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The Coach Who Never Punts (1 Viewer)

Donnybrook

Footballguy
Interesting article.

http://kottke.org/13/11/the-coach-who-never-punts

The coach who never punts  NOV 14 2013Kevin Kelley is the head football coach at Pulaski Academy in Little Rock, Arkansas. In games, he instructs his team to never punt, to never receive punts, and almost always onside kick.

The numbers Kelley cites are that eye-popping. And he isn't cooking the books: Cal professor David Romer
http://emlab.berkeley.edu/users/dromer/papers/PAPER_NFL_JULY05_FORWEB_CORRECTED.pdfconcluded that teams should not punt
http://emlab.berkeley.edu/users/dromer/papers/PAPER_NFL_JULY05_FORWEB_CORRECTED.pdfwhen facing fourth-and-4 or less; NFL stats analyst Brian Burke has detailed the need to
http://fifthdown.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/09/17/a-new-study-on-fourth-downs-go-for-it/rethink fourth-down decision-making
http://fifthdown.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/09/17/a-new-study-on-fourth-downs-go-for-it/; Football Outsiders has
http://www.footballoutsiders.com/stat-analysis/2006/never-puntingconflated punts with turnovers
http://www.footballoutsiders.com/stat-analysis/2006/never-punting. You've even read about it
http://www.grantland.com/story/_/id/7232735/this-game-incheson this site
http://www.grantland.com/story/_/id/7232735/this-game-inches. Most fans and analysts who are willing to accept that change is a fundamental part of life have embraced the idea that automatically punting on fourth down doesn't make sense.
Since Kelley took over, Pulaski is 124-22 and has won three state titles.
 
I'm on board.

Coaches also need to dispense with the FG attempt inside the 5, except for obvious scenarios (e.g., close game time running down).

 
I do have to say, anyone who punts on 4 and 2 (or fewer) does not deserve to be in the NFL and is as heartless as it gets.

Never ever punt on 4th and less than 2 unless you are already within the opposing teams short FG range. It disgust me we call this a mans game, yet coaches and players run scared when they need ONE DANG YARD.

Why even roster punters? Get some dude to boot the ball if you have to.

 
Of course the coach never punts. He sends some soccer player out there to do it for him.

Oh, you meant...

 
There is a world of difference between the NFL and high school ball.
Yeah mostly in terms of risk associated with running an unconventional strategy. Not because it's a bad one.
:goodposting: Most NFL coaches are more worried about job security than anything else. To do anything against conventional wisdom - especially if it has a chance to fail is to run the risk of losing one's job earlier than you otherwise might. The problem is that this "conventional wisdom" was the convention from 50+ years ago. There is a world of difference between going for it on 4th and 3 in 1965, with 1965 players and (more importantly) 1965 rules about passing, holding, etc. In 2013 you have move TEs, mobile QBs and a myriad of rules changes that make it easier to play offense. To suggest that the "standard" of punting on 4th down is the same as it ever was is just silly. Just because few coaches have the security to go against the grain, doesn't mean the "traditional way" of deciding down and distance is the best way now.

 
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Sometimes when time is short, the team with the ball is down by a score, it's 4th down, and they decide to punt, the commentators will say something along the lines of, "they are trusting their defense." This i don't understand. Not being willing to risk a turnover on downs doesn't mean you trust your defense, it means you are willing to rely on them, but only if they have an extra 37 yards (or whatever your average punt result is) to work with. Seems to me that if you actually trust your defense, you'll go for it because even if you fail, you trust your defense.

 
4th and 2 from the 50 yard line.

You guys think it's the right call to go for it? Seriously?

Turnover on downs means the other team needs 15 yards to get 3 points or more. Punt (to the 10) means they need 55 yards...almost 4x as much offense just to get within field goal range.

Not to mention that if the other team goes 3 and out from the 10, your own offense is in a much better situation (after receiving their punt) than if they went 3 and out from the 50.

No brainer...punt is the right call in this, and many other, situations.

 
4th and 2 from the 50 yard line.

You guys think it's the right call to go for it? Seriously?

Turnover on downs means the other team needs 15 yards to get 3 points or more. Punt (to the 10) means they need 55 yards...almost 4x as much offense just to get within field goal range.

