Your Coach Sucks At Managing The Clock. Does It Really Matter?

Drew Magary's Thursday Afternoon NFL Dick Joke Jamboroo runs every Thursday during the NFL season.

Josh Levin made a good case the other day for why firing Lovie Smith was stupid, not that seeing another coach fired didn't thrill me anyway. The Bears have said publicly that they fired Smith because their offense was perpetually shitty, with Smith bringing in new coordinators every year only to watch them fail. But the reason a lot of fans busted on Smith was because he was shitty at clock management. No one wasted timeouts early or threw needless challenge flags quite like Lovie, and it drove fans batshit.

The problem is that a LOT of coaches are shitty at clock management, and it's such an easy thing for fans to notice and harp on. Fans are often LOOKING for clock blunders, because that's an easy way to feel like you know more about football than the coach does. This isn't true, of course. You and I know NOTHING about football compared with Lovie Smith. If you were each given a team with equally talented players and you played on a neutral field (WICHITA!), Lovie's team would beat your team 85-0.

Drew Magary writes for Deadspin and Gawker. He's also a correspondent for GQ. Follow him on Twitter @drewmagary and email him at drew@deadspin.com.

But it's easy to cherry-pick a bad challenge or a wasted timeout and say, "That guy fucking blows." I know because I've done it a million times. Managing the clock is one of those tasks that, on the surface, seems relatively easy to do. Any idiot knows that you have to save your timeouts until the end of the game, and then you use them when A) the other team is ahead and has the ball and you desperately need it back, or B) when you are behind and have the ball and you want to maximize the number of plays you run, and therefore the number of chances you have to score. All that seems obvious. But as I've said before, it's a whole other story when YOU are the one on the sidelines, with a million things to do and 70,000 people screaming at you and your QB's helmet speakers occasionally going haywire. You and Bill Simmons would butcher the clock just as badly, if not worse. I bet coaches get shitfaced together and bitch endlessly about how naive fans are about keeping your shit together during a game.

There are any number of books and theories as to how to better manage the clock, but it's hard to have all that strategy memorized and ready to put into place in the span of mere seconds. Even revered coaches like Mike Tomlin and Bill Belichick have fucked up clock management. If anything, you should applaud coaches who manage to get through an entire game without fucking it up.

The Bears are gonna hire another coach and there's no guarantee that new guy will have the innate clock wizardry that Lovie apparently lacked, or that he will be as good as Lovie at cultivating defensive talent and weaponizing the special teams unit. And it makes me wonder just what the hell are the most important skills for a head coach to have. We always categorize the skill sets of QBs: arm strength, footwork, throwing motion, POISEY POISE. Head coaches are no different. They have to do a shitload of things, but it's hard to discern which skill set is more important than the other:

• Clock management
• Game planning/strategy
• Player development (teaching players how to tackle, giving them secret bonuses for nutshots, etc.)
• Player management (Ruh roh! Your star wideout won't play unless he gets to bang the tight end's sister! What to do?!)
• Roster evaluation (whom to sign, whom to cut, whom to start)
• Scouting college players
• Human resources (finding good assistants and working with them)
• Communication skills (the ability to teach players your scheme, establish a clear chain of command on gameday, and give a really fucking awesome speech the night before the game, etc.)
• Public relations (Just kidding. Only asshole newspaper people think "dealing with the media" is important)
• Organization (devising practice and travel schedules, etc.)
• Intangibles (Do you look head coachy? Are you fat? Can you look classy while standing on the sidelines wearing a fedora?)

Look at all of those skills. You probably can figure out which head coaches excel at certain things. Tom Coughlin is great at organization ("Be at practice on time, which is actually 17 minutes early the day before!"). Belichick is great at planning and strategy. Jim Harbaugh has good communication skills with everyone except referees. But there probably isn't one head coach out there who has every facet of the job mastered because it's not humanly possible. And looking at the list right now, I can't tell you that clock management is more important than half of the other shit up there. I'd rather have a coach who manages the clock poorly but can find good players rather than one who never wastes a timeout but loves Ryan Lindley as his QB.

