Monday, October 19, 2009

Icing the Kicker - a Strategy for the Absurd

Some things just don't add up. Let me lay a few things on the table to make my point.

It's a pretty common tactic for an NFL team to call a time-out prior to an important kick attempt by their opponent. They call this "icing the kicker" and the theory is that it gives him too much time to think which, supposedly reduces his ability to perform.

This is fairly consistent with the old adage spewed by "experts" in many sports that you need to learn your position and learn the game so well that you can just react and execute during the game as opposed to thinking. The notion is that, in live time, there is no time to think so reacting (reacting correctly based on your learning) is the only path to success.

The hurry-up offense contradicts this. Rushing to the line of scrimmage and starting a play before the defense can think through its schemes and coverages eliminates their opportunity to become paralyzed by thought. This is the anti-strategy to icing the kicker yet both are used by the same coaches. One way or another, we have stumbled onto something absurd.

Spare me the crap about how a hurry-up offense prevents defensive substitutions and down-specific packages (since the media no longer covers that level of depth, I can't be expected to know about it - don't get Auggie started). Besides, if minimizing defensive substitutions is so important, offenses should run the whole game at warp speed (in fact, I often wonder why they don't).

Let me lay it out for you NFL coaches: Icing the kicker helps your opponent. Giving any professional athlete an extra moment to collect his thoughts, visualize success, and prepare mentally for the play will increase his ability to perform well. I am especially dumbfounded by the recent tactic of icing him after the players have lined up and the snap count is in progression as this scenario brings an off-sides penalty into play (off-sides penalties out number false starts by a three to one margin in the NFL) that might result in a first down for the kicker's team .

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous10/19/2009

    I agree with the absurdity. Here is further evidence. I witnessed a situation at least twice last year where a kicker missed the game tying/winning field goal - but wait! The defense had called timeout just before the snap. With the benefit of a 'practice' kick under his belt, the kicker calmly drilled the field goal on his next attempt. It might be time to revise The Book so these coaches know what to do in that situation. RF