Not to mention that if the other team goes 3 and out from the 10, your own offense is in a much better situation (after receiving their punt) than if they went 3 and out from the 50.

No brainer...punt is the right call in this, and many other, situations.
If you cant get 1 or 2 yards, you do not deserve to be in the NFL.

 
4th and 2 from the 50 yard line.

You guys think it's the right call to go for it? Seriously?

Turnover on downs means the other team needs 15 yards to get 3 points or more. Punt (to the 10) means they need 55 yards...almost 4x as much offense just to get within field goal range.

Not to mention that if the other team goes 3 and out from the 10, your own offense is in a much better situation (after receiving their punt) than if they went 3 and out from the 50.

No brainer...punt is the right call in this, and many other, situations.
If you cant get 1 or 2 yards, you do not deserve to be in the NFL.
You guys do realize that defensive players are paid to play and practice right? Shockingly they also game plan. Plenty of teams get stuffed on very short yardage should they all be kicked out of the NFL?

 
4th and 2 from the 50 yard line.

You guys think it's the right call to go for it? Seriously?

Turnover on downs means the other team needs 15 yards to get 3 points or more. Punt (to the 10) means they need 55 yards...almost 4x as much offense just to get within field goal range.
Interesting. So the opposing team doesn't have a punt returner? Or does our punter always make a perfect kick to the 10? And we never convert on 4th and 2?

Your premise is a straw man built on several assumptions - many of which are not always valid (if not untrue altogether).

Should we go for it on 4th and 2 ALL THE TIME? No. Absolutely not. But I think the point of this discussion is that it is much more a discussion (and a valid one) than many NFL head coaches seem to think it is based on their collective actions.

 
the Punt still has its place. But I would like to see some stastical analysis on this from, say, 2005 to 2012. I bet we'd all be surprised.

Something like going for it on 4th and 2 or less, anywhere on the field past your own 20 yard line, will lead to an average of x amount more points scored than otherwise. Or x amount of successful attempts vs a punt and the other team scoring.

 
Coaches won't do this because they're worried about how it will be perceived. Besides that, most of them play not to lose as opposed to playing to win. You can almost always predict play calling late in games. When someone does something outside the box it gets analyzed and criticized to death.

 
Probably should include a study on average starting field position vs. points score before completely turning things upside down.

 
4th and 2 from the 50 yard line.

You guys think it's the right call to go for it? Seriously?

Turnover on downs means the other team needs 15 yards to get 3 points or more. Punt (to the 10) means they need 55 yards...almost 4x as much offense just to get within field goal range.

Not to mention that if the other team goes 3 and out from the 10, your own offense is in a much better situation (after receiving their punt) than if they went 3 and out from the 50.

No brainer...punt is the right call in this, and many other, situations.
Honestly, I can't think of a single scenario in which I would punt on 4th and 2 from the 50. Maybe if half of my offensive line and star QB/RB/WR all blew out their ACLs earlier in the game or something.

 
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Solid strategy if you have a solid offense. The Saints should never punt for instance. The 2007 Patriots used this philosophy and it worked a lot of the time.

Now if you are the Texans or the Jags, its best to punt.

Texans should probably punt on 3rd a inches.

 
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Donnybrook said:
Interesting article.

http://kottke.org/13/11/the-coach-who-never-punts

The coach who never punts  NOV 14 2013Kevin Kelley is the head football coach at Pulaski Academy in Little Rock, Arkansas. In games, he instructs his team to never punt, to never receive punts, and almost always onside kick.
The part in bold I don't understand. What is the benefit of not receiving punts?
Can't turn it over due to fumble/touching by receiving team.

 
We don't need studies. We have them already.

Link

Those are averages. A coach can and should tinker along the margins based on the quality of your offense, quality of opponent's defense, game situation, etc, but if you read that you'll come away thinking that even the worst offense in the league facing the best defense in the league should be going for it a lot more than they do.

 
Donnybrook said:
Interesting article.

http://kottke.org/13/11/the-coach-who-never-punts

The coach who never punts  NOV 14 2013

Kevin Kelley is the head football coach at Pulaski Academy in Little Rock, Arkansas. In games, he instructs his team to never punt, to never receive punts, and almost always onside kick.
The part in bold I don't understand. What is the benefit of not receiving punts?
Not fumbling. Seriously. Last night's game changed completely when Tennessee fumbled the kickoff. I bet the math professor behind this study accumulated enough data to show that the risk of returning a punt (fumbling and penalties) outweighed any potential rewards from the return.

