Jay Gruden (Washington @ Seattle)
Jay Gruden’s Washington Redskins had a nearly impossible task placed before them heading into Week 9. They had to fly cross-country into a wet, hostile environment, CenturyLink Field, and attempt to beat a Seattle team on a four-game winning streak.
But in the 4th quarter, Jay Gruden was on the precipice of achieving the near impossible as Kirk Cousins completed the drive of his NFL life to give the Redskins the lead at 17-14. But Gruden had one final decision to make. The Seahawks had driven into FG range with 15 seconds left and no timeouts. Then the Seahawks unexpectedly decided to run another play, rather than spiking the ball and perhaps getting two plays to get closer into FG-range or the endzone.The pocket collapsed, and Wilson tried to get rid of the ball but was ruled down by contact, knocking them out of FG-range. The call on the field was reviewed, resulting in a 10 second run off.
Irrespective of whether Park Avenue got it wrong (Wilson was sacked with four seconds left so the run off should have ended the game), the decision was made to give the Seahawks one last play with 4 seconds to go, and the clock would start running as soon as the officials spotted the ball. Gruden’s logic behind his final play call may have looked like this:
- Let the clock start at the referee’s whistle and have Seattle’s offense scramble for a Hail Mary attempt, and your defense simply defend.
- Call a timeout, risk the offense setting up a Hail Mary the way they want so that your defense can set up the way you want.
Gruden went with option 2, even though the replay decision caused an effective timeout for both teams – the Seahawks could choose a play to run, and the Redskins could choose a coverage. Notwithstanding this, there would be some element of chaos, chaos which we felt would have favored the Redskins.
In our view, it was imprudent to call a timeout in this situation, because it allowed Seattle even more time to discuss its options. Of course, this allowed the Redskins more time to regroup as well, but Seattle had just been sacked on the previous play, so allowing Seattle’s offense additional time to regroup and focus on its protections.
A head coach can make the right calls for 59 minutes a game, but can still lose if he makes the wrong one in the last minute. This was the case for the Jay Gruden and that is why his decision to take a timeout was the Situational Call of the Week.