Andy Wanted Irkutsk

Posted: September 26th, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 56 Comments »


The key moment in Sunday’s game came at the 12 minute mark of the 4th quarter.  We had a 2 point lead, 16-14.  We had the ball at the Giants 43.  It was 4th and 1.  Time to punt and play defense.

Except…Big Red decided it was time to roll the dice and go for it.

I was talking to my good friend the TV and said, “Andy, what are you doing?  This isn’t the time to go for it.”  Shady got the ball and tried to get a big play, but instead was stuffed for a 3-yard loss.  The Giants instantly had momentum and field position.  We fell apart after that.

So what’s wrong with going for it on 4th down?  Why is that dumb?  Belichick and Tuna love to go for it.  They’re bold, right?

Every decision is a bit different.  I have no problem with Andy going for it on 4th down.  I think more coaches should.  There are statistical studies that say to do that.  However, you must judge the decision based on specific circumstances.

Let’s think in terms of risk / reward.

RISK:  If the Giants stop you, they get the ball near midfield.  They’re only about 25 yards away from FG range in a game where they trail by just 2 points.  You also give them momentum.  At that point in the game, the Giants looked down.  They had gained just 27 yards in the 3rd quarter.  Their defense had stopped us at the goal line, but wasn’t exactly playing with much confidence at that point.

REWARD:  If we had converted the 4th down, we’d have had the ball at about the Giants 40 with a fresh set of downs.  We’d still have been 15 or so yards from sure FG range.  There’s no guarantee we’d have gotten another 1st down.  Even if we did, we were just up by 2.  Getting a FG would have made it a 5-point game, but that’s hardly worth a big risk.  In a fantasy world, we’d have driven down for a TD.  We’d have eaten 4 to 5 mintues off the clock.  We’d have also gone for 2 and then led 24-14.  The Giants would have still been in the game at that point.  There would have been between 6:30 and 7 minutes left.  That would have really put their backs against the wall, but this is the year of offense and big comebacks in the NFL.  10 points in 7 minutes isn’t a commanding lead against a good veteran QB.

To put all of that simply, the risk was giving the Giants a huge boost emotionally and good field position, while the reward was a fresh set of downs.  Maybe that leads to points, but can’t say for sure.

Andy should be aggressive, but that was the wrong time and place.  Punt.  Pin the Giants at their 20 or worse.  Chas Henry was punting well.  Let him do his thing and then play defense.  I know the defense fell apart after the failed 4th/1, but if they go on the field with the Giants pinned deep that might have been a different story.

The other factor to take into account was the situation.  We had just struggled with getting a yard or two at the goal line.  Now we’re near midfield.  The Giants are going to load up the LOS and attack.  Shady is a great RB, but he’s not always ideal in short yardage.  He likes to bounce plays wide and go for big gains.  That doesn’t work as well when you need to go N-S and get one yard.

We’d had a ton of success at running the ball, but normally on cutback runs from the spread set.  That is worlds different than driving the Giants off the ball and powering upfield for a yard or so.

Andy focused on the reward.  He ignored the risk and thinking of the situation.  He wanted to drive back down and score.  That’s how an offensive guy should think.  Unfortunately he’s the head coach and has to think big picture.

There’s no guarantee we win the game even if we do punt, but there’s no denying that was the turning point in the game.  Andy rolled the dice and came up snake eyes.   No Irkutsk for us.

56 Comments on “Andy Wanted Irkutsk”

  1. 1 Tom Adams said at 8:35 PM on September 26th, 2011:

    Couldn’t agree more – just a really bad decision – I yelled at the TV (I know – real constructive) even before they ran the play. Just can’t understand how an otherwise successful coach can be so dumb sometimes.

  2. 2 Anonymous said at 8:49 PM on September 26th, 2011:

    Yeah. There’s no arguing that going for it on 4th and 1 was a dumb decision. Although I’ve seen people try. The worst part about the whole thing is, watching the replay, there was at least 3 yards to be had on the left side. Peters has been a beast for two straight weeks. Why run right? Why right?! So frustrating.