This is true especially in high school football. I have see so many fumbled punts and I've always said that if I were a coach I wouldn't even put a return guy back there.

 
4th and 2 from the 50 yard line.

You guys think it's the right call to go for it? Seriously?
I could be misremembering but I'm pretty sure I've seen multiple studies indicate that yes, the right call is to go for it in that situation.

Turnover on downs means the other team needs 15 yards to get 3 points or more. Punt (to the 10) means they need 55 yards...almost 4x as much offense just to get within field goal range.
Hmm, and those are the only two possible outcomes... oh wait.

No brainer...
Indeed.

 
Donnybrook said:
Interesting article.

http://kottke.org/13/11/the-coach-who-never-punts

The coach who never punts  NOV 14 2013Kevin Kelley is the head football coach at Pulaski Academy in Little Rock, Arkansas. In games, he instructs his team to never punt, to never receive punts, and almost always onside kick.
The part in bold I don't understand. What is the benefit of not receiving punts?
It shows weakness.
:lmao:

I agree teams punt way too often etc, and its certainly to maximize the coaches chances of keeping his job.

 
Two other things have been bothering me this season.

1)Handing the ball off on 4th and inches. This is crazy, if your QB cant lean forward for 4 inches, you should just quit the game. If nothing else force the refs to spot the ball where you might get lucky. Risking your RB getting hit two yards deep in the backfield is stupid.

I did a quick messy analysis- since 2002 I took all the 4th and 1 yard to go plays run by QBs vs RBs.

QBs 395 attempts for 332 first downs. 84% conversion rate.

RBs 587 attempts for 853 first downs. 69% conversion rate.

84% is better than 69%.

2) Kicking the extra point when you need a 2 point conversion at some point to tie the game in the 4th quarter. This is plain self deception- just not wanting to know youre screwed with 10 minutes left to play verses 2 minutes. You should definitely try for the 2 points so that you know how many points you need to score to tie the game, I know the meathead commentators will never buy in to this, but the math is pretty simple. If you know you're going to need 9 points versus 8, you will plan accordingly and maximize your (tiny) chance of tieing the game.

 
Donnybrook said:
Interesting article.

http://kottke.org/13/11/the-coach-who-never-punts

The coach who never punts  NOV 14 2013Kevin Kelley is the head football coach at Pulaski Academy in Little Rock, Arkansas. In games, he instructs his team to never punt, to never receive punts, and almost always onside kick.
The part in bold I don't understand. What is the benefit of not receiving punts?
Can't turn it over due to fumble/touching by receiving team.
And also helps eliminate the block in the back penalties...

 
Donnybrook said:
Interesting article.

http://kottke.org/13/11/the-coach-who-never-punts

The coach who never punts  NOV 14 2013Kevin Kelley is the head football coach at Pulaski Academy in Little Rock, Arkansas. In games, he instructs his team to never punt, to never receive punts, and almost always onside kick.
The part in bold I don't understand. What is the benefit of not receiving punts?
Can't turn it over due to fumble/touching by receiving team.
And also helps eliminate the block in the back penalties...
The problem I see with this in the pros is that the punters are SO much better than at any other level. If there is no-one back there to field the punt they will have a much different approach. They dont need to worry about hang time, just pop the ball out where you want it. In other words the current statistics of field position after a punt return are going to be misleading, because the punters will have a much easier job.

 
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RBs 587 attempts for 853 first downs. 69% conversion rate.
i think you got those numbers backward

/nitpick


Donnybrook said:
Interesting article.

http://kottke.org/13/11/the-coach-who-never-punts

The coach who never punts  NOV 14 2013Kevin Kelley is the head football coach at Pulaski Academy in Little Rock, Arkansas. In games, he instructs his team to never punt, to never receive punts, and almost always onside kick.
The part in bold I don't understand. What is the benefit of not receiving punts?
i guess you also have one extra guy to help block the punt. Given the always-onside-kick, never-punt, high variance strategy this guy takes, it would seem natural to sell out the punt return to try for the block.

