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Pagano, Caldwell defend timeout usage late in Lions’ win at Colts

Detroit Lions head coach Jim Caldwell gestures during the second half of an NFL football game against the Indianapolis Colts in Indianapolis, Sunday, Sept. 11, 2016. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson) AP

With the Lions leading 34-28 and 1:15 remaining in Sunday’s game, the Colts had the ball deep in Detroit territory and should have wanted to run as much time off the clock as possible, hoping to score a touchdown and extra point to win the game, and not leave the Lions any time to mount a game-winning drive of their own.

The Lions, conversely, should have wanted to stop the clock to give themselves as much time as possible for a last-minute score.

So it was odd, to say the least, that it was Colts coach Chuck Pagano, not Lions coach Jim Caldwell, who called a timeout with 1:15 remaining. Pagano said after the game that he called timeout to get the right personnel on the field.

“We wanted to get guys in the huddle. Get a play called,” Pagano said. “Yeah, we can look back and say, ‘you know what, it would have been nice to bleed a lot more time off the clock.’ So looking back on it, could we have burned more time off the clock? Yeah. But we had some personnel issues, we wanted to get a different personnel group in there, whatever it was, and I decided to call a timeout there. Regroup and get back to the line of scrimmage. We felt like it was more important at that time to get back, get gathered, get a call in, and get settled, because we still needed a touchdown. And [we] felt like, shoot, they’re going to have to go whatever they have to go to get in field goal range and we could close it out.”

The personnel explanation doesn’t explain, however, why Pagano didn’t wait until there was one second left on the play clock to call the timeout. Pagano still could have bled time off, but he didn’t.

But that raises another question: Why didn’t Caldwell call timeout so that if the Colts did score, the Lions would have as much time as possible for their offense to execute a game-winning drive?

“Because we knew it was probably going to be somewhere between 25 and 30 seconds when we got it back,” Caldwell said. “So if we had all our timeouts we could move it down the field. We practice that situation all the time with no timeouts and our guys are pretty comfortable with that situation. So with three we felt pretty good about it.”

But teams are better off using their timeouts on defense because on offense, you can stop the clock without timeouts by running out of bounds or spiking the ball. Caldwell should have been using his timeouts on defense.

Neither coach used his timeouts properly, but the two coaches basically canceled themselves out, and the Lions had just enough time to kick the game-winning field goal at the end.

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39 Responses to “Pagano, Caldwell defend timeout usage late in Lions’ win at Colts”
  1. babyjunkie says: Sep 12, 2016 6:50 AM

    These two are easily the worst coaches in the league.

  2. otistaylor89 says: Sep 12, 2016 6:56 AM

    No problem with what Caldwell did as 3 TOs with 35 seconds is like 1:30 with no TOs.

  3. Indybear says: Sep 12, 2016 7:05 AM

    Well, babyjunkie, you stole my thoughts and my words. Have a good week!

  4. jamezz23 says: Sep 12, 2016 7:12 AM

    Not to mention caldwells use of the last time out…. For some reason, on the last throw Detroit connected on to put us in comfortable field goal range and it ended up right where we kicked at, he decided to use his last timeout at 12 seconds!?!!! What? Why not run it all the way down to 3 seconds so that the field goal attempt is the last play of the game??? Not the colts had about 5 seconds and a kick return where anything could happen

  5. 6ball says: Sep 12, 2016 7:21 AM

    It’s a rarity when both teams mismanage the clock . Two of the three timeouts that Caldwell saved were burned when Detroit receivers forgot to get out of bounds with less than a minute left. The video of Matthew Stafford going insane is a keeper… Lol

  6. Mo Pro Babble says: Sep 12, 2016 7:26 AM

    No Patriots to blame today?

  7. steelpenguin6687 says: Sep 12, 2016 7:30 AM

    In other words, Pagano thought, “We have played a great defensive game today…we got this”. Seriously, both teams D were like sieves, why would either coach, in that situation, and under any circumstance, want to leave ANY time on the clock?

  8. 26predator says: Sep 12, 2016 7:43 AM

    There was nothing egregious done by Caldwell. His team got the ball back with a full compliment of timeouts, any team in the league would take that.

    Why can’t you just let us enjoy this win, that came on the road, without Calvin Johnson?

    Nope, Lions bashing never gets old. Even when it does.

  9. ikeclanton says: Sep 12, 2016 7:49 AM

    “But we had some personnel issues…”


    Yes–one of them is that you’re still the coach there.

  10. patriotsticketssince1978 says: Sep 12, 2016 7:51 AM

    Good thing the conversation between Irsay, Pagano and Grigson went well……for the rest of the league.

  11. bonitalocal says: Sep 12, 2016 7:55 AM

    I count on watching stupidity from the Colts each year.
    It keeps my soul nice and warm.
    Ahhhhhhhhh! The soft, squishy Colts.

    It will be hard for them to beat their classic, “Funt” play from last year, but at least they are still on the right track!

  12. lscottman3 says: Sep 12, 2016 8:01 AM

    they have Andy Reid’s “How to manage the game clock” video

  13. celticsforever says: Sep 12, 2016 8:20 AM

    Pagano wanted a participation banner for timeout usage. It’s that simple. Quite possibly made out of cottonelle bathroom tissue to mirror the toughness of their team.

  14. jonsilver1947 says: Sep 12, 2016 8:23 AM

    “But teams are better off using their timeouts on defense because on offense, you can stop the clock without timeouts by running out of bounds or spiking the ball. ” Yet, despite all the coaching in the world, even veterans like Marvin Jones Jr. make mistakes & stay in bounds to fight for a yard when they should go out of bounds to stop the clock, as was shown by Stafford screaming at him after the play…this second-guess of Caldwell is classic Monday-morning quarterbacking (literally…)…

  15. avenger9800 says: Sep 12, 2016 8:31 AM

    You might want to practice that situation more often, because you’re lucky you didn’t end up like Dallas, who ran out of time because the players don’t understand situational football. How do players that made it all the way to the NFL not know that you have to get out of bounds to stop the clock? But you got it done to win the game, so congrats to you that you were able get it done. Unfortunately it didn’t work out for Dallas, because the rookie QB really did play a very good game.