Dubious game managers such as Mike McCarthy have won Super Bowls because they excel at a bunch of other stuff that you and I can't see as easily. To say, "He's a shit coach because he wastes timeouts," suggests that clock management is the only thing that matters when it doesn't. It can be symptomatic of a coach's greater shortcomings, but it's not the be-all, end-all of the profession. It's just the easiest thing for us fans to bitch about, and Lovie Smith just found out the hard way.

The Games

All games in the Jamboroo are evaluated for sheer watchability on a scale of 1 to 5 Throwgasms. And for the playoffs, I pick the games, because that totally makes me sound like I know football.

Your Coach Sucks At Managing The Clock. Does It Really Matter?

Five Throwgasms

Redskins (+3) 20, Seahawks 19: I know it's not the holidays anymore, but I'd still like Fox to use their snowy score box. It's just so jolly. I get real excited when there's visible snow accumulation on top of the score. Let's all wear sweaters and have hot cocoa!

Vikings (+8) 28, Packers 20: I watched last week's Packers-Vikes game at home, but I think I have to venture out to some DC Vikings bar (if there is one) for the rematch. Setting matters. It's always better to watch a sporting event or a movie with a like-minded crowd. That way, you get to high-five strangers and yell at the TV in front of other people, which totally impresses them because now they know that you know a lot about football.

The other problem is that I can record games at home, which means my wife and kids constantly ask me to pause the game so that I can go do shit with them. And I have to patiently explain to them that that is not how sports work. WATCHING IT ON DELAY KILLS THE MAGIC, PEOPLE. I want to watch it in real time so that I'm not behind, goddammit, and so that Twitter won't spoil anything because ZOMG GUYS GIF OF A FAT GUY IN THE CROWD LULZ. Don't make me pause that shit. You're killing the momentum! I'm into this game! God, having convenient modern technology is just so HARD, you know?

Your Coach Sucks At Managing The Clock. Does It Really Matter?

Four Throwgasms

Ravens (-6.5) 37, Colts 10: I'm not sure that anyone in the world offers a wider disparity between useful and useless information than Jay Glazer. Twenty percent of Glazer's Twitter feed is essential. He's almost always the first one to report firings, hirings, benchings, stabbings, you name it. And that 20 percent is usually packed into these two weeks of head-coaching moves. But then the other 80 percent ...

And that's not even one of his MMA tweets. "Fucking CRUSHED our training today, bros!" You either get vital NFL news, or you get a character from a fucking Michelob Ultra commercial. I need Glazer to set up a separate @JayGlazerNFL feed so that I can get all the good stuff without having to read him complimenting fighters I don't give a flying shit about.

Your Coach Sucks At Managing The Clock. Does It Really Matter?

Three Throwgasms

Texans 35 (-5.5), Bengals 34: As always, the least-interesting playoff matchup of the weekend usually turns out to be the best game. Now to the random crap:

• I have a 3-year-old and 3-year-olds are still too young to understand that Christmas break is not a permanent thing. I got the kid up to go to school yesterday and he was like, What do you mean, school? Isn't that over forever? Screw you, old timer. Did Santa come this morning? You really have to drill into their head that life is about to get boring and shitty again. They don't understand it.

• I saw a dude running down the street with a prosthetic leg the other day—one of those Oscar Pistorius prosthetics, with the curvy spring on the bottom that makes you look like you're fighting in the Clone Wars. And when I saw it, I almost said out loud, "Holy shit, that leg is awesome!" I wanted to gawk at it like I was walking by a Ferrari, but I don't know what the etiquette is for staring at amputees if you're staring solely out of admiration. Obviously, no one wants to be stared at because they're weird or different. But I wonder if amputees are flattered if you compliment them on a great-looking prosthetic. Sometimes, I fantasize about my legs being sheared off in a horrific ambulance accident, and then I get two kickass spring legs and am a reborn athlete. I can dunk. I can sprint. I can hop-kick like Hippety Hopper in the old Looney Tunes cartoons. Totally realistic. Anyway, I said nothing.

• Christmas shopping obviously blows, and one of the main reasons it blows is because of mall climate. Just once in my life, I would like to walk into a mall and not have it be 60 million degrees. They jack up the temperature so that old fogies will be comfortable, and the result is that you walk through the blaze, shedding layers of winter clothing until you're drenched in sweat and lugging around a jacket and two sweaters in each hand. This is bullshit. I demand better mall temperature controls. Surely there's some kind of Dolphins Stadium-style KOOL ZONE that can be set up in the food court.