 
2) Kicking the extra point when you need a 2 point conversion at some point to tie the game in the 4th quarter. This is plain self deception- just not wanting to know youre screwed with 10 minutes left to play verses 2 minutes. You should definitely try for the 2 points so that you know how many points you need to score to tie the game, I know the meathead commentators will never buy in to this, but the math is pretty simple. If you know you're going to need 9 points versus 8, you will plan accordingly and maximize your (tiny) chance of tieing the game.
http://forums.footballguys.com/forum/index.php?showtopic=566723&page=1

Beware, it's long and full of dumb.

 
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4th and 2 from the 50 yard line.

You guys think it's the right call to go for it? Seriously?

Turnover on downs means the other team needs 15 yards to get 3 points or more. Punt (to the 10) means they need 55 yards...almost 4x as much offense just to get within field goal range.

Not to mention that if the other team goes 3 and out from the 10, your own offense is in a much better situation (after receiving their punt) than if they went 3 and out from the 50.

No brainer...punt is the right call in this, and many other, situations.
Go for it! Unless you are the Chiefs - they score more with the D on the field.

 
4th and 2 from the 50 yard line.

You guys think it's the right call to go for it? Seriously?

Turnover on downs means the other team needs 15 yards to get 3 points or more. Punt (to the 10) means they need 55 yards...almost 4x as much offense just to get within field goal range.

Not to mention that if the other team goes 3 and out from the 10, your own offense is in a much better situation (after receiving their punt) than if they went 3 and out from the 50.

No brainer...punt is the right call in this, and many other, situations.
This is my view. There are a lot of variables but all things equal I'd prefer to make the other team go 90 yards for a TD rather than 50.

The extreme end of the 'no punt' argument is to go for it on 4th and 4 at your own 6, something I doubt anyone is going to support.

 
4th and 2 from the 50 yard line.

You guys think it's the right call to go for it? Seriously?

Turnover on downs means the other team needs 15 yards to get 3 points or more. Punt (to the 10) means they need 55 yards...almost 4x as much offense just to get within field goal range.

Not to mention that if the other team goes 3 and out from the 10, your own offense is in a much better situation (after receiving their punt) than if they went 3 and out from the 50.

No brainer...punt is the right call in this, and many other, situations.
Honestly, I can't think of a single scenario in which I would punt on 4th and 2 from the 50. Maybe if half of my offensive line and star QB/RB/WR all blew out their ACLs earlier in the game or something.
The reason is that if you can get the ball inside the 10 the offense actually has negative EP.

Where I do believe in going for it is around the opponent's 40 where a 1st down gets the team into FG range without needing another 1st down. One play essentially gets you 3 points at a minimum

 
4th and 2 from the 50 yard line.

You guys think it's the right call to go for it? Seriously?

Turnover on downs means the other team needs 15 yards to get 3 points or more. Punt (to the 10) means they need 55 yards...almost 4x as much offense just to get within field goal range.

Not to mention that if the other team goes 3 and out from the 10, your own offense is in a much better situation (after receiving their punt) than if they went 3 and out from the 50.

No brainer...punt is the right call in this, and many other, situations.
Honestly, I can't think of a single scenario in which I would punt on 4th and 2 from the 50. Maybe if half of my offensive line and star QB/RB/WR all blew out their ACLs earlier in the game or something.
The reason is that if you can get the ball inside the 10 the offense actually has negative EP.

Where I do believe in going for it is around the opponent's 40 where a 1st down gets the team into FG range without needing another 1st down. One play essentially gets you 3 points at a minimum
IF you get get the ball inside the 10. There is a statistical likelihood of that that needs to factor in. A touchback takes them to a .5 EP. The average net punt from the 50 yard line is about 33 yards, about the 17 yard line.

This demonstrates the point pretty well- every special teams coach in the league will swear up and down that HIS guys are gonna pin them inside the 10. Statistically, its gonna be closer to the 20.

