in short-yardage to actually give it a shot? At what point do you try to prove that all those changes were the right idea? If it's not when you need one yard to win a football game, when will it be? I think that the numbers have this one as too close to call, but given what the Titans have tried to do as a franchise, taking the extra point and moving on was just embarrassing.