It’s a hilarious bit of irony that’s been plaguing the NFL since the earliest days of my watching football: At least half the league’s coaches would benefit immensely by being stalked on the sidelines by a 9-year-old.
So long as the kid is well-versed in the Madden video games.
These coaches can draw up brilliant game plans, make surgical mid-game adjustments, and motivate their players, but dammit if they’d ever learn the first thing about clock management—an element of coaching in which any Madden player with some teeth is a near expert.
Perhaps no coach is less equipped to know when to use his timeouts and stop the clock than Tennessee Titans helmer Mike Mularkey.
His ineptitude was on full display in his squad’s 16-10 loss to the Miami Dolphins on Sunday, because it contributed directly to the defeat.
With less than three minutes to go, Dolphins back Jay Ajayi was brought down a yard shy of the first-down marker.
The on-field officials, about as incompetent as Mularkey, gave Miami the first down.
Armed with a timeout and a challenge, the decision should have been simple: because they should have taken an immediate timeout anyway to stop the clock and the play was close, take a challenge. In the off chance that it failed, the result would be the same, an immediate timeout.
Instead of challenging right away, Mike Mularkey called a timeout … after letting 33 seconds run off the clock.
Terrible coaching from Mike Mularkey right there. Challenge it. It’s your only chance. Instead he calls the TO he would have lost had he not
— Jared Stillman (@JaredStillman) October 8, 2017
Thanks to their ill-gained first down, the Dolphins managed to run another 1:47 off the clock.
The Titans could have gotten the ball back down by six with two and a half minutes left. Instead, due to their head coach’s failure to assess the situation (that, again, anyone who’s played a Madden game like three times would be able to sniff out), they got the ball back with 19 seconds left before the loss became official.
His incompetence somehow got even more glaring after the defeat. Even though he’d used his third timeout on the play in question, he still didn’t seem sure he had a timeout to burn.
“Did I have any timeouts left? I don’t think I had any timeouts left,” he told reporters before one reminded him of the contrary. Mularkey responded with something bordering on English: “I thought he was should but I called the timeout before I had a chance to challenge it.”
There’s an easy fix to this: the Titans and every other team blessed with a clock-management dunce at head coach should each hire a 9-year-old Madden aficionado to follow their coach around on the sidelines and tell them how to use their timeouts and challenges.
Because it can’t get more embarrassing than this.