• Have there been any long-term studies to determine if using an iPhone makes you cross-eyed? Because I swear, it's the Opti-Grab of the 21st century ...

Your Coach Sucks At Managing The Clock. Does It Really Matter?

Twenty years from now, we'll all be cross-eyed freaks like Shaq. I played Angry Bird Star Wars for hours on end the other day and now I see two of everything. I really shouldn't hold that shit so close to my face. It's not my fault that Angry Bird Chewbacca is so tiny on the screen. Angry Bird Chewbacca is the shit.

• I can't stand the idea of Red Zone Channel going away for eight months. It's just awful. We get only 17 days of RZC a year and that's not enough. They need to make it a regular channel that flips between other sports and pivotal action-movie scenes and strippers dancing and live video of LA car chases. I would totally watch it (NOTE: I probably wouldn't watch it.) Don't leave me like this, Red Zone Channel. I need you.

• In case you missed it, here's the big profile of Snoop Lion I wrote for GQ. At one point, I was walking to the weed dispensary with Snoop's publicist, and right in the middle of the crosswalk, some dirty hipster rode on a bike by and asked Snoop's publicist for a cigarette. He didn't even get off the bike to ask. I've never seen a more brazen attempt to bum a cigarette off someone. She rejected him. If you're gonna ask someone for a Parliament, you gotta make an effort.

• I had a dream the other night that I read on Twitter that Mike Holmgren had agreed to become the new Eagles head coach. And when I woke up, I sprinted to the computer to see if I was clairvoyant. I was not. Just once, I would like to have a dream that is legitimately prescient so that I feel like I have superpowers. Also, I probably spend too much time on Twitter.

• My fantasy team lost in the semifinals this year because I never win jack shit in fantasy football. There was a consolation game for my team, and the consolation game always presents you with a dilemma. You can abandon your team prior to the game and not even bother setting your roster, which is a fun way of registering your disgust with both losing and the game of fantasy in general. FUCK THIS GAME. Or you can set your roster and not be a WEASEL GM who breaks his promises to the troops. I ended up setting my roster and winning third place. DON'T TRY TO TELL ME THESE GAMES AREN'T MEANINGLESS.

• I plucked a ball hair the other day because I get masochistic when I'm bored. And the root of the ball hair had a speck of blood on the end of it. I was horrified. I didn't know that could happen if you plucked a hair. Don't go plucking ball hairs, gang. It ends badly. Although I do like plucking a hair and then seeing the little bump on my skin stay there for a second. SO COOL.

Your Coach Sucks At Managing The Clock. Does It Really Matter?

Two Throwgasms

None.

Your Coach Sucks At Managing The Clock. Does It Really Matter?

One Throwgasm

None. Only 11 football games left from now until September. Not cool. Not cool at all.

2011 Playoff picks: 7-4 (3-8 vs. the spread)

Pregame Song That Makes Me Wanna Run Through A Goddamn Brick Wall

"Hollow," by Alice in Chains. New Alice in Chains is always welcome in my life. And now, time for the annual tradition of trying to find the most pretentious passage in Pitchfork's Best Albums Of The Year List. As always, there were strong contenders. Like this one!

Lambchop's languid Southern stride seems particularly anachronistic in the digital age, with the bulk of the songs on the ornate and affecting Mr. M taking at least five minutes to reach their elliptical ends. This band's arduous movement rewards persistence.

Or this one!

Singing about statues, a weeping boy in the moon, and people unable to connect regardless of their epoch, Holter's vocals recall 70s singer-songwriters like Joni Mitchell and Judee Sill one moment and Renaissance-period madrigals the next.

Or this one!

While Mature Themes is something of an "old Ariel Pink album" intended for his new fans, it's by no means an act of antagonism.

You can't go wrong, really. It's all pretentious. Pitchfork doesn't suffer GLORY BOY bands. They preferred undrafted artists from elite art institutes. I wouldn't want Renaissance madrigals from any other source.

Nazi Shark's Lock of the Week!

