Koetter understands the risk of going for two on a regular basis

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It’s easy for NFL coaches to talk about going for two all the time. It’s another thing for coaches to do it. New Buccaneers coach Dirk Koetter understands that.

Via JoeBucsFan.com, Koetter told Steve Duemig of WDAE in Tampa that “mathematically, it does make sense” to go for two every time. As a practical matter, it doesn’t.

“Say we go out there that first game, and we score three touchdowns and we don’t make any two pointers and we lose 21-18,” Koetter told Duemig. “Who’s going to get killed? You’re going to be on [the radio] and you’re going to be dog-cussin’ me the whole time.”

That’s a more colorful way to make the point we’ve made since the moment the NFL pushed the snap for the single-point try from the two to the 15. If a coach makes the conventional decision and it doesn’t work out, the coach doesn’t get criticized. If he makes an unconventional decision and it doesn’t work out and a bright or dotted line connects the blunder to the final score in a loss, the coach will get criticized.

If the coach gets criticized enough, he gets fired. And possibly replaced by a member of his staff.

“Pittsburgh went for it 11 times last year,” Koetter said. “I think they made seven or eight, but if you actually went for it 48 or 50 times, and you have one of those games when you’re 0-for-6. . . . To commit to it for a whole year, no, I would be scared to do it. And we didn’t, we drafted a heck of a kicker, Roberto Aguayo. Very excited about him and what he brings to the table. We won’t be doing it, but maybe somebody will.”

It would be as big of a mistake to go for two all the time as it would be to never go for two. The best approach is to change it up, week after week and drive after drive. The uncertainty forces every opponent to spend practice time preparing for the possibility of defending against the two-point play, diluting the team’s ability to prepare for the rest of the offensive wrinkles.

Ideally, the opponent will never know when a team will be going for one or going for two, except in late-game situations where the decision becomes obvious. But good luck, NFL coaches, when it comes to persuading radio hosts, writers, and/or fans that there’s anything conventional about an inherently unconventional approach aimed at creating the same sense of randomness as the flip of a coin.

17 responses to “Koetter understands the risk of going for two on a regular basis

  1. I don’t think coaches should go for 2 every time.
    But I don’t want my coaches reasoning to be based on ‘what if we fail every time?’

  2. Main reasons not to go for 2 every time:

    1. Eventually defenses will key on it and prepare better and likely have better success defending.

    2. There are only so many plays you can run from that situation.

    3. The team becomes more predictable in terms of the scoring plays they run from that down and distance – which could effect red zone scoring.

    I think certain teams could pull it off running vanilla style pass plays where they just have great players that can win 50/50 battles most of the time; but it’s not as simple as projecting out an 11 attempt sample.

  3. Successful coaches don’t coach based on fear. They also don’t do ANYthing “all the time.”

    If your opponent scouts as weak at the goal line or in short yardage situations, you go for 2 more often than usual against them. If they’ve got a stout goal line or short yardage defense you kick for 1 unless the game situation dictates that you *need* 2. Average opponent, you go with your gut and stick by your decision.

    This, of course, assumes you have a competent goal line/short yardage offense. If you know your kicker is money and your offense is meh, of course you kick. If your kicker sucks, you go for 2 more.

    It really isn’t very complicated.

  4. I am hoping my Browns take the smart analytical approach and go for two more often and also go for it on fourth down.. However going for two requires you to score touchdowns so at least for now I will settle for the 4th downs.

  5. chronsy says:
    Jun 17, 2016 2:10 PM

    I am hoping my Browns take the smart analytical approach and go for two more often and also go for it on fourth down.. However going for two requires you to score touchdowns so at least for now I will settle for the 4th downs.

    ——————————————————-

    The going for two conversation got started when the parameters regarding the play were changed. the ball is closer to the goalline now on 2 pointers and extra points are now further back. until there is a 5th down or the yards to gain is changed going for it on 4th is the same calculation as its always been.

  6. You shouldn’t make coaching decisions based on what the people will say on the radio the next day. That being said, always go for 1 unless you have to.

  7. If you just scored a touchdown and you are up by 7 points with 1 minute left in the game, do you go for 1 or 2? Take the one up by 8. The other team can still tie you with a TD and PAA. Go for 2 up by 9, you win.
    Hard to say go one way or the other all the time.

  8. If you run a play (pass or run) while attempting an extra point is worth 2?

    Makes zero sense when you can line up at darn the near the goal line to go for 2….but who’s gonna expect you go for 2 from the 15

  9. In Madden, I always go for two and I also never punt. Has it cost me a few games? Sure. But I did it MY way. Point being, coaches should ignore the noise and just go with their gut.
    In case you’re wondering, I have yet to be fired from any of my teams.

  10. yousoldout714 says:
    Jun 17, 2016 3:08 PM

    If you run a play (pass or run) while attempting an extra point is worth 2?

    Makes zero sense when you can line up at darn the near the goal line to go for 2….but who’s gonna expect you go for 2 from the 15
    ————
    Might make sense if you got a QB like Rodgers, Brady or Brees taking the placeholding snap. A) You catch the defense napping and B) give bigger space for a throw to a playmaker instead of the compacted endzone at the 1-yd line.

  11. I guess it would take a coach who is secure in his job to do this. Bill Belichek please do it. This is yout destiny. Besides you appear to be one of the few coaches willing to call unconventional plays like going for a 1st down on 4th deep in your own territory.

  12. He’s right cause say you miss a 2 point conversion, the next time you score you will wanna go for two again to at least level up bu what if you miss again… You will be constantly playing catch up and that could cost you the game when you Gould have taken the extra points… I believe 2 point conversions should be taken based on the situation as teams do now… All teams practice for it anyway… At the end o ft he day, it doesn’t matter cause fans are the greatest 2d guessers ever… If a team goes for it on 4th down for instance and fails.. Fans be like why didn’t you punt if a teams punts fans would be like the HC is not aggressive… Pittsburgh is 50% on 2 point convo… Add a larger sample size and that drops.. It’s not a simple philosophy to adapt but of course a QB will say go for it cause QB always wants the ball in his hands as a competitor and a leader

  13. win games with your kicker not just survive them. the good teams do it. ask the vikings if they wanted aguayo.

  14. There was a numbers stats guy a few years ago saying that the odds favored going for it on fourth and short ‘all the time’.

    Pretty easy for these statistics nerds to write that without having 60,000 fans in the seats and millions more at home hanging on every play, isn’t it?

  15. “It would be as big of a mistake to go for two all the time as it would be to never go for two. The best approach is to change it up, week after week and drive after drive. The uncertainty forces every opponent to spend practice time preparing for the possibility of defending against the two-point play, diluting the team’s ability to prepare for the rest of the offensive wrinkles.”

    Not quite sure I agree with that sentiment. Are you telling me teams don’t practice goal line plays? 4th down goal line plays, which give up more points than 2. How would it be any different? Unless a team does it after every touchdown I don’t see the need to practice it.

  16. NFL teams average 40-45 TDs a season. If they went for 2pts every time, the opponent will have a LOT of game film of the limited number of goal line plays.

    I think a coach would rather save his best 1-yd plays for a touchdown drive rather that a 2pt conversion attempt. So if he did go for it every time, the success rate would be lower than the occasional rate now.

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