The Tampa Bay Buccaneers and their head coach Greg Schiano have fallen under scrutiny for their actions in the final seconds of the game, when a team takes the “victory formation” also known as the formation for a team kneeling the ball.
Fans and analysts alike are trying to decide whether this is fair or foul. While there is no penalty for Schaino’s defensive strategy, it is an unwritten rule, or a type of mutually understood etiquette amongst teams and coaches, that when a game is in the final seconds and a team is going to kneel the ball to run out the clock to clench an obvious or assumed victory, to not blitz your front seven at the offensive line to try and disrupt the snap. However, Schiano is no stranger to this method, he implemented this during his tenure as head coach for the Rutgers University football team, furthermore, he was even successful a few times.
In the defense of Schiano, the Giants could have adjusted to the when they saw that the Bucs were lined up in an unfamiliar stance when they were in the victory formation. The Dallas Cowboys anticipated this move, and for the final plays, Schiano blitzed his defense in a vain attempt for a chance to have a shot at tying the game. Schiano did not give up after the first failed attempt against the Dallas offensive line, rather, he called his lone remaining timeout to aid his efforts, but still came up short.
Just because the Giants or Cowboys decided or felt that the game was over does NOT mean that the Buccaneers have to agree with them.
Why is this important? Despite the Texans not playing the Tampa Bay Buccaneers this year, depending on how long it will take for the movement to take affect, this could change the game as we know it, well, the end of games. With the clashing of the old-school type of football and the newly conservative mindset with the health of the players and their future being a priority. The dangers of having players dive head first at another player’s knees could carry hazardous repercussions for both players, a blown out knee and knee problems for life for the offensive lineman, and the risk of a neck injury, running the risk of permanent or partial paralysis or even death.
Mixed reviews about this are abound, even before the Tampa-Dallas match-up, Cowboys owner and general manager stated that he would like to see the kneel-down completely done away with. On ESPN’s NFL Live OT, former NFL head coach Eric Mangini said that the offensive linemen should be braced for immediate impact should they see the threat of the blitz coming on a potential kneel down. Mangini brought up an amazing point that it could be treated like a snap on a field goal or extra point attempt where the focus is getting the snap off and protection.
This is a enormous culture shock for us as fans of the game, both Cowboys and Giants head coaches were visibly upset with Schiano’s choice to go with the smash mouth till the final whistle is blown.
“I don’t know if that’s not something that’s not done in the National Football League, but what I do with our football team is we fight until they tell us game over,” Schiano said. “There’s nothing dirty about it and there’s nothing illegal about it.
“There is nothing further on the incident at the end of the game,” an NFL spokesperson said. “There were no violations on the play or afterwards that would require follow up from our office.”
The league sees nothing wrong with this, and maybe we will start seeing more games truly go down to the wire should Schiano’s defensive strategy influence the way the league plays, rather than just give up after a turn over on downs with a minute left in the game, we may see a Schiano type blitz to try to cause a fumble to recover the ball for a final shot.
This could ultimately start of paradox of “well, there is enough time on the clock, blitz them hard, lets get the ball back” in every game, but how much time is “enough time” there are way to many variables in the sport to set a boundary. With the league trying to save face in player safety, I believe it is only a matter of time until the matter is resolved, or I at least hope so.
– Richard Perez