Lots of sports sites, to demonstrate the arbitrary nature of gambling, like to have animals like monkeys pick games to see if they can outwit their human counterparts. There's no reason we at Deadspin can't also get in on the fun. So we've asked National Socialist German Workers' Party member Rolf, who also happens to be a shark, to pick one game a week. Take it away, Nazi shark.

Your Coach Sucks At Managing The Clock. Does It Really Matter?

"This week, I like the Colts getting 6.5 points on the road against the Ravens. I can't believe I was murdered at the end of last season. Do you know who I blame for it? You guessed it: GABE CARIMI."

Final Nazi Simmons record: 7-8
2011 Nazi Shark Playoff Record: 1-3

2012 Darren McFadden Memorial Fantasy Player Who Deserves To Die A Slow, Painful Death

The entire Philadelphia Eagles roster. What a fucking bunch of assholes. LeSean McCoy had 17 rushing touchdowns last season. This season? Two. And to think that I was overjoyed when I drafted him sixth overall. WHAT A STEAL!, I thought to myself. I should have known better. The picks you think are a steal always turn out to be complete dogshit. Special props to DeSean Jackson for managing to suck for two straight years and Jeremy Maclin for again refusing to rack up 1,000 yards receiving. Oh, and don't forget Mike Vick! I'm surprised Vick didn't drop the cattle prod every time he went to electrocute a dog. Michael Vick's career is now just Donovan McNabb's career, but two years behind.

Gregg Easterbrook Is A Haughty Dipshit

Your Coach Sucks At Managing The Clock. Does It Really Matter?

Jiminy Cricket! What kind of sanctimonious dogshit did your columnist, who has a lifetime subscription to the New Yorker, dump into America's lap this week?

For a college football coach, victory is only one of several objectives. If players graduate, if the team represents the school in a positive manner and attracts students and donations, a college football coach can have a good season despite losses.

This kind of naivete explains so much about Gregg. Guys, colleges totally care about graduation rates for football players! Last Resort would be a much better show if it showed the submarines being stopped by US customs agents! NICE GUYS FINISH FIRST! I picture Gregg living on a fluffy pink cloud, surrounded by hoppy bunnies and copies of his own novel that don't have a "Save 75%!" sticker plastered to the jacket.

Many teams want Bill O'Brien, who would seem a weasel if he walked out on his promises to Penn State after a single year.

WEASEL ALERT! How dare Bill O'Brien walk out on promises he made to college players?! WHAT A COCK. Never mind the fact that college coaches can't ever hint to future recruits that they might leave, or else the recruits will never commit. And never mind the fact that O'Brien took the Penn State job BEFORE sanctions were handed down, and did a fine job this season anyway under the most difficult circumstances imaginable. And never mind the fact that HOLY FUCK THIS IS AMERICA, YOU FUCKING TWAT.

Realistically, most clubs who just fired their head coach won't be able to obtain glamour names.

No GLORYCOACHES for the Bills, thank you very much.

Because high-profile college head coaches don't often jump to the NFL (Jim Harbaugh, Tom Coughlin and Pete Carroll are exceptions), pro football teams invariably look to the ranks of current NFL assistants, and end up with head coaches who have never been head coaches before, making their potential hard to gauge.

Also exceptions: Dennis Green, Bobby Petrino, Steve Spurrier, Nick Saban, Butch Davis, Mike Riley, Dennis Erickson, Lou Holtz, and many other college coaches who came to the NFL, failed miserably, and proved that hiring a college coach is just as risky, if not more so.

In other news, those Denver Broncos sure are red hot. Why, Greggggggg?

The Broncos led the league in sacks — Manning arrived as Von Miller was becoming a star.

Oh no, not a star! RELEASE HIM. Cut him and replace him with a converted tight end from Youngstown State before it's too late!

The Broncos have one of the league's best in left tackle Ryan Clady. They used their second-round picks of 2010 and 2011 on talented, hustling offensive linemen Zane Beadles and Orlando Franklin.

You won't see them standing around after the ball is snapped. TMQ watched the film! They lead the league in not-standing-arounditude.

After Manning signed, they brought in center Dan Koppen, a former Tuesday Morning Quarterback Non-Quarterback Non-Running Back NFL MVP.

And that was the key to EVERYTHING. Not Manning. Not Miller. Not Denver's comically easy schedule. It was KOPPEN. If they sign David Diehl this offseason, they won't be stopped.

