By Juan C. Lozano | Sept. 12, 2018
This past Sunday, the Giants played a close first half of football vs. the AFC Championship Game runner-up Jacksonville Jaguars. It was their first regular-season home game with their new head coach Pat Shurmur at the helm of gameday controls.
The weather at MetLife Stadium appeared to be unseasonably damp. The rain, while not a downpour of biblical proportions, appeared to be persistent and annoying. Inclement weather generally creates issues for teams, including equipment issues. The weather impacts what shoes, gloves, tape and other items the players may wear.
Sometimes weather impacts technology at games. For example, during Sunday’s Titans-Dolphins broadcast, not only was the game delayed twice for a total of nearly four hours due to lightning, the viewers at home were limited to only certain camera angles due to the weather.
Player and coaching technology are impacted by weather. I’ve been a part of games where incessant rain damaged one team’s headsets. As a result, both teams had to go without headsets during the game. (This was an NCAA rule.) Rather than call the plays from the box down to the field, the coordinators had to call plays from the field.
Per reports, the Giants communication system was on the fritz during the game to the point where Giants QB Eli Manning could not get the play in from the coaching staff. Shurmur had to call a timeout. The problem is, this was the Giants’ first offensive play following halftime.
What happens in the locker room at halftime? Contrary to popular belief, it is extremely rare to have a coach give a long, fiery speech that challenges the players. There is not enough time for the drama. That is the stuff of bad football movies.
Here is what happens: Players sit at their lockers waiting for their coaches to come into the locker room and address them. Coaches meet among themselves — broken out by offense, defense and special teams — and discuss what they need to work on for the second half.
After the coaches meet, the players then generally break off with their coordinators and or position coaches. This brief halftime period is used to make adjustments based on the interaction between coaches and players about what each other is seeing on the field. It’s a time to shore up any obvious deficiencies in the game plan and set a course of action in the second half that gets the team closer to victory.
An offensive coordinator will typically ask the QB, “What do you like?” and the QB more often than not responds with a pass play that he thinks can work in the second half.
Then the players and coaches head back to the field after a quick speech from the head coach.
The players go out on the field knowing the agenda is set. The quarterback and offensive coordinator (especially if they get the second half kickoff) know what plays they are going to open with.
This is why it is pretty significant that Shurmur had to burn the timeout here.
The Giants eventually kicked a field goal on this drive. However, in a game that was as close as this (20-15), this wasted timeout could have been useful late in the game after the Giants defense forced a three-and-out. The Giants could have had about 1:30 on the game’s final drive rather than just about 55 seconds. (The Giants muffed the punt and Jaguars took over to end the game, so the point was rendered moot.)
Operationally, the first play of the second half should have been something that Manning and the offensive staff had ready before leaving the locker room. Also, teams practice worst-case scenarios and situational football during training camp; they could have addressed what happens in case the headsets go down.
Coaches always use the phrase “teachable moment” when something that appears negative occurs. This is one of those teachable moments and for that reason it is the situational call of the week.