 
Sometimes when time is short, the team with the ball is down by a score, it's 4th down, and they decide to punt, the commentators will say something along the lines of, "they are trusting their defense." This i don't understand. Not being willing to risk a turnover on downs doesn't mean you trust your defense, it means you are willing to rely on them, but only if they have an extra 37 yards (or whatever your average punt result is) to work with. Seems to me that if you actually trust your defense, you'll go for it because even if you fail, you trust your defense.
The announcers who say this are over simplifying the issue. There is also the matter of field position and the possiblity of a muffed punt.

 
Scenario from last night's Ten/Indy game:

- 7:53 left in the 4th quarter

- Score was Indy 23-Tenn 20

- Tennessee had 4th and 1 from their own 29 yard line

What should they have done? Punt or go for it?

They punted. Indy's drive started at their own 32 and they marched for a TD to make it 30-20.

By punting I believe (and Gregg Easterbrook has long preached) that the head coach is telling his own team, "you guys can't get a yard here". In essence, he's telling them they are losers. By going for it, even if it fails, the message would have been, "I believe in you guys to go win this game!" NFL coaches almost always punt in the above situation. I think they are ####### (something a big hairy bush covers). Should Tenn have gone for it?

 
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Interesting article.

http://kottke.org/13/11/the-coach-who-never-punts

The coach who never punts  NOV 14 2013

Kevin Kelley is the head football coach at Pulaski Academy in Little Rock, Arkansas. In games, he instructs his team to never punt, to never receive punts, and almost always onside kick.
The part in bold I don't understand. What is the benefit of not receiving punts?
Not fumbling. Seriously. Last night's game changed completely when Tennessee fumbled the kickoff. I bet the math professor behind this study accumulated enough data to show that the risk of returning a punt (fumbling and penalties) outweighed any potential rewards from the return.

This is true especially in high school football. I have see so many fumbled punts and I've always said that if I were a coach I wouldn't even put a return guy back there.
If I remember correctly, one of the most significant reasons that this particular coach doesn't return punts is due to practice time. That is, since he never punts, if he also never returns punts, then his team doesn't need to waste any time practicing punt plays. If he practiced returning punts, he'd also have 11 guys practicing punting, which would be a waste of time for those 11 guys.

 
4th and 2 from the 50 yard line.

You guys think it's the right call to go for it? Seriously?

Turnover on downs means the other team needs 15 yards to get 3 points or more. Punt (to the 10) means they need 55 yards...almost 4x as much offense just to get within field goal range.

Not to mention that if the other team goes 3 and out from the 10, your own offense is in a much better situation (after receiving their punt) than if they went 3 and out from the 50.

No brainer...punt is the right call in this, and many other, situations.
If you cant get 1 or 2 yards, you do not deserve to be in the NFL.
Didn't Miami only get 2 yards for the entire game vs TB a few days ago? I guess they don't deserve to be in the NFL., probably get a lot of people to agree there.

 
4th and 2 from the 50 yard line.

You guys think it's the right call to go for it? Seriously?

Turnover on downs means the other team needs 15 yards to get 3 points or more. Punt (to the 10) means they need 55 yards...almost 4x as much offense just to get within field goal range.

Not to mention that if the other team goes 3 and out from the 10, your own offense is in a much better situation (after receiving their punt) than if they went 3 and out from the 50.

No brainer...punt is the right call in this, and many other, situations.
You're overlooking several things:

1. just because the other team gains 15 yards, that doesn't mean they're going to score 3 points. (In fact, the league average for 50+ field goals over the past two years is only 63.6%)

2. just because you punt, that doesn't mean you're going to down it at the 10.

3. if you get the first down, it's almost as good as getting an interception. Not only are you preventing the other team from having a possession, but you're giving yourself an EXTRA possession. That gives you the potential for a 14 point swing.

4. The math is not on your side.

 
Interesting article.

http://kottke.org/13/11/the-coach-who-never-punts

The coach who never punts  NOV 14 2013

Kevin Kelley is the head football coach at Pulaski Academy in Little Rock, Arkansas. In games, he instructs his team to never punt, to never receive punts, and almost always onside kick.
The part in bold I don't understand. What is the benefit of not receiving punts?
Not fumbling. Seriously. Last night's game changed completely when Tennessee fumbled the kickoff. I bet the math professor behind this study accumulated enough data to show that the risk of returning a punt (fumbling and penalties) outweighed any potential rewards from the return.