A Chicago reader of TMQ reports that after studying the paywall options of The New York Times, he discovered the cheapest thing to do was to get the printed edition delivered and throw it away. [...] Monday through Friday delivery, the Times minimum, is $400. So the TMQ reader subscribed to Monday through Friday delivery at $400 in order to get all-platform digital access, which otherwise would cost $455.

Or it costs nothing if you're not a moron and blow past the Times paywall through Twitter.

Under TMQ's Tree: A new Cuisinart coffee maker was boldly labeled as providing "ultimate convenience," which does sound good, and being "absolutely worry free." The latter claim seemed to mean that the coffee maker itself does not worry.

Ho ho ho! A coffee maker that dispenses coffee and allows you to spot malapropisms? THE PERFECT TMQ GIFT. No clutter there. Also under TMQ's tree:

• 600 donations made in his name to the Brookings Institution
• A copy of The Progress Paradox
• A lifetime subscription to The Atlantic and its secret, 800-page VIP newsletter, "The Atlantic Weekly Festo"
• Copies of Hustler with all vag shots covered in tasteful lattice
• A NEW NOTEBOOK

Michael Poynter is a walk-on senior quarterback for Rice, and has never played.

DRAFT THIS MAN.

In the second half of the Armed Forces Bowl, Rice coach David Bailiff sent Poynter in for one play to take the snap and hand off. In high school football, on Senior Night anyone who has never played is supposed to get on the field for at least one down. High school head coaches who don't follow this tradition should burn in hell for eternity.

Jesus, that got heated quickly. Forgot to put Legless Jimmy in for a snap because the score was tied 41-41 with a playoff spot on the line? HELL. HELLFIRE AND BRIMSTONE AND ENDLESS REVOLUTION RERUNS FOR YOU.

It was a classy move by Bailiff to send Poynter in. This will allow him to go through life saying he appeared in a college bowl game.

MICHAEL: Hi, I'm Michael Poynter! I played in the 2012 Armed Forces Bowl

THE WORLD: (dismissive wanking motion)

Most contemporary scientists have no problem accepting contentions that the universe began from a point without dimensions, or contains 100 billion galaxies, and similar mind-bending notions. Yet they tend to scoff at the notion of advanced warlike space aliens as Hollywood silliness.

Maybe if we forced those aliens to check in at the airport, everyone would listen to me.

Why is it assumed that belligerent intelligent aliens are unlikely? Sadly, it may be that other advanced beings are likely to be very dangerous.

What if they don't believe in God? Or ghosts? What if they like the Dark Knight trilogy? We must be prepared to eliminate them.

As a gun owner, your columnist thinks there is a case for a rifle or shotgun in the home.

I have to think that Gregg Easterbrook owns a gun simply so that he can make very long arguments about what he thinks the role of the gun should be in American society. "You see, AS A GUN OWNER WHO PUT HIMSELF THROUGH AN ELITE SCHOOL IN LESS THAN FOUR YEARS, I have an opinion about such things."

Read this remarkable pre-Newtown article that escaped notice because it ran in a Saturday edition of The Wall Street Journal (Saturday is the week's lowest readership day).

But TMQ read it! Don't be surprised to see this article hewn into a monument along the National Mall 14 years from now. Oh why oh why does the WEASELSTREAM MEDIA consistently ignore political diatribes embedded into a 15,000-word football column?

Buffalo leading 14-9 in the second half, the Bills faced fourth-and-3 on the Jersey/B 32. Bumbling head coach Chan Gailey sent in the place-kicker, and the crowd booed loudly.

And thus, TMQ wrote the words BILLS SEASON OVER in his notebook. And so it was. Just at that moment. Not a second before. Nothing is official until it's in the notebook. That's why Gregggg doesn't record any of his masturbation sessions in it. He is clean.

Verily, the kick missed.

Oh Christ, fuck your "verily." God, I hate that. It's so precious. "Oh look, I'm coyly making this column sound like it was dictated to King Arthur!" PUKE. Fucking verily. What an asshole word.

Suicide Pick Of The Week Wrapup

Leitch's picks last week of San Francisco, Chicago, Atlanta went 2-1, putting the Jamboroo at 40-11 for the season. Again, I remind you to never participate in a suicide pool. You won't win. It's bullshit.

