Bungled Fourth-Down Process

November 2nd, 2015
lovie 0912

Joe saw Lovie step out of character during the final two-minute warning.

Joe already applauded Lovie Smith for going for the win on 4th-and-1 with two minutes remaining in regulation yesterday.

It was the right time for a gutsy and intelligent decision, but the call itself, and circumstances surrounding it, appeared sloppy.

First, consider the Bucs lined up on 4th-and-1, immediately following the two-minute warning, and then Lovie called time out a fraction of a second before the ball was snapped.

So there was no play. But it was clear, based on the way everyone broke on the play just before it was whistled dead, that Jameis Winston was dropping back to pass after faking a handoff to Doug Martin.

The Bucs lined up again the exact same way with the same personnel, and Tampa Bay appeared to run the exact same play. Jameis faked a handoff and rolled left in some sort of quarterback option to run or pass to Brandon Myers or Luke Stocker breaking off their blocks into routes. It didn’t work.

Why call timeout immediately after the two-minute warning? And why show your hand, then show it again when it counts?

During that two-minute warning, live at the Georgia Dome, Joe watched Dirk Koetter talk to the offense in a huddle on the field. Koetter broke the huddle, and then Lovie jumped in, pulled most of the offensive line together and was downright out-of-character passionate talking to them. Lovie walked back to the sideline, and a second later America’s Quarterback, Jameis Winston, pulled those same O-linemen aside for a chat. Koetter to Lovie to Jameis was a rapid-fire one minute stretch of time.

Whatever happened there, the Bucs looked messy, and the play didn’t work.

Joe Tweeted that it sure didn’t look the Bucs had a veteran head coach who was focused and in control at the game’s most critical moment.

35 Responses to “Bungled Fourth-Down Process”

  1. Tampa Tony Says:

    Been saying this since Lovie got here. He doesn’t run this team like a veteran coach, that’s why I compare him to other first time head coaches. Glad they won but I don’t have much confidence in Loser Lovie (5-18)

  2. tb Says:

    There is a time to be aggressive he choose wrong should have punted there made Atlanta drive the whole field

  3. Defense Rules Says:

    Or maybe it was all a ruse to get the Falcons thinking ‘No one would EVER run that play again after tipping their hand’. Only the players and coaches know for sure.

  4. Buccfan37 Says:

    Indecision was full blown and the resulting play showed it. Should we or should we not. Tough decision, but most would have punted there and backed them up. Much of the second half hung on can we hold them off. Fortune sided with the Bucs.

  5. Tampabaybucfan Says:

    It was the right call….because it sent a strong message to the team that Lovie wanted to win.

    The wrong playcall….because it was telegraphed.

    It doesn’t seem to matter what the game situation is….we simply can’t get the job down on 3rd or 4th & 1.

  6. Tampa Tony Says:

    Yes, I liked the aggressive call but the indecisive nature of Loser Lovie and the timeout after the 2 minute warning were awful

  7. BUCutalkinbout Says:

    #youplaytowinthegame…coach herm
    #10-6…still can happen

  8. Chicagobucsfan Says:

    I like the call. I thought that maybe the timeout was called at last possible second in an attempt to get Atlanta to jump offsides. IDK. Who am I but a simple fan?

  9. Defense Rules Says:

    @tb … “should have punted there made Atlanta drive the whole field.” Martin Fennelly said the same thing in today’s Tribune when he called it ‘fourth and stupid’.

    Personally I thought going for it was a gutsy call by Lovie, although I didn’t like the play selection itself. If they make it, they win the game (offense had been doing quite well). If they don’t, Falcons have the ball on the Tampa 40 yd line as opposed to their own 20 or so with 2 mins left. Plenty of time for Matty Ice to carve up the Bucs defense no matter where the Falcons are on the field … he did complete OVER 80% of his passes for almost 400 yds. The Bucs D was pooped out and not getting any pressure at all on Ryan at that point, and the secondary was letting guys run free.

    But then again, to all the Lovie-haters, it really didn’t matter what decision he made, did it. It was going to be wrong no matter what.