  3. 3 Ajay Verghese said at 8:53 PM on September 26th, 2011:

    Yeah, Shady might not have been the guy for that 4th and 1. Isn’t that why we got Ronnie Brown? Where the hell was he?

  4. 4 Anonymous said at 8:55 PM on September 26th, 2011:

    Ronnie needs to be used better by Andy/Marty.

    Hard to believe the backup RB is getting mis-used by them.

  5. 5 Jon Blank said at 9:00 PM on September 26th, 2011:

    Why run Ronnie Brown at the goal line when we can give it to Owen Schmitt? Twice. I mean, after all, Owen had 5 career carries going into the game. Obviously the best choice out of the Eagles potent offensive weapons.

  6. 6 Anonymous said at 9:47 PM on September 26th, 2011:

    Just to pile on: Owen Schmitt had 5 touches (4 runs, 1 catch). Brown and Lewis combined for 4 touches (3 Brown, 1 Lewis).

  7. 7 Anonymous said at 8:55 PM on September 26th, 2011:

    Personally, I agree with you that it was a poor play under the circumstances, but I do think there is one other side that should be included in the equation that you didn’t mention. We were on the 43 yard line, so the alternative to going for it would have been punting it obviously. At this point, I don’t know that anyone, including the coaching staff has a great feel for Henry, so it is possible they didn’t feel he could pin the Giants inside the 20. They may have been looking at it in terms of a difference of only 23 yards. At the same time, McCoy had managed to get yards all day. So, in terms of risk vs. reward, they could also think about it in terms of risking 23 yards with the reward of taking the momentum and potentially the game.

    All that being said, we have struggled with the 3rd and 1 or 4th and 1 type plays for a long time, so I was not confident in us making it this time. To me though, the problem is not so much the decision to go for it, but the fact that we simply can not convert those plays.

  8. 8 Anonymous said at 9:00 PM on September 26th, 2011:

    I don’t normally question play calls. I’m no coach. But I will question the overall play call philosophy.

    The Eagles are a finesse team, a speed team. On the goal line and on fourth down, wouldn’t they be better served going outside and using their speed either with a Vick sprint out or a quick pitch or an option?

  9. 9 Patrick Sullivan said at 11:28 PM on September 26th, 2011:

    This has been driving me nuts for a while now. We know we run the ball better off tackle, but apparently everything at the goal line must go straight up the gut.

  10. 10 Thorin McGee said at 3:50 PM on September 27th, 2011:

    Some moments aren’t made for off-tackle runs. But how about a playaction rollout flood with the most dangerous runner in the league? After the goal line stuffing, I felt like that had to work on 4th and 1. The Giants were biting really hard on run action at that point.

  11. 11 Steven Dileo said at 9:01 PM on September 26th, 2011:

    At the end of the day we lost 2 games that we shouldn’t have. Those games will come back and haunt us.

  12. 12 Anonymous said at 1:49 AM on September 27th, 2011:

    We might be surprised. Perhaps the Eagles will win two games they shouldn’t have and they will come back to haunt others. As discouraging as this is, the season is still young.

  13. 13 the guy said at 9:06 PM on September 26th, 2011:

    I mentioned it before, but in two previous drives inside the Giants’ 5 yard line, the Eagles had 7 attempts and failed to get a TD.

    * First drive: 1st and goal at the 3. McCoy run for 1 yard. Vick pass to McCoy for -1 yard. Vick pass inc to Smith. FG.
    * Second drive: 1st and goal at the 2. Schmitt run for 1 yard. Vick dive for 0 yards, but penalty on D. Vick dive for 0 yards. Schmitt run for -1 yards. FG.

    You could say they only needed a yard on that 4th down, and had gotten a yard twice before. Unfortunately in both cases they needed more than a yard at the time, and had gained nothing or lost yardage more often. The second failed drive came on the possession just before that 4th down attempt. Why would they think all of a sudden it would work?