Great Moments In Bee-Killing History

Reader Mattia sends in this story I call R-BEE-I:

I was about fourteen and minding my own business in my room when a bee/pterodactyl hybrid flew in from the hallway.

I'm not sure why but I immediately grabbed an aluminum baseball bat, let the bee approach and swung for the fences. (In retrospect, that was a third-tier idea at best)

I made contact, the bat made a pinging sound that was closely followed by the faint thud of the bee's carcass hitting my window. To this day, it remains the most satisfying auditory sequence I have ever experienced.

Question: Any way it ever happens again? Do I need a little league bat in every room of the house?

No way it ever happens again. You could have film of it and spend eight hours a day studying that film and still not be able to replicate it. Life is annoying like that.

Fire This Asshole!

Is there anything more exciting than a coach losing his job? All year long, we'll keep track of which coaches will almost certainly get fired at year's end or sooner. And now, your updated 2012 chopping block:

• Norv Turner - FIRED!
• Chan Gailey - FIRED!
• Pat Shurmur - FIRED!
• Romeo Crennel - FIRED!
• Andy Reid - FIRED!
• Ken Whisenhunt - FIRED!
• Lovie Smith - FIRED!
• Ron Rivera - DURRRRRRRRRR
• Rex Ryan - NOT FIRED!
• Mike Munchak - NOT FIRED!
• Dennis Allen - NOT FIRED!
• Jim Schwartz - NOT FIRED!

The Jets and Titans both fired their GMs but kept their coaches, which is always a bad idea. No GM ever comes in and is like, "Whoa hey, this is PERFECT! I wouldn't change a thing!" It's like when Mike Holmgren didn't get around to firing Eric Mangini for a full year. They could have been firing Pat Shurmur at this time LAST season and been well into the Josh McDaniels era. And that would have been great!

Gametime Snack Of The Week

Your Coach Sucks At Managing The Clock. Does It Really Matter?

Swedish meatballs! BORK BORK BORK. My wife swear by Ikea Swedish meatballs. "And they're so cheap!" she said. Yeah, that's because we had to walk through 18 miles of showroom space and spend $200 on four lamps just to get to the fucking cafeteria. It's not worth going to Ikea just to have a fucking meatball.

Gametime Cheap Beer Of The Week

Your Coach Sucks At Managing The Clock. Does It Really Matter?

Mamma Mia Pizza Beer! The beer that has pizza in it! Reader Patrick:

In the brewing process, a Margarita pizza is put into the mash & steeped like a tea bag. A whole wheat crust made with water, flour & yeast is topped with tomato, oregano, basil & garlic. The essence of the pizza spices is washed off with hot water and filtered into a brewpot.

Yum! But why stop at pizza? Why not burrito beer? Or Caesar salad beer? Or pork fried rice beer? I would try pork fried rice beer. I MUST HAVE PORK FRIED RICE BEER.

Robert Evans's MVP Watch!

Time to start thinking about who the leaders will be for the NFL's MVP award. So every week, legendary Hollywood producer Robert Evans will join us to give us his assessment. Take it away, Mr. Evans.

Your Coach Sucks At Managing The Clock. Does It Really Matter?

"Baby, my favorite for NFL MVP is Adrian Peterson of the Vikings! A lot of people are talking about this new Les Miserables movie. Long? YOU BET! Boring? DAMN STRAIGHT. I was so bored during the screening, I had my personal assistant Jarvis run out of the theater and bring me back a case of the finest Iranian caviar, then had him drizzle it with movie theater popcorn butter. I ate it with my bare hands. YOU DON'T KNOW LUXURY UNTIL YOU'VE HAD BUTTERED CAVIAR WHILE WATCHING ANNE HATHAWAY GET RAVAGED. It's a scene, baby."

Sunday Afternoon Movie Of The Week For Chiefs Fans

Silver Linings Playbook. Say, you know who's not unattractive? That Jennifer Lawrence. Jeeeesus.

Gratuitous Simpsons Quote

"Perhaps you're wondering why you have two heads. Well, my body was crushed, so I had my head grafted onto your, shall we say, ample frame."

Enjoy the playoffs, everyone.