  16. nflfan1 says: Sep 12, 2016 8:52 AM

    It’s a race between Pagono and Ryan to see who gets fired first this season.

  17. LyinRogerMustGo says: Sep 12, 2016 9:01 AM

    Dolts doing what Dolts do.

  18. buds4grant says: Sep 12, 2016 9:03 AM

    Terrible defenses. Just terrible.

  19. hotlasagna says: Sep 12, 2016 9:09 AM

    Jeff Fisher?
    Rex Ryan?
    Jason Garrett?
    Mike Mularkey?

  20. weepingjebus says: Sep 12, 2016 9:24 AM

    In his defense, it is not easy to line up two guys over the ball and nine more dozens of yards away in a confused mass.

  21. psousa1 says: Sep 12, 2016 9:25 AM

    Couldn’t have happened to a better organization.

  22. bigotshamer says: Sep 12, 2016 9:33 AM

    You know what’s great about second-guessing a coach and prattling on about “proper” use of timeouts after the game? Nothing.

  23. jjackwagon says: Sep 12, 2016 9:38 AM

    With Luck coming back, I had to Colts picked to win the South this year. My bad.
    Apologies to the Texans, it is your division to lose.

  24. futures44 says: Sep 12, 2016 9:47 AM

    Was that Griggson I saw last night after the game,raising the banner, for moral victory . Irsay , Griggson, and the most overated QB to ever play in the NFL Luck.

  25. dpdonny says: Sep 12, 2016 9:51 AM

    Such a heartbreaking home opener loss couldn’t happen to a more deserving organization than the despicable Colts.

  26. jvw1982 says: Sep 12, 2016 9:53 AM

    The Lions needed those TO when their bonehead receivers refused to step out of bounds on two consecutive plays, without those TO they would have had the same fate as the Cowboys…..So no Caldwell does not have to defend his timeout use…..

  27. exinsidetrader says: Sep 12, 2016 9:57 AM

    Caldwell is a terrible coach when it comes to in-game strategy and clock management.

    Pagano is a close second.

    How are some teams and coaches so consistently bad and why are they not held accountable?

  28. hatersgonnahatehate says: Sep 12, 2016 10:20 AM

    steelpenguin6687 says:
    Sep 12, 2016 7:30 AM

    In other words, Pagano thought, “We have played a great defensive game today…we got this”. Seriously, both teams D were like sieves, why would either coach, in that situation, and under any circumstance, want to leave ANY time on the clock?
    This is the guy who came up with the Fake Punt last year…

  29. nflfollower says: Sep 12, 2016 10:29 AM

    Caldwell probably would have used his time outs on defense if the Colts were running the ball and milking the clock. But he is taking the high road he isn’t going to throw Pagano under the bus. The Colts could have forced the Lions to burn theirs, but since they didn’t, Caldwell kept em.

  30. tjacks7 says: Sep 12, 2016 10:43 AM

    I don’t know how these guys have coaching jobs. When the Colts scored with like 37 seconds left we all said “too much time.” Everyone knew it was coming except Chuck.

  31. factschecker says: Sep 12, 2016 10:48 AM

    Somebody must have cheated. The Colts never lose when everything is fair and square.

    Keep picking offense in the draft. You don’t need a silly defense or special teams. Just offense.

  32. twoteamsforlosangeles says: Sep 12, 2016 11:19 AM

    This week’s Colts banner: Most points scored in the AFC South in week one.

  33. sc5000 says: Sep 12, 2016 12:16 PM

    Does anyone have a worse defensive roster than the Colts?

  34. lionslapdick says: Sep 12, 2016 12:38 PM

    Any team in this league will take a road win without style points added.
    Love Jim Bob’s extensive use of Riddick and Abdullah in the passing game. That in itself makes Stafford better.
    Stay humble Lions.

  35. margoadams says: Sep 12, 2016 12:43 PM

    Irsay Grigson Suffering From #DeflateGate Karma

  36. mistyzhang says: Sep 12, 2016 12:49 PM

    Caldwell is a awful in game coach but I don’t know how you blame him!? I think he was basically putting it on his defense to make a play and get a stop. They were up not tied, not down. The defense didn’t come through. As a fan and feeling like the D wasn’t going to get the stop I was begging him to call timeouts to save time after the Colts inevitably scored but Pagano ended up taking care of that.

    This story needs to be about Paganos mismanagement only!

  37. aopps42 says: Sep 12, 2016 12:50 PM

    Pagano’s timeout at the minute mark was an inexcusable action, which cost his team the game.

  38. camjon32 says: Sep 12, 2016 12:53 PM

    Seems like you’re leaning on hindsight being critical of Caldwell in this particular instance. Had the Colts not used their timeouts when they did, I could understand the criticism. However, the Lions got the ball back with more than 30 seconds needing only to cover about 45 yards to be within FG range and all of their timeouts remaining. That opens the entire field on offense. Which team in the NFL wouldn’t want that under those exact circumstances?

  39. bullogne says: Sep 12, 2016 4:36 PM

    You can add Belichick to this article as well. The genius let 20 seconds come off the clock before calling a timeout before the missed 47 yard Arizona FG. If that kick goes thru, Belichick left 40 seconds for his back up QB to generate a FG drive, instead of a full minute had he called the time out. Arizona was out of time outs as well.

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