  10. Pewter Lou Says:

    Should’ve ran Blount or Alstott

  11. CC Says:

    On the play before, why didn’t Lovie challenge the spot? Martins knee never touched the ground and he held out the ball which looked like it was enough for a first down.If nothing else it would have been 4th and inches.

  12. The Buc Realist Says:

    It was the right call!! You take a chance when there is something to be won from it!!! The timeout was not good though, you might as well just tell the other team what you are thinking. I am starting to think that all Lovie does in practice is teach striping the football and nothing on situational football!!!

  13. BUCutalkinbout Says:

    BUCutalkinbout Says:
    November 2nd, 2015 at 9:29 am
    I don’t get it with the haters Joe…
    Yes the defense is lacking right now, but c’mon yall! 4 turnovers, 4! You guys are pathetic…the defense won the game yesterday. So what they didn’t punt…4 times they didn’t get a chance to, i.e.turnovers. wake up Bucs fan! Enjoy the ride, i still say we go 10-6. @stpetebucsfan…where u@! Our prediction still has legs
    YO JOE!
    GO BUCS!!!

  14. Bucs Fan Since '76 Says:

    Reasonable people can disagree I suppose but that call was wrong based on field position. Make them go 80 yards or more to score a TD with two minutes left. Tell your D you trust them if the ultimate objective is to give them confidence. Instead, we told them they could not be trusted by making a radical move. And btw, no way Lovie does that ten of ten times. That’s just a lie.

  15. dreambig Says:

    Loved the aggressiveness of the call but it was really a stupid place to do it. On your own 40 with the game on the line? It showed a bit of desperation and panic from the head coach. He knew his D could not stop the Falcons.
    The defense was going to let them go down and score no matter what, so from that sense I would rather go down swinging.

  16. Waterboy Says:

    I agree with the decision to go for it and try to close it out without putting the defense back in the field but I also was scratching my head after they called that timeout and then still ran the exact same play.

  17. Tampabaybucfan Says:

    The problem wasn’t the call…..the problem was execution…..we haven’t been able to get short yardage all year….for a couple of years. It happend to us last week also.,..

  18. Bucco Brice Says:

    more “in game” coaching f*ck ups…it will never end with Lovie…we have a QB now, find a friggin head coach!!!

  19. Patrick in VA Says:

    You guys have already forgotten last week’s game in Washington. The guys who say that we should have punted must not have seen us choose to kick a field goal instead of going for the touchdown because we wanted to take the points and “force them to drive the whole field” to score. Problem is, the other team has no problem doing that. With a legit defense, an opposing team would have a problem with a prospect like that but the defense we put on the field it is really just a formality that we have to go through the motions of them inevitably driving the entire 80 yards or whatever they end up needing to get because they’re going to get it.

    Our offense is the strength of our team. This is something that none of us are familiar with and I’m sure that you’re all as disoriented as I am. But saying that relying on our offense to get the job done was wrong is simply not updating your file on who the team is now.

  20. tmaxcon Says:

    The call was right one but execution and that timeout were horrible. Making them drive the entire length of the field would mean something if the bucs d were even average but making a team drive the entire length of the field when they have not had to punt the entire game and the secondary could not stop anyone most likely would have back fired. Good win. Kwon was possessed and Winston is the real deal. Lovie on the other hand struggles entirely too much playing to win. indecisive and you can just see the conservative side of him fighting the do the right thing side of him.

    When will the pattern stop of being blown out / embarrassed and then win ugly. When will this team string a couple of wins together until then all the talk of turning the corner and playoffs is flat out ridiculous.

  21. Sick of Lovie Says:


    Make Atlanta drive the whole field huh?

    What exactly did you see yesterday that would make you think we could stop them, no matter where they started from?

    I say this is one of the most intelligent moves Lovie has made as the Bucs coach. I think he knew his defense couldnt stop my granny with her walker from catching a 15 yard slant and driving the field in no time. But, if we get the first, its over. Bucs could have ran the ball 3 times in a row and chewed a lot of clock. That wouldnt leave enough time for Matty Ice to drive the field for 2 scores.

    The decision to go for it was good. The execution on the other hand, not so good. B+ for play calling on offense yesterday, especially considering the Bucs were down 3 of their best offensive weapons. Lovie showed some balls.