    In terms of personnel, I thought Ronnie Brown was brought in for those kind of short yardage plays. Using Vick exposes him to even more hits, and probably requires a larger O-line than Mudd uses. McCoy can do it, but really isn’t that style of runner. Neither is Lewis. And before that game, Schmitt had exactly 5 carries in 3+ years in the NFL, none for the Eagles. If it isn’t Brown, then we’ve clearly identified another hole on the team.

    Man I miss Leonard Weaver.

  14. 14 Anonymous said at 9:11 PM on September 26th, 2011:

    I’ll cover the goal line stuff in another post. That’s worthy of it’s own discussion.

  15. 15 Anonymous said at 11:03 AM on September 27th, 2011:

    I’m curious as to whether you have to believe at this point that it’s a coaching issue. Our offense is too talented to not have the personnel for RZ TD conversions and I can’t think of any other reason for our issues than AR literally not putting his guys in position to make plays. He’s either not drawing up the right playcalls or he’s sending Owen Schmitt into the line multiple times.

  16. 16 Steve H said at 10:08 PM on September 26th, 2011:

    Not to take any of the blame away from Andy, but watching the replay it looked to me that if Shady had kept on his original course towards the middle or even cut to the left a little bit the yard was there to be had. It was a poor situation to be trying to bounce it out wide for a bigger gain and despite the great game Shady played I think it was definitely a poor run on his part. Put your head down and get the yard, even if thats not your thing.

  17. 17 Anonymous said at 10:14 PM on September 26th, 2011:

    I don’t think he’d have gotten it. You can freeze the picture right when he gets the ball. At that point Shady is 5 yards from his target with a bunch of Giants in his path. There was a crease, but I don’t know that it would have lasted long enough for Shady to hit it and push forward. Covering 5 yds is an eternity in a short yardage situation.

  18. 18 Anonymous said at 10:32 PM on September 26th, 2011:

    Even if you put aside whether or not we should have gone for it, I didn’t like the play call. Our O-Line is undersized. Our RB is undersized. We had already tried short yardage runs up the middle and been repeatedly stonewalled. I was hoping for some misdirection.

  19. 19 Anonymous said at 10:36 PM on September 26th, 2011:

    I have to confess I agreed with the call at the time. I know, I know. Everyone else in the room through their beer cans at me BEFORE the play. You can imagine how they treated me after the debacle. My thinking was along the lines of Iskar36. Shady was hot, 1 yard is theoretically doable, you get a new set of downs and a chance to drive and put the game into two score territory with a touchdown, who knows how the punt plays out. Stuff like this. That Reid never addressed his reasons for the call during the press conference still pisses me off.

    I’ve ‘fessed up so please go easy on me.

  20. 20 Anonymous said at 10:55 PM on September 26th, 2011:

    I can’t say I fully agreed, but I wasn’t yelling at the TV in opposition of the call. It felt like the momentum had started to turn in the Eagles favor. Was that call shortly after Maclin converted the big first down? I can’t remember for sure, I just remember feeling like momentum was swinging towards us, and Shady had been gashing them.

    Alas, hindsight is crystal clear. Wish they hadn’t gone for it, in retrospect. At the time, I bit my tongue, held my breath, and said my prayers.

  21. 21 the guy said at 1:19 AM on September 27th, 2011:

    I wasn’t screaming about it either.

    At the time, I was just thinking in the same risk/reward terms Tommy was talking about. It might have been a different story if the reward was an immediate or near guaranteed score, but the risk was too high just for another set of downs out of FG range. I could even see an argument for going for it had the Eagles been up by 3 instead of 2.

  22. 22 Patrick Sullivan said at 11:29 PM on September 26th, 2011:

    Even if they had scored, Andy makes me nervous on 2 point conversion decisions.

    At 22-14 I’m not sure he’d go for it. I don’t think he takes the chance unless they are attempting a comeback.

  23. 23 Anonymous said at 2:28 AM on September 27th, 2011:

    At 22-14, there’s no way he would or should go for it. An extra point makes it a two possession game. Going for two risks keeping it a one possession game.

  24. 24 Patrick Sullivan said at 3:06 AM on September 27th, 2011:

    Yep, I think Andy goes for 1 there.

