The fateful decision of Bears coach John Fox to challenge a play that he thought was a touchdown but that turned out to be a touchback has resulted in plenty of criticism of Fox’s method for determining to throw the red flag.
And that reminded me of something Saints coach Sean Payton said last week during a PFT PM/PFT Live interview regarding his own protocol for deciding when it’s time to risk a time out by asking for replay review.
“That’s the six million dollar question,” Payton said regarding the number of people in position to influence him. “I think at home games there’s two upstairs looking, you know, offensively and defensively. Both have their eyes on it. Generally speaking over the years when you hear them saying, ‘Throw the flag.’ You hear this overwhelming, you know ‘Get it out,’ you know that they’ve seen what you haven’t seen yet. When it’s crickets and it’s kind of quiet then you’re kind of weighing what you felt you saw on the field and then what’s going to be the benefit of the review? Now on away games you’re relying on where the television monitors are up in the booth. That can vary per stadium. If it’s going to benefit you I mean certainly you’re not going to see it right away on the Jumbotron. That each stadium still to this day is wise enough generally to at least slow that process down. So you’re trusting the guys upstairs for the obvious ones. . . . I’m relying on the enthusiasm. I’m relying on what it sounds like.”
Fox may be asked plenty of questions this week about how he goes about making these decisions. Whatever the explanation, he clearly made the wrong decision on Sunday, potentially costing his team a touchdown in a game the Bears lost only by seven points.