  22. Clodhopper Says:

    I liked the call. It was needed. Lets be honest. Even if they punted, Falcons were going to score a TD on that drive. The best option was to try and keep the defense off the field.

  23. bucrightoff Says:

    It was flawed, emotional decision making. Otherwise why didn’t he go for the TD in OT? He trusted his defense to stop them with 8 minutes and 4 downs to get stop a FG, but not with 100 seconds left, 80-99 yards to go and no timeouts to get a TD?

    I don’t have a problem with the decision I guess, I have a problem with it being an emotional decision. We saw what happened to the Mets last night when they went with emotional decision making.

  24. Love and Warrick Dunn Says:

    Still think it should have been a punt. But glad we won.

  25. Bucballya Says:

    I don’t agree with the call.It was made because of the result of last week against the ‘skins when Lovie should have went for the TD on 4th and goal, and it cost him the game. Now this week he overcompensated and went for it when he should have punted, completely different crcumstances. Then he said he would make that same call 10 out of 10 times! I like Lovie but I really have to question his decision making at the end of games. Bucs should be 5-2 right now.

  26. James Walker Says:

    Perhaps he saw something he didn’t like? It is easy to look back and spend 10 minutes writing an article being critical of a decision that was made in a second.

    Hey, man, there are 10 “perhaps” for every situation.–Joe

  27. James Walker Says:

    Also, if we had punted the Falcons would have scored from anywhere on the feild and it is the same situation.

  28. ATLBucsFan Says:

    I agree with CC in the spotting of the ball after the 3rd down. Martin was on top of a bunch of other player and stretched out the ball. With three timeouts left Lovie could have used one to challenge the spot. If they don’t give him the 1st, more than likely it would have been a shorter distance. As for the decision to go on 4th, I say keep the ball in our hands as long as possible. The execution showed confusion on the offense and after all that time off, they should not have been confused executing the play.

  29. Reach11 Says:

    Right decision, made for the right reason that was not well executed. No coach bashing, impugning of one’s lifetime reputation, or reactionary statements. I’m enjoying the win because we haven’t had many, and if I get no joy from each win I’ll be sorry (along with fans from 31 other fans) when the season is over. Try to get perhaps 24 hours of joy from the win Bucs fans. You don’t play and you don’t coach, so enjoy the good times when you can.

  30. Wubbie Smiff Says:

    The decision to go for it was fine. It’s better than a 60% chance to convert on 4th and 1 with a run. Contrast that with the 0% chance the Bucs had of stopping Atlanta without a turnover. But holy crap that was an ugly play, especially after a timeout.

  31. mike10 Says:

    Great call Joe. I made the exact same observations! At the least, run it to the R instead of L.

    … but as a side note, am I the only one that thinks Jameis needs to beat that guy 1on1 for a yard?

  32. BucTrooper Says:

    Right or wrong, going for it on 4th and 1 sent a message to the D…

    “I have no faith in you so I’m going for it in my own territory.”

    Is it a coincidence that the defense bowed up in OT?

  33. 813bucboi Says:

    it was the right call…given the way the d played in previous games I wouldn’t give the ball back if we were up by 20pts with 2minutes left…lovie made he good choice to go for it…dirk has to have a better play but who cares a win is a win…most importantly we found a way to win instead of finding a way to lose…GO BUCS!!!

  34. Mo_Downs Says:

    1) Maybe the OL needed a breather to gather themselves.

    2) Maybe a no-huddle quick snap or fake quick snap would have been better. That 4th down option could have been signaled in advance on 3rd down.

    3) Speaking of no-huddle, what’s up Koetter? Didn’t notice a lot of no-huddle in this game. It may have helped against a defense primed to stop the run by countering their run personnel package with a mid to deep PA pass.

    Jus Sayin’

  35. Pickgrin Says:

    Lovie said he would have done that 10 out of 10 times given the situation.

    Um – really? Yea – I get the “it’s nice to see Lovie being aggressive” sentiment. But honestly – I and most NFL coaches are punting in that spot the majority of the time.

    If I DO go for 4th and 2 feet on my own 39 yard line with the game on the line – you bet your ass I’m QB sneaking Jameis behind Marpet. Winston is big and strong and all he has to do is lean/fall forward and he’s got it.