    But also I meant he makes me nervous for the same reason goal line situations do. I just don’t think he knows what to do… remember when they tried to install the corner fade to Hank Baskett? The only successful play they’ve had is the shovel pass, which eventually the entire league (and every TV viewer) knew was coming.

  25. 25 PhillyFollower said at 12:25 AM on September 27th, 2011:

    Tommy, my Twitter friend @BloggerJustinF seems to think going for it here was the right decision.

    Here’s what he writes:

    “That decision was absolutely, 100%, the right call. Just because it did not work out, does not mean it was not the decision that put the Eagles in the best possible position to win the game. Because it was.

    It is recommended you read the 4th down study (link below). If you don’t have time and want to get to the money chart, here is Part 4 (link below).

    Don’t get me wrong, there was a lot not to like about this game, and a lot of the play-calling in the redzone was bad (Owen Schmitt, really?) but instead of the 4th down in Giants territory being the worst play call, that was one of the calls the Eagles got right. Just because it did not work does not mean it was not the right decision. Research and analysis backs this up every time.”

    Link for the 4th down study:

    Link for the chart:
    When I brought up this article to him, he said that: “[You] improperly assessed the value of the risk and the reward.” and that “It shows on 4th and 1 from opponents’ 43, you are better off going for it then you are punting.”

    I disagree with him though b/c I don’t see how that data validates the decision yesterday with respect to the specific context of yesterday’s game. What do you make of this?

  26. 26 the guy said at 1:22 AM on September 27th, 2011:

    Odds are just a way to err with confidence.

    If you always go for it on 4th, over time you’ll see the sort of gains he’s talking about. But in terms of one specific play, the numbers don’t really matter. It becomes a matter of the situation. And I don’t see anything about the situation that says “go for it.”

  27. 27 Anonymous said at 2:02 AM on September 27th, 2011:

    Situation is important, as noted.

    Also, the analysis assumes a certain success percentage on 4th and 1 which I don’t think we’re close to achieving.

  28. 28 Anonymous said at 2:46 AM on September 27th, 2011:

    I’ve read some of the articles and studies that say you should go for it more on 4th down. I’m fine with that, but still think in this particular situation punting would have been the prudent move.

  29. 29 Steven Dileo said at 12:31 AM on September 27th, 2011:

    Would you rather be 2 games behind Washington or have a worse record than the Dallas Cowboys?

  30. 30 Mac said at 2:25 AM on September 27th, 2011:


  31. 31 Anonymous said at 3:19 AM on September 27th, 2011:

    Figuring out who to cheer for in this game is frickin’ hard. I’m pulling for the Skins since I don’t fear them (Rex?), but Dallas sure hasn’t impressed this year.

  32. 32 Anonymous said at 1:31 AM on September 27th, 2011:

    Nothing from our resident Sean Lee fan yet? Huh, maybe somebody should check on Morton.

  33. 33 Steve H said at 2:14 AM on September 27th, 2011:

    Morton has been eerily quiet in the aftermath of this loss. I half expected a 10 page essay about what failures the eagles front office are.

  34. 34 Anonymous said at 11:06 AM on September 27th, 2011:

    I half wanted to read that, too. That’s how mad I am.

  35. 35 Mac said at 2:25 AM on September 27th, 2011:

    On one of the first plays of monday night football Lee got torched by Chris Cooley.

  36. 36 Ian Mattie said at 1:41 AM on September 27th, 2011:

    I still think he did it because he knew vick would be pulled soon and wanted to get the points.

  37. 37 Anonymous said at 2:01 AM on September 27th, 2011:

    Does anyone feel like Henry takes forever to punt the ball? It may be my imagination, but it seems like he is ripe for a blocked punt.

  38. 38 Anonymous said at 3:08 AM on September 27th, 2011:

    Hadn’t focused on that. I’ll take a look and see if I notice anything. That can be a problem for young punters.

  39. 39 Mac said at 2:26 AM on September 27th, 2011:

    I can’t believe no one else has tossed this idea out there yet….

