Discussing Jim Caldwell's Decision To Call Timeout with 36 Seconds Left

We know what Colts coach Jim Caldwell said to defend his decision to call timeout with 36 seconds left in a tie game situation heading into OT against the Jaguars yesterday. This timeout gave the Jags extra time to make a play (22 yard pass by David Garrard) which set-up Josh Scobee's game-winning 59 yard kick.

Matt Grecco agrees with the decision, saying:

I would have been mad had he not called the timeout. You are forcing the Jaguars hand at that point. They are not built for down the field passing, and the Colts defense is (supposed to be) built for stopping such pass plays.

The fact that the Jaguars, once again, ran the same plays they run every game against the Colts, and the Colts still cannot stop them, is the bigger problem. You also don’t take your chances on a coin flip when you have Peyton Manning on your team.

Meanwhile, LovinBlue was 'puzzled' by the call.

Both Matt and LovinBlue are smart people whose opinions I respect. Their differing takes should give you some idea of just how combustive this decision was for our fanbase.

After the jump, you can read my silly ramblings about it.

I'm reading around and I'm seeing a lot of venom directed at Caldwell, and not just for this one decision. We have fans calling for his removal as head coach! While, in practice, this seems very extreme (and likely just folks venting frustration), it tells me that, despite an impressive run to the Super Bowl last year, Caldwell still has not won over the fanbase. Colts faithful do not feel comfortable with his decisions, citing Week Sixteen last season and the Matt Stover 50-yard FG attempt in the Super Bowl as examples along with Sunday's 'timeout' decision.

For me, I don't feel uneasy about Caldwell's overall decision-making, though some of his choices have left me scratching my head at times. What bothers me right now is, quite simply, his team this year just doesn't look ready to play week to week.

Regarding the timeout, for me it was a poor decision. The Colts defense was awful yesterday. Simple awful. Prior to the timeout, the Jags ran the ball for 8 yards on first down. They faced a second and two, and were content to let the clock run and take their chances in OT. For the Colts to have any hope of winning, they needed to win the coin toss.

No faith in their defense making any kind of stop. None. 

Because of the Caldwell timeout, the Jags saw an opportunity. Dwight Freeney acknowledged this in his post game interviews:

"I thought they were going (for overtime),'' Dwight Freeney said. "Then all of a sudden they started hurrying up and they changed their game plan.'

The Jags were given extra time, and started throwing. If Kelvin Hayden (who has looked like David Macklin 2.0 to start this season) actually does what he's paid to do and intercepts that Garrard gift prior to the third down play, the Colts probably win. But, considering how poorly Hayden has played this year, it's not reasonable to expect him, or anyone, to make a play.

But, let's say the defense, by some miracle, stops the Jags twice when all they need is two yards for a first down. Likely, after a Jacksonville punt, the Colts get the ball back with, maybe, 20 seconds left and no timeouts. To get in decent FG range (we'll say 50 yard FG), Colts probably would have needed to go 40 yards.

40 yards. 20 seconds. No timeouts. Did Jim Caldwell really think that was possible? Matt Grecco thinks yes, and makes a strong argument as to why:

If the Colts get the stop, we’ll say 5 seconds run off the clock. A punt takes 10 seconds, so we’re at 21 seconds, on the Colts 25 yard line. To get in Vinatieri’s range, I’d say you need a minimum of 40 yards from there, and they would have had at least 1 timeout, maybe 2.

Last year, against the 49ers at the end of the half, the Colts went 47 yards in 20 seconds. Three plays.

Again, he had to make a 59 yard FG to win the game, even with the Timeout. The percentage of him making that is way lower than the percentage that the Colts would have stopped the 3rd and 2.

I love Peyton Manning. The man is the greatest fourth quarter quarterback ever. But, for me, to expect THAT from Big P and the offense is too much. If Caldwell wanted to end the game in regulation, if he did not trust his defense to get a stop in overtime, why not go for two after the Austin Collie touchdown? Statistically, the team had a better chance of converting that than driving 40 or 50 yards in 20 seconds to kick a 50-yarder with no timeouts.

Expecting that, along with  this defense making two short yardage stops, was unrealistic in my opinion. Caldwell simply failed to grasp the situation, and for many Colts fans, that points to some disturbing and unsettling signs.

One thing is for certain: Caldwell and Bill Polian will, once again, come under fire this week. For those who would complain that all the 'attacks' are just the media sensationalizing a story, kindly tell that to the faces of the hundreds of Colts fans who have voted and commented here about Caldwell's decision. This isn't a 'media created' story, and anyone who says it is must enjoy carrying water for the Colts, or drinking blue-colored Kool Aid. Many fans are pissed, and have a right to be so. They want real answers, not the company line crap Caldwell is selling them in  'excuse department.'

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