This is true especially in high school football. I have see so many fumbled punts and I've always said that if I were a coach I wouldn't even put a return guy back there.
If I remember correctly, one of the most significant reasons that this particular coach doesn't return punts is due to practice time. That is, since he never punts, if he also never returns punts, then his team doesn't need to waste any time practicing punt plays. If he practiced returning punts, he'd also have 11 guys practicing punting, which would be a waste of time for those 11 guys.
Denver/NE game had a situation where they might have been better off without a return man back there.

 
4th and 2 from the 50 yard line.

You guys think it's the right call to go for it? Seriously?

Turnover on downs means the other team needs 15 yards to get 3 points or more. Punt (to the 10) means they need 55 yards...almost 4x as much offense just to get within field goal range.

Not to mention that if the other team goes 3 and out from the 10, your own offense is in a much better situation (after receiving their punt) than if they went 3 and out from the 50.

No brainer...punt is the right call in this, and many other, situations.
15 yards = 52 yard FG which is not a given, but moving on...

IF you convert exactly the 2 yards you needed then YOU only need 13 yards to get to that 52 yard FG. It works both ways. If you punt you have a <1% chance (muffed punt return) of getting those points. You definitely need to look at your conversion percentage to determine if it is worth it. In high school maybe his conversion percentage is really high. In the NFL not so much. But I definitely lean towards going for it on 4th and 2 at the 50.

 
There is a world of difference between the NFL and high school ball.
Yeah mostly in terms of risk associated with running an unconventional strategy. Not because it's a bad one.
:goodposting: Most NFL coaches are more worried about job security than anything else. To do anything against conventional wisdom - especially if it has a chance to fail is to run the risk of losing one's job earlier than you otherwise might. The problem is that this "conventional wisdom" was the convention from 50+ years ago. There is a world of difference between going for it on 4th and 3 in 1965, with 1965 players and (more importantly) 1965 rules about passing, holding, etc. In 2013 you have move TEs, mobile QBs and a myriad of rules changes that make it easier to play offense. To suggest that the "standard" of punting on 4th down is the same as it ever was is just silly. Just because few coaches have the security to go against the grain, doesn't mean the "traditional way" of deciding down and distance is the best way now.
Well said...piggy-backing on the job security aspect, not punting on 4th is based on the law of averages. If a coach were to choose to employ this strategy, in the beginning, the early results would HAVE to be skewed in his favor (i.e. 7 out of 8 times from the start it works). I am not sure HOW much better it is, but it would have to look really good from the start or else the backlash would be too great to over come.

 
In general, I'd be in favor of this but I think in the NFL that there are still times when you absolutely have to punt. 4th and 8 or more? Pinned in deep late in a tie game.

Not sure I like the onside kick all the time. The NFL rule changes have made recovering an onside kick considerably harder.

 
Sweet Love said:
Well said...piggy-backing on the job security aspect, not punting on 4th is based on the law of averages. If a coach were to choose to employ this strategy, in the beginning, the early results would HAVE to be skewed in his favor (i.e. 7 out of 8 times from the start it works). I am not sure HOW much better it is, but it would have to look really good from the start or else the backlash would be too great to over come.
I really don't buy the argument that the backlash would be too much for a coach to overcome. Fans are more than willing to second-guess all decisions, and there will be fanboys and critics no matter what you decide. Certainly in the college ranks there are plenty of coaches who go for it on fourth down all the time (like Chip Kelly), and they don't seem to be getting fired as long as they're reasonably successful. (We'll see what happens with Sonny Dykes' second season).

So, I think "people will second-guess you" is a real description of why things go the way they do, but it's not a rational reason to be conservative.

 
The problem isn't that you'd always go for it. The problem is that your opponent wouldn't, and wouldn't give you the same scoring opportunities you're giving them.

Two or three yards isn't a gimme in the NFL. And with so many games being decided by a touchdown or less, giving up a free field goal or two a game could easily cost you a playoff spot.

Teams play it safe not because they're scared to try something different. They play it safe because parity has created a league where one mistake can make the difference in almost every game. It's smarter to let your opponent make that mistake instead of handing it to them.

As a fan, I think the league would be a lot more fun to watch. But as a coach, I can see why they punt. It provides more room for error in a game where there's very little to begin with.

 

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