    Was the 4th and 1 due to Andy’s lack of confidence in his defense?

  40. 40 Anonymous said at 3:02 AM on September 27th, 2011:

    The defense had allowed just 27 yards in the 3rd Q. They looked good at that point. The meltdown came after the failed 4th down. Andy didn’t have any special reason to fear his defense at that point.

    Next week? Yeah, he’s got reason after watching consecutive meltdowns.

  41. 41 Anonymous said at 2:36 AM on September 27th, 2011:

    Jaws as the TV coverage shows a shot of a Cowboy cheerleader: “They love these tight slot formations.”

  42. 42 Anonymous said at 2:44 AM on September 27th, 2011:

    He’s the best for a reason.

  43. 43 Jon Blank said at 2:45 AM on September 27th, 2011:

    I liked when Jaws was talking about Romo’s incredible awareness on a play where the snap flew by his unaware head.

  44. 44 Jon Blank said at 3:42 AM on September 27th, 2011:

    Sole possession of last place. Sweet work Andy.

  45. 45 the guy said at 3:58 AM on September 27th, 2011:

    Yep, Andy really should have done a better job coaching the Redskins to a 3-0 record (2-0 NFC East).

    I kid, I kid. I get your point. Can’t imagine the Eagles overcoming that *one* game lead everyone’s got on us.

  46. 46 Steve H said at 3:49 AM on September 27th, 2011:

    God the hyperbole from the announcers on MNF is almost unbearable, everything is amazing, outstanding, great, awesome, insane, incredible.

    Rex Grossman is still Rex Grossman, had absolutely no feel for Spencer coming from the backside, wasn’t protecting the football, didn’t throw it away… Eh its a good thing the Cowboys won I think for the standings but I still hate to see Dallas win under any circumstance.

    Meanwhile in last place, thank god we had such a great offseason because I’d hate to see what a bad one looks like.

  47. 47 the guy said at 4:03 AM on September 27th, 2011:

    I could see that strip sack happening to Vick, only it would have been because he still can’t imagine anyone catching him from behind.

    What a matchup of QBs that game was. It’s the football version of Russian Roulette.

  48. 48 Steve H said at 4:23 AM on September 27th, 2011:

    Vick wouldn’t have been caught from behind, Rex Grossman runs like some guy who’s had an office job for the last 10 years.

  49. 49 the guy said at 4:25 AM on September 27th, 2011:

    Up until recently, he played like it too.

    BTW- I’ve seen Vick get caught from behind. He’s fast for a QB, but he isn’t as fast as he used to be.

  50. 50 Anonymous said at 4:24 AM on September 27th, 2011:

    RE: QBs = RR

    Funny stuff.

  51. 51 Steve H said at 4:26 AM on September 27th, 2011:

    So I’m looking at Jimmy’s blog right now, and I’m thinking to myself, Casey Mathews get burned and gives up an easy touchdown on the Brandon Jacobs wheel route, while Brian Rolle breaks up the pass on virtually the same play later in the game. Clearly a couple of plays isn’t the whole story, but why would the Eagles be hesitant to plug Rolle in?

    I’m surprised you’re not stomping more for your guy Tommy. He might not be the next Lance Briggs but so far we can’t do much worse than what we’ve had.

  52. 52 seanr said at 5:06 AM on September 27th, 2011:

    look at you. An obscure “war” reference. You go girl.

  53. 53 Anonymous said at 1:32 PM on September 27th, 2011:

    I was always more of and “Axis & Allies” kind of guy…

  54. 54 Anonymous said at 9:37 AM on September 27th, 2011:


    if Castillo’s defense gives up more than 300 Yards and 21 points against the NFL’s last ranked Offense next Sunday I will lose my last faith I have in the Eagles…

  55. 55 Matthew Butch said at 1:41 PM on September 27th, 2011:

    Don’t forget that the Giants expected the exact play he called. That didn’t help either.

  56. 56 Detailed Game Review - NYG 29, PHI 16 said at 9:51 AM on September 27th, 2011:

    […] here to read my full thoughts on why that was a bad […]